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Richter v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

September 9, 2019

RUTH RICHTER, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION and ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Richard G. Kopf Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, Ruth Richter, who appears pro se, filed her complaint and a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) on August 5, 2019 (Filings 1, 2). The court will grant Plaintiff's IFP motion, and, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), will conduct an initial review of the complaint to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate.

         I. SUMMARY OF COMPLAINT

         “Plaintiff seeks an immediate injunction against Defendant, ” Social Security Administration (“SSA”), [1] alleging:

Defendant has and continues to violate Plaintiff's constitutional right to due process in the matter of Plaintiff's SSI payments which Defendant is in part withholding in order to pay itself back on a charge against Plaintiff of “overpayment.” The alleged “overpayment” matter has not been heard in a conference or hearing. This is the second time Defendant has withheld a portion of Plaintiff's SSI on an “overpayment” charge without being heard first. First time was in 2016 into 2017. Now dates are 2018 into 2019. It should be noted this time Plaintiff filed a timely appeal with the Appeals Council-and with appeal ongoing the Defendant is once again wrongly withholding partial SSI monthly payment to me. In 2017 an ALJ in her fully favorable decision to Plaintiff determined it was wrong to have withheld from my SSI payments while appeal was in progress (SI 02260.001A.4) by the Administration. Plaintiff did get those withholdings back in 2017 but like now Plaintiff's payments should not have been withheld while case was still open.

(Filing 1) In a supplemental filing, Plaintiff requests “a court order to restore Plaintiff's full amount SSI benefits immediately and to immediately be paid for the SSI benefits she was denied by Defendant.” (Filing 6)

         II. STANDARDS ON INITIAL REVIEW

         The court is required to review in forma pauperis complaints to determine whether summary dismissal is appropriate. 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. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         Pro se 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.”).

         “The 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).

         As part of its initial review, this court also has an independent obligation to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. See Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, Election Bd. v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, 439 F.3d 832, 836 (8th Cir. 2006); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq., provides for the payment of monthly benefits to indigent persons under the supplemental security income (“SSI”) program. See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140 (1987). “The basic purpose underlying the supplemental security income program is to assure a minimum level of income for people who are age 65 or over, or who are blind or disabled and who do not have sufficient income and resources to maintain a standard of living at the established Federal minimum income level.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.110.

         A. Applicable ...


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