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MATHEWS v. CHATER

July 24, 1995

SADIE MATHEWS, Plaintiff, against SHIRLEY S. CHATER, Commissioner of Social Security, 1 Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN G. KOELTL

 JOHN G. KOELTL, District Judge:

 The defendant Commissioner of Social Security moves to dismiss this action under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. For the reasons explained below, the motion is granted and this action is dismissed without prejudice for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. *fn2"

 I.

 On August 20, 1987, the plaintiff, Sadie Mathews, applied for widow's disability benefits pursuant to Section 202(e) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 402(e). The plaintiff's widow's benefits claim was denied initially, upon reconsideration and by a written decision dated December 27, 1988 by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") after an oral hearing. The Appeals Council vacated the December 27, 1988 decision in a written order dated April 28, 1989 and returned the case to the hearing office for further development. After a supplemental hearing, an ALJ issued a written decision dated November 9, 1989 denying benefits. On October 11, 1990, the Appeals Council vacated the November 9, 1989 decision and returned the case to the hearing office for further development, a supplemental hearing and a written decision. On March 11, 1991, ALJ Helen Anyel issued a decision finding the plaintiff was entitled to Disabled Widow's Insurance Benefits ("DWI"). *fn3"

 The plaintiff was notified by letter dated August 3, 1992, that her retroactive DWI benefits would be reduced because of her prior receipt of Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") during the time she was eligible for DWI. *fn4" The plaintiff was notified of the exact reduction determinations by letter dated December 22, 1993 which concluded that, after deducting attorneys fees and SSI benefits, she was only entitled to $ 794. *fn5" The plaintiff filed for reconsideration on May 26, 1994. *fn6" The plaintiff was notified by letter dated June 1, 1994 that the prior calculations were correct and that she had the right to a hearing by an ALJ if she disagreed with the decision. *fn7" Rather than request a hearing within sixty days as the notice of reconsideration instructed, the plaintiff commenced this action on June 27, 1994. *fn8"

 II.

 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides that:

 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (emphasis added). 42 U.S.C. § 405(h) provides:

 
(h) Finality of [Commissioner's] decision
 
The findings and decision of the [Commissioner] after a hearing shall be binding upon all individuals who were parties to such hearing. No findings of fact or decision of the [Commissioner] shall be reviewed by any person, tribunal, or governmental agency except as herein provided. No action against the United States, the [Commissioner], or any officer or employee thereof shall be brought under section 1331 or 1346 of Title 28 to recover on any claim arising under this subchapter.

 42 U.S.C. § 405 (h).

 It is well settled that under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and (h), judicial review of Social Security benefit determinations is limited to "final" decisions of the Commissioner made after a hearing, that available administrative procedures must be exhausted and that a final decision is a prerequisite for subject matter jurisdiction in the District Court. See Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 103 n.3, 198, 51 L. Ed. 2d 192, 97 S. Ct. 980 (1977); Ryan v. Bentsen, 304 U.S. App. D.C. 219, 12 F.3d 245, 247 (D.C. Cir. 1993); Marcus v. Sullivan, 926 F.2d 604, 612-14 (7th Cir. 1991). A "final decision" consists of two components, a presentment requirement which is purely jurisdictional and cannot be waived, and an exhaustion requirement which can be waived. Ryan, 12 F.3d at 247; see also, Willis v. Sullivan, 93 ...


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