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Williamson v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 5, 2019

KATHERINE E. WILLIAMSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

          CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff filed for benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act on August 12, 2014. (ECF No. 8-1 at 8.) On June 15, 2017, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled through her date last insured. (Id. at 8-17.) On June 18, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request to review the ALJ's decision, making it the final decision of the Commissioner. (ECF No. 8-1 at 23-25.) Plaintiff filed this federal action on August 23, 2018. (ECF No. 1.)

         Defendant seeks dismissal of the complaint, arguing that it was filed one day late under the applicable federal statute, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons discussed below, the undersigned will recommend that defendant's motion be denied.

         II. Legal Standards

         In order to survive dismissal for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain more than “naked assertions, ” “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S.Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

         In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the court may consider facts established by exhibits attached to the complaint. Durning v. First Boston Corp., 815 F.2d 1265, 1267 (9th Cir. 1987). The court may also consider “documents whose contents are alleged in a complaint and whose authenticity no party questions, but which are not physically attached to the pleading[.]” Branch v. Tunnell, 14 F.3d 449, 454 (9th Cir. 1994), overruled on other grounds by Gailbraith v. County of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1119, 1127 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Steckman v. Hart Brewing Co., Inc., 143 F.3d 1293, 1295-96 (9th Cir. 1998) (on Rule 12(b)(6) motion, court is “not required to accept as true conclusory allegations which are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint.”) The court may also consider facts which may be judicially noticed, Mullis v. United States Bankruptcy Ct., 828 F.2d 1385, 1388 (9th Cir. 1987); and matters of public record, including pleadings, orders, and other papers filed with the court, Mack v. South Bay Beer Distributors, 798 F.2d 1279, 1282 (9th Cir. 1986).

         Here, defendant contends that dismissal is required because plaintiff failed to file her complaint within the 60-day statute of limitations provided by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Although the statute-of-limitations defense is usually raised in an answer to a complaint, “it may be raised in a motion to dismiss when the running of the statute is apparent from the face of the complaint.” See Vernon v. Heckler, 811 F.2d 1274, 1278 (9th Cir.1987) (citing Conerly v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 623 F.2d 117, 119 (9th Cir. 1980)). A complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) may be dismissed on a 12(b)(6) motion if it appears beyond doubt from the face of the complaint “that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts that would establish the timeliness of the claim.” Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States, 68 F.3d 1204, 1207 (9th Cir. 1995)).

         III. Analysis

         On June 18, 2018, the Appeals Council issued a Notice to plaintiff denying her request for review and explaining how to file a civil action. (ECF No. 8-1 at 23-24.) The Notice provided the following guidance as to timing:

         Time to File a Civil Action

• You have 60 days to file a civil action (ask for court review).
• The 60 days start the day after you receive this letter. We assume you receive the letter 5 days after the date on it unless you show us that you did not receive it within the 5-day period.
• If you cannot file for court review within 60 days, you may ask the Appeals Council to extend your time to file. You must have a good reason for waiting more than 60 days to ask for court review. You must make the ...

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