United States District Court, C.D. California
DECISION AND ORDER
E. BIANCHINI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
August of 2011, Plaintiff Ana Martinez applied for
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits under
the Social Security Act. The Commissioner of Social Security
denied the application.
by and through her attorneys, Disability Advocates Group,
Michelle Shvarts, Esq. of counsel, commenced this action
seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405 (g) and 1383
parties consented to the jurisdiction of a United States
Magistrate Judge. (Docket No. 11, 12). On May 2, 2016, this
case was referred to the undersigned pursuant to General
Order 05-07. (Docket No. 18).
applied for SSI benefits on August 22, 2011, alleging
disability beginning March 15, 2005, due to physical and
mental impairments. (T at 13). The application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").
December 5, 2013, a hearing was held before ALJ Christine
Long. (T at 28). Plaintiff appeared with her attorney and
testified. (T at 33-37, 42-46). The ALJ also received
testimony from Dr. Malcolm Brahms, a medical expert (T at
37-42), and Alan Boroskin, a vocational expert (T at 47-53).
January 14, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
the application for benefits. (T at 10-27). The ALJ's
decision became the Commissioner's final decision on
April 28, 2015, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (T at 1-6).
21, 2015, Plaintiff, acting by and through her counsel, filed
this action seeking judicial review of a decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for
benefits. (Docket No. 1). The Commissioner interposed an
Answer on December 14, 2015. (Docket No. 15). The parties
filed a Joint Stipulation on February 10, 2016. (Docket No.
reviewing the pleadings, Joint Stipulation, and
administrative record, this Court finds that the
Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case be
Sequential Evaluation Process
Social Security Act ("the Act") defines disability
as the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than twelve months." 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act also
provides that a claimant shall be determined to be under a
disability only if any impairments are of such severity that
he or she is not only unable to do previous work but cannot,
considering his or her age, education and work experiences,
engage in any other substantial work which exists in the
national economy. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(B). Thus, the definition of disability consists
of both medical and vocational components. Edlund v.
Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir.
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Step one
determines if the person is engaged in substantial gainful
activities. If so, benefits are denied. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404. 1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i). If not,
the decision maker proceeds to step two, which determines
whether the claimant has a medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R. §§
claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the disability claim is denied. If the
impairment is severe, the evaluation proceeds to the third
step, which compares the claimant's impairment(s) with a
number of listed impairments acknowledged by the Commissioner
to be so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii),
416.920(a)(4)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpt. P App. 1. If
the impairment meets or equals one of the listed impairments,
the claimant is conclusively presumed to be disabled. If the
impairment is not one conclusively presumed to be disabling,
the evaluation proceeds to the fourth step, which determines
whether the impairment prevents the claimant from performing
work which was performed in the past. If the claimant is able
to perform previous work, he or she is deemed not disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv).
At this step, the claimant's residual functional capacity
(RFC) is considered. If the claimant cannot perform past
relevant work, the fifth and final step in the process
determines whether he or she is able to perform other work in
the national economy in view of his or her residual
functional capacity, age, education, and past work
experience. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v),
416.920(a)(4)(v); Bowen v. Yuckert, 482
U.S. 137 (1987).
initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish
a prima facie case of entitlement to disability
benefits. Rhinehart v. Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921
(9thCir. 1971); Meanel v. Apfel, 172 F.3d
1111, 1113 (9th Cir. 1999). The initial burden is
met once the claimant establishes that a mental or physical
impairment prevents the performance of previous work. The
burden then shifts, at step five, to the Commissioner to show
that (1) plaintiff can perform other substantial gainful
activity and (2) a "significant number of jobs exist in
the national economy" that the claimant can perform.
Kail v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1496, 1498 (9th