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Skellie v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

February 27, 2015

Jodie Skellie on behalf of J.D.N.
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration. Opinion No. 2015 DNH 026

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

PAUL BARBADORO, District Judge.

Jodie Skellie, on behalf of her minor son, J.D.N., seeks judicial review of a ruling by the Social Security Administration denying her application for supplemental security income ("SSI"). For the reasons set forth below, I deny Skellie's request and affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Stipulated Facts

Pursuant to this court's Local Rule 9.1, the parties have submitted a joint statement of material facts, which is part of the court's record (Doc. No. 18). The facts relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed below.

B. Procedural History

On April 15, 2011, Skellie applied for SSI on behalf of J.D.N., alleging a disability beginning July 24, 2002, due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"), a learning disability, spina bifida occulta, and asthma. J.D.N. was eight years old at the time the application was filed. Skellie requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). On October 10, 2012, Skellie and J.D.N. testified at a hearing before an ALJ.

On October 18, 2012, the ALJ issued an Unfavorable Decision, finding that J.D.N. was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. The ALJ followed the sequential three-step process for determining whether a child is disabled. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. First, she determined that J.D.N. was not engaged in substantial gainful activity. Second, she found that he had the following severe impairments: "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disability, spina bifida occulta with chronic constipation, and asthma." Tr. at 15. Third, the ALJ found that J.D.N. did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met, medically equaled, or functionally equaled the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Accordingly, she concluded that J.D.N. was not disabled. On November 7, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Skellie's request for review of the ALJ's decision.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), I am authorized to review the pleadings submitted by the parties and the administrative record and enter a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the "final decision" of the Commissioner. My review "is limited to determining whether the ALJ used the proper legal standards and found facts [based] upon the proper quantum of evidence." Ward v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 211 F.3d 652, 655 (1st Cir. 2000). Findings of fact made by the ALJ are accorded deference as long as they are supported by substantial evidence. Id . Substantial evidence to support factual findings exists "if a reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the record as a whole, could accept it as adequate to support his conclusion.'" Irlanda Ortiz v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (quoting Rodriguez v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981)). If the substantial evidence standard is met, factual findings are conclusive even if the record "arguably could support a different conclusion." Id. at 770. Findings are not conclusive, however, if they are derived by "ignoring evidence, misapplying the law, or judging matters entrusted to experts." Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999) (per curiam). The ALJ is responsible for determining issues of credibility and for drawing inferences from evidence in the record. Irlanda Ortiz, 955 F.2d at 769. It is the role of the ALJ, not the court, to resolve conflicts in the evidence. Id.

III. ANALYSIS

Skellie contends that the ALJ erred by finding that J.D.N.'s ADHD (1) does not meet a listed impairment, (2) does not medically equal a listed impairment, and (3) does not functionally equal a listed impairment.

A. Entitlement to Children's Disability Benefits

With respect to children, the Social ...


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