United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANSONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gaffney, on behalf of her minor child, J.K., seeks judicial
review of a decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying J.K.'s claim for Child's
Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits (SSID) under
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). After
reviewing the record, including a transcript of the
proceedings before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the
administrative record, the pleadings, and the joint
memorandum submitted by the parties, the Commissioner's
decision is AFFIRMED.
April 14, 2015, Ms. Gaffney applied for SSI on behalf of J.K.
due to an alleged disability beginning April 10, 2015. (Tr.
196). Disability examiners denied J.K.'s application at
the initial and reconsideration levels. (Tr. 67-88). An
administrative law judge (ALJ) held a hearing, and on
September 5, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding J.K. not
disabled. (Tr. 7-29). The Appeals Council denied Ms.
Gaffney's request for a review of the ALJ's decision,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5, 152). Ms. Gaffney now seeks review of
the Commissioner's final decision in this court. (Doc.
NATURE OF DISABILITY CLAIM
Statement of the Case
Gaffney is the mother of the child claimant J.K. (Tr. 208).
J.K. was born in 2015 and is four years old. (Tr. 156). Ms.
Gaffney filed for child SSID benefits on April 14, 2015,
alleging disability beginning on April 10, 2015. (Tr.
Summary of the ALJ's Decision
must follow three steps in determining whether a child is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.902(c),
416.924. At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the
child is engaged in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.924(b). Substantial gainful activity is paid work
that requires significant physical or mental activity.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.910. If the child is not
engaged in substantial gainful activity, the ALJ next
determines, at step two, whether the child has an impairment
or combination of impairments that cause marked or severe
functional limitations; can be expected to cause death; or
has lasted or can be expected to last for a period of at
least twelve months. See 20 C.F.R. §§
416.906, 416.924(c). If the child does not have a severe
medically determinable impairment, then, at step three, the
ALJ determines if the child's impairments meet, medically
equal, or functionally equal an impairment listed in the
Listings. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.911(b)(1),
impairment or combination of impairments “functionally
equals” a listing if the impairment “result[s] in
‘marked' limitations in two domains of functioning
or an ‘extreme' limitation in one domain.” 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a(a). These domains are intended to
encapsulate all of what a child can do, and consist of the
following: (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 yourself; and (6) health and physical well-being. 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1).
child has a marked limitation
when [the child's] impairment(s) interferes seriously
with [the child's] ability to independently initiate,
sustain, or complete activities. [The child's] day-to-day
functioning may be seriously limited when [the child's]
impairment(s) limits only one activity or when the
interactive and cumulative effects of [the child's]
impairment(s) limit several activities. “Marked”
limitation also means a limitation that is “more than
moderate” but “less than extreme.” It is
the equivalent of the functioning [the Commissioner] would
expect to find on standardized testing with scores that are
at least two, but less than three, standard deviations below
20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2)(i).
child has an extreme limitation
when [the child's] impairment(s) interferes very
seriously with [the child's] ability to independently
initiate, sustain, or complete activities. [The child's]
day-to-day functioning may be very seriously limited when
[the child's] impairment(s) limits only one activity or
when the interactive and cumulative effects of [the
child's] impairment(s) limit several activities.
“Extreme” limitation also means a limitation that
is “more than marked.” “Extreme”
limitation is the rating [the Commissioner] give[s] to the
worst limitations. However, “extreme limitation”
does not necessarily mean a total lack or loss of ability to
function. It is the equivalent of the functioning [the
Commissioner] would expect to find on standardized testing
with scores that are at least three standard deviations below
20 C.F.R § 416.926a(e)(3)(i).
determined J.K. was a newborn/young infant and had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity when Ms. Gaffney
filed the application. (Tr. 13). After reviewing the record,
the ALJ found J.K. to have the following severe impairments:
hydrocephalus and macrocephaly, status post
ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement, Dandy Walker
malformation, status post tethering of spinal cord, asthma,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, and developmental delays.
(Id.). Despite these findings, the ALJ determined
J.K. did not have an impairment or combination of impairments
that met, medically equaled, or functionally equaled one of
the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (the Listings). (Tr. 14-18).
then concluded J.K. had these limitations in the six
Acquiring and Using Information
Attending and Completing Tasks
Interacting and Relating with Others
Moving About and Manipulating Objects
Caring for Yourself
Health and Physical Well-Being
Less than Marked
(Tr. 18-24). Because J.K. did not have an extreme limitation
in one domain or marked limitations in two domains, the ALJ
found J.K. not disabled. (Tr. 24).