United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey Cole, Magistrate Judge
Talley seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner
(“Commissioner”) of the Social Security
Administration (“Agency”) denying her son,
Cameron's application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act (“Act”). 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). Ms.
Talley asks the court to reverse and remand the
Commissioner's decision, while the Commissioner seeks an
order affirming the decision.
Talley applied for SSI on behalf of Cameron on February 28,
2011, just two weeks after he was born. Cameron weighed just
one pound, eleven ounces at birth, and also suffered from
hydrocephalus. (Administrative Record (R.) 105). Cameron was
granted disability benefits on May 11, 2011. (R. 71, 105).
The Administration reviewed Cameron's case a couple of
years later and determined that his disability ceased as of
February 20, 2013, and that his benefits would be terminated
as of April 30, 2013. (R. 72). Ms. Talley requested
reconsideration of this determination and, when that was
unsuccessful, an administrative hearing.
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) convened a
hearing on April 23, 2015, at which Ms. Talley and her
son's caregiver, Michelle Walker, appeared and testified. (R.
40-70). Ms. Talley and her son were not represented by
counsel. On June 22, 2015, the ALJ issued a
decision finding that Cameron was no longer disabled as of
February 20, 2013. Although Cameron suffered from multiple,
severe impairments - speech impairment, hydrocephalus,
borderline intellectual functioning, and pervasive
development disorder - he no longer had an impairment or
combination of impairments resulting in either marked
limitations in two domains of functioning or and extreme
limitation in one domain of functioning. (R. 10-21). The ALJ
determined that Cameron had a marked limitation in acquiring
and using information, no limitation in attending and
completing tasks, less than a marked limitation in
interacting with others, less that a marked limitation in
moving about and manipulating objects, no limitation in
caring for himself, and less than a marked limitation in
health and physical well-being. (R. 19-21). The ALJ's
decision then became the final decision of the Commissioner
when the Appeals Council denied Ms. Talley's request for
review of the decision on January 24, 2017. (R. 1-6).
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.955; 404.981. Ms.
Talley has appealed that decision to the federal district
court under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and the parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
EVIDENCE OF RECORD
record in this case comes in at just over 1600 pages, but the
vast majority of it plays no role in the ALJ's decision
and, instead, pertains to Cameron's condition and
treatment before the ALJ's cessation date of February 20,
2013. The ALJ's discussion of the evidence begins with a
report regarding Cameron's ability to walk and balance in
December of 2012. The ALJ stated that [Cameron] could walk as
he approached his second birthday.” (R. 17). The report
actually indicated that, at age 22 months, he was making
progress, and could squat and pick up toys without losing his
balance on most occasions. He was able to stop walking
without falling on most occasions, and could negotiate a
2-inch obstacle about half the time. (R. 1322). He was saying
a few words on his own, could imitate a greeting, but was
unable to ask for toys. (R. 1324).
had a consultative examination with Dr. Luella Bangura, on
February 12, 2013, the day before his second birthday. The
doctor noted that Cameron had been seeing a pediatrician, a
physical therapist, and a developmental therapist. He was not
on any medication, but had had brain surgery in 2011 and
shunt placement in 2012. Cameron was 33 inches tall and
weighed 25 pounds. The shunt had caused some problems with
his right eye movements, and the Dr. Bangura noted that it
deviated toward the right, but that ocular movements were
intact and visual fields were normal. Dr. Bangura said that
gait and station were appropriate, but also noted that
Cameron fell and lost his balance. Motor strength, reflexes,
sensation, grip strength, and manual dexterity were deemed
normal. (R. 1397-98).
had a speech and language evaluation with Kimberly A. Kirk,
M.A., on March 14, 2013. Cameron was unable to put two words
together and had a limited vocabulary for his age. He was
unable to follow simple one-step commands, even with verbal
and visual cues. His speech was essentially unintelligible.
He communicated primarily by pointing. Ms. Kirk administered
the Preschool Language Scale, and determined that
Cameron's auditory comprehension was in just the 1st
percentile, expressive communication was at the 6th
percentile, and total language was at the 1st percentile. (R.
1400-04). Cameron was uncooperative and could not complete
the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation 2. (R. 1410).
later, Dr. Wilson reviewed Cameron's file on behalf of
the state agency. He indicated the file was insufficient
because there had not yet been a Bayley exam. (R. 1422,
1427). However, based on Cameron's recent speech and
language evaluation with Dr. Kirk, Dr. Wilson opined that
Cameron had a marked limitation in using and acquiring
information. While all but 5% of Cameron's speech was
unintelligible, the doctor oddly concluded his speech imposed
“less than a marked limitation” on his ability to
interact with others. (R. 1424). He thought Cameron had no
limitation in moving about or manipulating objects, but
indicated, again, that a Bayley exam was needed. (R. 1425).
He gave no opinion as to Cameron's limitations in the
area of caring for oneself or attending and completing tasks.
months later, in July 2013, Cameron had another consultative
examination with Michele C. Thorne, Ph.D. Dr. Thorne noted
that Cameron ran around the waiting room and played with a
ball. He was curious about his surroundings and engaged in
social smiling and interacted with her. Dr. Thome
administered the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. The
results indicated that, in the cognitive domain, Cameron was
in the bottom five percent. In the language domain, he was in
the bottom three percent, and he was in the bottom sixteen
percent in motor functioning. Cameron fared even more poorly
in the social-emotional domain and the adaptive behavior
domain, where he scored in just the bottom 0.1 percent. Dr.
Thorne said these scores were consistent with her
observations during the session. The conceptual composite
score was also in the lowest 0.1 percent, while Cameron's
social composite score was in the lowest one percent. His
practical composite score, which was a gauge of a child's
ability to engage in leisure activities and self-care, was in
the bottom 0.2 percent. (R. 1461-62).
the Bayley exam now in the file, Dr. Steven Roush performed a
review on July 23, 2013. The doctor seemingly accepted the
Bayley results for the acquiring and using information
domain, finding a marked limitation. He seemingly rejected
the test for the social domain, where Cameron had scored in
the bottom one percent, and found Cameron had a less than
marked limitation. He echoed Dr. Wilson's assessment from
prior to the Bayley exam - he seemed to copy it exactly -
that Cameron's unintelligible speech didn't hinder
his ability to interact with others to any significant
degree. (R. 1467). The doctor found no limitation at all in
moving about and manipulating ...