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Gohar v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 1, 2017

SHIDOKHT SAMIEI GOHAR, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          VICTOR E. BIANCHINI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In November of 2011, Plaintiff Shidokht Samiei Gohar applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits under the Social Security Act. The Commissioner of Social Security denied the application.[1]

         Plaintiff, by and through her attorney, Lawrence D. Rohfling, Esq. commenced this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405 (g) and 1383 (c)(3).

         The parties consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket No. 11, 12, 22, 23). On December 12, 2016, this case was referred to the undersigned pursuant to General Order 05-07. (Docket No. 21).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for SSI benefits on November 30, 2011, alleging disability beginning January 1, 1990. (T at 130-51).[2] The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).

         On July 1, 2013, a hearing was held before ALJ Sherwin F. Biesman. (T at 47). Plaintiff appeared with her attorney and testified. (T at 49-60).

         On August 26, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision denying the application for benefits. (T at 32-46). The ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision on May 27, 2015, when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (T at 1-7).

         On July 20, 2015, Plaintiff, acting by and through her counsel, filed this action seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits. (Docket No. 1). The Commissioner interposed an Answer on December 3. 2015. (Docket No. 14). The parties filed a Joint Stipulation on February 10, 2016. (Docket No. 16).

         After reviewing the pleadings, Joint Stipulation, and administrative record, this Court finds that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case be dismissed.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Sequential Evaluation Process

         The 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. 2001).

         The 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 ...


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