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Churchill v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 27, 2017

JODI CHURCHILL, on behalf of Z.W.C., a minor, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OFFICE OF PETER M. MARGOLIUS Counsel for Plaintiff

          PETER M. MARGOLIUS, ESQ.

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant

          KRISTINA D. COHN, ESQ.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          GLENN T. SUDDABY, Chief United States District Judge

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Jodi Churchill, on behalf of her son, Z.W.C. (“Plaintiff”), against the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 14.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was in the tenth grade. Generally, Plaintiff's alleged impairments are syringomyelia, [1] attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), oppositional defiant disorder, sleep disorder, migraines, bowel and bladder incontinence, and reflux.

         B. Procedural History

         On June 8, 2012, Plaintiff's mother filed an application for Supplemental Security Income on behalf of Plaintiff, a minor. Plaintiff's application was initially denied on September 19, 2012, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). On November 27, 2013, Plaintiff and his mother appeared in a hearing before the ALJ, Carl E. Stephan. (T. 31-60.)[2] On February 11, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 9-30.) On July 30, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-5.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following six findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 19-29.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was an “adolescent” pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g)(2) on June 8, 2012, the date that the application for benefits was filed. (T. 19.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's ADHD, hydromyelia (syringomyelia), and headaches were severe impairments. (T. 19.) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff does not have an impairment, or combination of impairments, that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the “Listings”). (T. 19.) The ALJ considered Listings 112.11 and 111.00. (Id.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff does not have an impairment, or combination of impairments, that functionally equals the severity of the Listings. (T. 19-29.) Sixth, and finally, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not been disabled, as defined by the Social Security Act, since June 8, 2012, the date his application was filed. (T. 29.)

         D. The Parties' Briefings on Their Cross-Motions

         Plaintiff makes two arguments in support of his motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff has “less than marked” limitation in the domain of attending and completing tasks is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 13, at 1-4 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff has “less than marked” limitation in the domain of health and physical well-being is not supported by substantial evidence. (Id., at 4-5.)

         Defendant makes two arguments in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Defendant argues that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff has “less than marked” limitation in his ability to attend to and complete tasks. (Dkt. No. 14, at 6-10 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendant argues that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff has “less than marked” limitation in his health and physical well-being. (Id. at 8-13.)

         II. RELEVANT ...


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