United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
STEVEN J. McAULIFFE, District Judge.
Karie Young ("claimant") moves to reverse the Commissioner's denial of her son's application for children's Supplemental Security Income benefits. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (the "Act"). In support of that motion, Ms. Young says the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred in concluding that her son's impairments do not functionally equal a listed impairment. The Commissioner objects and moves for an order affirming her decision.
For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion for an order affirming her decision is granted, and the claimant's motion to reverse is denied.
I. Procedural History.
Claimant's son, A.Y., was born on June 2, 2004. In May of 2010, claimant filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits on his behalf, alleging that he was disabled from birth. Subsequently, she amended the date of his alleged onset of disability to May 19, 2010 (at which time A.Y. was nearly six years old). When that application was denied, claimant requested a hearing before an ALJ.
On June 9, 2011, a hearing was held before an ALJ, at which claimant appeared (via video conference) and testified. Two weeks later, the ALJ issued a written decision, concluding that A.Y. was not "disabled" within the meaning of the Act and denying his application for benefits. The ALJ's decision became final (and subject to appeal) when the Appeals Council denied claimant's request for review. She then filed this timely appeal and, in due course, a "Motion to Reverse" the Commissioner's decision denying benefits (document no. 8). The Commissioner objected and filed a "Motion for Order Affirming the Decision of the Commissioner" (document no. 10). Those motions are pending.
II. Stipulated Facts.
Pursuant to Local Rule 9.1(d), the parties have submitted a comprehensive statement of stipulated facts which, because it is part of the court's record (document no. 13), need not be recounted in this opinion. Those facts relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed as appropriate.
Standard of Review
I. Properly Supported Factual Findings by the ALJ are Entitled to Deference.
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the court is empowered "to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing." Factual findings and credibility determinations made by the Commissioner are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). See also Irlanda Ortiz v. Secretary of Health & Human Services , 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB , 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). It is something less than a preponderance of the evidence, so the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's finding from being supported by substantial evidence. Consolo v. Federal Maritime Comm'n. , 383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966). See also Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
II. Entitlement to Children's Disability Benefits.
With regard to children's disability benefits, the Act provides, in pertinent part, that:
An individual under the age of 18 shall be considered disabled for the purposes of this subchapter 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 ...