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Nathanial Tuff v. Michael J. Astrue

November 13, 2012

NATHANIAL TUFF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMM'R OF SOC. SEC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Nathanial Tuff ("Plaintiff") against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "the Commissioner") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), is a motion by Defendant to dismiss this action for failure to state a claim and /or lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

On February 25, 2005, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income. (T. 62-64.) In support of his application, Plaintiff alleged that, although his claimed disability, paranoid schizophrenia, first bothered him in 1986, he became unable to work due to his disability on December 1, 2004. (T. 72.) Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("the ALJ"). On January 30, 2007, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ and a hearing was held. (T. 42-62.) The ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff disabled on August 4, 2007. (T. 15-24.) On September 6, 2007, Defendant notified Plaintiff that he was eligible for benefits beginning March 1, 2005. (T. 12-14.) Plaintiff sought Appeals Council review because his "benefits did not go back to the proper date." (T. 6.) On October 14, 2011, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 3-5.)

Plaintiff, appearing pro se, commenced this action seeking judicial review on March 9, 2012. An Amended Complaint was filed on May 4, 2009, and a summons was served upon Defendant on May 21, 2012. On August 29, 2012, Defendant filed the current motion to dismiss, which has now been fully briefed.

II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

A. Defendant's Arguments

In support of his motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, Defendant makes two arguments. First, Defendant argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction to review a fully favorable decision. (Dkt. No. 14-2 at 2-3 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendant argues that the Court lacks jurisdiction of this action because Plaintiff failed to timely seek judicial review. (Id. at 3-6.)

B. Plaintiff's Arguments

In opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss this action, Plaintiff makes four arguments. First, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's decision was not fully favorable because the ALJ's finding regarding the date of commencement of Plaintiff's eligibility for disability benefits "is inconsist[e]nt with the day Plaintiff[']s disability began" and "Plaintiff was disabled before his 'alleged' application filing date." (Dkt. No. 17 at 3 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues, Defendant had knowledge of his disability since 1991, but denied his application in violation of his right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.*fn1 (Id.) Third, Plaintiff argues, the Court should strike Defendant's motion because it was not timely filed in violation of this Court's General Order 18. (Id.) Fourth, and finally, Plaintiff alleges that he had good cause for the untimely commencement of this action because, due to his mental incapacity, he did not understand the review process. (Id. at 4.)

III. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss an action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is properly granted "when the district court lacks the statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate it." Makarova v. United States, 201 F.3d 110, 113 (2d Cir. 2000). Where, as here, a plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the court must interpret the complaint to raise the strongest arguments that it suggests. See Hill v. Curcione, 657 F.3d 116, 122 (2d Cir. 2011). Notwithstanding the special solicitude due pro se plaintiffs, when deciding such a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the court must be mindful that it is the plaintiff who "bears the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence." Liranzo v. United States, 690 F.3d 78, 84 (2d Cir. 2012).

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Whether the Court Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction Because Plaintiff's ...


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