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Miller v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 22, 2019

TAMARA MILLER, For N.M., a Minor Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          GENE. E.K. PRATTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Tamara Miller, on behalf of her minor daughter N.M., seeks review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of an administrative law judge's decision that N.M. no longer qualifies for Supplemental Security Income and is not disabled under the Social Security Act.

         After independent consideration of the Administrative Record, submitted pleadings, United States Magistrate Judge Strawbridge's Report and Recommendation, Ms. Miller's Objections to the Magistrate's Report and Recommendations (Objections), and the Commissioners' Response to the Objections (Response), the Court adopts in full the Report and Recommendation, as set forth below.

         Background and Procedural History

         N.M. was born in 2005. In 2010, when she was four-years old, N.M. was diagnosed with leukemia and began collecting social security disability benefits. N.M.'s benefits were terminated in July 2014 based upon a May 8, 2014 determination. On N.M's behalf, Tamara Miller requested a hearing before an ALJ, which was held on April 14, 2016. The ALJ issued a decision unfavorable to N.M. An Appeals Council denied Ms. Miller's request for review on August 25, 2017. Ms. Miller then filed this civil action on behalf of N.M. On May 23, 2019, the magistrate judge issued his R&R that Ms. Miller's request for review be denied. Ms. Miller filed timely objections to the R&R.

         Legal Standard

         The Court reviews de novo "those portions of the Magistrate Judge's R&R to which [the claimant] has objected." Hirschfeld v. Apfel, 159 F.Supp.2d 802, 806 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)). The Court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings and recommendations" made by the magistrate judge. Id.

         Discussion

         Ms. Miller raises three objections to the R&R:

         First, Ms. Miller objects to the R&R's conclusion that "the ALJ provided substantial evidence to support her determination that N.M. had medically improved and that she was less than 'markedly' limited in several domains of functioning pertinent to the functional equivalence evaluation." See Objections at 2 (citing R&R at 17).

         Second, Ms. Miller objects to the conclusion that "although the ALJ erred in her evaluation of N.M. 's ability to acquire and use information, we are convinced that the error was harmless as N.M. cannot meet the requisite criteria of disability by establishing two 'marked' limitations or one 'extreme' limitation." Id.

         Third, Ms. Miller objects to the conclusion that "the ALJ was not required to obtain review by a mental health expert in this case." Id. at 3 (citing R&R at 17).

         The Court addresses each objection in turn.

         A. Substantial Evidence to Support Medical Improvement and ...


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