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Date: 06-14-2024

Case Style:

T.S. v. Social Security Administration

Case Number: 23-1187

Judge: Nancy L. Moritz

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on appeal from the District of Colorado (Denver County)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Click Here For The Best Denver Social Security Disability Lawyer Directory

Defendant's Attorney: Not Available


Denver, Colorado social security disability lawyer represented the Plaintiff seeking review of the denial of SSI benefits by HHS.

T.S. filed an application for R.U.S. in August 2016, alleging R.U.S., who was
a preschooler at the time, had been disabled since birth.

A child is considered disabled if he “has a medically determinable physical or
mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations. . . .”
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i). The three-step process for assessing whether a child
is disabled requires an administrative law judge (ALJ) to determine “(1) that the child
is not engaged in substantial gainful activity, (2) that the child has an impairment or
combination of impairments that is severe, and (3) that the child’s impairment meets
or equals an impairment listed in Appendix 1, Subpart P of 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404.”
Briggs ex rel. Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir. 2001). At step
three, “the ALJ must consider whether the impairment, alone or in combination with
another impairment, medically equals, or functionally equals the listings.” Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted).

The agency denied R.U.S.’s application initially, but then T.S. requested and
received a hearing before an ALJ in July 2018. Applying the agency’s three-step
process for determining whether a child is disabled, see id.; 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a),
the ALJ issued a written decision denying benefits in November 2018. Following a
remand by the district court and a remand by the Appeals Council, the ALJ held a
second hearing in November 2020. In January 2021, the ALJ issued the decision
underlying this appeal, again using the three-step process.

On remand, the ALJ first found that R.U.S., who was by then a school-age
child, had not engaged in substantial gainful activity. At step two, the ALJ
determined that R.U.S. had eight severe impairments: attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), autism, disruptive behavior disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome,
generalized anxiety disorder, headache disorder, mild obstructive sleep apnea, and
seizure disorder versus non-epileptic staring spells. The ALJ also considered
R.U.S.’s non-severe impairments, including asthma, flatfeet, gastrointestinal issues,
nosebleeds, and tonsillar hypertrophy.

But at step three, the ALJ found that R.U.S.’s impairments did not meet or
medically equal a listed impairment. She therefore considered R.U.S.’s impairments
within the six domains of functioning and found that they also did not functionally
equal a listed impairment. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a. Thus, the ALJ determined that
R.U.S. was not disabled and denied benefits.

T.S. did not file exceptions to the ALJ’s decision and the Appeals Council did
not assume jurisdiction of the case, so the ALJ’s January 2021 decision became the
agency’s final decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.984(d). T.S. sought judicial review,
and the district court affirmed.

Outcome: Affirmed.

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Defendant's Experts:


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