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Randolph v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 27, 2017

JERMELIA RANDOLPH, on behalf of A.R.P., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.[1]

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Jermelia Randolph, on behalf of A.R.P., her minor son, seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying A.R.P.'s application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits.

         Procedural History

         Jermelia Randolph filed an application for SSI on behalf of her minor son in July 2012, alleging disability beginning on October 18, 2010. (Tr. 38). After holding a hearing, ALJ Paul R. Armstrong denied the application for benefits in a decision dated October 17, 2013. (Tr. 38-53). The Appeals Council denied review, and the ALJ's decision became the final agency decision subject to judicial review. (Tr. 4). Plaintiff exhausted her administrative remedies and filed a timely complaint in this Court.[2]

         Issues Raised by Plaintiff

         Through counsel, plaintiff raises the following arguments:

         The ALJ's evaluation of functional equivalence was the product of legal error and unsupported by substantial evidence because the ALJ:

(1) mischaracterized educational records;
(2) ignored some of A.R.P.'s physical impairments;
(3) erroneously weighed some of the opinion evidence; and
(4) failed to assess the weight that should be afforded to Dr. Deppe's opinion.

         Applicable Legal Standards

         A child under the age of 18 is considered disabled if he or she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment “which results in marked and severe functional limitations” and which has lasted or is expected to last for more than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. §1382c(a)(3)(C)(i). A physical or mental impairment is “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. §1382c(a)(3)(D).

         The determination of childhood disability proceeds by way of a three-step sequential analysis which is set forth in 20 C.F.R. §416.924. The three- step analysis is as follows:

1. Is the child claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity?
2. Does the child have an impairment or combination of impairments that is “severe?” 3. Does the impairment or combination of impairments meet, medically equal, or functionally equal the severity of a listed impairment?

         An answer of “yes” to the first question, or “no” to the second or third questions, means that the child is not disabled.

         At step two, an impairment is not “severe” if it is a slight abnormality or a combination of slight abnormalities that cause no more than minimal functional limitations. 20 C.F.R. §416.924(c).

         At step three, in order to determine whether the child's impairments functionally equal a listing, the agency considers how the child functions in six domains:

(1) acquiring and using information;
(2) attending and completing tasks;
(3) interacting and relating with others;
(4) moving about and manipulating objects;
(5) caring for himself; and
(6) health and physical ...

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