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Hekmat v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 14, 2014

AHMAD HEKMAT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commission of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

JAMES P. DONOHUE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY CONCLUSION

This matter comes before the Court on the defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for judicial review of the denial of his applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income payments pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Dkt. 8. Defendant argues that plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Id. Plaintiff responds that he was denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard in violation of his constitutional right to due process, because he was arbitrarily excluded from his administrative hearing below. Dkt. 9. After reviewing defendant's motion, plaintiff's response, the governing law, and the balance of the record, the Court recommends that defendant's motion to dismiss, Dkt. 8, be DENIED, and that this case be REMANDED for an administrative hearing.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

A challenge to the Court's subject matter jurisdiction is properly brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). St. Clair v. City of Chico, 880 F.2d 199, 201 (9th Cir. 1989); see also Corrie v. Caterpillar, Inc., 503 F.3d 974, 980 (9th Cir. 2007) (motion to dismiss attacking substance of complaint's jurisdictional allegations treated as if brought under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)). Unlike motions to dismiss brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), "a Rule 12(b)(1) motion can attack the substance of a complaint's jurisdictional allegations despite their formal sufficiency, and in so doing rely on affidavits or any other evidence properly before the court." St. Clair, 880 F.2d at 201; see also Corrie, 503 F.3d at 980. The party opposing the motion then must "present affidavits or any other evidence necessary to satisfy its burden of establishing that the court, in fact, possesses subject matter jurisdiction." St. Clair, 880 F.2d at 201. As such, it is not an abuse of the Court's discretion to consider such "extra-pleading material, " even when "necessary to resolve factual disputes." Id. Lastly, as is true for motions brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. p. 12(b)(6), "all disputed facts" are to be "resolved in favor of the non-moving party." Costco v. United States, 248 F.3d 863, 865-66 (9th Cir. 2001); Murphy v. Schneider National, Inc., 362 F.3d 1133, 1139 (9th Cir. 2004); McNatt v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 1084, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000) (court favorably views facts alleged to support jurisdiction).

B. Plaintiff Has Failed to Exhaust his Administrative Remedies

1. The Exhaustion Requirement

Judicial review of a claim for Social Security disability benefits is limited to review of a "final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security made after a hearing[.]" 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Section 405(g) reads in relevant part:

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 Secretary may allow.

Thus, this provision clearly limits judicial review to a "final decision" of the Commissioner "made after a hearing." Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 108, 97 S.Ct. 980, 51 L.Ed.2d 192 (1977).

The meaning of the term "final decision" in Section 405(g), however, is left to the Commissioner "to flesh out by regulation." Weinberger v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 766, 95 S.Ct. 2457, 45 L.Ed.2d 522 (1975); see also Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 330, 96 S.Ct. 893, 47 L.Ed.2d 18 (1976) ("[U]nder s 405(g) the power to determine when finality has occurred ordinarily rests with the Secretary."). Under the regulations, a claimant obtains the Commissioner's final decision only after completing the four steps of the administrative review process: (1) initial determination; (2) reconsideration determination; (3) hearing before an ALJ; and (4) Appeals Council review. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1400(a). As stated by the Ninth Circuit, "[a] final decision has two elements: (1) presentment of the claim to the Commissioner, and (2) complete exhaustion of administrative remedies." Kildare v. Saenz, 325 F.3d 1078, 1082 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Johnson, 2 F.3d at 921).

2. Plaintiff Was Denied Access to his Administrative Hearing on July 12, 2013 and August 14, 2013

Here, it is undisputed that plaintiff was denied entrance to his administrative hearing on two separate occasions based upon the type of photo identification he brought with him, and therefore plaintiff was unable to fully exhaust his administrative remedies. The parties disagree, however, regarding whether under the circumstances of this case, being excluded from his ...


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