United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
I. SCHKNKIER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Annette Gantner ("Ms, Gantner"), on behalf of her
minor great-nephew, M.J. ("MJ"), has filed a motion
for summary judgment and memorandum in support seeking
reversal or remand of the final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying
MJ's application for Supplemental Security Income
Benefits ("SSI") (doc. #22: PL's Mot. for Summ.
J.) (doc. # 23: Pl.'s Br. in Supp. of Reversing the
Decision of the Comm'r of Soc. Sec. ("Pl.'s
Mem.")). The Commissioner filed her own motion seeking
affirmance of the decision denying benefits (doc. # 24:
Comm'r's Mot. for Summ. J.) (doc. #. 25: Def.'s
Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s
Mem.")). Ms. Gantner also filed a reply (doc, # 26:
Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s Resp. and Mot. for Summ. J.).
For the following reasons, we grant Ms. Gantner's motion
and deny the Commissioner's motion.
Gantner, MJ's legal guardian, applied for SSI on MPs
behalf on June 6, 2013 with an alleged disability onset date
of November 13, 2003 (R. 19, 153-54). The application was
denied initially on September 17, 2013, and upon
reconsideration on March 7, 2014 (R. 19). Upon timely
request, a hearing was held before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ") on May 13, 2015 (Id.). The
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 5, 2015, finding
that MJ is not disabled (R. 19-32). The Appeals Council then
denied Ms. Gantner's request for review, making the
ALJ's ruling the final decision of the Commissioner (R.
1-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; Shauger v.
Astrue, 675 F.3d 690, 695 (7th Cir. 2012).
born on November 13, 2003 and was 11 years old at the time of
the hearing before the ALJ (R. 22-23). MJ has a twin brother
as well as an older brother and a sister (R. 53). MJ and his
three siblings were removed from their parents' care in
2012 by the Department of Children and Family Services
("DCFS") and have lived with Ms. Gantner, their
aunt and legal guardian, since that time (R. 23, 25, 63).
MJ's father visits him at Ms. Gantner's home, but
MJ's mother is no longer allowed to visit the home
because of an incident that occurred with Ms. Gantner in
medical record here is rather sparse, with treatment notes
only from Family Christian Health Center, dated December 18,
2012 through January 25, 2013, describing MJ's sinusitis
diagnoses and follow-up care (R. 347-368). Instead, the
record focuses on school records addressing MJ's learning
disabilities, behavioral, and social-emotional difficulties.
To that end, the record contains numerous school assessments,
Individualized Education Programs ("IEP"), Teacher
Questionnaires, and psychological consultative and
speech-language evaluations. Through the process of applying
for SSI benefits, MJ was diagnosed with attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD") in August 2013
after undergoing a psychological consultative examination by
an agency doctor (R. 376).
also diagnosed with a speech and language delay. He struggles
with some core subjects in school and receives special
education services (R. 212, 223, 235, 371-72). MPs learning
disability stems from his impulsiveness, inattentiveness and
distractibility, and how those conditions affect the various
areas of his life (R. 214, 224, 223).
in December 2009 (when he was six years old), MJ underwent a
Speech and Language Assessment wherein David Sheldon
("Mr, Sheldon"), a speech/language pathologist,
reported that MJ demonstrated mild to moderate delays in
language comprehension, auditory processing and oral
expression (R. 243). Mr. Sheldon opined that these deficits
significantly impacted MJ's academic, communicative and
social-emotional success (Id.). Also in December
2009, School Psychologist Mary Ellen Mauro ("Ms.
Mauro") wrote in her interpretive report that MJ's
abilities to sustain attention, concentrate, and exert mental
control were a weakness that affected his nonverbal reasoning
abilities (R. 249). Moreover, she noted that his cognitive
ability could not easily be summarized because his nonverbal
reasoning abilities were much better developed than his
verbal reasoning abilities (Id.).
an IEP conference in November 2012 (when MJ was about nine
years old), it was determined that MJ continued to need an
IEP for speech and language therapy and social work (R. 211,
214). At school, he received speech/language services
throughout the day and 60-minutes of social work services per
week (R. 214-15). He met the speech or language impairment
criteria for language delay/disorder and pragmatic language
Teacher Questionnaire dated August 23, 2013, MJ's special
education teacher, Bonnie Mattson ("Ms. Mattson")
and speech/language pathologist, Theresa Schultz ("Ms.
Schultz") noted that they had been teaching MJ on a
daily basis for the past two years in a self-contained
special education class with daily speech and language
therapy imbedded in the classroom (R. 200). They opined that
MJ had a slight to serious problem in several areas of the
domains (R. 200-05).
August 2013, MJ's school principal, Donna Brown,
completed a questionnaire noting that MJ had a history of a
speech-language impairment that affected his ability to learn
(R. 371-72). For this reason, he was placed in the
communication development classroom, supported by a special
education teacher and a speech pathologist in the classroom
full time (Id.). MJ also received social work
services (Id.). Finally on August 29, 2013, MJ
underwent a psychological consultative exam with Dr. J.B.
Goebel, Ph.D. ("Dr. Goebel"), where the chief
complaint listed on the mental status evaluation and the
diagnosis were both identified as ADHD (R. 376, 378).
February 15, 2014, pursuant to his application for benefits,
MJ underwent a speech/language evaluation by Kristin Bilas,
MHS CCC-SLP/L ("Ms. Bilas") (R. 379-83). Ms. Bilas
reviewed the eligibility/IEP paperwork dated November 28,
2012 and also spoke with Ms. Gantner, who reported that MJ
cannot pay attention and will not stop talking and
misbehaving (R. 381). Ms. Bilas met with MJ and his siblings,
and observed that they all "demonstrated extremely
adverse behaviors, using foul language, screaming at each
other and their aunt" (Id.). Once Ms. Bilas was
alone with MJ, "he continued to demonstrate very
impulsive, self-directed behavior and did not respond to
redirection" (Id.). Her final summary and
impression of MJ was that he would "continue to benefit
from structured, small-group learning along with direct
speech therapy and social work to increase the overall
attention to improve auditory comprehension and pragmatic
skills" (R. 383).
March 4 and 5, 2014, the state agency speech pathologist,
Diane Lowry ("Ms. Lowry"), and psychological
consultant, Dr. R. Leon Jackson ("Dr. Jackson")
reviewed the evidence in the record up until that point in
time and issued their Disability Determination Explanation at
the Reconsideration level finding MJ not disabled (R. 78-86).