United States District Court, W.D. New York
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.
Represented by counsel, Simone Hampton ("Plaintiff"), brings this action on behalf of her minor child ("J.G.P.") pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).
II. Procedural History
Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on behalf of J.G.P., a child under the age of 18, on May 8, 2008, alleging disability commencing May 1, 2008. T. 32, 140-42. The initial application was denied, and Plaintiff subsequently requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Plaintiff and J.G.P. appeared with counsel at a video hearing before ALJ Jennifer Whang on September 7, 2010. T. 10-31.
On October 21, 2010, ALJ Whang issued a written decision determining that J.G.P. was not disabled and therefore not eligible for SSI. T. 36-50. The ALJ's determination became the final decision of the Commissioner on July 19, 2012, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. T. 1-3. This action followed. Dkt. #1.
Now pending before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Dkt. ##9, 13. For the reasons that follow, the Commissioner's motion is granted, and Plaintiff's motion is denied.
III. Factual Background
A. Testimonial Evidence
J.G.P. was 14 years-old at the time of the disability hearing, was in the seventh grade, and played football. T. 15. Plaintiff testified that J.G.P. had problems at school with his attitude, that he would nap during classes, and had confrontations with other students, as well as with his teachers. T. 16-17. She stated that she believed his diagnosis of sleep apnea probably caused his irritability. T. 17. J.G.P. had recently been suspended for bringing a pocket knife to school. T. 24.
Plaintiff also testified that J.G.P. needed extra help on tests, and had been held back twice in school. T. 18-19. Although he had friends, he often had conflicts with them, as well as with his three siblings. T. 21-22. J.G.P. was not on any medication. T. 22.
B. School Records
On September 2, 2008, J.G.P.'s special education and fifth grade teachers completed a questionnaire indicating that he was below level in reading, math, and writing. T. 170-76. He was in 11:1 classes for reading and writing, and in the domain of Attending and Completing tasks, "serious problems" were indicated in eight of thirteen categories, and "very serious problems" in organizing own things or school materials and in completing class/homework assignments. T. 172. In the domain of Interacting and Relating with Others, his teachers opined that he had serious problems in expressing anger appropriately; following rules; respecting/obeying adults in authority; and relating experiences and telling stories. T. 173. The teachers noted that J.G.P. was capable of more than his progress indicated. T. 171.
An Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") for the 2008-09 school year classified J.G.P. as Learning Disabled, requiring special education for reading, writing, and speech. T. 295-98. Subsequent IEPs for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 classified J.G.P. as special education with emotional disability. T. 216, 253.
In early 2010, J.G.P.'s math teacher noted that he had trouble focusing and fell asleep in class, but found minimal limitations in the childhood domains. T. 188-93. Around the same time, his physical education teacher found no ...