United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge
Complaint against the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) alleges that the SSA violated unspecified
provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; her rights under
the First, Fifth (due process), and Eighth Amendments of the
United States Constitution; and unnamed sections of the
Americans With Disabilities Act when the SSA “cut me
off of SSI” and failed to “schedule a timely ALJ
hearing on a disputed SSI matter.” Plaintiff alleges
that the unidentified “matter” was appealed in
1999 and 2014, and the SSA failed to schedule any of the
“3 ALJ appeal hearings” and the “3 inperson
[sic] conferences.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF pp. 1-2.)
Plaintiff also complains that the SSA made it difficult for
her to obtain necessary forms and “consistently refuses
to answer my questions.” (Filing No. 1 at CM/ECF p. 1.)
Plaintiff makes no requests for monetary damages or other
has been given leave to proceed with this case in forma
pauperis (Filing No. 5.) and has filed a “Motion for
Summary Judgment” (Filing No. 7) because she “did
not get a response to the complaint filed May 1, 2017 by USPS
mail.” This case was reassigned to me on July 18, 2017.
(Filing No. 8.)
STANDARDS FOR INITIAL REVIEW
court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to
determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e). The court must dismiss
a complaint or any portion of it that states a frivolous or
malicious claim, that fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §
plaintiffs must set forth enough factual allegations to
“nudge their claims across the line from conceivable
to plausible, ” or “their complaint must be
dismissed.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 569-70 (2007); see also Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content
that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”).
essential function of a complaint under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is to give the opposing party ‘fair
notice of the nature and basis or grounds for a claim, and a
general indication of the type of litigation
involved.'” Topchian v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., 760 F.3d 843, 848 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Hopkins v. Saunders, 199 F.3d 968, 973 (8th Cir.
1999)). However, “[a] pro se complaint must be
liberally construed, and pro se litigants are held to a
lesser pleading standard than other parties.”
Topchian, 760 F.3d at 849 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
Plaintiff does not expressly cite the Social Security Act as
the basis for her Complaint, she specifically challenges the
SSA's discontinuation of her SSI benefits and the method
by which it did so.
No Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies as to
Wrongful Discontinuation of Benefits
construing Plaintiff's Complaint, it is apparent that
this court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim that
the SSA wrongly discontinued her SSI benefits because
Plaintiff does not allege or establish that she has exhausted
her administrative remedies.
order to exhaust her administrative remedies, Plaintiff must
obtain a decision from an Administrative Law Judge after a
hearing, 20 C.F.R. § 404.929, and, if dissatisfied with
the outcome, seek review from the Appeals Council, 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.967. The Appeals Council may either deny review
and allow the ALJ's decision to stand as the final
determination of the Commissioner, or it can issue its own
decision. 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Only after these steps
would Plaintiff's case become ripe for judicial review.
Id.; see also Mitchael v. Colvin, 809 F.3d
1050, 1055 (8th Cir. 2016).
Plaintiff has neither referred to, nor submitted, any final
decision from an ALJ or the Appeals Council, depriving this
court of jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claim that the SSA
wrongly discontinued her SSI benefits. Grisso v.
Apfel, 219 F.3d 791, 793 (8th Cir. 2000) (“To the
extent [the Plaintiff's] mandamus petition sought
reimbursement of benefits, we agree with the district court
that it lacked jurisdiction to review such a claim absent
exhaustion of administrative remedies.”); Robinson
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., No. 89-1199,
1989 WL 109432, at *1 (6th Cir. Sept. 22, 1989) (affirming
dismissal of claim for compensatory and punitive damages for
deprivations allegedly suffered after Social Security
benefits were wrongfully terminated because the claim
“was not a review of an agency decision, [and] the
court lacked jurisdiction under [42 U.S.C.] §
405(g)” to entertain it); Armstrong v. Astrue,
569 F.Supp.2d 888, 898 (D. Minn. 2008) (dismissing claim
challenging amount of monthly SSA benefits when plaintiff
failed to submit final decision from ALJ or Appeals Council
for federal district court's review).