United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13.
See also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S.
Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, Dkt. 6; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 7. This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 11, 12, 13.
was physically abused by her father; sexually abused by her
step father between the ages of nine and twelve; and
physically abused by her first husband. AR. 545 (father), 865
(stepfather); see also AR. 842 (both). As a result,
she developed anxiety and was diagnosed with posttraumatic
stress disorder (“PTSD”) in 2008. Id.
However, although plaintiff attempted counseling in 2013,
which was interrupted by the death of her father, she did not
return, reporting that it is “a lot harder for me to go
talk about it and relive everything than just not.” AR.
940; see also AR. 883, 1074.
her physical impairments, plaintiff first injured her back in
June 2010, while moving a resident while working as a CNA.
AR. 545, 671. Plaintiff reported re-injuring her back in the
winter of 2010 when she fell on the ice. AR. 48.
primary care provider filled out a check-box form indicating
that plaintiff could not work, and hand wrote the explanation
that plaintiff could not “lift heavy objects; sit or
stand for long periods of time; bend over; reach above; 
concentrate;” or do repetitive motions because of her
pain. AR. 581. Therefore, the ALJ's failure to credit
fully the opinion from plaintiff's primary care provider
on the basis that she only “checked multiple boxes
without explaining her rationale, ” is not legitimate
as the Ninth Circuit has held that a doctor's opinion
cannot be rejected solely because it is provided on a
check-the-box form. Nor is it based on substantial evidence
in the record as a whole. See AR. 901 (citation and
footnote omitted). Furthermore, although the ALJ finds that
plaintiff's primary care provider did not indicate
whether she agreed with the particular assessment from the
doctor of physical therapy, plaintiff's primary care
provider actually attached these particular records to her
opinion, strongly suggesting agreement with them, especially
as they supported her opinion.
rejects, at least in part, every medical opinion in
plaintiff's medical record. However, the ALJ has failed
to explain why his own evaluation of the objective medical
evidence is more correct than those of plaintiff's
treating and examining doctors, and even the state agency
after considering and reviewing the record, the Court
concludes that this matter should be reversed and remanded
for further administrative proceedings consistent with this
ASHLEY TIFF-MCCAULEY, was born in 1985 and was 26 years old
on the alleged date of disability onset of July 1, 2011.
See AR. 223-30, 231-36. Plaintiff received her GED.
AR. 252, 902. Plaintiff has work experience as a cashier,
hostess, baker/prep cook, housekeeper and nursing assistant.
AR. 281-92. Plaintiff left her last employment after an
injury on the job. AR. 49-50.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“back disorder; [and] anxiety disorder (20 CFR
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 892.
time of the last hearing, plaintiff was living with her
husband and son. AR. 934, 957, 964.
applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of
the Social Security Act were denied initially and following
reconsideration. See AR. 81-92, 93-103, 106-120,
121-35. Plaintiff's first requested hearing resulted in
an unfavorable decision and a remand for further proceedings.
See AR. 15-34, 1006-11, 1012-17. Plaintiff's
second requested hearing was held before Administrative Law
Judge Wayne N. Araki (“the ALJ”) on January 14,
2016. See AR. 910-76. On May 26, 2016, the ALJ
issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that
plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security
Act. See AR. 886-909.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Did the ALJ fail to evaluate properly the medical
opinion of treating physician Dr. Deepika Goshike, the
opinion of examining psychologist Dr. Johansen, and the
opinions of reviewing psychologist Dr. Richard Borton and
reviewing physician Dr. Norman Staley; and (2) Did the ALJ
improperly find that plaintiff's symptom testimony was
not supported by the medical evidence without providing
specific, clear, and convincing reasons. See Dkt.
11, p. 2.