United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Stephanie A. Gallagher, United States Magistrate Judge
to Standing Order No. 2014-01, the above-referenced case has
been referred to me to review the parties' dispositive
motions and to make recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 301.5(b)(ix). [ECF No.
17]. Plaintiff David Meyers, who proceeds pro se,
filed this appeal of the denial of his claim for benefits by
the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). [ECF
No. 1]. I have considered the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment, and Mr. Meyers's Response. [ECF Nos.
19, 23, 25, 26]. I find that no hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). This Court must
uphold the decision of the Agency if it is supported by
substantial evidence and if the Agency employed proper legal
standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Craig v.
Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996). Under that
standard, I recommend that Plaintiff's motion be denied,
the Social Security Administration's (“SSA”)
motion be granted, and the SSA's judgment be affirmed
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Meyers protectively applied for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) on October 14, 2011, alleging a
disability onset date of September 13, 2005. (Tr. 46;
97-105). His claims were denied initially and on
reconsideration. (Tr. 63-67; 69-71). A hearing, at which Mr.
Meyers proceeded pro se, was held on March 26, 2014,
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Tr.
19-37). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a fully
favorable opinion and determined that Mr. Meyers was disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act as of the
protective filing date. (Tr. 11-18). Despite this finding,
the ALJ determined that, due to Mr. Meyers's
incarceration, the SSA needed to confirm his dates of
incarceration and determine whether he is entitled to
payment, for what period of time he may be entitled to
payment, and to whether suspension or termination of benefits
was required. (Tr. 14).
14, 2014, the SSA sent a letter to Mr. Meyers notifying him
that he was entitled to $1, 829.36 in back payments, for the
period of November 2011 through February 2012. [ECF No. 1-1].
On May 20, 2014, Mr. Meyers requested further review of the
SSA's 2014 decision, as well as a review of the SSA's
denial of benefits in a prior SSI filing by Mr. Meyers in
1997. (Tr. 117). The Appeals Council denied his request for
review. (Tr. 2-6). Thus, the ALJ's 2014 decision
constitutes the final, reviewable decision of the Agency.
Meyers has a substantial and complicated medical history, as
reflected in the record dating back to 2005. (Tr. 210-503).
He is a 48-year-old male with a high school education and
limited work experience. (Tr. 35, 97-98, 262). Mr.
Meyers's medical record reflects a history of
psychological impairments, including schizophrenia (paranoid
type) and psychosis. (Tr. 15, 210-503). His records also show
that he suffered a head injury as a result of a motor vehicle
accident in 2005, and that he suffered a gunshot wound to his
chest earlier in his life. (Tr. 210, 281). In 2003, 2007,
2012, and 2013, as a result of criminal charges brought
against him, Mr. Meyers was ordered to undergo comprehensive
psychiatric evaluations to determine his competency to stand
trial. (Tr. 15, 249-51, 470-77). In the 2012 and 2013
evaluations, the licensed professionals indicated a range of
findings, including “a long history of paranoid
delusions” and “a genuine history of
psychosis.” (Tr. 249-51, 470-77).
his time at Riverside Regional Jail in Virginia, where it
appears he has been incarcerated for most of the last fifteen
years, Mr. Meyers had several disciplinary violations based
on his behavior, including throwing bodily fluids at the
guards. (Tr. 191-93, 313-14, 316, 318-19, 434). At his
hearing, Mr. Meyers testified that he was taking
anti-psychotic medications but that he was still hearing a
man's voice telling him to “hurt people.”
(Tr. 15, 30-31). Consequently, the ALJ found that Mr. Meyers
suffered from the following severe impairments resulting in
disability: schizophrenia (paranoid type), bipolar
disorder/depression, history of gunshot wound to the chest
and left hand, history of right knee and neck injury
secondary to motor vehicle accident, low back pain,
degenerative joint disease of the cervical spine, optic nerve
damage in both eyes, and anxiety. (Tr. 14).
appeal, this Court's understanding is that Mr. Meyers
raises two distinct issues: 1) that his constitutional right
to due process was violated when the ALJ failed to reopen the
prior Title XVI application he filed on January 3, 1997; and
2) that the SSA erred in calculating his awarded SSI payments
for the period between October, 2011 and February, 2012.
Meyers's first argument hinges on the ALJ's finding
no basis for reopening Mr. Meyers's 1997 Title XVI
application. (Tr. 11). He alleges a violation of his
“federal constitutional privilege right to subpoena
duces tecum of records” from his 1997 SSI filing
because he “was not afforded a disability
investigation…nor allowed to appeal.” [ECF Nos.
25, 26]. Mr. Meyers's claim is entitled to liberal
construction due to his pro se status. See
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972) (holding that
allegations in a pro se complaint should be
evaluated less stringently than formal pleadings drafted by
lawyers). Thus, this Court construes Mr. Meyers's
argument as alleging a constitutional due process violation.
However, this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear this argument.
the Social Security regulations, the agency may reopen a
final decision on an SSI claim within twelve months for any
reason. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1488(a). After twelve months, an
SSI decision may be reopened within two years for “good
cause, ” including if “new and material evidence
is furnished, ” if a clerical error was made, or if the
evidence considered in making the decision shows, on its
face, that an error was made. 20 C.F.R. §§
416.1488(b), 416.1489. After two years, an SSI decision may
be reopened if the decision was obtained by fraud or
“similar fault, ” determined by considering any
“physical, mental, educational, or linguistic
limitations” that the claimant may have had at the
time. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1488(c).
agency's decision not to reopen a prior, final benefits
decision is discretionary and does not constitute a final
decision of the Secretary that is subject to judicial review.
Califano v. Sanders, 430 U.S. 99, 107-09 (1977). The
Supreme Court noted an exception to this bar on judicial
review when “colorable constitutional claims” are
at issue. Id. at 109. The Fourth Circuit has
recognized this exception when a pro se
claimant's mental illness prevented the claimant from
understanding the agency procedures involved in appealing a
denial of a claim. See Shrader v. Harris, 631 F.2d
297, 302 (4th Cir. 1980). To qualify under this exception, a
claimant “must present prima facie evidence of
incompetency, ” and such evidence must be presented
“at the time that [claimant's] initial claim was
rejected.” Id.; Brown v. Harris, 669
F.2d 911, 913 (4th Cir. 1981).
the record is replete with evidence that Mr. Meyers has
suffered from various mental conditions since 2005, there is
no evidence on the record that he was incompetent in 1997
when he filed for SSI. Indeed, Mr. Meyers himself only
alleges a disability onset date of September 13, 2005. (Tr.
97). As the Fourth Circuit made clear in Shrader and
Brown, to qualify for judicial review under the
constitutional exception, a claimant must put forth
“prima facie evidence” of incompetency at the
time of the claimant's initial rejection.
Shrader, 631 F.2d at 302; Brown, 669 F.2d
911 at 913. The ALJ did not find a basis to reopen Mr.
Meyers's 1997 Title XVI application. (Tr. 11). Without
any evidence on the record indicating that Mr. Meyers
suffered from mental conditions or was incompetent at the
time of his 1997 filing, this Court cannot review the
ALJ's finding because it is not a final decision subject
to judicial review, nor does it fall within the
constitutional exception. See Shrader, 631 F.2d at
302; Brown, 669 F.2d 911 at 913.
Meyers's second argument is also outside the scope of
this Court's jurisdictional authority. The parties do not
dispute the ALJ's finding that Mr. Meyers was disabled as
of the protective filing date. However, an SSI claimant is
not entitled to receive SSI payments for any month during
which he is an inmate of a public institution. 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382(e)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.201,
416.211, 416.1325. Mr. Meyers testified that he was
incarcerated from February 1, 2012, through the date of the
administrative hearing, March 26, 2014. (Tr. 27-29). Mr.
Meyers remains incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison in
Virginia. [ECF No. 25]. Thus, the ALJ properly found that the
only period for which Mr. Meyers could be entitled to SSI
payments is from his protective filing date of October 14,
2011, through the date of his incarceration on February 1,
2012. (Tr. 18). The ALJ further instructed the
SSA to confirm Mr. Meyers's dates of incarceration and to
determine whether and for what time period Mr. Meyers was
entitled to payment. (Tr. 18). In compliance with
the ALJ's instructions, the SSA calculated that Mr.
Meyers was entitled to $1, 829.36 in back payments for the
period of November 2011 through February 2012. [ECF No. 1-1].
Mr. Meyers seeks to challenge the amount of SSI benefits he
was awarded for the November 2011 to February 2012 period.
Specifically, he argues that he should be reimbursed $229.00
of monthly deductions from his awarded SSI benefits.
ALJ's 2014 decision finding Mr. Meyers disabled and
directing the SSA to calculate the appropriate payments is
the only decision subject to review by this Court. Therefore,
the amount of the payments subsequently calculated by the
SSA, including any deductions deemed appropriate, is not
subject to this Court's review because it does not
constitute a final decision of the Commissioner made after a
hearing. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Any issue Mr.