United States District Court, D. South Carolina
RICHARD MARK GERGEL, District Judge.
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis,
filed the instant complaint seeking review of a decision of
the Social Security Administration ("SSA") under 42
U.S.C. Â§ 405(g). For the reasons that follow, the undersigned
orders that the case be dismissed without prejudice and
without issuance and service of process.
Factual and Procedural Background
filed a complaint on December 15, 2015, alleging that the
Commissioner denied his claim for Social Security disability
benefits on July 13, 2015, and failed to respond to an appeal
he filed on July 21, 2015. [ECF No.1]. Plaintiff failed to
allege in his complaint that he had exhausted all
administrative remedies. Id. The pretrial
proceedings in this case were referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges pursuant to the provisions
of 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule
73.02(B)(2)(a) (D.S.C.). The Magistrate Judge issued a proper
form order and special interrogatories on January 4, 2016,
requiring that Plaintiff bring the case into proper form by
January 28, 2016. [ECF No. 10]. Plaintiff failed to bring the
case into proper form, and the Magistrate Judge issued a
second proper form order on February 2, 2016. [ECF No. 13].
Plaintiff subsequently filed answers to the court's
special interrogatories and attached exhibits on February 16,
2016. [ECF Nos. 15, 15-1, 15-2, 15-3, 15-4].
Plaintiff's answers to the court's special
interrogatories, he indicated he had not appeared before an
Administrative Law Judge for a hearing in his claim and had
not received a final determination from the Social Security
Administration. [ECF No. 15]. The exhibits included notices
of disapproved claims dated July 13, 2015, and July 15, 2015,
that informed Plaintiff that he had 60 days to file a written
appeal by completing a "Request for
Reconsideration" form and filing it with any Social
Security office. [ECF Nos. 15-2 at 3, 15-4 at 2]. Plaintiff
also attached proof that he filed both the "Request for
Reconsideration" form and a letter appealing his
decision on July 21, 2015. [ECF Nos. 15-1, 15-3].
Standard of Review
filed his complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915, which
permits an indigent litigant to commence an action in federal
court without prepaying court fees. To protect against
possible abuses of this privilege, the statute provides that
the court shall dismiss the case at any time if it determines
that the action is frivolous or malicious; fails to state a
claim on which relief may be granted; or seeks monetary
damages against a defendant who is immune from such relief.
28 U.S.c. Â§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii), (iii). The court may find
that the claim is frivolous if the complaint lacks an
arguable basis in law or fact. Denton v. Hernandez,
504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992); see also Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989) (dismissal under 28 U.S.C.
Â§ 1915 is proper if the legal theory or the factual
contentions lack an arguable basis).
Pro se complaints should not be scrutinized with
such technicality as to defeat meritorious claims. Gordon
v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (1978). The district court
must liberally construe pro se complaints to allow
potentially meritorious cases to proceed. See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). However,
the court's duty to liberally construe pro se
complaints does not allow the court to "ignore a clear
failure in the pleading to allege facts which set forth a
claim currently cognizable in a federal district court."
Sawasky v. Commissioner of Social Sec. Admin., No.:
1:12-156-RMG-SVH, 2012 WL 1702059, at *2 (D.S.C. Apr. 26,
2012), adopted by 2012 WL 1715381 (May 15, 2012),
citing Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d
387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 1990).
complaint seeks relief that the court may deem appropriate
based on the SSA's refusal to respond to Plaintiff's
administrative appeal. [ECF No.1 at 1].
specific terms under which the SSA may be sued are set forth
in 42 U.S.C. Â§ 405(g), as follows:
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
60 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. Â§ 405(g). "On its face Â§ 405(g) thus bars
judicial review of any denial of a claim of disability
benefits until after a final decision' by the Secretary
after a hearing.'" Mathews v. Eldridge, 424
U.S. 319, 328 (1976); see alsoWeinberger v.
Salfi,422 U.S. 749, 764 (1975) (holding Â§ 405(g) grants
district courts subject matter jurisdiction to hear only
those cases that are "final" and "made after a
hearing"). "[A] failure to exhaust all
administrative appeal remedies in a Social Security
disability claim results in no final decision by the
Commissioner and thus no jurisdiction for judicial review on
the merits of [the ...