United States District Court, N.D. New York
JUSTICE CENTER Attorneys for Plaintiff LOUISE MARIE
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of Regional General Counsel
Attorneys for Defendant DAVID L. BROWN, SPECIAL
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
D'Agostino U.S. District Judge.
commenced this action on January 27, 2016, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking review of
a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
"Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application
for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI").
See Dkt. No. 1.
date of birth is September 22, 1994, which made him thirteen
years old in December 2007 when he began receiving SSI
benefits. See Dkt. No. 9, Administrative Transcript
("T."), at 104. In February 2013, the Social
Security Administration ("SSA") notified Plaintiff
that his eligibility for SSI benefits was being terminated
after an age 18 redetermination. See Id. at 93.
Plaintiff was nineteen years old on June 5, 2014, the date of
Plaintiff's disability hearing. See Id. at 33.
At that time, Plaintiff was 5'7" and weighed
approximately 360 lbs. See Id. at 337. Plaintiff
completed tenth grade in 2012 and a GED training course later
that same year. See Id. at 159. Plaintiff testified
that he took the GED twice with testing accommodations but
failed. See Id. at 38, 48. Plaintiff also earned a
certificate for completing an automotive technology program.
See Id. at 38-39. Plaintiff testified that he
frequently relied on an instructor in the automotive program
for help with various tasks, including reading, and that he
would not have been able to finish the class without that
instructor's assistance. See Id. at 46-48.
Plaintiff reported that he has only worked as a maintenance
worker at a St. Lawrence County sponsored summer youth
program. See Id. at 149-51, 159-60. Plaintiff has
not worked since August 2012 and has no prior relevant work.
See Id. at 79, 159-60.
testified that his asthma impacts his everyday life.
According to Plaintiff, working at the summer program was
difficult because certain chemicals he handled exacerbated
his asthma. See Id. at 51-52. Plaintiff reported
that his brother, who also worked at the summer program,
frequently helped him perform tasks, including handling
chemicals. See Id. Plaintiff attested that he
probably could not have completed his work at the summer
program without his brother's assistance. See
Id. Plaintiff also testified that his asthma required
him to leave work early on several occasions and that his
asthma occasionally interrupts his sleep. See Id. at
40, 53-54. Plaintiff claimed that he cannot walk a whole
block and that attempting to do so causes shortness of
breath. See Id. at 52.
also suffers from a reading disorder. See Id. at
40-41. Plaintiff testified that he is generally capable of
reading children's books and occasionally reads to his
five year old brother, but sometimes has difficulty. See
Id. at 41, 49. Plaintiff also testified that he needs
help to read letters and simple recipes and usually cannot
read newspaper articles. See Id. at 40-42, 49-50.
Plaintiff spends most of his time at home with his mother.
See Id. at 44. Plaintiff often plays board games,
such as Sorry and Uno, with his mother but needs help reading
instructions. See Id. at 44-45, 55. Plaintiff
testified that he assists with cooking, mopping, sweeping,
and laundry; however, he can only occasionally perform such
tasks without his mother's supervision. See Id.
at 44, 54. For example, Plaintiff claims that he struggles to
measure the right amount of detergent and read the washing
machine's controls by himself. See Id. at 54.
Plaintiff is generally able to purchase food at the grocery
store, but struggles with certain items that are unfamiliar
to him because he cannot read the labels. See Id. at
50. Plaintiff testified that he is able to lift a gallon of
milk and a bag of potatoes. See Id. at 53. Plaintiff
also indicated that he does not use a computer and that he
becomes frustrated when he has tried. See Id. at 55.
Plaintiff also indicated that he enjoys watching sports but
only watches them for a few minutes before getting bored and
moving on to something else. See Id. at 45, 54.
mother testified that Plaintiff is generally unable to read
children's books to his younger brother. See Id.
at 60. She also contended that Plaintiff is unable to go to
the grocery store by himself, cannot count change, and tends
to lose money. See Id. at 60-62. She also attested
that Plaintiff cannot follow multistep instructions,
struggles to retain information, plays with children's
toys, and cannot function alone. See Id. at 65-68.
testing performed in 2004 revealed a verbal score of 81 and a
full scale score of 71, as well as a perceptual reasoning
score of 73, a working memory score of 86, and a processing
speed score of 68. See Id. at 195-96. In 2008,
Plaintiff received a verbal score of 93, as well as a
perceptual reasoning score of 90, a working memory score of
99, and a processing speed score of 68. See Id. at
196. In 2011, Plaintiff received a verbal score of 103, a
nonverbal score of 88, and a full scale score of 96. See
Id. at 200. Most recently, in 2014, Plaintiff received a
verbal score of 76 and a full scale score of 74, as well as a
perceptual reasoning score of 77, a working memory score of
74, and a processing speed score of 71. See Id. at
February 25, 2013, the SSA determined that Plaintiff was no
longer disabled and therefore no longer qualified to receive
SSI benefits. See Id. at 93. In March 2013,
Plaintiff's mother filed a request for reconsideration on
Plaintiff's behalf. See Id. at 99. Plaintiff
attended a Disability Hearing Officer hearing on September
24, 2013. See Id. at 102. By decision dated October
28, 2013, the Disability Hearing Officer upheld the decision
to terminate Plaintiff's SSI benefits. See Id.
at 111-16. Plaintiff then requested a hearing by an
administrative law judge. See Id. at 117-19. A
video-conference hearing was conducted on June 5, 2014 before
Administrative Law Judge Jennifer Smith (the
"ALJ"). See Id. at 33-89. The ALJ issued
an unfavorable decision to Plaintiff dated September 15,
2014. See Id. at 15-32. The ALJ made the following
determinations: (1) Plaintiff turned eighteen on September
21, 2012, was eligible for SSI benefits as a child, and was
notified that he was no longer disabled as of February 25,
2013, based on a redetermination of disability; (2) since
February 25, 2013, Plaintiff has had the following severe
impairments: obesity, asthma, and a learning disability in
reading and writing; (3) since February 25, 2013, Plaintiff
does not have an impairment or combination of impairments
that meets or medically equals the severity of a Listed
Impairment in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 (the
"Listed Impairment(s)"); (4) since February 25,
2013, Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 416.967(b) except that he must avoid
concentrated exposure to respiratory irritants and extreme
temperatures, and Plaintiff can stand, walk, or sit for six
hours in an eight-hour workday with occasional lifting or
carrying of twenty pounds and frequent lifting or carrying of
ten pounds; (5) Plaintiff has no past relevant work; and (6)
considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that Plaintiff can perform. See
Id. at 15-32. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff's disability ended on February 25, 2013 and
that Plaintiff was not under a disability from February 25,
2013 through the date of the ALJ's decision. See
Id. at 28.
timely filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision
with the Appeals Council See Id. at 5-7. In a notice
dated November 27, 2015, the request was denied, rendering
the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision.
See Id. at 1-4. Plaintiff then commenced this action
for judicial review of the denial of his claim by the filing
of a complaint on January 27, 2016. See Dkt. No. 1.
Both parties have moved for judgment on the pleadings.
See Dkt. Nos. 12, 18. The Court orders that the
Commissioner's decision is vacated and remanded.