Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Begley v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division

August 23, 2019

HOLLY BEGLEY o/b/o L.V.B., Plaintiff
v.
ANDREW SAUL, [1]Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Pamela Meade Sargent United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. Background and Standard of Review

         Plaintiff, Holly Begley, on behalf of her minor son, L.V.B., filed this action challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, (“Commissioner”), denying L.V.B.'s claim for children's supplemental security income, (“SSI”), benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, as amended, (“Act”), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 1381-1383d. (West 2012 & Supp. 2019). Jurisdiction of this court is pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). This case is before the undersigned magistrate judge upon transfer by consent of the parties pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). Neither party has requested oral argument; therefore, this case is ripe for decision.

         The court's review in this case is limited to determining if the factual findings of the Commissioner are supported by substantial evidence and were reached through application of the correct legal standards. See Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d 514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987). Substantial evidence has been defined as “evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to support a particular conclusion. It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence, but may be somewhat less than a preponderance.” Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966). “‘If there is evidence to justify a refusal to direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is “substantial evidence.”'” Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Laws, 368 F.2d at 642).

         Begley protectively filed an application for children's SSI on behalf of her son on February 27, 2014, alleging disability as of January 1, 2013, due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, (“ADHD”), and insomnia. (Record, (“R.”), at 18, 231-34, 252.) Begley's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (R. at 122-24, 127-28, 130-33.) Begley then requested a hearing before an administrative law judge, (“ALJ”). (R. at 134-35.) A hearing was held on November 3, 2016, (R. at 66-101), and a supplemental hearing was held on March 21, 2017, at which Begley was represented by counsel. (R. at 46-65.)

         By decision dated June 5, 2017, the ALJ denied Begley's claim. (R. at 18-37.) The ALJ found that L.V.B. was born in 2010, and, therefore, was a preschooler on February 27, 2014, the date that the application was filed. (R. at 21.) The ALJ found that L.V.B. had not performed any substantial gainful activity since February 27, 2014, the application date. (R. at 21.) The ALJ found that the medical evidence established that L.V.B. suffered from severe impairments, namely ADHD; oppositional defiant disorder, (“ODD”); and recurrent upper respiratory infections, but he found that L.V.B. did not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed at or medically equal to one listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (R. at 21-22.) The ALJ further found that L.V.B. did not have an impairment or combination of impairments which would result in marked and severe functional limitations. (R. at 22-36.) Therefore, the ALJ concluded that L.V.B. was not under a disability as defined by the Act and was not eligible for children's SSI benefits. (R. at 37.) See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d)(2) (2018); see also 42 U.S.C.A. § 1382c(a)(3)(C) (West 2012 & Supp. 2019).

         After the ALJ issued his decision, Begley pursued her administrative appeals, (R. at 227), but the Appeals Council denied her request for review. (R. at 1-5.) Begley then filed this action seeking review of the ALJ's unfavorable decision, which now stands as the Commissioner's final decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481 (2018). The case is before this court on Begley's motion for summary judgment filed September 25, 2018, and the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment filed November 26, 2018.

         II. Facts

         L.V.B. was born in 2010. (R. at 231.) Begley testified that L.V.B. and his siblings were homeschooled. (R. at 59, 75.) She stated that L.V.B. could sit and maintain attention and concentration for only 10 minutes, if he was willing. (R. at 60.) Begley stated that L.V.B. was defiant and did not want to do what he was asked to do. (R. at 60-61.) She reported that L.V.B. picked on his siblings and threw tantrums; was disruptive in public; could not sit for long periods; could not comprehend much due to distractibility and inattentiveness; was impulsive to the point of being dangerous; and needed to wear pull-up diapers to bed. (R. at 56, 58-62, 76, 87-91.) She reported that L.V.B.'s medications had limited effect. (R. at 57, 78.) Begley testified that L.V.B. spent several consecutive days playing with a toy car so vigorously that he sprained his right ankle and that he ran into a wall and bruised his right shoulder and hip. (R. at 56.)

         In rendering his decision, the ALJ reviewed records from Leslie E. Montgomery, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist; Joseph Leizer, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist; Johnson City Medical Center; Dr. Suresh Jain, M.D.; Southwest Virginia Child Development Clinic; Wise County Behavioral Health Services; Healing Waters Counseling Center, LLC, (“Healing Waters”); Elizabeth Jones, M.A., a licensed clinical psychologist; and Mountain View Regional Medical Center, (“Mountain View”).

         Begley argues that the ALJ erred by failing to find that L.V.B.'s impairments met or equaled the criteria of § 112.11, the listing for neurodevelopmental disorders. (Plaintiff's Memorandum In Support Of His Motion For Summary Judgment, (“Plaintiff's Brief”), at 4-6.) In particular, Begley argues that the ALJ erred by failing to find that L.V.B.'s impairments did not result in marked limitations in three domains of functioning: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; and (2) interacting and relating with others. (Plaintiffs' Brief at 6.) Thus, this statement of facts will specifically address evidence regarding L.V.B.'s behavior.

         The record shows that Dr. Suresh Jain, M.D., was L.V.B.'s pediatrician from 2013 through 2017. On March 1, 2013, when L.V.B. was three years old, Dr. Jain noted that L.V.B.'s social, emotional, communicative, cognitive and physical development were normal. (R. at 299.) On February 28, 2014, Begley reported that L.V.B. was hyperactive. (R. at 314.) Dr. Jain diagnosed questionable attention deficit disorder, (“ADD”). (R. at 314.) On April 13, 2014, Begley reported that L.V.B.'s hyperactivity was doing better on medication. (R. at 418.) On April 23, 2014, Begley reported that L.V.B. did not sleep well, and he was hyperactive. (R. at 329.) Dr. Jain diagnosed ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. (R. at 329.) On May 19, 2014, and June 16, 2014, Begley continued to complain that L.V.B. was hyperactive and that he had difficulty concentrating. (R. at 341, 343.) However, throughout 2014, 2015 and 2016, Begley reported that L.V.B.'s ADHD symptoms and sleep had improved with medication. (R. at 352, 356-57, 387, 393, 401-03, 412, 417-18, 438-39, 442, 444.)

         On June 16, 2014, Leslie E. Montgomery, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist, indicated that L.V.B. had no limitations in his ability to acquire and use information; to move about and manipulate objects; to care for himself; and to care for his health and physical well-being. (R. at 106-07.) Montgomery reported that L.V.B. had a less than marked limitation in his ability to attend to and complete tasks and to interact and relate with others. (R. at 106.) L.V.B. was noted to have difficulty with complex tasks; he was able to play by himself and with others; he got along with peers; he could express his needs; and he could share and follow directions. (R. at 106.)

         On October 16, 2014, Joseph Leizer, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist, indicated that L.V.B. had no limitations in his ability to acquire and use information; to move about and manipulate objects; to care for himself; and to care for his health and physical well-being. (R. at 117-18.) Leizer reported that L.V.B. had a less than marked limitation in his ability to attend to and complete tasks and to interact and relate with others. (R. at 117-18.) L.V.B. was noted to have difficulty with complex tasks; he was able to play by himself and with others; he got along with peers; he could express his needs; and he could share and follow directions. (R. at 118.)

         On February 26, 2014, Cynthia M. Jessee, C.P.N.P., a certified pediatric nurse practitioner with Southwest Virginia Child Development Clinic, evaluated L.V.B. at his mother's request. (R. at 361-65.) Begley reported concern about L.V.B.'s hyperactivity, anger, aggression, destructive behavior, yelling and sleep problems. (R. at 363.) Jessee reported that L.V.B. exhibited general learning within the average range; his vocabulary was within the average range; he had average visual-motor skills; he had an overall ability to process auditory input and reason verbally was within the average range; and his reasoning and processing skills were within the low average range. (R. at 362.) Jessee noted that L.V.B. had difficulty with anger control, emotional ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.