United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United States District Judge.
matter is currently before the Court on Everett Myers's
("Plaintiff) pro se objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation
("R&R"). For the reasons set forth below, the
R&R is ACCEPTED and
ADOPTED. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment is DENIED, and Commissioner Andrew
Saul's ("Commissioner") Motion to Dismiss is
GRANTED. Plaintiffs Motion to Correct is
DENIED AS MOOT.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
R&R thoroughly details the factual and procedural history
of the case for the past twelve years. See ECF No.
26 at 2-4. On September 18, 2007, Plaintiff filed for
disability and related insurance benefits based on disability
that began on January 15, 1984. Id. at 2. Plaintiffs
application was denied on April 10, 2009, May 5, 2010, and
November 8, 2013. Id. On February 11, 2014,
Plaintiff filed exceptions to the latest denial, the November
8, 2013 decision. Id. Plaintiff then filed his first
civil action for judicial review before this Court.
Id. On Jun 18, 2015, the Court vacated the
Commissioner's November 8, 2013 decision and remanded the
action to the Appeals Council, which in turn remanded it to
the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Id.
On January 19, 2016, the ALJ held a hearing where Plaintiff
was represented by counsel. Id.
February 16, 2016, the ALJ issued a partially favorable
decision and held that Plaintiffs disability began on January
1, 1989. Id. Plaintiff then had thirty days to file
written exceptions to the decision with the Appeals Council,
which Plaintiff did not do. Id. at 3. As such, the
ALJ's February 16, 2016 decision became final on April 5,
2016. Id. After the decision became final, Plaintiff
had sixty days to file a new civil action in this Court. From
April 2016 to August 2016, Plaintiff communicated directly
with the Social Security Administration regarding his
October 4, 2016, just shy of six months after the ALJ's
February 16, 2016 decision became final, Plaintiff requested
the ALJ "reopen and reconsider the determination as to
the benefits date for good cause and that [the ALJ] make a
finding that [Plaintiff] first filed for disability insurance
benefits in 1986." ECF No. 11-3 at 7. On December 6,
2016, the ALJ declined to reopen Plaintiffs application and
issued a notice of dismissal to this effect. Id.
Plaintiff filed a written appeal to the Appeals Council with
respect to the December 6, 2016 dismissal. ECF No. 26 at 3.
The Appeals Council denied his request on August 27, 2018.
September 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant action. ECF
No. 1. Plaintiff seeks to vacate the December 6, 2016
dismissal and amend the ALJ's February 16, 2016 decision
to reflect that Plaintiff first filed for his disability
insurance benefits in April 1986 and that his benefits be
paid from that date. Id. at 18. On December 12,
2018, the Commissioner filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
Subject Matter Jurisdiction. ECF Nos. 8-9. On December 26,
2018, Plaintiff filed a response in opposition and a Motion
for Summary Judgment. ECF Nos. 16-17. The same day, Plaintiff
also filed a Motion to Correct the Declaration of Janay
Podraza. ECF No. 18. On January 2, 2019, the Commissioner
filed a reply to Plaintiffs opposition and a response to
Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF Nos. 20-22. On
January 8, 2019, the matter was referred to the Magistrate
Judge. ECF No. 24. On June 13, 2019, the Magistrate Judge
issued his R&R. ECF No. 26. On June 26, 2019, Plaintiff
filed his written objections. ECF No. 27. On July 10, 2019,
the Commissioner filed a response to the objections. ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule 72(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
district judge is required to "determine de
novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition
that has been properly objected to." The de
novo requirement means that a district court judge must
give "fresh consideration" to the objected-to
portions of the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation. See Wilmer v. Cook, 774 F.2d 68, 73
(4th Cir. 1985); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S.
667, 675 (1980). "The district judge may accept, reject,
or modify the recommended disposition; receive further
evidence; or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
district court must review the relevant findings by the
magistrate judge de novo when a party objects to the
magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). Objections made to the report must be made
"with sufficient specificity so as reasonably to alert
the district court of the true ground of the objection."
United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th
Cir. 2007). Objections must also respond to specific errors
in the report and recommendation because general or
conclusory objections are not proper. See Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). General or
conclusory objections are the equivalent of a waiver.
Id. Moreover, "a mere restatement of the
arguments raised in the summary judgment filings does not
constitute an 'objection' for the purposes of
district court review." Nichols v. Colvin, 100
F.Supp.3d 487, 497 (E.D. Va. 2015) (citing Abou-Hussein
v. Mabus, No. 2:09-1998, 2010 WL 4340935, at *1 (D.S.C.
Oct. 28, 2010)).
Objection to Magistrate Judge's Conclusion of Lack of
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
main objection to the R&R is that he did not request the
ALJ to reopen his application and therefore the Court does
not lack subject matter jurisdiction. ECF No. 27 at 2-6. This
is unfortunately directly contradicted by Plaintiffs own
October 4, 2016 request for reconsideration to "reopen
and reconsider the determination as to the benefits date for
good cause and that [the ALJ] making a finding that
[Plaintiff] first filed for disability insurance benefits in
1986." ECF No. 11-3 at 7.
Magistrate Judge has stated, "the Court only has
jurisdiction to review Plaintiffs claim if it meets the
following conditions: (1) the claim pertains to a final
decision following a hearing; and (2) the claim occurs within
sixty days of that decision." ECF No. 26 at 5 (citing 42
U.S.C. § ...