United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge.
to Standing Order 2014-01, the above-captioned case has been
referred to me to review the parties' motions and to make
recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and
Local Rule 301.5(b)(ix). ECF 3. I have considered the
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff's Response,
and Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. ECF 25, 28, 24. I find
that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D.
Md. 2018). This Court must uphold the decision of the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) if it is
supported by substantial evidence and if the SSA employed
proper legal standards. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3); Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th
Cir. 1996); Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d 514, 517 (4th
Cir. 1987). For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that
the SSA's Motion to Dismiss be GRANTED, Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel be DENIED, and the Court AFFIRM the
SSA's judgment pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
has filed for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) three times, in 1988, 2000, and 2014. Tr.
2298. The SSA's denial of Plaintiff's 2000
application was ultimately affirmed by United States District
Judge Roger Titus, following a Report and Recommendation by
United States Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo.
McFadden v. Barnhart, Civil No. RWT-04- 1516 (D. Md.
July 25, 2005). Plaintiff filed his most recent application
for DIB on April 18, 2014. Tr. 2586-87. His application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Tr. 2400-06. An
ALJ dismissed Plaintiff's request for a hearing on
September 2, 2016, under the doctrine of res judicata. Tr.
2298-2300. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review on September 23, 2017, making the ALJ's
dismissal the final, reviewable decision of the SSA. Tr.
2293-94. Plaintiff timely filed the instant action on
November 27, 2017. ECF 1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) governs motions to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). While the plaintiff bears the burden of proving
that a court has jurisdiction over the claim or controversy
at issue, a Rule 12(b)(1) motion should be granted
“only if the material jurisdictional facts are not in
dispute and the moving party is entitled to prevail as a
matter of law.” Richmond, Fredericksburg &
Potomac R.R. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th
Cir. 1991) (citing Trentacosta v. Frontier Pac. Aircraft
Indus., 813 F.2d 1553, 1558 (9th Cir. 1987)). In a
motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,
the pleadings should be regarded as “mere evidence on
the issue, ” and courts “may consider evidence
outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to
one for summary judgment.” Id. (citing
Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982);
Trentacosta, 813 F.2d at 1558).
claims a variety of bases for subject matter jurisdiction,
including: the Social Security Act, the United States
Constitution, the Mandamus Act, federal question
jurisdiction, and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The SSA
argues that all of these bases are lacking. I agree, and
discuss each in turn.
Jurisdiction to Review Application of Res Judicata under the
Social Security Act
the SSA argues that this Court lacks jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's appeal because the SSA properly applied the
principle of res judicata to bar Plaintiff's claim. ECF
25-1 at 4-11. The Social Security Act (“the Act”)
provides, in relevant part:
Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security made after a hearing to which he was a
party, irrespective of the amount in controversy, may obtain
a review of such decision by a civil action commenced within
sixty days after the mailing to him of notice of such
decision or within such further time as the Commissioner of
Social Security may allow.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Section 405(h) of the SSA further
provides that “[n]o 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.” Id. § 405(h). Thus, §
405(g) is generally “the sole avenue for judicial
review of all claim[s] arising under” the SSA. See
Heckler v. Ringer, 466 U.S. 602, 602 (1984) (quotation
and citation omitted).
can apply the doctrine of res judicata to avoid claimants
“indefinitely extend[ing]” the adjudication of
their claims after a denial of benefits. Easley v.
Finch, 431 F.2d 1351, 1353 (4th Cir. 1970). An ALJ can
apply res judicata to dismiss a hearing request if the SSA
“made a previous determination or decision . . . about
[a claimant's] rights on the same facts and on the same
issue or issues, and this previous determination or decision
has become final by either administrative or judicial
action.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.957(c)(1). When a
claimant appeals a dismissal on the basis of res judicata,
“the district court has jurisdiction to determine, as
appropriate, whether res judicata has properly been applied,
or whether, though res judicata might properly have been
applied, the claim has nevertheless been reopened.”
McGowen v. Harris, 666 F.2d 60, 66 (4th Cir. 1981)
(citing Farley v. Califano, 599 F.2d 606, 608 (4th
Cir. 1979)). The court's examination of the SSA's
application of res judicata is an exercise of the court's
“inherent jurisdiction to determine its own
jurisdiction.” Id. (citing Texas &
Pac. Ry. v. Gulf, Colo. & Santa Fe Ry., 270 U.S.
266, 274 (1926)).
the ALJ applied res judicata to dismiss Plaintiff's
request for review because Plaintiff's current claim was
based on “the same facts and same issues” as his
2000 application. Tr. 2300. The ALJ decision in
Plaintiff's 2000 application evaluated his claim for DIB
from his alleged onset date, August 7, 1987, through his date
last insured, June 30, 1994. Tr. 74-75. Plaintiff's 2014
application covered ...