United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
to Standing Order 2014-01, the above-referenced case was
referred to me to review the pending dispositive motion and
to make recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)
and Local Rule 301.5(b)(ix). [ECF No. 4]. Plaintiff Nathan
Shaumbe Long filed this action pro se under the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review
of the denial of his claims for benefits by the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”). [ECF No. 1]. The
SSA has filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that this
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Long's
claims. [ECF No. 14]. I have reviewed the SSA's motion
and Mr. Long's objection to the motion. [ECF No. 16]. No.
hearing is deemed necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, I recommend that the
SSA's motion to dismiss be granted.
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction challenges a
court's authority to hear the matter brought by a
complainant. See Davis v. Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d
792, 799 (D. Md. 2005). Generally, when a court considers a
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, it
“may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue
and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without
converting the proceeding into one for summary
judgment.” Velasco v. Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392,
398 (4th Cir. 2004); see also Adams v. Bain, 697
F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982) (“A trial court may
consider evidence by affidavit, depositions, or live
testimony.”). In considering this motion, I have
considered the declaration filed by Nancy Chung, the Acting
Chief of Court Case Preparation and Review Branch 2 of the
Office of Appellate Operations, Office of Disability
Adjudication and Review at SSA, and its supporting
documentation. [ECF No. 14-2].
plaintiff carries the burden of establishing subject matter
jurisdiction. See Lovern v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648,
654 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing Thomas v. Gaskill, 315
U.S. 442, 446 (1942)). However, a pro se
litigant's complaint should not be dismissed unless it
appears beyond doubt that the litigant can prove no set of
facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to
relief. Gordon v. Eeeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th
Cir. 1987). Pro se filings, “however
unskillfully pleaded, must be liberally construed.”
Noble v. Barnett, 24 F.3d 582, 587 n.6 (4th Cir.
1994) (citing Vinnedge v. Gibbs, 550 F.2d 926, 928
(4th Cir. 1977)). Where a plaintiff has failed to exhaust
administrative remedies before bringing a claim, the action
should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(1). See Khoury v.
Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003),
aff'd, 85 Fed.Appx. 960 (4th Cir. 2004).
case, the record reflects that Mr. Long filed for Child
Disability Benefits on January 3, 2011, and his claim was
denied at the initial level on April 28, 2011. [ECF 14-2
¶ 3a]. Mr. Long did not appeal. Id. Mr. Long
then filed for Supplemental Security Income benefits on
August 22, 2012, and that second claim was denied at the
initial level on February 27, 2013. [ECF No. 14-2 ¶ 3b].
Again, Mr. Long did not appeal. Id. More than four
years after the later denial, in November of 2017, Mr. Long
filed the instant appeal in this Court. [ECF No. 1].
Federal Government and its agencies, including the SSA, are
immune from suit, absent a statute expressly permitting a
court to exercise jurisdiction. Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp.
v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994). Under the Social
Security Act (“the Act”), federal district courts
have the authority to review decisions of the Commissioner of
the SSA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). The Act precludes
judicial review absent a “final decision, ”
see Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 108 (1977),
and clarifies that the remedy provided by Section 405(g) is
exclusive: “No findings of fact or decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security shall be reviewed by any
person, tribunal, or governmental agency except as herein
provided.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(h). SSA regulations
define a “final decision” of the Commissioner as
an “initial determination” that has been pursued
through all steps of the administrative review process.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.900(a). Indeed, the Supreme
Court has long required parties to exhaust administrative
remedies before seeking relief from the courts. See
McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U.S. 140, 144-45 (1992). The
Social Security administrative review process entails four
steps: (1) an initial determination; (2) reconsideration; (3)
an Administrative Law Judge hearing and decision; and (4)
Appeals Council review or denial thereof. 20 C.F.R. §
404.900(a)(1)-(4). Once a claimant has completed that
process, and a “final decision” has been issued,
the claimant may seek judicial review in federal court.
Id. § 404.900(a)(5).
Mr. Long did not seek reconsideration of his initial denials,
or hearings before an Administrative Law Judge, or Appeals
Council review of his claims. Mr. Long's objection to the
SSA's motion to dismiss does not address this procedural
hurdle to adjudication, and instead focuses on the medical
evidence and the possible merits of his underlying claim for
disability. [ECF No. 16]. However, because Mr. Long did not
complete the last three steps of the administrative process
for either his 2011 or 2012 claims, this Court lacks
jurisdiction and is precluded from considering the merits of
his appeal. For the foregoing reasons, I recommend that the
SSA's Motion to Dismiss, [ECF No. 14], be granted. Any
objections to this Report and Recommendations must be served
and filed within fourteen (14) days, pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 72(b) and Local Rule 301.5.b. I direct the
Clerk to mail a copy of this Report and Recommendations to
Plaintiff at the address listed on the docket.
to file written objections to the proposed findings,
conclusions, and recommendations of the Magistrate Judge
contained in the foregoing report within fourteen (14) days
after being served with a copy of this report may result in
the waiver of any right to a de novo review of the
determinations contained in the report and such failure shall
bar you from challenging on appeal the findings and
conclusions accepted and adopted by the District Judge,
except upon grounds of plain error.
 Currently, the position of
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration is vacant,
and most duties are fulfilled by Nancy A. Berryhill, Deputy
Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and
functions not ...