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Dawson v. Astrue

January 27, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge



Cecelia Dawson (alternatively, "Plaintiff's mother") brings this action on behalf of her minor son A.R. ("Plaintiff"), seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (hereinafter the "Commissioner" or the "Agency") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income payments ("SSI").*fn1 Alternatively, he asks for a remand.

The parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pursuant to the Court's Case Management Order, the parties filed a joint stipulation ("Jt. Stip.") on November 30, 2009. The parties also filed a certified Administrative Record ("AR"). For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY Plaintiff protectively filed an application for SSI on March 16, 2006. (AR 125). He alleged that he became disabled on June 15, 1992, the date of his birth (AR 148), due to a learning disability, asthma, and behavioral problems (AR 127).

After the Agency denied his claim initially and upon reconsideration, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Thomas Gaye ("ALJ") on December 9, 2008. (AR 85). On February 2, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 4-17). Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision before the Appeals Council, which upheld the decision on March 13, 2009. (AR 1-3). Plaintiff commenced the instant action on April 20, 2009.


Plaintiff was born on June 15, 1992. (AR 148). At the time of the hearing he was a sixteen-year-old tenth-grader living with his mother and an older sister.*fn2 (AR 11, 87).

A. Relevant Medical History

1. Goldman Evaluation

On August 2, 2006, Kim Goldman, Psy. D., performed a consultative psychological evaluation on Plaintiff, which included administration of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV ("WISC-IV"). (AR 281). Dr. Goldman noted the chief complaints as "learning problems, depression, trouble concentrating, can't get along with other people, can't sit still and doesn't do what he is told." (Id.). Plaintiff's grooming and hygiene were fair; he was pleasant and cooperative and made adequate effort during the examination. (AR 282). He had a broad range of affect and presented with a normal, non-depressed mood, although his mother described him as very moody. (Id.). Plaintiff responded in a coherent, relevant, and intelligible fashion. (Id.). He was alert and aware of his surroundings. (Id.). He correctly stated the date, the city of the exam, and the city of his residence, but could not name the day of the week. (Id.). He also knew his age and birth date, and the then-current President of the United States. (AR 283). He could register three objects and recall them after a three minute delay and could repeat six digits forward and three reversed. (Id.). According to a WISC-IV subtest, his fund of information was measured at 2% relative to others his age. (Id.). His concentration and attention were generally fair. (Id.). His judgment and understanding of social convention was in the ninth percentile relative to others his age, according to a different WISC-IV subtest. (Id.) The WISC-IV showed borderline verbal comprehension; borderline perceptual reasoning; low average working memory; extremely low processing speed; and a borderline IQ of 70. (AR 284).

Dr. Goldman diagnosed Plaintiff with Disruptive Behavior Disorder NOS, Borderline Intellectual Functioning, and a Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") score of 67. (Id.). In summary, Dr. Goldman stated that the disruptive behavior disorder and borderline intellectual functioning mildly impaired both Plaintiff's ability to respond to increasingly complex requests, instructions, and questions and his ability to communicate by understanding, initiating, and using language in an age-appropriate manner. (Id.). Disruptive behavior disorder mildly to moderately impaired his ability to socially integrate with peers and adults in an age-appropriate manner. (Id.).

2. Goldbach Assessment (AR 56-65)

On August 17, 2007, Shane Goldbach, working in conjunction with Louis Glatch, M.D., performed a clinical assessment of Plaintiff. (AR 56, 65). Goldbach identified the presenting problems as "talking back to teacher & not following directions. He is destroying property . Had stolen property. Being suspended from school." (AR 56). The clinician noted as Plaintiff's strengths that he was intelligent and friendly. (Id.). The mental status exam notes state that Plaintiff's clothing was dirty and he was unkempt; he was defiant and distrustful, unable to hold eye contact, and talked softly; he was oriented to time and place; he had a dull, flat affect and was hostile and depressed, but without suicidal ideation. (AR 57). Goldbach reported that Plaintiff was coherent, of average intelligence with normal short and long-term memory, and withdrawn. (Id.). He also noted that ...

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