Guzman v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable James R. Marschewski on October 29, 2013. (lw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
VALERIE CARLENE GUZMAN
CIVIL NO. 13-2129
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
Presently before this Court is the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim.
ECF. No. 8. On August 6, 2010, Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
and supplemental security income (“SSI”). These claims were denied initially on and upon
reconsideration. On March 26, 2012, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a decision denying
Plaintiff’s applications for Title II and Title XVI benefits. Plaintiff appealed this decision to the Appeals
Council, but said request for review was denied on December 11, 2012, when the Appeals Council sent,
by mail addressed to the Plaintiff and to her representative, notice of its December 11, 2012, denial
and of the right to commence a civil action within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt. ECF No.
9-1. Plaintiff filed her Complaint with this court on May 9, 2013. ECF No. 1.
On August 19, 2013, the Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim
and brief in support. ECF Nos. 8, 9. At the Plaintiff’s request, Plaintiff’s deadline for filing a
response to said motion was extended until October 18, 2013. ECF No. 10. However, Plaintiff has
failed to file a response.
The Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted since it was not filed within the time limitation specified. In 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the
Plaintiff is required to commence a civil action within 60 days after the date the Notice of Final
Decision is mailed to the Plaintiff, or within any time as extended by the Appeals Council of the
Social Security Administration.
Judicial review of the Commissioner’s determination is limited in scope by 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The Supreme Court has specifically held that § 405(h) prevents review of the Secretary’s
decisions except as provided in § 405(g) of the Act. Sheehan v. Secretary of Health, Ed. & Welfare,
593 F.2d 323, 325 (8th Cir. 1979) (citing Weinberger v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 95 S.Ct. 2457, 45
L.Ed.2d 522 (1975)). Section 405(g) provides in pertinent part:
Any individual, after a final decision of the
Commissioner made after a hearing to which he was
a party, irrespective of the amount in controversy, may
obtain a review of such decision by a civil action
commenced within sixty days after the mailing to him
of notice of such decision or within such further time
as the Commissioner may allow.
Accordingly, the final decision of the Commissioner is binding unless the claimant files an
action in a Federal district court within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the Appeals Council’s
decision. See also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 422.210. The date of receipt is presumed to be five days
after the date of such notice, unless there is a reasonable showing to the contrary made to the Appeals
Council. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.901, 422.210(c).
The Supreme Court, in Bowen v. City of New York, 476 U.S. 467, 481, 106 S.Ct. 2022
(1986), ruled that the 60 day time period specified in section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), is a period of limitation, which in a rare case can be tolled by the Commissioner
or the courts. The Eighth Circuit has upheld the 60 days time limitation. Hammonds v. Bowen, 870
F.2d 446, 448 (8th Cir. 1989); Turner v. Bowen, 862 F.2d 708, 710 (8th Cir. 1988)(per curiam).
Here, the Appeals Council’s decision denying Plaintiff's request for review is dated
December 11, 2012. Under the regulations, receipt of the notice would be presumed five days
thereafter, on December 16, 2012. Thus, to be considered timely, Plaintiff must have commenced
her civil action on or before February 15, 2013. Plaintiff’s Complaint in this case was not filed until
May 9, 2013, and she has provided the Court with no reasonable justification for this delay. As such,
there are no extraordinary circumstances present in this case to justify extending the 60 day period.
Therefore, we find Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and
recommend that this action be dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 29th day of October 2013.
/s/ J. Marschewski
HON. JAMES R. MARSCHEWSKI
CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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