United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Samantha Harker Clawson, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal
Services, for Plaintiff.
Marentette, and Michael A. Moss, Social Security
Administration for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections
[Doc. No. 21] to United States Magistrate Judge Leo I.
Brisbois's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), dated July 5, 2017 [Doc. No. 19].
The magistrate judge recommended that Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 13] be denied, and that
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 15] be
to statute, this Court reviews de novo any portion
of the magistrate judge's opinion to which specific
objections are made, and “may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations” contained in that opinion. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b);
D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(3). For the reasons stated herein, the
Court overrules Plaintiff's objections and adopts the
R&R in its entirety.
facts pertinent to this matter have been thoroughly and
accurately detailed in the R&R, and will not be repeated
in full here. (See R&R at 1-34.) Stated briefly,
in May 2009, Plaintiff's parent (“Parent”)
filed an application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) on behalf of her nine-year-old son,
pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (See
Id. at 1.) On December 14, 2009, Defendant found that
Plaintiff was disabled due to Borderline Intellectual
Function and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(“ADHD”). (See Id. at 1-2.) Plaintiff
was found to be disabled as of May 5, 2009, and was awarded
SSI benefits accordingly. (See Id. at 2.)
16, 2014, after a routine review of Plaintiff's
disability pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.994a(a),
Defendant concluded that Plaintiff had exhibited medical
improvement and was no longer disabled as of May 1, 2014.
Plaintiff's disability benefits were subsequently
terminated. (See id.)
requested reconsideration of the termination decision, and a
hearing was held on the request on July 17, 2014. (See
id.) Both Parent and Plaintiff testified at the hearing,
and a decision was issued by the Disability Hearing Officer
on July 18, 2014. (See id.) She concluded that
Plaintiff's condition had improved since the initial
decision to award benefits in 2009 (the “Comparison
Point Decision, or “CPD”),  and that
Plaintiff was no longer disabled.
again requested reconsideration, this time before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). ALJ Mary M.
Kunz duly held an administrative hearing on November 14,
2014, where she heard testimony from Plaintiff, Parent, and
Dr. Karen Butler, the state agency medical expert. (See
id.) On December 8, 2014, the ALJ issued her Hearing
Decision, in which she concluded that Plaintiff's
disability had ended as of May 1, 2014, and he had not become
disabled again since that date. (See id.)
particular note here, the ALJ reached her decision after
following the three-step sequential analysis for conducting a
periodic review of a child's eligibility for disability
benefits mandated by 20 C.F.R. § 416.994a(b). (See
Id. at 32.) The ALJ found that at the time of the CPD,
Plaintiff had medically determinable impairments of
borderline intellectual functioning and ADHD, which caused
marked limitations in two of the six domains listed in 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)-“acquiring and using
information, ” and “interacting and relating with
others.” (See id.)
first step of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that the
medical evidence of record supported a finding that as of May
1, 2014, the medical severity of Plaintiff's impairments
had decreased since the CPD. At the second step, the ALJ
found that the impairments Plaintiff had at the time of the
CPD did not, as of May 1, 2014, functionally equal the
Listing of Impairments. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.925.
at the third step, the ALJ considered whether Plaintiff's
current severe impairments, which the ALJ found were Anxiety,
Not Otherwise Specified (“Anxiety, NOS”), and
ADHD, met or medically equaled a Listed Impairment identified
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (See
R&R at 33.) The ALJ concluded that they did not. (See
id.) She further found that Plaintiff's current
impairments did not functionally equal a Listed Impairment,
based on the testimony of Plaintiff, Parent, and Dr. Butler.
(See Id. at 33-34.) Ultimately, because
Plaintiff's impairments had not resulted in marked