United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division
Pearlie Sandidge, o/b/o A.J., a minor child. Plaintiff,
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
K. MOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross Motions
for Summary Judgment (dkts. 13 and 15), the Report &
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Robert S.
Ballou (dkt. 21, hereinafter “R&R”), and
Plaintiff's Objections to the R&R (dkt. 22,
hereinafter “Objections to R&R”). Pursuant to
Standing Order 2011-17 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), the
Court referred this matter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Ballou
for proposed findings of fact and a recommended disposition.
Judge Ballou filed his R&R, advising this Court to deny
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and grant the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff
timely filed his Objections, obligating the Court to
undertake a de novo review of those portions of the
R&R to which objections were made. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B); Farmer v. McBride, 177 F.
App'x 327, 330 (4th Cir. 2006). For the following
reasons, I will overrule Plaintiff's Objections and adopt
Judge Ballou's R&R in full.
Plaintiff does not object to the R&R's recitation of
the factual background, I incorporate that summary into this
opinion by reference. (See dkt. 21 at 4-7).
The ALJ's Decision
January 22, 2014, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Marc Mates held a hearing to consider
Sandidge's disability claim on behalf of A.J., a minor.
R. 27-46. Counsel represented A.J. at the hearing, which
included testimony from Sandidge, A.J.'s mother. On
December 23, 2013, the ALJ entered his decision denying
Sandidge's claim. R. 9-26.
analyzed Sandidge's claim under the required three-step
inquiry. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. First, the ALJ must
determine whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity. If so, the claimant is not disabled. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(a), (b). Next, the ALJ must determine
whether the claimant suffers from “an impairment or
combination of impairments that is severe”; if not, the
claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a), (c).
To qualify as a severe impairment, a condition must cause
more than a minimal effect on the claimant's ability to
function. 20 C.F.R. § 404.924(c). If an impairment is
“a slight abnormality or a combination of slight
abnormalities that causes no more than minimal functional
limitations, ” then it is not severe. Id. If
the claimant has a severe impairment, the analysis progresses
to step three where the ALJ must consider whether the
claimant's impairment or combination of impairments
meets, medically equals, or functionally equals a listing. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(a), (d). If the claimant has such
impairment, and it meets the duration requirement, the
claimant is disabled. Id.
found that A.J. suffered from the severe impairment of
bilateral clubfeet, but concluded that this impairment did
not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R.
16. In making this determination, the ALJ specifically
considered 101.01 impairment “of a major peripheral
weight-bearing joint, which results in an inability to
ambulate effectively.” Id.
determining whether an impairment functionally equals a
listed condition, the ALJ must consider six relevant domains
of functioning: (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. § 416.926a(b)(1). After considering these
functions, the ALJ concluded that A.J.'s impairment of
clubfeet was not functionally equivalent to a listed
condition. R. 16-26.
concluded that A.J. had “no limitation” in the
domains of acquiring and using information; interacting and
relating with others; and “less than marked
limitation” in attending and completing tasks and
moving about and manipulating objects. R. 22-25.
the ALJ determined A.J. was not disabled. After the Appeals
Council denied Sandidge's request for review, this appeal
Summary Judgment Motions and The Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation
cross motions for summary judgment were filed, Magistrate
Judge Robert S. Ballou held a hearing, (dkt. 19), and on
August 2, 2016, entered a report and recommendation.
Ballou recommends denying Plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment, and granting the Commissioner's motion. In his
R&R, Judge Ballou addressed Plaintiff's contentions
that the ALJ erred by determining that A.J. had “less
than marked limitation” in moving and manipulating
objects and health and well-being. After an extensive review
of each argument, ...