United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
B. SMITH United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Yvone Ethedia Brooks seeks review of Defendant the
Commissioner of Social Security's March 25, 2015
dismissal of her request for an administrative hearing (Docs.
1, 15). The Commissioner has moved to dismiss this case on
the ground that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
(Doc. 15). The Court has considered the motion and
Plaintiff's response (Doc. 20). For the reasons set forth
below, the motion to dismiss is due to be granted in part and
denied in part.
receives Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
payments from Defendant (Doc. 1, ¶ 3). At an unknown
point in time, Defendant concluded that it had overpaid $17,
652 in SSI benefits to Plaintiff and decided to withhold
money from her future benefits until the overpayment was
recovered (Doc. 16, ¶ 3; Doc. 16-1 at 1). On May 3,
2013, Defendant sent Plaintiff a letter, informing her that
it had overpaid her benefits and that $16, 301.80 remained
due and unpaid (Doc. 16-1 at 1). The letter advised Plaintiff
that she had 60 days to request review of Defendant's
decision (Id., at 2).
24, 2013, Plaintiff's attorney sent a letter to
Defendant, informing it that he had been retained by
Plaintiff “to represent her in her appeal of a
purported Notice of Overpayment of her SSI benefits”
(Doc. 16-2 at 2). Included with the letter were a formal
Request for Reconsideration (Id., at 1), and a
Consent for Release of Information signed by Plaintiff
(Id., at 2). Defendant received this correspondence
the next day (Id., at 1-2).
lawyer sent another letter to Defendant on September 6, 2013,
stating that he had not received a response to
Plaintiff's request for reconsideration or her consent to
the release of information (Doc. 16-4 at 3). Apparently,
Defendant denies receipt of this letter.
October 3, 2013 Defendant sent a letter to Plaintiff
informing her that it had denied her request for
reconsideration (Doc. 16-3). The letter also advised
Plaintiff that she had 60 days to request a hearing
(Id., at 1). The letter does not show a copy to
Plaintiff's lawyer and both he and Plaintiff deny
receiving the letter (Doc. 20 at 2; Id.).
lawyer sent a third letter to Defendant on August 21, 2014,
advising that he had not received responses to either of his
first two letters (Id., at 2). Included with this
letter was a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge
and a request for “immediate
action” (Id.) (emphasis in original).
Defendant received this letter on August 22, 2014
(Id., at 1).
March 26, 2015, an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) denied Plaintiff's request for a
hearing and entered a Notice of Dismissal (Doc. 16-5). In a
separate Order of Dismissal, the ALJ explained that
Plaintiff's request for a hearing came more than 65 days
after the denial of her request for reconsideration and was
therefore, untimely (Id., at 4). The Notice and
Order were addressed to Plaintiff, they do not show copies to
sent Defendant a handwritten letter on June 19, 2015 in which
she complained that she was being treated unfairly by her
lawyer and Defendant (Doc. 16-6 at 1). She said she needed an
opportunity to “get the record straight, ” and
asked Defendant to vacate the order dismissing her case
(Id., at 2). She also said she had just learned that
her lawyer had not filed papers with the Appeals Council and
had not followed up on her appeal (Id., at 1-2).
the ALJ's Order of Dismissal was not sent to
Plaintiff's lawyer, the Appeals Council found good cause
for the later filing of Plaintiff's request for Appeals
Council review (Doc. 16-2 at 2). But, the Appeals Council
found that the ALJ had not abused his discretion or committed
an error of law and therefore, it denied Plaintiff's
request for review (Id.).
January 11, 2018, Plaintiff filed this action for judicial
review of Defendant's decision to garnish her SSI
benefits due to an overpayment (Doc. 1). She alleges that she
did not receive due process and, consequently, the
garnishment action is illegal (Id., at ¶ 12).
Plaintiff seeks review of the ALJ's Order of Dismissal
and the Appeals Council's decision to deny review. She
asks this Court to reverse Defendant's administrative
decision and “issue an Order compelling defendant to
schedule a new administrative hearing …”
(Id., at ¶ 20). Plaintiff maintains that the
Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3), and 28 U.S.C. § 1361 to grant her relief
(Id., ¶ 3).
parties disagree about (1) whether this Court has
jurisdiction; (2) whether Plaintiff's untimely request
for reconsideration should be excused; and (3) whether
Defendant violated Plaintiff's constitutional right to
due process by garnishing her benefits before giving her an