United States District Court, D. Maryland
Lakina Wright o/b/o L.R.
Commissioner, Social Security Administration;
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Ms. Wright and Counsel:
March 8, 2017, Plaintiff Lakina Wright, who proceeds pro
se, petitioned this Court to review the Social Security
Administration's final decision to deny her claim for
Children's Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) on behalf of her minor daughter, L.R.
[ECF No. 1]. Ms. Wright did not file a motion for summary
judgment, but filed a response to the Commissioner's
Motion for Summary Judgment. [ECF No. 18]. I have considered
the Commissioner's motion and Ms. Wright's response.
[ECF Nos. 16, 18]. I find that no hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). This Court must
uphold the decision of the Agency if it is supported by
substantial evidence and if the Agency employed proper legal
standards. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3); Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th
Cir. 1996). Under that standard, I will grant the
Commissioner's motion and affirm the Commissioner's
judgment pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). This letter explains my rationale.
Wright protectively filed a claim for Children's SSI on
behalf of L.R. on August 7, 2009, alleging a disability onset
date of June 20, 2009. (Tr. 137-42). L.R. was
awarded benefits for her impairment of “prematurity
with low birth weight.” (Tr. 9, 12). Following a
continuing disability review, L.R.'s benefits ceased as
of March 11, 2013. (Tr. 46-48). The cessation was upheld on
reconsideration. (Tr. 59-60). A hearing was initially
scheduled on January 13, 2015, but was postponed to allow
time for Ms. Wright to obtain a representative. (Tr. 102);
see also (Tr. 9). Ms. Wright, however, did not
secure representation. (Tr. 29-30). A hearing was held on
August 20, 2015, before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (Tr. 27-41). Following the hearing, the
ALJ issued an opinion denying benefits. (Tr. 6-26). The
Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Ms. Wright's
request for further review, (Tr. 1-3), so the ALJ's
decision constitutes the final, reviewable decision of the
evaluated Ms. Wright's claim using the three-step
sequential process to determine whether L.R.'s
impairments have medically improved and no longer result in
marked and severe functional limitations, as set forth in 20
C.F.R. § 416.994a. At step one, the ALJ must determine
whether there has been medical improvement in the impairment
found at the time of the most recent favorable
decision-otherwise known as the comparison point decision
(“CPD”). 20 C.F.R. § 416.994a(b)(1). If
there is medical improvement, at step two, the ALJ must
consider whether the impairment meets or medically equals the
severity of the listed impairment that it met or equaled at
the time of the CPD. Id. § 416.994a(b)(2). If
the impairment does not meet or equal the severity of the
listing, at step three, the ALJ must determine whether the
child remains disabled. Id. § 416.994a(b)(3).
In doing so, the ALJ must consider: (1) whether the claimant
has a severe impairment or combination of impairments; (2)
whether the claimant's impairment(s) meet or medically
equal the severity of any listings; and (3) whether the
claimant's impairment(s) functionally equal the severity
of any listings. Id.
children, listings describe impairments that cause marked and
severe functional limitations. See Id. §
416.924. Generally, a child's impairment meets
“listing-level severity” if it causes
“‘marked' limitations in two domains of
functioning or an ‘extreme' limitation in one
domain [of functioning].” Id. § 416.925;
see also Id. § 416.926a(e). If an impairment
does not meet or equal any listings, the ALJ may determine
that the impairment is functionally equivalent to a listing.
Id. § 416.926a(a). In doing so, the ALJ
considers the child's daily activities, including
everything the child does at home, at school, and in the
community. Id. § 416.926a(b). Next, the ALJ
assesses the child's capacity to perform activities and
identifies which of the child's activities are limited in
any or all of the six domains or broad areas of functioning.
Id; see also SSR 09-1p, 2009 WL 39603, at *2 (Feb.
17, 2009). The six domains include: (1) acquiring and using
information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3)
interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and
manipulating objects; (5) caring for yourself; and (6) health
and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. §§
evaluating the child's ability to function in each
domain, the ALJ will consider information related to the
(i) What activities is the child able to perform?
(ii) What activities is the child not able to perform?
(iii) Which of the child's activities are limited or
restricted compared to other children her age who do not have
(iv) Where does the child have difficulty with her
activities-at home, in childcare, at school, or in the
(v) Does the child have difficulty independently initiating,
sustaining, or completing activities?
(vi) What kind of help does the child need to do her
activities, how much help does she need, and how often does
she need it?
Id. §§ 416.926a(b)(2)(i)-(vi). An
impairment functionally equals a listing if the claimant has
“marked” limitations in two domains, or an
“extreme” limitation in ...