United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
ORDER AND OPINION 
J. RAVERMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Eddie Lee Thomas Smith brought this action pursuant to §
1631(c) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1383(c)(3), to obtain judicial review of the final decision
of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“the Commissioner”) denying his
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). For the reasons set forth below, the
undersigned AFFIRMS the final decision of
filed an application for SSI on May 28, 2010 alleging
disability commencing that same date. [Record (hereinafter
“R”) 252]. Plaintiff's application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. [R145, 153]. Plaintiff then
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). [R165]. A hearing was held on February
9, 2012 where Plaintiff was represented by counsel. [R34-69].
The ALJ issued a decision on March 28, 2012, denying
Plaintiff's application on the ground that he had not
been under a “disability” at any time through the
date of the decision. [R128].
sought review by the Appeals Council, which vacated the
ALJ's decision and remanded the case on the grounds that
the ALJ's decision did not (1) address all IQ test
scores, (2) clarify Plaintiff's cognitive impairment in
the RFC, and (3) state limitations in vocationally relevant
hearing was held on August 25, 2015. [R73]. On September 25,
2015, the ALJ issued a second decision, concluding that
Plaintiff was not disabled. [R14]. Plaintiff sought review by
the Appeals Council, [R12], which review was denied on
October 28, 2016, [R6], making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner.
then filed the instant action in this Court on December 21,
2016, seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
[Doc. 1]. The answer and transcript were filed on May 30,
2017. [Docs. 9-10]. On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a brief
arguing that the Commissioner's decision must be
reversed, [Doc. 13], and on August 2, 2017, the Commissioner
filed a response in support of the decision, [Doc.
The matter is now before the Court upon the administrative
record, the parties' pleadings and briefs, and it is
accordingly ripe for review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).
forth in Plaintiff's brief, the issue to be decided is
whether the ALJ erred in concluding that Plaintiff did not
meet Listing 12.05 by not finding that:
1. Plaintiff meets the second requirement of the Listing
2. Plaintiff's IQ score range of 60 to 70 on three
different testing occasions satisfied the first requirement
of the Listing 12.05C test; and
3. Deficits in Plaintiff's adaptive functioning that
manifested prior to the age of 22 satisfied the third
requirement of the Listing 12.05C test.
[Doc. 13 at 1].
STATEMENT OF FACTS
was born in July 1984 and, therefore, was 26 years old on the
alleged onset date. [R252]. Plaintiff completed eighth grade,
[R82], in special education classes, [R49]. Although, he left
his work history report incomplete, [R286], Plaintiff
received some negligible W2 income in 2004, 2008, and
2011-12. [R272-73]. He alleges disabling conditions of
learning disabilities and an inability to read. [R292].
testified at his 2012 and 2015 hearings. In 2012, Plaintiff
testified that he lived with his then-girlfriend, Neekol
Maria Brown (“Ms. Brown”), in rented Section 8
housing. [R41]. In 2015, he testified that he was engaged to
LaQuanda Berley, who paid for the apartment in which they
lived together with her three children. [R79-81]. In 2012, he
testified that he has a seven year old daughter who lived
with him but that she was mostly cared for and financially
supported by Ms. Brown. [R47]. In 2015, he testified that
this daughter resided with her mother. [R80].
testified that, in the past, he worked at a Dollar Store
position he got through his girlfriend, but, after two days,
gave up because he could not read the labels to “put
stuff in position the correct way.” [R44-45, 51]. He
also testified that he previously worked at a recycling place
cleaning catalytic converters and, because the supervisor got
on his nerves, he would “just walk off . . . just
leave.” [R102, 113-14]. Plaintiff explained that he
stopped going to that job because it only provided him with
work six days a month. [R114]. He testified that a girlfriend
got him a job at a warehouse that required a lot of reading
and because he was paid based on what he could produce, he
stopped working when his paycheck “was like a $100 and
something dollar.” [R102-03].
questioning, the ALJ confirmed that Plaintiff had previously
worked as a “driver's helper” for less than a
month when he was 17 or 18, through a temporary agency, which
consisted of unloading food from trucks. [R110-11]. He
testified that he cannot follow verbal instructions because
he forgets. [R106].
further testified that he does not have a driver's
license because he does not know how to read, but that he can
write his name. [R41-42, 47]. In 2012, he testified that Ms.
Brown took him to the hearing, [R42], and, in 2015, he
testified that his sister and her boyfriend took him, [R81].
He claimed that he has never taken public transit by himself
and cannot read street signs to drive. [R50].
stated that he can do dishes but can only cook simple things
like noodles. [Id.]. He does not know how to do
laundry. [R52]. He described his reading and writing
abilities as poor and his arithmetic as fair. [R42-43]. He
testified that he cannot read his own mail, books,
newspapers, or magazines, and required help filling out his
SSA application and reports. [R49, 86]. When he received
checks for work, he cashed them with someone's help.
[R52]. He reported that has never gone grocery shopping
alone, [R53], and that he has tried to use a computer but
cannot because he “doesn't know what to look
for.” [R84]. He spends his days watching television.
[R45]. Plaintiff's girlfriends also testified and,
essentially, verified Plaintiff's statements concerning
his living situation and daily activities. [R54-60, 89-98].
Educational Testing Records
December 6, 1993, when Plaintiff was in third grade, Gail
Golden performed the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for
Children-III (WISC-II) and evaluated him with an overall IQ
of 75, noting weaknesses in visual sequencing, processing
speed, and cognitive functioning (reasoning/judgment
October 10, 1996, when Plaintiff was 12 years old, David
Batchelor, a school psychologist, administered the WISC-II,
the Development Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI), the
Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT-3), the LD Screening
Checklist, and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test as part of
the three-year re-evaluation requirement for students in
special education programs. [R432]. Plaintiff was assessed
with an IQ of 68 with a borderline range on the verbal scale
and a mid-range on the performance scale, resulting in
overall intelligence in the mid range with weaknesses in
long-term memory of factual data. [R433-34]. Dr. Bachelor
concluded that Plaintiff's “inappropriate behavior
patterns interfere with classroom functioning and
social/emotional development.” [R435].
21, 2010, Plaintiff was referred for evaluation to
consultative medical examiner Steven Snook, Ph.D.,
(“Dr. Snook”), a licensed psychologist.
[R350-56]. Dr. Snook conducted a clinical interview and
mental status examination; administered the Wechsler Adult
Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV), Wide Range
Achievement Test-Fourth Edition (WRAT-4), Trail Making Test
Part A and B, and Rey 15 Item Memory Test; and reviewed
records. [R351]. He noted that Plaintiff was driven to the
examination by Ms. Brown, who provided collateral information
after Plaintiff's initial interview. [R352]. Plaintiff
reported “no significant medical concerns” and
alleged impairments of learning disability and illiteracy.
reported leaving high school after completing eighth grade,
enrollment in special education classes while in middle
school, and receiving grades of D's and F's.
[Id.]. Although Plaintiff denied difficulties with
teachers and peers, the records reviewed reflected frequent
truancy. [Id.]. Plaintiff reported that he worked
for a delivery service for three months but lost control of a
dolly and injured his leg. [Id.]. He also reported
that he never received mental health treatment or was
hospitalized for psychiatric reasons but, at the evaluation,
both Plaintiff and Ms. Brown reported “irritability and
mood swings” beginning during Plaintiff's five
month incarceration for cocaine possession, as well as recent
sleep disturbance and decreased appetite. [R352-53].
reported that he was “able to attend to his activities
of daily living independently to include showering, grooming,
and dressing.” [R353]. He also reported that he could
prepare simple foods in the oven or microwave, perform basic
household chores, including the use of appliances and
laundry-related tasks, had no driver's license (but could
drive), could make simple purchases, but had limited
financial management ability (requires assistance with bank
statements and legal documents). [Id.].
Snook found that Plaintiff's behavior was cooperative,
his speech normal, his associations tight, his thought
content grossly logical, and his recent and remote memory,
insight, judgment, and decision-making abilities were intact.
[Id.]. However, Dr. Snook noted that Plaintiff's
“effort was less than would have been
anticipated” as he “appeared to have minimal
difficulty with attention and concentration however tended to
give up easily despite redirection and praise.” [R354].
His scores on the Trail Making tests were in deficient ranges