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Morton v. Colvin

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

October 16, 2014

JUSTIN A. MORTON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant. ECF No. 3

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DONETTA W. AMBROSE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Justin A. Morton ("Plaintiff), brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final decision of the denial of disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 401-433, 1381-1383f. For the reasons that follow, the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "Commissioner"), (ECF No. 3) will be denied.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act on October 20, 2010. (ECF No. 4-1 at 8.) The applications were denied initially on March 11, 2011. (Id.) After a hearing, an administrative law judge ("ALJ") issued a decision denying benefits on March 28, 2012. (ECF No. 4-1 at 18.) Plaintiff requested an Appeals Council review of the ALJ's decision and the Appeals Council mailed its denial notice to Plaintiff and his attorney on August 14, 2013. (ECF No. 4-1 at 24-26.) The notice further informed Plaintiff that he needed to commence a civil action within 60 days from the date of the decision of the Appeals Council, or by October 18, 2013.[1] (ECF No. 4-1 at 25.)

Plaintiff initiated this civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on March 24, 2014, more than five months after the time for commencing a civil suit had expired. (ECF No. 1.) No extension of time appears to have been requested by Plaintiff or his counsel, nor granted by the Appeals Council. (ECF No. 4-1 at 3-4.)

The Commissioner filed the instant Motion to Dismiss on May 16, 2014. Defendant contends that this action is barred by the statute of limitations applicable to civil actions commenced under the Act, and that there are no circumstances to justify equitable tolling of the 60-day limitations period. [2] (ECF No. 4 at 2-4.) Plaintiff responded to the Motion on July 7, 2014. (ECF No. 8.) The Motion is now ripe for disposition.

ANALYSIS

Section 405(g) of the Act states:

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). This statutory language was implemented by the promulgation of 20 C.F.R. § 422.210. The relevant portions of § 422.210 provide:

§ 422.210 Judicial Review
(a) General. A claimant may obtain judicial review of a decision by an administrative law judge if the Appeals Council has denied the claimant's request for review, or of a decision by the Appeals Council when that is the final decision of the Commissioner.
(c) Time for instituting civil action. Any civil action described in paragraph (a) of this section must be instituted within 60 days after the Appeals Council's notice of denial of request for review of the administrative law judge's decision or notice of the decision by the Appeals Council is received by the individual, institution, or agency, except that this time may be extended by the Appeals Council upon a showing of good cause. For purposes of this section, the date of receipt of notice of denial of request for review of the presiding officer's decision or notice of the ...

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