United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.
Shakira Crawley brings this action under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act") on behalf of her son, Z.B.D. (hereinafter designated "plaintiff"), claiming that the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "defendant") improperly denied his application for children's supplemental security income benefits ("SSI").
Currently before the Court are the parties' competing motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion is denied and, defendant's motion is granted.
On November 22, 2010, plaintiff filed an application for SSI alleging disability as of November 1, 2010 due to attention deficient hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"). Administrative Transcript ("T.") 136. Following a denial of that application, plaintiff testified at a hearing held at his request on March 19, 2012 before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Richard E. Guida. T. 36-63, 73-74. Testimony was taken from plaintiff and his mother, Shakira Crawley ("Ms. Crawley"). T. 36-63.
The ALJ, in his review of the evidence, applied the three-step required analysis set forth in the Social Security Administration's regulations ( see 20 C.F.R. § 416.924) and made the following findings: (1) plaintiff was a school-aged child on November 22, 2010; (2) he had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 22, 2010, the date of the onset of his alleged disability; (3) his ADHD was a severe impairment; (4) his impairment did not meet or medically equal the severity of any impairments listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart 9, Appendix 1; (5) his impairment did not functionally equal the severity of any impairments listed in 20 CFR 416.924(d) and 416.926(a); and (6) plaintiff had not been disabled as defined by the Act since November 22, 2010. T. 18-32.
With respect to finding number four, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairment did not meet the criteria in listing 112.11 for ADHD, which requires medically-documented findings of marked inattention, marked impulsiveness and marked hyperactivity. T. 21. The ALJ found that since receiving medical treatment for his ADHD, the level of plaintiff's hyperactivity and impulsiveness were to a degree less what is found to be marked. T. 21.
With respect to finding number five, the ALJ, after considering the testimony, teacher reports, mental status examination reports, and medical opinion evidence, found that, as result of his impairment, plaintiff has (1) less than marked limitation in acquiring and using information, (2) marked limitation in attending and completing tasks, (3) less than marked limitation in moving about and manipulating objects, (4) less than marked limitation in the ability to care for himself, and (5) no limitation in health and physical well-being. T. 27-32.
The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. T. 1. This action followed.
I. General Legal Principles
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) grants jurisdiction to district courts to hear claims based on the denial of Social Security benefits. Section 405(g) provides that the District Court "shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2007). The section directs that when considering such a claim, the Court must accept the findings of fact made by the Commissioner, provided that such findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record.
When determining whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence, the Court's task is "to examine the entire record, including contradictory evidence and evidence from which conflicting inferences can be drawn.'" Brown v. Apfel, 174 F.3d 59, 62 (2d Cir. 1999), quoting Mongeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1038 (2d Cir. 1983) (per curiam). Section 405(g) limits the scope of the Court's review to two inquiries: whether the Commissioner's findings were supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and whether the ...