Goldstein v. Astrue

Filing 26

ORDER by Judge Paul S. Grewal granting 22 Motion to Dismiss; denying 23 Motion for Extension of Time to File (psglc2, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/3/2012)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 9 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 SAN JOSE DIVISION 12 STEVEN M. GOLDSTEIN 13 Plaintiff, v. 14 15 MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, 16 Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 11-CV-898-PSG ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS 17 In this action against the Social Security Administration (“SSA), Plaintiff Steven M. 18 19 Goldstein (“Goldstein”), proceeding pro se, appeals a denial of child survivor insurance benefits. 20 On February 22, 2011, Goldstein filed a complaint alleging “breach of contract to provide 21 survivorship insurance benefits.” 1 On September 14, 2011, Defendant Michael J. Astrue 22 (“Astrue”), Commissioner of Social Security, moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Fed. R. 23 Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and (12)(b)(6). On October 7, 2011, Goldstein filed a “motion of postponement 24 25 and answer to certain defense claims,” which the court will treat as a late response to Astrue’s 26 27 1 28 See Docket No. 1 at 1 (Compl.). 1 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER 1 motion to dismiss.2 On October 14, 2011, Astrue filed a reply. On October 25, 2011, the court took 2 the motions under submission. Having considered the arguments and evidence presented by the 3 parties, the court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter and hereby 4 GRANTS Astrue’s motion to dismiss. As explained below, the court further DENIES Goldstein’s 5 motion requesting postponement or a stay of this action. 6 I. BACKGROUND3 7 Goldstein is the recipient of monthly disability insurance benefits on his own record in the 8 9 amount of $1,446.50.4 In August 2010, Goldstein applied for survivorship insurance benefits as the United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 disabled child of a deceased parent who also had been receiving Social Security insurance 11 benefits.5 Goldstein alleges that he is entitled to receive simultaneous disability insurance benefits 12 on his own record, as well as child survivor insurance benefits on his parent’s record.6 On August 13 14 31, 2010, Goldstein’s application was denied on the ground that he already was entitled to an equal or larger benefit on his own record.7 Goldstein filed for reconsideration, and on January 7, 2011, 15 16 the SSA issued a denial on reconsideration for the same reason.8 On February 10, 2011, Goldstein 17 18 2 19 Pursuant to Civ. L.R. 7-3(a), Goldstein had 14 days after service of Astrue’s motion to dismiss to file a response. 20 3 21 22 23 It is difficult to discern any underlying facts from Goldstein’s complaint, which is made up almost exclusively of Goldstein’s legal analysis and conclusions. The court therefore has relied primarily on Astrue’s motion to dismiss and accompanying declarations and exhibits in order to understand the factual and administrative history of this case. For future reference, the court directs Goldstein to Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a), which sets forth the basic requirements for a pleading that states a claim for relief. 4 See Docket No. 1 at 6. 5 See id. 6 See Docket No. 22 at 2 (Def.’s Mot. To Dismiss), Ex. 1 & 3a (Jones Decl.); Docket No. 1 at 6-7. 7 See Docket No. 22, Ex. 2. 8 See id., Ex. 3. 24 25 26 27 28 2 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER 1 2 filed a timely request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Shortly thereafter, Goldstein filed the instant action in federal court. On July 29, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision unfavorable to Goldstein, upholding the denial 3 4 of benefits.9 The ALJ’s notice of decision informed Goldstein of his right to file an appeal to the 5 SSA Appeals Council within 60 days of the date notice was received. No appeal was filed.10 6 II. ANALYSIS 7 8 A. Failure to Exhaust Administrative Remedies Section 405(g) provides for judicial review of “any final decision of the Commissioner of 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Social Security” made after a hearing to which the claimant was a party.11 The Social Security 11 regulations provide for a set process of administrative review, up through the right to judicial 12 review.12 The process requires (1) an initial determination, (2) reconsideration, (3) hearing before 13 an ALJ, (4) Appeals Council review, and (5) federal court review.13 The regulations further provide 14 that if a claimant is dissatisfied with a determination but does not “take the next step within the 15 16 stated time period,” the claimant will lose the right to further administrative and to judicial review, 17 unless good cause is shown.14 Goldstein concedes that he “was not aware of the requirement in the 18 U.S. law regarding administrative exhaustion” and hence did not appeal the ALJ’s July 29, 2011 19 20 21 9 22 10 See id., Ex. 4. 23 See id. & 3b. See also Docket No. 23 at 1 (“The plaintiff fully will cooperate with this requirement [to continue the administrative appeal process].”) (Pl.’s Opp’n to Def.’s Mot. To Dismiss). 24 11 25 12 26 42 U.S.C. ' 405(g) (emphasis added). See 20 C.F.R. ' 404.900(a) (“The regulations describe the process of administrative review and explain your right to judicial review after you have taken all the necessary administrative steps.”). 13 See id. 14 See id. ' 404.900(b). 27 28 3 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER 1 determination to the Appeals Council.15 Goldstein also has not attempted to argue good cause – nor 2 would establishing good cause allow him to skip the Appeals Council step and leap directly to 3 judicial review. Goldstein therefore has not exhausted his administrative remedies under the Social 4 Security Act, 42 U.S.C. ' 405(g). Accordingly, this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear 5 Goldstein’s claims and must dismiss the action.16 6 B. Request to Postpone or Stay the Action 7 In his response to the motion to dismiss and request for postponement, Goldstein asks this 8 9 court to stay or continue the case until the process of administrative exhaustion is complete. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 Goldstein argues that he has established in good faith that he will require “some time for the appeal 11 to be pursued so that [the] current matter can be adjudicated correctly” and points to the absence of 12 prejudice to any party should the court grant his motion.17 Goldstein also points to the likelihood 13 that his administrative appeal will be denied, whereby a stay of this matter would be more efficient 14 than dismissal with prejudice and the need for Goldstein to re-file at a later time. 15 Although the court may be sympathetic to Goldstein’s misapprehension of the 16 17 administrative appeals process and requirements, as well as his arguments as to a stay, the court 18 cannot maintain an action over which it has no jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction must exist 19 as of the time the action is commenced.18 Even if all parties prefer adjudication in federal court, 20 21 22 15 23 16 See Docket No. 23 at 1. 25 See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”). Because the court must dismiss Goldstein’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, it is not necessary for the court to reach Astrue’s additional arguments pertaining to Goldstein’s failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). 26 17 27 18 24 28 See Docket No. 23 at 2. See Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. St. Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Mollan v. Torrance, 22 U.S. 536, 538 (1824) (additional citations omitted)). 4 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER 1 2 consent of the parties is insufficient to confer jurisdiction.19 The court therefore is without power to grant Goldstein’s motion for postponement. Goldstein’s motion is DENIED. 3 III. CONCLUSION 4 In accordance with the foregoing, Astrue’s motion to dismiss is hereby GRANTED with 5 prejudice. Goldstein’s motion requesting postponement or a stay of this action is hereby DENIED. 6 7 8 Dated: 1/3/2012 9 ______________________________ PAUL S. GREWAL United States Magistrate Judge United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 19 See id. 5 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER 1 2 3 Notice of this filing was automatically mailed to counsel via the court’s Electronic Case Filing system. A copy of this filing was mailed to: 5 Steven M. Goldstein 184 Centre Street #6 Mountain View, CA 94041 6 Dated: 1/3/2012 4 7 /s/ Chambers Staff Chambers of U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal 8 9 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6 Case No.: 11-898 ORDER

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