The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPATT
This is an action brought by the plaintiff, Walter Dixon ("Dixon" or the "plaintiff") for judicial review of the determination by the defendant, Shirley S. Chater, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, ("Commissioner" or the "defendant"), that denied the plaintiff's application for a period of disability between 1992 and 1993. The defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). The plaintiff cross-moves for judgment on the "administrative record", whatever that is, and on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c).
Walter Dixon, a 48 year old man at the time of the initial filing for Social Security disability benefits in 1992, alleges that he has been totally disabled and unable to work since August 30, 1991 due to a back injury he sustained while moving a television set at work. According to the plaintiff, he was employed as a service technician for twenty-seven years prior to his injury. Dixon states that he required surgery to correct his back problem. After the surgery, the plaintiff contends that he found it impossible to work in any capacity, and therefore, in or about January, 1992, he filed an application for social security disability benefits. This application was initially denied on April 23, 1992. The defendant asserts that the plaintiff did not appeal from the denial of benefits.
On September 26, 1992, after bedrest and physical therapy, Dixon returned to work. However, on January 26, 1993, Dixon allegedly hurt his back again. As a result of this injury, on August 13, 1993, the plaintiff filed another application for social security disability benefits alleging a January 26, 1993 onset of disability. This second application was initially denied on January 12, 1994. His application for reconsideration was denied on March 22, 1994. On April 18, 1994, the plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an Administration Law Judge ("ALJ"). The hearing was held on November 18, 1994, at which time the plaintiff moved to reopen his prior application for social security disability benefits pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.989(b) based upon new and material evidence. He further requested that the ALJ consider the prior period either as part of a nine month trial work period or a separate closed period of benefits.
In a decision dated December 28, 1994, the ALJ determined that the plaintiff had been unable to perform work since January 26, 1993 when he reinjured his back. However, he also found that Dixon's prior application of January 1992 could not be reopened. Dixon then filed a request for the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision which denied his request to reopen his prior application. In a decision dated January 26, 1996, the Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review and affirmed the decision of the ALJ. On March 18, 1996, Dixon commenced this federal action seeking review of the determination denying his request to reopen his January, 1992 application. The defendant now moves to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
A. The defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction
The defendant moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. According to the Second Circuit, "in determining whether the federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction over a cause of action, a district court must look to the way the complaint is drawn to see if it claims a right to recover under the laws of the United States." IUE AFL-CIO Pension Fund v. Herrmann, 9 F.3d 1049, 1055 (2d Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 822, 130 L. Ed. 2d 38, 115 S. Ct. 86 (1994) (quoting Goldman v. Gallant Sec., Inc., 878 F.2d 71, 73 (2d Cir. 1989)).
B. Judicial review of a denial to reopen a disability benefits application
An individual is entitled to disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act if the individual is unable:
. . . to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. . . . An individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if his physical or mental impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(2).