United States District Court, D. Oregon
CHRISTENSEN Plaintiff, Pro Se
J. WILLIAMS United States Attorney RENATA GOWIE Assistant
United States Attorney
MICHAEL W. PILE Acting Regional Chief Counsel HEATHER L.
GRIFFITH Special Assistant United States Attorney Social
Security Administration Attorneys for Defendant
OPINION AND ORDER
J. BROWN United States Senior District Judge
Sylvia Christensen seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (SSA) in which the Commissioner denied
Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act. This Court
has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reasons that follow, the Court AFFIRMS the
decision of the Commissioner and DISMISSES
protectively filed her initial application for DIB benefits
on May 23, 2011. Tr. 113. Plaintiff alleged a disability onset
date of August 31, 2000. Plaintiff's application was
denied initially and on reconsideration. An Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on January 22,
2013. Tr. 76-109. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) testified. Plaintiff was represented by an
attorney at the hearing.
March 4, 2013, the ALJ issued an opinion in which he found
Plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to
benefits. Tr. 113-23.
September 14, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court
seeking review of the Commissioner's decision.
18, 2016, the Commissioner filed a Motion (#34) to Dismiss
Plaintiff's Complaint on the ground that this Court
lacked subject-matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiff's
alleged failure to exhaust her administrative remedies when
she failed to seek review of the ALJ's decision by filing
an appeal with the Appeals Council. In her response to the
Commissioner's Motion Plaintiff attached a copy of her
request dated April 26, 2013, to obtain such review by the
October 17, 2016, the Commissioner filed a Motion (#47) to
Withdraw the Motion to Dismiss and to Remand the case to the
SSA for further administrative proceedings.
November 23, 2016, the Court granted the Commissioner's
Motion to Withdraw and remanded this case for further
administrative proceedings. Order #50. The Court also granted
Plaintiff leave to reopen this matter following a
determination by the Appeals Council and a final decision by
1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion (#56) to Reopen this case.
13, 2017, the Commissioner filed a Motion (#63) to Remand
this case to the SSA based on the Appeals Council's
premature denial of Plaintiff's request for review.
25, 2017, the Court granted the Commissioner's Motion to
Remand, held Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen in abeyance,
and set a schedule for further action before the SSA.
October 27, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review, and the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner. See Sims v.
Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-07 (2000).
November 13, 2017, the Commissioner filed a Response (#75) to
Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen in which she conceded
Plaintiff had exhausted her administrative remedies and that
the case was ripe for review in this Court. Thus, the
Commissioner did not oppose Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen.
November 16, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion
to Reopen, set a schedule for the Commissioner to file an
Answer and Administrative Record, and set a briefing ...