United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. TEILBORG SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
issue is Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
Administration's (hereinafter, âDefendantâ) Motion to
Dismiss Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)
and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 38). For the reasons set forth below, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc.
35) for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
25, 2012, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
found that Plaintiff had been disabled under the Social
Security Act since February 22, 2009. (Doc. 32-1 at 28). This
decision noted that the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) would later advise Plaintiff regarding
the non-disability requirements for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) payments and, if Plaintiff was
eligible, the amount and the months for which payment would
be made. Id. On July 10, 2012, the SSA notified
Plaintiff that she met the requirements to receive SSI as of
July 2010 based on being disabled, and that she was eligible
for back payments totaling $1, 836.82. (Id. at
29-30). The SSA also advised Plaintiff that, as a result of
excess income and resources, she was not eligible to receive
SSI payments for June 2010, for August 2010 through July
2011, and for April 2012 on. (Id. at 31). Although
Plaintiff asked the SSA to review this determination, on July
26, 2013, an ALJ determined that Plaintiff continued to be
ineligible for SSI payments since June 2010 because her
income and resources exceeded the allowable limit.
(Id. at 70-72).
August 21, 2015, Plaintiff again applied for SSI, but her
application was denied via a Notice of Disapproved Claim
dated October 16, 2015 because she continued to have too much
income to be eligible for SSI. (Id. at 90). On
October 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed a reconsideration request,
which was denied after a formal conference on November 23,
2015. (Id. at 116, 119). Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested a hearing with an ALJ to review the SSA's
denial of her reconsideration request, (id. at
123-25), which was held August 16, 2017. (Id. at
14). On November 14, 2017, an ALJ affirmed the Notice of
Disapproved Claim from October 16, 2015 based on the finding
that Plaintiff continued to be ineligible for the receipt of
SSI because she had income and/or resources in excess of the
allowable amount. (Id. at 14-15). That same day, the
SSA issued a Notice of Unfavorable Decision, which instructed
Plaintiff that if she wished to appeal the unfavorable
decision to the Appeals Council, she must file a written
appeal within 60 days from the date she received that notice.
(Id. at 10-12). On June 18, 2018, the Appeals
Council issued a letter entitled “Notice of Appeals
Council Action” notifying Plaintiff that it had denied
her request for review, and instructing her that she has 60
days to file a civil action or else could ask the Appeals
Council for an extension of her time to file. (Id.
at 6- 9). Plaintiff was granted an extension of time within
which to commence a civil action through October 15, 2018.
(Id. at 5).
October 15, 2018, Plaintiff filed her original Complaint in
this case, seeking review of the decision regarding SSI under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (Doc. 1 at 2).
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that the Commissioner's
factual findings are not supported by substantial evidence
and were based on legal error because “Plaintiff is
wrongfully said to have a Social Security
‘adult-child.'” (Id. at 3). On March
25, 2019, Defendant filed an Answer to Plaintiff's
original Complaint and the Certified Administrative Record.
(Docs. 30, 32). Plaintiff filed the Amended Complaint at
issue here on March 28, 2019. (Doc. 35). In her Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff states that the basis for federal court
jurisdiction is federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331,
and lists the specific statutes at issue as 28 U.S.C. §
1331, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Americans with
Disability Act of 1990. (Id. at 3). Although
Plaintiff does not check the box indicating that the basis
for federal court jurisdiction is diversity of citizenship,
she alleges an amount in controversy over $75, 000 because
she believes she is owed more than 10 years' worth of
benefits which have not been disbursed to her. (Id.
14, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Amended Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and
12(b)(6). (Doc. 38). Defendant argues that the Court does not
have jurisdiction to review the Social Security
Administrator's decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
because Plaintiff has failed to fully exhaust her
administrative remedies, and because 42 U.S.C. § 405(h)
bars suits brought under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 challenging
the SSA's decisions. (Id. at 5-6). Plaintiff
filed an affidavit in response, but does not address
Defendant's jurisdictional arguments. (See Doc.
defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised
at any time by the parties or by the court. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). Under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, dismissal is appropriate when the court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a claim. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). “Federal courts are courts of limited
jurisdiction” and may only hear cases as authorized by
the Constitution or Congress. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (citations
omitted). “It is to be presumed that a cause lies
outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of
establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting
jurisdiction.” Id. (internal citations
omitted); see also Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero
Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990) (“The
party asserting jurisdiction has the burden of proving all
jurisdictional facts.”) (citing McNutt v. Gen.
Motors Acceptance Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936);
Fenton v. Freedman, 748 F.2d 1358, 1359, n.1 (9th
Cir. 1984)). Accordingly, on a motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff must demonstrate
that subject matter jurisdiction exists to defeat dismissal.
See Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. When considering a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the district
court may review any evidence to resolve factual disputes
concerning the existence of jurisdiction. McCarthy v.
United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing
Land v. Dollar, 330 U.S. 731, 735 n. 4 (1947)
(“[W]hen a question of the District Court's
jurisdiction is raised . . . the court may inquire by
affidavits or otherwise, into the facts as they
United States and its agencies, including the SSA, are immune
from suit absent a waiver. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). “Sovereign
immunity is jurisdictional in nature.” Id.
“It is axiomatic that the United States may not be sued
without its consent and that the existence of consent is a
prerequisite for jurisdiction.” United States v.
Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983). “[W]here a
statute creates a right and provides a special remedy, that
remedy is exclusive.” United States v.
Babcock, 250 U.S. 328, 331 (1919).
Social Security Act contains a limited waiver of sovereign
immunity and provides the sole avenue for judicial review of
any claim arising under the Act, including claims under
Titles II and XVI. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(h)
(“No findings of fact or decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security shall be reviewed by any person, tribunal,
or governmental agency except as herein provided.”).
The remedy provision in section 405(g) provides in relevant
Any individual, after any final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security 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 of Social Security may allow. . . .
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (emphasis added). “This
provision clearly limits judicial review to a particular type
of agency action, a ‘final decision of the Secretary
made after a hearing.'” Califano v.
Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 108 (1977); see ...