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 Consent to Proceed Before a United States
Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 3). This matter has been fully
briefed. See Dkt. 8, 12, 13.
was working as a para-educator in a classroom with special
needs students. One of these students assaulted her on
multiple occasions over a period of weeks, and, during the
last incident, the student struck plaintiff, knocked her to
the ground, struck her multiple times, put his hands under
her shirt, and left her with significant injuries, including
facial contusions, multiple areas of neck/back injury and
post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”).
See AR. 866-67 (CM/ECF docket p. 877-78). After this
incident, plaintiff began having nightmares and would wake up
frightened and feeling awful, three or four times a week,
which has since reduced to about twice a month. AR. 741
(CM/ECF docket p. 752). Plaintiff developed problems with
anxiety, and for a period of about six months almost never
left home, as “being around other people tended to be
highly anxiety-provoking, and she describe[d] being easily
startled.” See id.
has flashbacks of the assault, occasionally triggered by
depictions of violence on television or by images reminding
her of the attacking student. Although plaintiff attempted to
return to work, “being around students was so anxiety
provoking that she was unable even to leave her
vehicle.” Id. Plaintiff “eventually
wound up returning to a volunteer position where she works
with an older [female] student in a library, where she feels
doctors opined that plaintiff would not be able to return to
competitive full-time work, however the ALJ failed to credit
fully these doctors' opinions. Although defendant
concedes that the ALJ erred when failing to credit fully
these doctors' opinions, defendant does not concede that
this matter should be reversed and remanded with a direction
to award benefits, as requested by plaintiff.
it is true that if the Court were to credit in full some of
the doctors' opinions plaintiff would be deemed disabled,
it is not the job of the Court to resolve conflicts within
the medical evidence. Defendant's argument that there is
some doubt as to whether or not plaintiff is in fact disabled
is persuasive. Therefore, this matter is reversed and
remanded to the Administration for further proceedings.
THERESA ANNE CLARK, was born in 1953 and was 56 years old on
the alleged date of disability onset of September 15, 2009.
See AR. 336-42. Plaintiff has work experience as a
para-educator. AR. 360. Plaintiff did not return to work
after she was assaulted by a student. AR. 867.
to the ALJ, through the date last insured, plaintiff has at
least the severe impairments of “back/neck disorder,
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, and anxiety
disorder (20 CFR § 404.1520(c)).” AR. 13.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in the family home
with her husband and adult daughter. AR. 38, 91.
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and
following reconsideration. See AR. 141-55, 157-73.
Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Wayne N. Araki (“the
ALJ”) on May 20, 2014. See AR. 33-86. On July
24, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the
Social Security Act. See AR. 174-94. The Appeals
Council remanded the case back to the ALJ for further
consider and on May 19, 2016 another hearing was conducted.
See AR. 87-118. On September 26, 2016, the ALJ
issued a second written decision in which he again concluded
that plaintiff was not disabled. See AR. 7-32.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises multiple
issues: (1) Did the ALJ err by improperly rejecting multiple
consistent medical opinions and “cherry picking”
evidence contained in other psychological reports; (2) Did
the ALJ consider all of plaintiff's limitations and the
evidence when assessing plaintiff's RFC; and (3) Should
the ALJ be ordered to reconsider reopening the prior
application for “good cause”. See Dkt.
8, p. 1.
requests that the Court remand this matter for further
proceedings. See Dkt. 12, p. 1. Plaintiff requests a