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Hredocik v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 7, 2017

MELISSA HREDOCIK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCYA. BERRYHILL, [1] ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Donetta W. Ambrose United States Senior District Judge.

         Synopsis

         Plaintiff Melissa Hredocik ("Hredocik") brings this action seeking judicial review of the ALJ's decision denying a claim for supplemental security income ("SSI"). Hredocik filed an application in June of 2013 alleging a disability as of the date of her birth due to autism. (R. 57)[2] She appeared and testified at a hearing on October 15, 2014, as did a vocational expert. (R. 24-55). Ultimately, the ALJ denied the claim, finding Hredocik capable of performing a full range of work at all exertional levels subject to some nonexertional limitations. (R. 15-20) Hredocik appealed. Pending are Cross Motions for Summary Judgment. See ECF docket nos. 13 and 15. After careful consideration, the decision rendered by the ALJ is affirmed.

         Legal Analysis .

         Standard of Review

         The standard of review in social security cases is whether substantial evidence exists in the record to support the Commissioner's decision. Allen v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 37, 39 (3d Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence has been defined as "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate." Ventura v. Shalala, 55 F.3d 900, 901 (3d Cir. 1995), quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Determining whether substantial evidence exists is "not merely a quantitative exercise." Gilliland v. Heckler 786 F.2d 178, 183 (3d Cir. 1986) (citing Kent v. Schweiker 710 F.2d 110, 114 (3d Cir. 1983)). "A single piece of evidence will not satisfy the substantiality test if the secretary ignores, or fails to resolve, a conflict created by countervailing evidence. Nor is evidence substantial if it is overwhelmed by other evidence - particularly certain types of evidence (e.g., that offered by treating physicians)." Id., The Commissioner's findings of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. §405(g); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir. 1979). A district court cannot conduct a de novo review of the Commissioner's decision or re-weigh the evidence of record. Palmer v. Apfel, 995 F.Supp. 549, 552 (E.D. Pa. 1998). Where the ALJ's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, a court is bound by those findings, even if the court would have decided the factual inquiry differently. Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999). To determine whether a finding is supported by substantial evidence, however, the district court must review the record as a whole. See, 5 U.S.C. §706.

         2. Step 3 - Listing 12.10

         As stated above, at Step 3 of the sequential analysis, the ALJ must determine whether a claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment. If so, the claimant is disabled. If not, the analysis continues. Here, the ALJ found that the "severity of the claimant's autism does not meet or medically equal the criteria of listing 12.10." (R. 14) Listing 12.10 establishes, in relevant part, the following criteria that a claimant must meet in order to qualify as disabled:

A. Medically documented findings of the following:
1. For autistic disorder, all of the following:
a. Qualitative deficits in reciprocal social interaction; and
b. Qualitative deficits in verbal and non-verbal communication and in imaginative activity; and
c. Markedly restricted repertoire of activities and ...

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