Septimius Mihail Caravia-Moroiano v. Carolyn W. Colvin

Filing 26

MEMORANDUM AND OPINION by Magistrate Judge Rozella A. Oliver (RAO)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 SEPTIMIUS MIHAIL MOROIANU, Plaintiff, 13 14 15 16 CARAVIA- v. Case No. CV 16-01848-RAO MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. 17 18 19 Plaintiff Septimius Mihail Caravia-Moroianu (“Plaintiff”) challenges the 20 Commissioner’s denial of his application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) 21 and supplemental security income (“SSI”). The single claim raised in Plaintiff’s 22 challenge is that the ALJ failed to comply with the Appeals Council’s remand order 23 directing the ALJ to obtain certain medical records. Joint Stipulation (“JS”) at 4. 24 For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. 25 Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on August 8, 2012. AR 320. The 26 application was denied in November 2012, after which Plaintiff requested a 27 hearing. AR 116. The ALJ held an administrative hearing on December 9, 2013. 28 AR 75-110. Thereafter, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January 13, 1 2014. AR 145-57. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which 2 granted Plaintiff’s request and remanded the case to the ALJ on April 24, 2014. 3 AR 161-63. In its remand order, the Appeals Council instructed that on remand the 4 ALJ, inter alia, will “[o]btain additional evidence concerning [Plaintiff’s] 5 impairments – particularly from Tonda Bradshaw, M.D. – in order to complete the 6 administrative record in accordance with the regulatory standards regarding 7 consultative examinations and existing medical evidence . . . .” AR 162-63. On 8 remand, the ALJ held a second administrative hearing on October 27, 2014. AR 9 41-74. The ALJ issued a second unfavorable decision on January 13, 2015. AR 10 23-40. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review of the ALJ’s 11 second unfavorable decision on April 14, 2016, making the ALJ’s decision the final 12 decision of the Commissioner. AR 7-11. 13 Plaintiff’s sole claim in this matter is that the ALJ failed to comply with the 14 Appeals Council’s remand order directing the ALJ to obtain medical records from 15 Dr. Bradshaw. JS at 4. 16 It is well settled that federal courts only have jurisdiction to review the final 17 decisions of administrative agencies. See 42 U.S.C. 405(g). While this Court 18 would have jurisdiction to review the ALJ’s second unfavorable decision to 19 determine if it is supported by substantial evidence, it lacks jurisdiction to review 20 the intra-agency decision regarding whether the ALJ complied with the Appeals 21 Council’s order. Tyler v. Astrue, 305 F. App’x 331, 332 (9th Cir. 2008). As stated 22 in Tyler, 23 The district court properly declined to evaluate whether the ALJ’s 24 second decision satisfied the demands of the Appeals Council’s 25 remand. The law of the case doctrine does not apply because the 26 Appeals Council remanded to the ALJ to make further findings; it 27 did not decide any issues of fact or law itself. Additionally, 28 /// 2 1 federal courts only have jurisdiction to review the final decisions 2 of administrative agencies. 3 Id.; see also Megyesi v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. CV-16-02140-PHX-JJT, 4 2017 WL 4296664, at *2 (D. Ariz. Sept. 28, 2017) (the Court only has jurisdiction 5 to evaluate final decisions of the Social Security Administration, “and not the 6 decisions made within the SSA before the Appeals Council entered its final 7 disposition”) (citing Tyler); Rivera ex rel. J.R. v. Astrue, No. ED CV 10-149-PJW, 8 2011 WL 2671298, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Jul. 8, 2011) (same). 9 Furthermore, the Appeals Council had an opportunity to address the issue 10 raised by Plaintiff when ruling on Plaintiff’s request for review of the ALJ’s second 11 decision, but denied that request, finding “no reason under our rules to review the 12 [ALJ’s] decision.” AR 7; Tyler, 305 F. App’x at 332 (“When the Appeals Council 13 denied review of the ALJ’s second decision, it made that decision final, Ramirez v. 14 Shalala, 8 F.3d 1449, 1451 (9th Cir. 1993), and declined to find that the ALJ had 15 not complied with its remand instructions.”); see also Webber v. Berryhill, 2:15- 16 CV-00295-MKD, 2017 WL 722593, at *3 (E.D. Wash. Feb. 23, 2017) (“If the 17 Appeals Council believed that an alleged violation of its remand order was a 18 material issue, it would have granted Plaintiff’s second request for review and 19 addressed the alleged violation in that context, i.e., the Council would have ordered 20 another remand rather than denying further review.”) 21 Because the Court lacks jurisdiction to review whether the ALJ’s second 22 decision satisfied the demands of the Appeals Council’s remand, the Court rejects 23 Plaintiff’s claim and affirms the decision of the Commissioner. 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 3 1 2 3 4 IT IS ORDERED that Judgment shall be entered AFFIRMING the decision of the Commissioner denying benefits. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court serve copies of this Order and the Judgment on counsel for both parties. 5 6 7 DATED: March 6, 2018 /s/ ROZELLA A. OLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 8 9 10 NOTICE 11 THIS DECISION IS NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION IN WESTLAW, LEXIS/NEXIS, OR ANY OTHER LEGAL DATABASE. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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