Hicks v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Barry A. Bryant on June 14, 2016. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
HOT SPRINGS DIVISION
JOE HICKS, JR.
Civil No. 6:16-cv-06023
CAROLYN W. COLVIN
Commissioner, Social Security Administration
Pending now before this Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 9.1 Plaintiff has
not responded to this motion. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge
to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of
a final judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF No. 5. Pursuant to this
authority, the Court issues this Memorandum Opinion and orders the entry of a final judgment in this
Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging Plaintiff failed to exhaust all administrative
remedies before filing the complaint in this Court. ECF No. 9. According to Defendant, Plaintiff
filed a claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on August 26, 2014.
ECF No. 9-1. After Plaintiff’s applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, Plaintiff
filed a request for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id. The ALJ held an
administrative hearing on November 12, 2015, and issued an unfavorable decision on February 3,
2016, which notified Plaintiff of his right to submit a request for review to the Appeals Council
within 60 days. Id. There is no evidence Plaintiff submitted a request for review to the Appeals
The docket numbers for this case are referenced by the designation “ECF. No.”
On March 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the
Western District of Arkansas. ECF No. 1. Defendant argues Plaintiff has not received a final
administrative decision from the Commissioner, and as such, Plaintiff failed to exhaust his
administrative remedies. ECF No. 9. Plaintiff filed no response to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a defendant may move for dismissal of a
complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction is a threshold matter
that pertains to the court’s authority over the category of the claim in the suit. See Ruhrgas AG v.
Marathan Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577, 583 (1999). The Social Security Act (Act) confers jurisdiction
on United States district courts to review “any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
made after a hearing to which he was a party.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). A claimant’s failure to exhaust
all administrative remedies with SSA before filing an appeal in district court deprives the court of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-107 (2000).
The Social Security regulations set forth the process of administrative review and explain a
claimant’s right to judicial review after he or she has taken all of the necessary administrative steps.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1400(a). The administrative review process consists of several steps, which
usually must be requested within certain time periods and in the following order: (1) initial
determination; (2) reconsideration; (3) hearing before an ALJ; and (4) Appeals Council review. See
20 C.F.R. § 416.1400(a). When a claimant has completed the steps of the administrative review
process, SSA will have made its final decision subject to judicial review in district court. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.1400(a)(5).
Here, Plaintiff failed to request Appeals Council review of the ALJ’s decision. As a result,
he did not complete the administrative review process, Defendant had not issued a final decision
subject to judicial review, and this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See 20 C.F.R. §§
416.1400(a), (b), 416.1481.
Based on this, the Court finds Plaintiff’s complaint should be dismissed without prejudice.
Based on the foregoing, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9) is GRANTED. A
judgment incorporating these findings will be entered pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
52 and 58.
ENTERED this 14th day of June 2016.
/s/ Barry A. Bryant
HON. BARRY A. BRYANT
U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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