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Baynham v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 30, 2014

TYRONE LA-MAR BAYNHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SAM A. CROW, Senior District Judge.

This is an action seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security that plaintiff was not disabled (Doc. 1). Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Doc. 12-13). Plaintiff has not directly responded to the motion, but did file a pleading indicating that she had written to SSA in Falls Church, Virginia to ask for an extension in November 2013 to appeal to federal court (Doc. 15). Defendant seeks to dismiss the complaint because it was not filed within 60 days from the date of receipt of the notice of the Appeals Council action (Doc. 13 at 1-2).

As a preliminary matter, the court would note that defendant filed this motion as a Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) motion alleging that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. However, in the case of Thomas v. Astrue, Case No. 11-4088-SAC, defendant filed a motion seeking to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) because the complaint was not timely filed (D. Kan. Oct. 7, 2011, Doc. 9). This is the same issue which is before the court in this case.

In the case of Bowen v. City of New York , 476 U.S. 467, 478 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the 60-day requirement for filing a review of the agency action is not jurisdictional, but rather constitutes a period of limitations. For this reason, the court will treat the motion as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).

I. Applicable legal standards

42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides that a party may obtain judicial review in federal district court of any "final decision" of the Commissioner after a hearing. The civil action seeking judicial review must be filed within sixty (60) days after the mailing to the party of such decision or within such further time as the Commissioner may allow. The term "final decision" is left undefined by the Social Security Act and its meaning is to be fleshed out by the Commissioner's regulations. Weinberger v. Salfi , 422 U.S. 749, 766, 95 S.Ct. 2457, 2467 (1975).

The regulation concerning judicial review is as follows:

(a) General. A claimant may obtain judicial review of a decision by an administrative law judge if the Appeals Council has denied the claimant's request for review, or of a decision by the Appeals Council when that is the final decision of the Commissioner....
(c) Time for instituting civil action. Any civil action described in paragraph (a) of this section must be instituted within 60 days after the Appeals Council's notice of denial of request for review of the presiding officer's decision or notice of the decision by the Appeals Council is received by the individual, institution, or agency, except that this time may be extended by the Appeals Council upon a showing of good cause. For purposes of this section, the date of receipt of notice of denial of request for review of the administrative law judge's decision or notice of the decision by the Appeals Council shall be presumed to be 5 days after the date of such notice, unless there is a reasonable showing to the contrary.

20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a, c, emphasis added). Plaintiff can request an extension of time to file her action in federal district court:

Any party to the Appeals Council's decision or denial of review, or to an expedited appeals process agreement, may request that the time for filing an action in a Federal district court be extended. The request must be in writing and it must give the reasons why the action was not filed within the stated time period. The request must be filed with the Appeals Council, or if it concerns an expedited appeals process agreement, with one of our offices. If you show that you had good cause for missing the deadline, the time period will be extended. To determine whether good cause exists, we use the standards explained in §§ 404.911, 416.1411.

20 C.F.R. §§ 404.982, 416.1482.

In the case of Bowen v. City of New York , 476 U.S. 467, 480, 106 S.Ct. 2022, 2030, 90 L.Ed.2d 462 (1986), the court held that equitable tolling principles applied to the 60 day requirement set forth in the statute of limitations contained in § 405(g). A limitations period may be equitably tolled if the petitioner diligently pursues his claims and demonstrates that the failure to timely file was caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond his control. Fleming v. Evans , 481 F.3d 1249, 1254 (10th Cir.2007); Jackson v. Astrue , 506 F.3d 1349, 1353 (11th Cir. 2007)(in a case involving the application of equitable tolling under § 405(g), the court held that a claimant must justify her untimely filing by a showing of extraordinary circumstances); Torres v. Barnhart , 417 F.3d 276, 279 (2nd Cir. 2005)(in a case involving the application of equitable tolling under § 405(g), the court held that the doctrine of equitable tolling permits courts to deem filings timely where a litigant can show that he has been pursuing his rights diligently and that some extraordinary circumstance stood in his way).

II. Was plaintiff's complaint timely filed in light of the fact that plaintiff alleges that she requested from defendant in November 2013 an extension of ...


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