United States District Court, E.D. Washington
JUDGMENTANDDENYING DEFENDANT'SMOTIONFOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT
ECF NOS. 15, 17, 21
K. DIMKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
THE COURT are the parties' cross-motions for summary
judgment. ECF Nos. 15, 17, 21. The parties consented to proceed
before a magistrate judge. ECF No. 4. The Court, having
reviewed the administrative record and the parties'
briefing, is fully informed. For the reasons discussed below,
the Court grants Plaintiff's motion (ECF No. 21) and
denies Defendant's motion (ECF No. 17).
Court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
district court's review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security is governed by 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The scope of review under § 405(g) is
limited; the Commissioner's decision will be disturbed
“only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or
is based on legal error.” Hill v. Astrue, 698
F.3d 1153, 1158 (9th Cir. 2012). “Substantial
evidence” means “relevant evidence that a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. at 1159 (quotation and
citation omitted). Stated differently, substantial evidence
equates to “more than a mere scintilla[, ] but less
than a preponderance.” Id. (quotation and
citation omitted). In determining whether the standard has
been satisfied, a reviewing court must consider the entire
record as a whole rather than searching for supporting
evidence in isolation. Id.
reviewing a denial of benefits, a district court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner.
Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
2001). If the evidence in the record “is susceptible to
more than one rational interpretation, [the court] must
uphold the ALJ's findings if they are supported by
inferences reasonably drawn from the record.”
Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1111 (9th Cir.
2012). Further, a district court “may not reverse an
ALJ's decision on account of an error that is
harmless.” Id. An error is harmless
“where it is inconsequential to the [ALJ's]
ultimate nondisability determination.” Id. at
1115 (quotation and citation omitted). The party appealing
the ALJ's decision generally bears the burden of
establishing that it was harmed. Shinseki v.
Sanders, 556 U.S. 396, 409-10 (2009).
PROCESS FOR CHILDHOOD DISABILITY
qualify for Title XVI supplement security income 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
regulations provide a three-step process to determine whether
a claimant satisfies the above criteria. 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(a). First, the ALJ must determine whether the child
is engaged in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(b). Second, the ALJ considers whether the child has a
“medically determinable impairment that is severe,
” which is defined as an impairment that causes
“more than minimal functional limitations.” 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(c). Finally, if the ALJ finds a severe
impairment, she must then consider whether the impairment
“medically equals” or “functionally
equals” a disability listed in the “Listing of
Impairments.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c)-(d).
ALJ finds that the child's impairment or combination of
impairments does not meet or medically equal a listing, she
must determine whether the impairment or combination of
impairments functionally equals a listing. 20 C.F.R. §
416.926a(a). The ALJ's functional equivalence assessment
requires her to evaluate the child's functioning in six
“domains.” These six domains, which are designed
“to capture all of what a child can or cannot do,
” are as follows:
Acquiring and using information:
Attending and completing tasks;
Interacting and relating with others;
Moving about and manipulating objects;
Caring for self; and
Health and physical well-being.
C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1)(i)-(vi). A child's
impairment will be deemed to functionally equal a listed
impairment if the child's condition results in a
“marked” limitations in two domains, or an
“extreme” limitation in one domain. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.926a(a). An impairment is a “marked
limitation” if it “interferes seriously with [a
person's] ability to independently initiate, sustain, or
complete activities.” 20 C.F.R. §
416.926a(e)(2)(i). By contrast, an “extreme
limitation” is defined as a limitation that
“interferes very seriously with [a person's]
ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete
activities.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3)(i).
applied for Title XVI supplemental security income benefits
on September 12, 2012, on behalf of her minor child, alleging
a disability onset date of August 3, 2007. Tr. 263-71. The
Plaintiff's application was denied initially, Tr. 120-29,
and on reconsideration, Tr. 130-40. A prior hearing was held
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on July 16, 2013,
however, it was not recorded due to technical errors and
therefore is inadmissible as evidence. Tr. 12. Due to the
technical error, a second hearing was held on October 8,
2013. Tr. 12; Tr. 41-94. On November 4, 2013, the ALJ denied
Plaintiff's claim. Tr. 141-63.
Appeals Council remanded the order, and directed the ALJ to
“further evaluate the claimant's impairments under
the six domains of functioning, and provide rationale with
references to supporting evidence for each of the domains
… and give further consideration of the claimant's
mother's testimony.” Tr. 12 (internal citations
omitted). Plaintiff's mother appeared at another hearing
before an ...