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Schroeder v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

July 29, 2015

LISA LYNN SCHROEDER, On behalf of her minor daughter K.P., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GAIL J. STANDISH, Magistrate Judge.

I. PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff Lisa Lynn Schroeder ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") on behalf of her minor daughter, K.P. The parties filed consents to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, and a Joint Stipulation addressing disputed issues in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

II. CHILDHOOD DISABILITY EVALUATION PROCESS

To qualify for disability benefits, a child under the age of eighteen must have "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).

The Social Security Administration has enacted a three-step sequential analysis to determine whether a child is eligible for SSI benefits on the basis of a disability. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). First, if the child is engaged in "substantial gainful activity, " she is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(b). Second, the Commissioner determines whether the child has a "medically determinable impairment that is severe." 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c). Third, if the child has a severe impairment, the Commissioner determines whether the impairment meets or medically equals an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 ("Listings"). 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c)-(d). If the impairment satisfies this requirement, the child is presumed disabled. If a child's impairment does not meet or medically equal a listed impairment, the Commissioner will consider whether the child's impairment is severe enough that it is functionally equivalent to the severity required by the Listings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a.

In determining whether an impairment functionally equals a listed impairment, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") must consider the child's ability to function in six domains: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for herself, and (6) health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a)-(b). To demonstrate functional equivalence, the child must exhibit "marked" limitations in two of the domains, or an "extreme" limitation in one domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d). A "marked" limitation is one that "seriously" interferes with the child's ability to initiate, sustain, or complete activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2)(i). An "extreme" limitation is one that "very seriously" interferes with the child's ability to initiate, sustain, or complete activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3)(i).

III. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

The ALJ found that K.P. was born on March 8, 1998, and was a "school-age child" on May 4, 2011, the date her application was filed. (Administrative Record ("AR") 16). The ALJ determined that K.P. had not engaged in substantial gainful activity at any time since the application date, and that K.P. has the severe impairments of gastroesophageal reflux disease and an unspecified learning disorder. (AR 16). The ALJ determined that K.P.'s impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (AR 16); 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. The ALJ further found that K.P.'s impairments did not functionally equal in severity any listed impairment because K.P. has less than marked or no limitations in each of the six domains of function. (AR 18-24); 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.924(d), 416.926a. Consequently, the ALJ concluded that K.P. was not disabled. (AR 24).

The Appeals Council denied review and the ALJ's decision became the final decision Commissioner. (AR 1-3).

IV. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner, 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.

V. DISCUSSION

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by: (1) concluding that K.P.'s impairments did not meet, medically equal or have the functional equivalence of an impairment in Listing 112.05; and (2) failing to call a medical expert to testify at the administrative hearing. (Joint Stipulation ("Joint Stip.") at 3-5, 11-15, 21-22). As set forth below, ...


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