The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jean Rosenbluth U.S. Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
Plaintiff seeks review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). This matter is before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation, filed December 17, 2012, which the Court has taken under submission without oral argument. For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and this action is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this memorandum opinion.
Plaintiff was born on June 24, 1996. (Administrative Record ("AR") 72.) At the time of the hearing in this matter, he was a 13-year-old eighth-grader. (AR 40.) On June 11, 2008, through his mother, Plaintiff Sandra Greene, he filed an application for SSI, alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2008. (AR 154.) The application was denied on September 15, 2008. (AR 74-77.)
Plaintiff then requested reconsideration (AR 79), which was denied on March 11, 2009 (AR 80-83). Plaintiff next requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 88.) A hearing was held on May 11, 2010, at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and his mother testified. (AR 37-71.) Plaintiff did not request that a medical expert testify, and none did. (See generally id.) Plaintiff submitted new documentary evidence at the hearing. (AR 36.) On June 25, 2010, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 17-33.) Plaintiff then sought review by the Appeals Council. (AR 13.) On January 17, 2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review after considering his newly submitted evidence. (AR 1-5.) This action followed.
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's findings and decision should be upheld if they are free of legal error and are supported by substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971); Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court "must review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion." Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1996). "If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing," the reviewing court "may not substitute its judgment" for that of the Commissioner. Id. at 720-21.
IV. THE EVALUATION OF DISABILITY
"An individual under the age of 18 shall be considered disabled . . . if that individual has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i).
A. The Three-Step Evaluation Process In determining eligibility for SSI based on a childhood disability, the Commissioner follows a three-step evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a).
At step one, the Commissioner considers whether the child has engaged in substantial gainful activity. § 416.924(b). If so, the claimant is not disabled. Id. If not, step two requires the Commissioner to consider whether any impairment or combination of impairments is severe. § 416.924(c). If not, the claimant is not disabled. Id. If so, then at step three the Commissioner must determine whether the impairment meets, medically equals, or functionally equals in severity any impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the "Listings"). § 416.924(d). Only if so is the claimant disabled. Id.
An impairment "functionally equals" a Listing if the child has marked limitations in at least two of six functional domains or an extreme limitation in at ...