United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE: MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF #
A. Dooley United States District Judge.
Statement of the Case
action, the plaintiff appeals the Commissioner's
determination that he is not eligible for benefits under
Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The
Commissioner filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the
ground that it was not timely filed. The plaintiff avers in
response that the appeal was timely filed, or in the
alternative, that the court should apply principles of
equitable tolling and allow the appeal to proceed. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
Social Security Act provides the exclusive remedy for a
plaintiff seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's
final decision. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
(h). Section 405(g) provides in pertinent part:
Any individual, after a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security made after a hearing to which he was a party
. . . 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.
Commissioner may raise a limitations defense in a Rule
12(b)(6) motion. See Paniagua v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 15-cv-20138 (JCM), 2017 WL 699117, at *2 (S.D.N.Y.
Feb. 21, 2017). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court
accepts all factual allegations in the complaint as true and
draws all reasonable inferences from those allegations in
plaintiff's favor. See Crawford v. Cuomo, 796
F.3d 252, 256 (2d Cir. 2015); see also Alamo v.
Berryhill, No. 3:18-CV-00210 (JCH), 2018 WL 3596751, at
*2 (D. Conn. July 26, 2018).
series of events preceding the filing of this action are not
in dispute. On December 11, 2014, the plaintiff's prior
appeal regarding his claim for disability benefits was
remanded from this court for further proceedings before the
Commissioner. Thereafter, on August 26, 2015, the Appeals
Council remanded the case to the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) that had rendered the original decision
from which the plaintiff had first appealed to this court. On
January 13, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision, again denying
the plaintiff's claim for benefits under Title II and
XVI. The decision was mailed to the plaintiff the same day
along with a cover letter explaining the plaintiff's
options. A copy of both the letter and the opinion was also
sent to plaintiff's counsel.
letter accompanying the ALJ decision advised the plaintiff
that the plaintiff could, if he disagreed with the decision,
submit “written exceptions” to the decision. In
bold font and separate from all other text, the letter
provided: “Time Limit to File Written
Exceptions (30 Days).”
Immediately thereafter, the letter provided:
You must file your written exceptions with the Appeals
Council within 30 days of the date you get
this notice. The Appeals Council assumes that you got this
notice within 5 days after the date of the notice unless you
show that you did not get it within the 5-day period.
letter also explained that the plaintiff could seek
additional time to file written exceptions by filing a
request for same “within 30 days of the date you get
the notice.” It advised the plaintiff that the Appeals
Council might review the ALJ decision on its own even if the
plaintiff did not file written exceptions and that the
plaintiff would be notified within 60 days if the Council
decided to review the decision on its own.
the letter provided:
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