The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORTON DENLOW, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Joyce Harden ("Claimant"), on behalf of her child
Sharkie Harden ("Sharkie"), challenges the decision of Defendant
Jo Anne B. Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner"), claiming that her denial of Supplemental
Security Income ("SSI") should be reversed or remanded because
the decision contains errors of law and is not supported by
substantial evidence. This case comes before this Court on the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons that
follow, this Court affirms the Commissioner's decision, grants
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment and denies the
Claimant's motion for summary judgment. I. BACKGROUND FACTS
Claimant filed an application for SSI on November 16, 1993. R.
17, 72. The Claimant was found to be disabled and eligible for
benefits as of November 19, 1993. Id. Pursuant to P.L. 104-193,
effective August 22, 1999, Claimant's disability was found to
have ceased. R. 17, 76. In March 2000, the state agency affirmed
the cessation of the Claimant's benefits, and the Claimant
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ").
R. 76. On July 20, 2001, a hearing was held before ALJ Edward R.
Gustafson, at which Claimant was represented by counsel. R.
25-71. Claimant and medical expert, Dr. Howard Lee, M.D.,
testified at the hearing. Id. On February 14, 2002, the ALJ
issued a final decision finding Sharkie not disabled. R. 14-21.
Claimant's request for review was denied by the Appeals Council.
R. 5-8. Claimant filed a timely complaint with this Court for
review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The
parties have consented to this Court's jurisdiction to decide
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).
B. HEARING TESTIMONY JULY 20, 2001
Sharkie was 15 years old and in ninth grade at the time of the
hearing. R. 28-29. Sharkie lives at home with Claimant and three
other siblings. R. 34. Sharkie has few friends and spends most of
her time at home. R. 46.
Sharkie has struggled with her grades and her ability to learn
throughout grammar school and into middle school. R. 31. She has problems with
teachers and receives extra tutoring. R. 30. Sharkie is a special
education student who receives extra academic help in reading and
in mathematics. R. 31. At the time of the hearing, Sharkie was
operating three years behind grade level. R. 31-32. Despite her
troubles, including both academic as well as emotional problems,
Sharkie straightened out a bit in eighth grade. R. 36. Sharkie
graduated eighth grade and entered high school in the fall of
2000. R. 39.
Sharkie failed her first year of high school and she was
enrolled in summer school at the time of the hearing. R. 39. In
her first year of high school, the school created a new
Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") increasing her minutes in
special education with the hopes of improving her performance. R.
Due to her problems in her first year of high school, Sharkie
received additional help at both the Chicago Department of Public
Health and at Mercy Hospital. R. 44. At the Chicago Department of
Mental Health, Sharkie underwent counseling from June 2000
through January 2001. R. 134-150. In June 2001, Sharkie underwent
a mental health assessment at Mercy Hospital. R. 193. In August
2001, Sharkie underwent a psychiatric evaluation at Mercy
Hospital. R. 199.
2. Howard Lee, M.D. Medical Expert
At the February 14, 2001 hearing, Dr. Howard Lee examined the
Claimant regarding Sharkie's learning disabilities. Dr. Lee
questioned Claimant in several areas, and according to the ALJ,
the Claimant seemed to take Dr. Lee's questioning as "accusatory
of her conduct as a mother." R. 19. Therefore, the ALJ stopped the hearing prior
to completion because the Claimant became too emotional. R.
69-70. Because the examination by Dr. Lee was incomplete, the ALJ
sent Sharkie out for a psychological exam. R. 69-70.
C. SCHOOL AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE
1. Cynthia Turner School Psychologist
On April 6, 1994, when Sharkie was in second grade and enrolled
in regular education classes, school psychologist Cynthia Turner
performed a psychological evaluation. R. 226. Turner noted that
Sharkie had "slow average cognitive development" with adequate
math skills, but reading skills below grade placement. R. 227.
Turner also noted emotional immaturity and insecurity. Id.
On June 14, 1994, Claimant and Sharkie attended a
multidisciplinary conference for the Chicago Public School's
Department of Special Education. R. 108. It was determined that
regular classroom placement was not meeting Sharkie's needs due
to moderate learning disabilities. R. 116. Sharkie's deficits
were in receptive language, language concept formation and
spatial memory. R. 108. However, a speech/language evaluation
revealed no significant inarticulation pattern and
receptive/expressive language skills were within normal limits,
with the exception of expressive vocabulary, which was below
average. R. 109. Sharkie's school behavior was reported to be
acceptable. Id. Sharkie's poor attendance could have impacted
her performance. Id. Turner determined that Sharkie would
remain in regular education classes and receive special education
and related services in another setting for less than 50% of each day. R. 115. Sharkie received these special
education services due to her learning disabilities from the
beginning of the next school year, 1995, through 1999. R.
2. Janice A. Nicholson, M.A. School Psychologist.
In May 2000, in a triennial evaluation for the Chicago Public
Schools, Sharkie was evaluated by Janice A. Nicholson, M.A.,
School Psychologist. R. 325-328. Sharkie was in eighth grade at
the time. Nicholson noted that current testing put Sharkie's
cognitive functioning and intellectual capabilities to be in the
"Borderline" or "Slow-learner range." R. 327. Nicholson noted
that while Sharkie's non-verbal skills were in the average range,
her verbal ability was below average. R. 328. Nicholson also
noted that the cumulative records indicated Sharkie had a high
rate of tardiness and transience, being enrolled in five
different schools. R. 325.
During the testing, Nicholson noted that Sharkie presented as a
very friendly and compliant child who appeared comfortable with
testing procedures. R. 327. Nicholson also noted that teachers
indicated Sharkie put forth adequate effort in class. R. 325. No
significant behavior concerns were indicated, as Sharkie was
described as a cheerful student who maintains good peer
relations. Id. She recommended continued ...