United States District Court, D. Arizona
S. Willett United States Magistrate Judge.
action appeals the Social Security Administration's
(“Social Security”) denial of an application for
supplemental security income (“SSI”) filed on
behalf of Plaintiff Calvin Skinner, Jr., a minor under age
18. This Court has jurisdiction to decide Plaintiff's
appeal pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), the Court has the power to enter, based 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 case for a rehearing. Both parties have consented to the
exercise of U.S. Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (Doc. 13).
After reviewing the Administrative Record
(“A.R.”) and the parties' briefing (Docs. 16,
21, 22), the Court finds that the Administrative Law
Judge's (“ALJ”) decision is supported by
substantial evidence and is free of harmful legal error. The
decision is therefore affirmed.
is disabled for the purposes of receiving SSI benefits if he
“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 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). To decide if a child is entitled to
disability benefits, an ALJ conducts a three-step sequential
evaluation. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). In the first step,
the ALJ determines whether the child engaged in substantial
gainful activity during the alleged disability period. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(b). If the child has been engaged in
substantial gainful activity, the analysis ends and
disability benefits are denied. Id. Otherwise, the
ALJ proceeds to the second step.
second step, the ALJ determines whether the child has a
severe medically determinable impairment or combination of
impairments. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c). If there are no
such impairments, the disability claim is denied.
Id. If there are such impairments, the ALJ proceeds
to the third step.
final step of the analysis, the ALJ determines whether the
child's impairment meets or medically or functionally
equals an impairment in the Listing of Impairments
(“Listing”), 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P,
App. 1. If the impairment meets or equals an impairment in
the Listing, it is presumed to cause “marked and severe
functional limitations.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d).
If the impairment has lasted or can be expected to last for
at least twelve months, then the child is deemed disabled and
Standard of Review Applicable to ALJ's
Court must affirm an ALJ's decision if it is supported by
substantial evidence and is based on correct legal standards.
Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir.
2012); Marcia v. Sullivan, 900 F.2d 172, 174 (9th
Cir. 1990). Although “substantial evidence” is
less than a preponderance, it is more than a “mere
scintilla.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion. Id.
determining whether substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's decision, the Court considers the record as a
whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and detracts
from the ALJ's conclusions. Reddick v. Chater,
157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998); Tylitzki v.
Shalala, 999 F.2d 1411, 1413 (9th Cir. 1993). If there
is sufficient evidence to support the ALJ's
determination, the Court cannot substitute its own
determination. See Morgan v. Comm'r of the Social
Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir.1999)
(“Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, it is the ALJ's conclusion that
must be upheld.”); Magallanes v. Bowen, 881
F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). This is because the ALJ, not
the Court, is responsible for resolving conflicts, ambiguity,
and determining credibility. Magallanes, 881 F.2d at
750; see also Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039
(9th Cir. 1995).
Court must also consider the harmless error doctrine when
reviewing an ALJ's decision. This doctrine provides that
an ALJ's decision need not be remanded or reversed if it
is clear from the record that the error is
“inconsequential to the ultimate nondisability
determination.” Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d
1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted);
Molina, 674 F.3d at 1115 (an error is harmless so
long as there remains substantial evidence supporting the
ALJ's decision and the error “does not negate the
validity of the ALJ's ultimate conclusion”)
is a minor child born on July 6, 2005. (A.R. 109). On
November 13, 2015, his mother applied for SSI on his behalf.
(A.R. 175-80). The application alleged that on August 30,
2011, Plaintiff became disabled due to attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder ...