United States District Court, D. Colorado
WILEY Y. DANIEL, Senior District Judge.
THIS MATTER is before the Court on review of the Commissioner's decision that found after Plaintiff turned age 18 that he was not disabled under the adult standard. For the reasons stated below, this case is reversed and remanded to the Commissioner for further fact finding.
Plaintiff Jacob Gasiorowski is 23 years old and has lived with his parents all his life. He received special education services through high school and currently attends Community College of Denver where he receives assistance and special accommodations. (Administrative Record ["AR"] 183-243, 300-319, 338-343.) Special accommodations include a quiet, secluded environment for testing and more time allowed for completion of tests and assignments. ( Id. 10.) Additionally, he was placed in the basic language and math classes. ( Id. 338-343.)
Plaintiff was previously found to be disabled under the standards for supplemental security income ["SSI"] benefits for children. (AR 13.) When a child who was entitled to SSI disability benefits attains eighteen years of age, the agency must redetermine whether he is disabled under the adult standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 416.987.
After Plaintiff turned age 18, the Commissioner determined that Plaintiff was not disabled under the adult standard (AR 73-79), and Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ["ALJ"]. ( Id. 104-06.) The ALJ held a hearing on May 4, 2011 ( id. 31-72), and issued a decision on June 17, 2011, finding Plaintiff was not disabled under the adult standard as of March 1, 2009. ( Id. 13-25).
Specifically, the ALJ applied the sequential evaluation process for evaluating adult disability claims. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). He first noted that Plaintiff "attained age 18 on June 16, 2007, and was eligible for supplemental security income benefits as a child for the month preceding the month in which he attained age 18." (AR 15.) Plaintiff "was notified that he was found no longer disabled as of March 1, 2009, based on a redetermination of disability under the rules for adults who file new applications." ( Id. )
At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had "severe" impairments of "social phobia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)." (AR 15, Finding 2). At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled the requirements of a listed impairment at 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1, so as to be per se disabling. ( Id. 16, Finding 3).
The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's the residual functional capacity ["RFC"], finding he could "perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is able to meet the basic demands of competitive, remunerative unskilled work and is able to understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions; able to respond appropriately to supervisors, coworkers, and usual work situations; and able to deal with changes in a routine work setting." (AR 18, Finding 4.) "The claimant can have occasional work interactions with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public, and would work best in a non-distracting and somewhat isolated environment." ( Id. )
At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have any past relevant work. (AR 23-24, Finding 5.) At step five, the ALJ relied in part on vocational expert testimony to conclude that there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform, including the unskilled jobs of janitor, hotel housekeeper, and laundry worker. ( Id. 24, Findings 6-9.) Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled under the adult disability standard. ( Id. 25, Finding 10).
The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (AR 1-6), making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481 (2012). Plaintiff timely requested judicial review, and this appeal followed.
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ did not properly determine his severe impairments, and did not properly assess his credibility. Plaintiff also argues that the decision by the ALJ is not supported by substantial evidence in determining his RFC. Defendant asserts that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence and free of harmful legal error. Defendant also asserts that Plaintiff's arguments are undeveloped and should be deemed waived.
A. Standard of Review
A Court's review of the determination that a claimant is not disabled is limited to determining whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standard and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Hamilton v. Sec. of Health and Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495, 1497-98 (10th Cir. 1992). Substantial evidence is evidence a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Brown v. Sullivan, 912 F.2d 1194, 1196 (10th Cir. 1990). "It requires more than a ...