United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
PATRICK AULD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kadiatou Toure, brought this action on behalf of her minor
child, C.B.S., Jr., pursuant to the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), to obtain judicial review of the final
decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security,
denying Plaintiff's claim for Child Supplemental Security
Income (“CSSI”). (Docket Entry 2.) Defendant has
filed the certified administrative record (Docket Entry 8
(cited herein as “Tr. ___ ”)), and both parties
have moved for judgment (Docket Entries 10, 11; see also
Docket Entry 12 (Defendant's Memorandum)). For the
reasons that follow, the Court should enter judgment for
applied for CSSI on behalf of her child C.B.S., Jr. (Tr.
156-64.) Following denial of that application initially (Tr.
74-85, 99-102) and on reconsideration (Tr. 86-98, 106-12),
Plaintiff requested a hearing de novo before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Tr. 113-15).
Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, testified at the hearing. (Tr.
32-64.) The ALJ subsequently ruled that C.B.S., Jr. did not
qualify as disabled under the Act. (Tr. 7-27.) The Appeals
Council thereafter denied Plaintiff's request for review
(Tr. 1-6, 153-55, 266), thereby making the ALJ's ruling
the Commissioner's final decision for purposes of
rendering this disability determination, the ALJ made the
following findings later adopted by the Commissioner:
1. [C.B.S., Jr.] . . . was a school-age child on . . . the
date the application was filed, and is currently an
2. [C.B.S., Jr.] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since . . . the application date.
3. [C.B.S., Jr.] has the following severe impairments:
seizure disorder, under control; attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder [(“ADHD”)], and
oppositional defiant disorder.
4. [C.B.S., Jr.] does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
5. [C.B.S., Jr.] does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that functionally equals the severity of the
6. [C.B.S., Jr.] has not been disabled, as defined in the . .
. Act, since . . . the date the application was filed.
(Tr. 13-26 (bold font and internal citations omitted).)
law “authorizes judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits.”
Hines v. Barnhart, 453 F.3d 559, 561 (4th Cir.
2006). However, “the scope of . . . review of [such an
administrative] decision . . . is extremely limited.”
Frady v. Harris, 646 F.2d 143, 144 (4th Cir. 1981).
Plaintiff has not shown entitlement to relief under the
extremely limited review standard.
Standard of Review
are not to try [a Social Security] case de novo.”
Oppenheim v. Finch, 495 F.2d 396, 397 (4th Cir.
1974). Instead, “a reviewing court must uphold the
factual findings of the ALJ [underlying the denial of
benefits] if they are supported by substantial evidence and
were reached through application of the correct legal
standard.” Hines, 453 F.3d at 561 (internal brackets
and quotation marks omitted).
evidence means ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Hunter v. Sullivan, 993 F.2d
31, 34 (4th Cir. 1993) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971)). “It consists
of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat
less than a preponderance.” Mastro v. Apfel,
270 F.3d 171, 176 (4th Cir. 2001) (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted). “If there is evidence to
justify a refusal to direct a verdict were the case before a
jury, then there is substantial evidence.” Hunter, 993
F.2d at 34 (internal quotation marks omitted).
reviewing for substantial evidence, the court should not
undertake to re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute its judgment for that of the
[ALJ, as adopted by the Commissioner].”
Mastro, 270 F.3d at 176 (internal brackets and
quotation marks omitted). “Where conflicting evidence
allows reasonable minds to differ as to whether a claimant is
disabled, the responsibility for that decision falls on the
[Commissioner] (or the ALJ).” Id. at 179
(internal quotation marks omitted). “The issue before
[the Court], therefore, is not whether [the claimant] is
disabled, but whether the ALJ's finding that [the
claimant] is not disabled is supported by substantial
evidence and was reached based upon a correct application of
the relevant law.” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d
585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996).
confronting that issue, the Court must take note that
“[a] claimant for disability benefits bears the burden
of proving a disability, ” Hall v. Harris, 658
F.2d 260, 264 (4th Cir. 1981), and a child under the age of
18 qualifies as disabled if he or she has “a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of
impairments that causes marked and severe functional
limitations, and that can be expected to cause death or that
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than 12 months, ” 20 C.F.R. § 416.906.
In resolving such a claim, the ALJ must follow a three-step
sequential evaluation process to consider whether a claimant
(1) has ...