United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
BRENDA ROSADO, On behalf of J.R. Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. Schwab, Chief United States Magistrate Judge.
Rosado (“Ms. Rosado”) on behalf of her daughter
Josiany Rodriguez (“Ms. Rodriguez”) appeals from
the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”)
decision denying Title XVI Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) benefits. See Doc. 1. Ms.
Rosado, who is not a lawyer, is not typically permitted to
represent her daughter in federal court; however, she is
allowed to represent Ms. Rodriguez if she demonstrates that
1) she has a personal interest in the litigation and 2) she
is competent in the matter. Since the filed complaint is
lacking in sufficient detail to enable us to make such a
determination, we recommend that the complaint be dismissed
but that Ms. Rodriguez be granted leave to file an amended
November 5, 2018, Ms. Rosado, Ms. Rodriguez's mother,
initiated this appeal by filing a hand-written complaint.
Doc. 1. Ms. Rosado further filed a motion to proceed
in forma pauperis on the same day. Doc. 2.
Accordingly, we issued a standing practice order for social
security appeals. Doc. 3. We further issued a
pro se letter informing Ms. Rosado of how her case
will proceed. Doc. 4. We have not received any new
filings or communications from Ms. Rosado. Moreover, no
counsel has entered an appearance on behalf of Ms. Rosado,
nor has a petition been filed for the appointment of counsel.
Rosado submits to this Court that she
“represents” her daughter who is a minor.
Doc. 2. Further, in Ms. Rodriguez's submission
to proceed in forma pauperis, which Ms. Rosado
signed, Ms. Rosado continuously states that her daughter is a
minor. Doc. 2. Otherwise, the complaint is deficient
in facts and explanation. The only identifiable claim is Ms.
Rosado's statement that she is “appealing [the]
case” because “they said I needed more pr[oof]
but all pr[oof] was give[n].” Doc. 1.
in administrative proceedings where a non-attorney may
represent a party, in federal court, parties may proceed only
pro se or through counsel. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1654. In general, a parent who is not a lawyer cannot
represent his or her child in federal court. Osei-Afriyie
v. Med. Coll. of Pa., 937 F.2d 876, 882-83 (3d Cir.
1991). A parent, however, may represent his or her minor
child in SSI appeals if after appropriate inquiry, the Court
finds that the parent has established a “personal
stake” in the litigation and competency to handle the
matter. Machadio v. Apfel, 276 F.3d
103, 107 (2d Cir. 2002); Harris v. Apfel, 209 F.3d
413, 416 (5th Cir. 2000); see also Price v.
Barnhart, 129 Fed.Appx. 699, 700 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing
Machadio, 276 F.3d at 107; Harris, 209 F.3d
[A] non-attorney parent who brings an SSI appeal on behalf
[of] his or her children has a sufficient interest in the
case and meets basic standards of competence . . . a
non-attorney parent may bring an action on behalf of his or
her child without representation by an attorney.
Machadio, 276 F.3d at 107; see Harris, 209
F.3d at 416; see Adams ex rel. D.J.W. v. Astrue, 659
F.3d 1297, 1300-01 (10th Cir. 2011).
documents filed with this Court, Ms. Rosado is clear that she
is appealing on behalf of her daughter; docs. 1,
2, however, the complaint is wholly lacking in facts
showing that Ms. Rosado has a sufficient interest in this
litigation and that she is competent in this matter. First,
Ms. Rosado has not shown a sufficient interest. A sufficient
showing of interest is found when the interests are
“closely intertwined, ” such as when the Second
Circuit emphasized that a parent's interest is
intertwined through the expenses incurred as a result of
being the claimant's parent. Machadio, 276 F.3d
at 106. Often, the parent becomes the “representative
payee” who has the responsibility to use the SSI
benefits to the interest of the beneficiary. Id.;
see Harris, 209 F.3d at 416 (a non-lawyer parent
needs to identify a “personal stake in the
litigation” like that of “expenses associated
with the minor's maintenance” in order to represent
their child). Accordingly, where the parent displays that he
or she is currently responsible for the costs of an alleged
disability, a sufficient interest is present.
Machadio, 276 F.3d at 107.
there is not a sufficient showing of interest because there
is not a request for relief or specific details on whether
Ms. Rosado incurs the costs of her daughter's alleged
disability. We do not deny that Ms. Rosado is the parent of
Ms. Rodriguez, but rather that the complaint is lacking in
facts to establish that Ms. Rosado has a sufficient interest.
The court in Machadio established that the plaintiff
had a sufficient interest in the matter because she was there
throughout the process for her daughter. 276 F.3d at 105. The
mother demonstrated continued involvement because she applied
for her daughter's SSI benefits, filed the motion for
reconsideration, attended the hearing, ...