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Blackston v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 20, 2019

RICHARD R. BLACKSTON [1], Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION

          SALLY J. BERENS U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Richard Blackstone, filed a pro se complaint seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. The three-paragraph form complaint does not specify the type of benefits Plaintiff seeks, but the last paragraph states that “[t]he plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies in this matter and this court has jurisdiction for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).” (ECF No. 1 at PageID.2.)

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing the instant action. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff has filed a response. (ECF No. 12.)

         For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion.

         Background

         Although it is far from clear, Plaintiff's complaint and his response to Defendant's motion suggest that Plaintiff seeks survivor's benefits on the record of his father, Billie Blackstone. (ECF No. 1 at PageID.1; ECF No.12 at PageID.126-27.)

         According to Defendant's evidence, on June 9, 2010, Administrative Law Judge Scott M. Staller issued a decision finding that Plaintiff had been disabled beginning March 31, 2006. (ECF No. 8-1.) Accordingly, Plaintiff was awarded Supplemental Security Income. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1594 and 416.994, the Social Security Administration (SSA) conducted a continuing disability review in 2016 and determined that Plaintiff's disability was continuing. (ECF No. 8-2 at PageID.102; ECF No. 8-3 at PageID.110.) On December 19, 2018, the SSA sent Plaintiff notice that it would not be reviewing his case at that time. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID.47.) On March 2, 2019, the SSA notified Plaintiff of the termination of his “Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs.” (ECF No. 8-4 at PageID.117.) The notice contained instructions for appealing the decision if Plaintiff disagreed with it. (Id. at PageID.118.)

         In connection with this case, Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit from his father, Billie Blackston. (ECF No. 5.) SSA records reflect that Billie Blackstone is not deceased. (ECF No. 8-5.) For purposes of Plaintiff's apparent claim of survivor's benefits, the SSA has not received information that Billie Blackston is deceased.

         Motion Standard

         A motion under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction may be brought either as a facial attack or a factual attack. Gentek Bldg. Prods. v. Steel Peel Litig. Trust, 491 F.3d 320, 330 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Ohio Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990)).

A facial attack on the subject-matter jurisdiction alleged in the complaint questions merely the sufficiency of the pleading. When reviewing a facial attack, a district court takes the allegations of the complaint as true. If those allegations establish federal claims, jurisdiction exists.

Id. (citations omitted). On the other hand, when a motion presents matters outside the pleadings in an attack on jurisdiction, the district court may make factual findings to resolve the dispute. Lovely v. United States, 570 F.3d 778, 781-82 (6th Cir. 2009); see also Golden v. Gorno Bros., Inc., 410 F.3d 879, 881 (6th Cir. 2007) (“When a Rule 12(b)(1) motion attacks the factual basis for jurisdiction, the district court must weigh the evidence and the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter.”). Because Defendant's motion presents matters outside the record, the motion presents a factual attack.

         Discussion

         Judicial appeals of Social Security decisions are authorized by 42 U.S.C. § ...


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