United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
N. Bloch United States District Judge.
NOW, this 28th day of March, 2018, upon consideration of the
parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court,
upon review of the Commissioner of Social Security's
final decision denying Plaintiff's claim for disability
insurance benefits under Subchapter II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., and denying
Plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income
benefits under Subchapter XVI of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 1381, et seq., finds that the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence and, accordingly, affirms. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Jesurum v. Secretary of U.S. Department of
Health & Human Services, 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir.
1995); Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1182 (3d
Cir. 1992), cert. denied sub nom., 507 U.S. 924
(1993); Brown v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir.
1988). See also Berry v. Sullivan, 738 F.Supp. 942,
944 (W.D. Pa. 1990) (if supported by substantial evidence,
the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed, as a
federal court may neither reweigh the evidence, nor reverse,
merely because it would have decided the claim differently)
(citing Cotter v. Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 705 (3d Cir.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment (document No. 9) is DENIED and that Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (document No. 11) is GRANTED.
 Plaintiff argues that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in failing
to properly evaluate whether she met Listing 11.07 at Step
Three of the sequential process based on her cerebral palsy.
The Court disagrees, and finds that substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's decision.
The version of Listing 11.07 in effect at the relevant
time provided that to meet the listing for cerebral palsy, it
must be established that Plaintiff has been so diagnosed, and
that she meets the criteria of one of four additional
subsections. (The Court notes that this listing was revised
significantly effective September 29, 2016. See
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological
Disorders, 81 F.R. 43048-01, 2016 WL 3551949 (July 1, 2016).
However, this Court will review the ALJ's decision using
the rules in effect at the time the decision was issued.
See id. at 43051 n.6.) Plaintiff relies on
subsection D, which requires “[d]isorganization of
motor function as described in 11.04B.” 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, § 11.07 (2016). Pursuant to
Listing 11.04B, disorganization of motor function requires
“[s]ignificant and persistent disorganization of motor
function in two extremities, resulting sustained disturbance
of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.”
Id. at § 11.04B (2016).
Persistent disorganization of motor function
in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other
involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any
or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brain
stem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which
occur singly or in various combinations, frequently provides
the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of
neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends
on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or
interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms.
Id. at § 11.00C.
While the ALJ did specifically discuss and find that
Plaintiff did not meet Listing 11.07, Plaintiff suggests that
there is sufficient evidence in the record to necessitate a
more thorough analysis by the ALJ. She points to examples in
the record, largely from the consultative examinations
performed by John C. Kalata, D.O., on September 7, 2012, and
November 7, 2013, that demonstrate a history of gait and
motor difficulties such as spasticity of the lower
extremities and footdrop. (R. 401, 420, 422, 516-18, 626).
She argues that, in light of this evidence, the ALJ's
conclusory discussion regarding Listing 11.07 was
insufficient and requires remand. The Court
There is no question that an ALJ has an obligation at
Step Three of the sequential process to fully develop the
record and provide adequate analysis in regard to whether a
claimant meets a listing. See Burnett v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 220 F.3d 112, 120 (3d Cir. 2000). However, as
Third Circuit Court of Appeals has explained,
Burnett does not require an ALJ to employ any
specific language or format in discussing the listings at
Step Three, but rather requires that ALJ “to ensure
that there is sufficient development of the record and
explanation of findings to permit meaningful review.”
Jones v. Barnhart, 364 F.3d 501, 505 (3d Cir. 2004).
In determining whether the ALJ has done so, the Court is to
look at the decision as a whole to see whether it illustrates
that the ALJ considered the proper factors in reaching his or
her conclusion. See id.
Therefore, although Plaintiff focuses on the one
paragraph in the ALJ's lengthy decision that expressly
discusses Listing 11.07 (R. 25), looking at the decision as a
whole gives a very different perspective on the adequacy of
the ALJ's evaluation. To start, the ALJ considered not
just Listing 11.07, but also other potential listings at Step
Three either containing the same requirement of persistent
disorder of motor function (e.g., Listing 9.00) or a
similar requirement regarding the need to effectively
ambulate (e.g., Listing 1.02). (R. 24). The ALJ
pointed out that no treating or examining physician had
opined that Plaintiff met any listing, nor had her counsel
asserted that she met any at the hearing. He discussed the
fact that Plaintiff does not use an assistive device to
ambulate, that clinical findings have shown normal sensation
and strength in the lower extremities, and that her
activities of daily living, including driving, shopping, and
cleaning, demonstrate that she does not suffer from
listing-level ambulatory or motor issues. He also noted
Plaintiff's relatively conservative treatment. (R.
24-25). These are all proper factors to consider in
determining whether Plaintiff exhibits significant and
persistent disorganization of motor function in two
extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and
dexterous movements, or gait and station, as required by
Listings 11.07 and 11.04B. See Scuderi v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 302 Fed.Appx. 88, 90 (3d Cir. 2008);
Gunder v. Astrue, No. 4:11-cv-00300, 2012 WL 511936,
at *14 (M.D. Pa. Feb. 15, 2012).
Moreover, the ALJ expressly stated in his
Step Three analysis that the evidence pertaining to those
issues would be further developed in his discussion of
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity. (R. 25). In
that section of the decision, the ALJ discussed the evidence
of record at great length, including the objective medical
findings, Plaintiff's treatment history, her activities
of daily living, and her subjective complaints. He
acknowledged the evidence demonstrating that Plaintiff had
some problems with gait, balance, and motor function, but
explained that other record evidence demonstrated that these
issues were not so severe as to render her ...