United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
ANTWAN D. CAMPBELL and C.C.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON UNITED STATES' MOTION TO
RICHARD G. STEARNS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Campbell filed this pro se action against the Social Security
Administration (SSA) and several federal employees, alleging
interference with his, and his minor son, C.C.'s, right
to disability benefits. The court lacks jurisdiction over the
claims as Campbell has failed to exhaust the administrative
process required by the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) et seq.
was awarded supplemental security income (SSI) in 2006. His
son CC was awarded SSI in April of 2010. In October of 2015,
SSA notified Campbell that his benefits would be suspended as
of November of 2015, based on his spouse's previously
undisclosed wages. See 20 C.F.R. §§
416.1100 ("[T]he amount of income you have is a major
factor in deciding whether you are eligible for SSI benefits
and the amount of your benefit. . . . If you have too much
income, you are not eligible for a benefit.") and 20
C.F.R. § 416.1160(a)(1) (explaining that a spouse's
income can affect the claimant's eligibility for
benefits). Similarly, in December of 2014, SSA suspended
C.C.'s benefits based on his mother's wages. (Exhibit
G); see also 20 C.F.R. § 416.1160(a)(2)
(explaining that a parent's income can affect SSI
eligibility). SSA mailed a copy of the decision to C.C.'s
mother, Janet Campbell, as his representative payee. Both
Campbell and his wife Janet were provided explanations of the
right to appeal (within 60 days of the denial of benefits) to
an administrative law judge (ALJ). Both Antwan Campbell and
his wife requested that SSA reconsider the decision to deny
benefits. The SSA declined to reconsider and reminded the
Campbells of the appeals process. Neither Campbell filed a
timely appeal of the SSA's decisions.
on May 11, 2016, Campbell brought this action in the Bristol
Superior Court (Taunton) against the SSA and several federal
employees individually. Specifically, Campbell claims that
SSA employees Kimberly Walker, Carla Medeiros, Lashonda
Watson (Downing), Elizabeth Nassef, Dino Trubiano, Steve
Richardson, and Roberto Medina "obstructed and
interfered with the due process rights [of Campbell and his
son] . . . to receive Court ordered benefits/payments by
deceit, fraud, and intimidation causing extreme hardship on
the two disabled plaintiffs." Compl. at 1. He also
claims that Steve Rand, a Department of Homeland Security
employee, "did threaten and assault [him] to intimidate
him from attending a federal court hearing to receive his and
his disabled son's proper disability payments."
Id. at 3. The government removed the case to this
court. After certification that the individual defendants
were acting in the scope of their employment at the time of
the acts alleged in the Complaint, the court substituted the
United States as the proper defendant.
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the
Campbell's Complaint. Campbell has asked this court to
reverse the Commissioner of the SSA's decision and award
him and his son "full owed back disability
benefits." Id. at 6. According to
Campbell's Opposition Memorandum, "the only decision
this Honorable Court . . . has to decide . . . is how much
Supplemental Security Income is owed to the plaintiffs."
Id. at 5.
Section 405(g) of the Social Security Act, this court's
jurisdiction is limited to the review of SSA's
"final decision[s] . . . made after a hearing."
Lowry v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 2000 WL 730412, at *9 n.2
(D. Or. June 7, 2000). "The ‘final decision'
required to invoke this jurisdiction has been authoritatively
interpreted to mean ‘that the administrative remedies
provided by the [Commissioner must] be exhausted.'"
Wilson v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 671
F.2d 673, 677 (1st Cir. 1982), quoting Mathews v.
Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 328 (1976). The SSA notices sent
to Campbell and his wife regarding the suspension of benefits
are "initial determinations" under 20 C.F.R. §
416.1402(b) and (c). Although Campbell sought reconsideration
of the determinations, he failed to request, as mandated, a
hearing before an ALJ, and, if that proved unsuccessful,
before the Appeals Council. 20 C.F.R. §
416.1400(a)(4)-(5). Only then would this court have
jurisdiction to conduct further review. See Stewart v.
Barnhart, 402 F.Supp.2d 355, 364 (D. Mass. 2005)
("[N]either denial constitutes a ‘final
decision' within the meaning of section 405(g) . . . and
this Court lacks jurisdiction to hear them.").
Accordingly, this Complaint must be dismissed.
foregoing reasons, the government's motion to dismiss is
ALLOWED, without prejudice. The Clerk will close
In the government's motion to
dismiss, it also argues that the court must dismiss any tort
claims that Campbell asserts, because he failed to file the
requisite administrative claims with the appropriate agencies
prior to instituting this action as required by the Federal
Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2675(a) and 2401(b);
see also Santiago-Ramirez v. Sec'y of Dep't of
Def., 984 F.2d 16, 18 (1st Cir. 1993) ("[T]he
filing of an administrative claim is a non-waivable
jurisdictional requirement."). Having reviewed the
Complaint and the plaintiff's Opposition to the motion to
dismiss, the court is of the view that the Complaint does not
articulate any tort claims. If Campbell intended the
Complaint to raise claims sounding in tort, they are
dismissed without prejudice as noncompliant with Fed.R.Civ.P.
8, as failing to ...