Taylor v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction [Doc. # 13 ] is granted. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 1/18/2017. (CLO)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ANIKA TAYLOR, next friend
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Case No. 4:16-CV-1622 (CEJ)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Anika Taylor brings this action on behalf of her minor son, D.T., seeking
judicial review of an adverse ruling by the Social Security Administration. Defendant
moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because
plaintiff did not exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiff has not filed a response
in opposition and the time allowed for doing so has expired.
Plaintiff D.T. was found disabled beginning October 1, 2005, based on an
application for supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI, 42 U.S.C. §§
1381 et seq. Christina Prelle Declaration ¶3(a) [Doc. # 13-1]. On April 14, 2015,
the Social Security Administration sent plaintiff a “Notice of Disability Cessation,”
informing him that, after a review of recent medical records, it had been
determined that he was no longer disabled and would receive his final benefit
payment in June 2015. Ex. 2 [Doc. # 13-2]. Plaintiff timely filed a request for
reconsideration. Prelle Decl. ¶3(b). On August 7, 2015, plaintiff was notified that his
request for reconsideration was denied. Ex. 3 [Doc. # 13-3]. The notice stated that
if plaintiff disagreed with the decision he was required to make a written request for
a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days of receiving the
notice. Id. He was also informed that he “must have a good reason [for waiting]
more than 60 days to ask for a hearing.” Id.
On October 30, 2015, plaintiff filed an untimely request for hearing. See Doc.
# 13-4. On December 24, 2015, the ALJ dismissed the request. Order of Dismissal
[Doc. # 13-5]. According to the ALJ, plaintiff’s mother explained that she missed
the deadline to file because she never received the August 7, 2015 notice that
reconsideration had been denied.1 The ALJ rejected the explanation, noting that
plaintiff’s mother had “received correspondence from the District office and
Disability Determination Services without any problems since she filed the claim on
behalf of” her son. Furthermore, none of the correspondence mailed to plaintiff was
returned as undeliverable. The ALJ concluded that there was no persuasive
evidence that plaintiff did not receive the August 7, 2015 notice and found that
plaintiff failed to establish good cause for missing the deadline to request a hearing.
The ALJ dismissed the request for hearing, leaving in effect the August 7, 2015
denial of reconsideration. Id. Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council,
which denied the request on August 6, 2016. [Doc. # 13-6]. Plaintiff filed this
action on September 27, 2016.
Defendant argues that the case must be dismissed because plaintiff did not
exhaust his administrative remedies when he failed to timely request a hearing
The document in which this explanation was made is not included in the record submitted
to the Court.
before the ALJ and has not established any basis for a waiver of the exhaustion
A federal district court’s jurisdiction to review the Commissioner’s decisions
regarding disability benefits is governed by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which provides
review only of a “final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security made after a
hearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Under the statutory scheme . . ., the presence of a
final decision is not only essential to determine when judicial intervention is proper
but also to determine whether it is possible.” Sheehan v. Sec’y of Health, Ed. &
Welfare, 593 F.2d 323, 325 (8th Cir. 1979). The meaning of the term “final
decision” “is left to the [Commissioner] to flesh out by regulation.” Weinberger v.
Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 766 (1975).
The Commissioner has defined “final decision” as the completion of a fourstep administrative review process. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1400(a)(5) (“When you have
completed the steps of the administrative review process . . ., we will have made
our final decision.) The four steps are (1) the initial determination “about . . .
eligibility or . . . continuing eligibility for benefits or about any other matter . . . that
gives you a right to further review;” (2) reconsideration of an initial determination;
(3) hearing before an administrative law judge; and (4) review by the Appeals
Council review. § 416.1400(a)(1)-(4). Only upon completion of this process can a
dissatisfied claimant seek review by a federal court. § 416.1400(a)(5). The
regulations specify that the claimant must request the next level of administrative
review within 60 days of receiving notice of the denial of relief. See § 416.1409
(written request for reconsideration); § 416.1433 (request for hearing by ALJ); §
416.1468(a) (request for review by Appeals Council). A claimant who fails to file a
request for hearing before an ALJ on time may make a written request for an
extension of time. § 416.1433(c). The request “must give the reasons why the
request for a hearing was not filed within the stated time period. . . . If you show
that you had good cause for missing the deadline, the time period will be
extended.” Under the regulations, a decision to deny a claimant’s request for more
time for seeking review is not “an initial determination” and thus is excluded from
416.1403(8); see also § 416.1402 (defining “initial determinations” as those
Because plaintiff’s request for a hearing was denied as untimely, plaintiff did
not exhaust his administrative remedies and there is no final decision subject to
review by this Court. See Records v. Astrue,, No. CIV.A. 09-5224, 2010 WL
749559, at *4 (W.D. Ark. Mar. 3, 2010) (ALJ’s dismissal of plaintiff’s hearing
request is not a “final decision” subject to judicial review); Wild v. Astrue, No.
CIV.07-1372(JNE/JSM), 2008 WL 698483, at *3 (D. Minn. Mar. 13, 2008) (because
ALJ dismissed plaintiff’s untimely request for a hearing, “[n]ot only was there no
hearing,” there was no final decision meriting judicial review under 405(g)); see
also Cotton v. Colvin, No. 4:13CV2412 TCM, 2014 WL 2480372, at *3 (E.D. Mo.
June 3, 2014) (decision by Appeals Council to deny request for review of a decision
dismissing a request for a hearing is not subject to judicial review) (emphasis in
Despite a failure to exhaust administrative remedies, judicial review is
available where the claimant raises constitutional questions. Lively v. Bowen, 827
F.2d 268, 269 (8th Cir. 1987) (citing Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976)).
Here, plaintiff is seeking an additional opportunity to establish that he satisfies the
Social Security Act’s eligibility standards for disability benefits. He has not asserted
any constitutional questions. See Cotton, 2014 WL 2480372, at *4 (finding “no
constitutional claim alleged in the instant case. Rather, the evidence before the
Court establishes that a request for a hearing was simply made too late.”); Lyons v.
Astrue, No. 2:12CV 1 LMB, 2013 WL 64648, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 4, 2013) (holding
that there was no subject matter jurisdiction where plaintiff failed to file timely
request for hearing and did not raise constitutional claims); Records, 2010 WL
749559, at *4 (finding no constitutional question presented in request for judicial
review after ALJ denied untimely hearing request).
Accordingly, the Court finds
that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over this matter.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s
complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction [Doc. # 13] is granted.
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 18th day of January, 2017.
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