United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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
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. 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.
argues that the case must be dismissed because plaintiff did
not exhaust his administrative remedies when he failed to
timely request a hearing before the ALJ and has not
established any basis for a waiver of the exhaustion
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).
Commissioner has defined “final decision” as the
completion of a four-step 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 the
administrative review process and not subject to judicial
review. § 416.1403(8); see also § 416.1402
(defining “initial determinations” as those
determinations “that are subject to administrative and
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 original).
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.