medical condition and the extent, if any, to which that condition impacts his functioning.
1. Medical Evidence
At the age of two months, Dauris was admitted to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center for treatment of dehydration and diarrhea.
Within a day or two his condition apparently normalized, as his symptoms had resolved and there were no further complaints from plaintiff.
One month later, in March 1992, Dauris was taken to the Pediatric Urology Clinic because of both a urinary tract infection, for which he apparently already was taking antibiotics, and a Grade II reflux.
The examining physician concluded that the child was healthy, though he did order continuation of the antibiotic treatment.
At a follow-up appointment, it was noted that Dauris had mild nasal congestion.
During a subsequent appointment, doctors concluded that Dauris had a ventral hernia.
Despite this, the doctors described Dauris as alert and active, and he was observed crawling and smiling.
It appears that an operation had been scheduled at some point to treat the hernia, but it later was canceled by plaintiff.
In October 1992, Dauris was referred to the Pediatric Hematology Clinic for examination and treatment of a condition described as "G6PD" deficiency.
At that time, doctors again described Dauris as alert and active.
The G6PD blood deficiency was noted subsequently by doctors at the Pediatric Clinic in January 1993, at which time it was observed also that Dauris had been vomiting, and that he had experienced watery stools three times in one day.
Dauris was subsequently admitted to Lincoln Hospital on October 20, 1993 for treatment of an ear infection, though he was discharged the next day in stable condition.
At the behest of the Office of Disability Determinations, Dauris was examined by Dr. E. Florez on January 6, 1994.
Dr. Florez' report indicated that the two-year-old was "cooperative, alert, well developed, well nourished, [and] in no acute distress."
Dr. Florez noted also that Dauris was capable of jumping in place, combining multiple words, participating in interactive games, and scribbling spontaneously, leading the doctor to conclude that Dauris' development was "normal for [his] age."
Dr. Florez did note, however, his impression of "recurrent urinary tract infections, urethral reflux, 6 GPD Deficiency, and Epigastric Hernia."
2. The Administrative Hearing
The administrative hearing was held on February 7, 1995. The ALJ began by painstakingly ascertaining that plaintiff understood her right to counsel and that she nonetheless wished to proceed pro se.24 Plaintiff indicated also that she understood the purpose of the administrative hearing.
The ALJ then examined her on the subject of her son's condition.
Plaintiff subsequently made numerous statements relevant to the determination of disability, the first of which was that "the only problem that [Dauris] has is the problem in his stomach."
She later explained that Dauris still had "the same [hernia] problem."
When pressed by the ALJ for an explanation of any other problems Dauris might currently suffer from, plaintiff stated that he had a "problem with his nose that he can't breathe" and, additionally, that he sweated, wet his bed, had a blood problem, a urination problem, and a history of infections including ear infections.
Plaintiff elaborated on Dauris' vomiting, explaining that he vomited several times every month.
It appears that Dauris was taking antibiotics to treat some or all of these difficulties.
When asked if Dauris had any pain and discomfort other than that related to the vomiting, plaintiff said "no. Just to sleep."
The ALJ then attempted to ascertain the extent to which any or all of these difficulties impacted Dauris' life. When asked whether Dauris was able to run and jump around, plaintiff answered in the affirmative.
She stated also that Dauris knew how to get on a tricycle, though he did not yet know how to ride one.
Plaintiff indicated further that Dauris did not play with other children his own age, but on the other hand, that he did play with his older brother.
For example, Dauris and his brother "sometimes [will] be playing around and they'll climb up to the dresser drawer . . . to throw themselves on the bed. They jump on the bed."
Plaintiff described Dauris as "like a little man"
who "knows a lot"
and stated that he was capable of dressing and undressing himself, putting away his own clothes, and going to the bathroom alone.
Whether the Correct Legal Standard Was Applied
It is not the Court's "function to determine de novo whether [Dauris] is disabled."
Instead, the Court considers only whether the Commissioner's decision is "supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole or [is] based on an erroneous legal standard."
The Court first addresses whether the correct legal standard was applied by the Commissioner.
Prior to August 22, 1996, a child was considered disabled for purposes of SSI benefits if that child suffered from "any medically determinable physical or mental impairment of comparable severity " to an impairment that would constitute an adult disability.
The regulations implementing this statutory scheme required a four-step analysis of childhood disability claims.
In the first step, the ALJ had to determine whether the child was engaged in "substantial gainful activity."
If so, the child was not eligible for disability benefits.
If not, however, the ALJ would proceed to step two, in which it would be determined whether the child suffered from a "severe impairment."
If not, then the child would not be eligible for disability benefits.
If so, then the ALJ would proceed to step three, in which it would be determined whether the child's "severe impairment" met or equaled an impairment listed in the implementing regulations.
If so, then the child would be considered disabled.
If not, the child still might be found to be disabled at step four, in which the ALJ would conduct an "individualized functional assessment" ("IFA") to determine whether the child's severe impairment(s) were of comparable severity to that which would prevent an adult from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
It was pursuant to this statutory and regulatory scheme that the ALJ analyzed plaintiff's claim. First, the ALJ determined that Dauris was not engaged in substantial gainful activity after March 29, 1993, the day upon which his application was filed.
The ALJ then concluded that Dauris' "epigastric and umbilical hernias" are severe impairments, while his "recurring urinary tract infections" and "urethral reflux" are not.
In the third step, the ALJ ruled that Dauris' severe impairments do "not meet or medically or functionally equal any impairment described in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulations No. 4."
Finally, in the fourth step, the ALJ conducted an IFA and determined that Dauris was not impaired in a manner equivalent to that which would disable an adult.
As a result of this analysis, the ALJ concluded that Dauris was not eligible for benefits.
Subsequent to this decision, on August 22, 1996, the statutory definition of childhood disability was altered. According to the Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the "1996 Act"),
a disability exists for purposes of SSI benefits if a child under the age of eighteen
" has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment,  which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and  which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months . . . [however,] no individual under the age of 18 who engages in substantial gainful activity . . . may be considered to be disabled."