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Williams v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

April 2, 2014



MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.


Plaintiff, Joyce Williams ("Plaintiff" or "Williams"), on behalf of TLW, a minor, filed this action pursuant to the Social Security Act ("the Act"), codified at 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g), seeking review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant"), denying her application for Supplemental Security Insurance ("SSI"). On July 8, 2013, the Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and on September 19, 2013, Plaintiff cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings.

For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.


On July 24, 2009, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, claiming disability since May 29, 2009 due to a learning disability, which was denied. Administrative Transcript [T.] 57-62. On May 6, 2011, an administrative hearing was conducted before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), at which Plaintiff and TLW testified. T. 75-83. On May 20, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision finding that TLW was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. T. 39-53.

On August 23, 2012, the Appeals Councils denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's Decision the final decision of the Commissioner. T. 1-6. This action followed, wherein Plaintiff alleges that TLW, who was 10-years-old at the time Plaintiff filed her SSI claim, is disabled due to a learning disability/borderline intellectual functioning and knee pain.


TLW's Knee Pain

On December 15, 2009, Plaintiff was examined at Rochester General Pediatric Associates ("RGPA"). Treatment notes show that his physical examination was normal. RGPA assessed that TLW was obese, was a "well teen, " and that he was physically fit for physical education and sports. T. 389-400.

Approximately one year later, TLW returned to RGPA, complaining of bilateral knee pain that he claimed to have experienced for the past four years. T. 413. A physical examination was conducted, after which TLW was diagnosed as having bilateral patellar femoral pain syndrome and obesity. T. 414. TLW underwent bilateral knee x-rays, which showed a small joint effusion and were otherwise normal. T. 414, 422, 423.

On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff returned to RGPA and reported improved knee pain. T. 416. His physical examination was normal and treatment notes show that Plaintiff was physically qualified for physical education, sports, and school activities. T. 419-420.

Consultative Examinations

On September 23, 2009, Christine Ransom, Ph.D., conducted a Child/Adolescent Intellectual Evaluation of TLW. T. 378-380. Dr. Ransom observed that TLW's attention and concentration were adequate and noted that he obtained an IQ score of 73, which placed him in the borderline range. T. 379. She also noted that TLW was able to dress, bathe and groom himself at age-appropriate levels. T. 380. She noted that TLW reported enjoying spending time with friends, playing hide-n-seek, and watching movies. T. 380. Dr. Ransom opined that TLW would have mild difficulty attending to, following and understanding age-appropriate directions, completing age-appropriate tasks, requesting assistance in an age-appropriate manner, and being aware of danger and taking needed precautions. She reported that TLW was able to adequately maintain appropriate social behavior, learn in accordance with cognitive functioning, and interact adequately with his peers and adults. T. 380.

The following month, TLW was examined by consultative medical examiner Dr. Harbinder Toor. T. 383-386. Dr. Toor observed that TLW related to him in an age-appropriate manner and appeared to have a normal attention span for his age. T. 384. TLW had a normal gait and was able to walk on his heels and toes with only slight difficulty and with complaints of knee pain. T. 384. Upon examination, TLW had no muscle atrophy, no cyanosis, no clubbing, no edema, no signs of scoliosis or kyphosis, and his range of back motion was normal. TLW's knees exhibited normal and full movements. T. 384. Dr. Toor opined that TLW had mild to moderate limitations for standing, ...

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