United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Lynn Everman, Plaintiff, represented by John C. Chowning,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant, represented by
Lynn Marie Dodge, U.S. Attorney's Office & Niranjan
Emani, Social Security Administration.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (Dkt. 25, 27)
STEPHANIE DAWKINS DAVIS, Magistrate Judge.
Proceedings in this Court
24, 2013, plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's unfavorable decision
disallowing benefits. (Dkt. 1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§
636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72.1(b)(3), District Judge Denise
Page Hood referred this matter to Magistrate Judge Michael
Hluchaniuk for the purpose of reviewing the
Commissioner's decision denying plaintiff's claim.
(Dkt. 4). Previously, defendant filed a motion to dismiss for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Dkt. 9). On June 25,
2014 Judge Hluchaniuk recommended denial of that motion,
concluding that plaintiff had stated a colorable
constitutional claim and that a decision on the merits of
that claim could not be made until the record was filed with
the Court. (Dkt. 15). That recommendation was adopted by
Judge Hood on September 29, 2015. (Dkt. 18). On April 14,
2016, this matter was reassigned to the undersigned.
See Text-Only Order dated 4/14/16. The Court ordered
defendant to file an answer and transcript by May 27, 2016.
(Dkt. 19). After requesting and receiving an extension of
time, the transcript was filed by the Commissioner on June
10, 2016. (Dkt. 22). Plaintiff filed her motion for summary
judgment on July 12, 2016. (Dkt. 25). The Commissioner filed
her motion for summary judgment on August 5, 2016. (Dkt. 27).
On August 12, 2016, plaintiff filed a reply. (Dkt. 28). This
matter is now ready for report and recommendation.
first filed an application for disability insurance and
supplemental security income benefits on August 17, 2011.
(Dkt. 22, Pg ID 110-113). Plaintiff's application was
denied initially on November 2, 2011. (Dkt. 22, Pg ID 168).
On April 25, 2012, plaintiff filed a written request for a
hearing. (Dkt. 22, Pg ID 168; Dkt. 22, Pg ID 158-159). On May
10, 2012, an administrative law judge dismissed
plaintiff's request for a hearing because it was not
timely filed and plaintiff failed to establish good cause for
the late filing. (Dkt. 22, Pg ID 168-169). The ALJ noted that
plaintiff stated that she missed the deadline to request a
hearing because of the nature of her disability, which
includes severe and longstanding headaches and a
"psychiatric situation." Id. Plaintiff
claimed that she was unable to concentrate long enough to
file her appeal. Id.
considering plaintiff's explanation, the ALJ determined
that plaintiff did not establish good cause for missing the
deadline. The ALJ relied on recent at the time mental health
treatment notes which indicated that plaintiff had the
ability to make and keep doctor appointments. The ALJ also
relied on emergency room records from the period between her
denial and her request for a hearing, indicating that
plaintiff did not complain of any headaches, as well as a
mental status examination indicating normal mood and affect.
Id. Based on the foregoing, the ALJ denied
plaintiff's untimely request for a hearing, finding no
good cause for the delay. Id. Plaintiff requested
review of the ALJ's order of dismissal and on April 25,
2013, the Appeals Council denied her request for review.
(Dkt. 22, Pg ID 170-173).
reasons set forth herein, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be DENIED, that
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgement be
GRANTED, and that the findings of the Commission be AFFIRMED.
well-settled that a "court may not review a refusal to
reopen an application for benefits absent a constitutional
challenge." Blacha v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 927 F.2d 228, 231 (6th Cir. 1990), citing
Gosnell v. Califano, 625 F.2d 744, 745 (6th Cir.
1980); Ingram v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
830 F.2d 67, 67 (6th Cir. 1987), citing Califano v.
Sanders, 430 U.S. 99 (1977). As noted in Parker v.
Califano, 644 F.2d 1199 (6th Cir. 1981):
[The Supreme Court in Sanders ] noted that the clear
language of Section 205(g) indicated that the federal
courts' jurisdiction under the [Social Security] Act is
limited to review of a final decision of the Secretary made
after a hearing.' [ Sanders, 430 U.S.] at 108.
The Court held that because a petition to reopen may be
denied without a hearing Congress did not intend Section
205(g) to provide the jurisdictional ...