United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment, For the reasons discussed below, the motion
will be granted.
brings this action under the Freedom of Information Act
("FOIA"), see 5 U.S.C. § 552,
demanding the disclosure of information from three federal
government entities: the Social Security Administration
("SSA"), Rural Development, a component of the
United States Department of Agriculture ("USD A"),
and the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), a
component of the United States Department of the Treasury
("Treasury"). See generally Compl.
Social Security Administration
alleges that, "[t]o date, [SSA] has not provided the
records [he] requested ... in his FOIA request,
notwithstanding the FOIA's requirement of an agency
response within twenty (20) working days." Compl. ¶
7. His complaint does not identify a particular FOIA request,
however. "Given the amount of records at SSA, it is
vital for the agency to receive a properly filed access
request with as much information as possible to allow SSA to
search for specific records." Mem. of P. & A. in Support
of Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. ("Defs.'
Mem."), Decl. of Mary Ann Zimmerman ("Zimmerman
Decl.") ¶ 5.
of the SSA's Office of Privacy and Disclosure
("OPD") perform searches for records responsive to
FOIA requests "that reasonably describe the records
requested." Zimmerman Decl. ¶ 2. In addition, OPD
staff "respond to the requesters] with . . .
disclosable records" if any are located and respond to
those requesters who appeal OPD's initial response to
their requests. Id. SSA's declarant explains
that, because Plaintiffs complaint "does not identify a
specific request, OPD staff searched for all of Plaintiff s
requests." Id. ¶ 7 n.1.
August 1, 2013 request (AL1997) was for his "earnings
records ... from 1965 [to] 2012, " including "his
earnings records from Lincoln University from 1978 [to] 1980
and Grambling State University from 1975 [to] 1976, "
and "his corrected earnings from 1975 [to] 2012."
Id., Ex. A-1. SSA "responded by letter dated
August 6, 2013 stating that it could not release the earnings
information without proper authorization, " and provided
a copy of Form SSA-7050-F4, Request for Social Security
Earnings Information, for Plaintiff to complete and return.
Id. ¶ 8; see id., Ex. A-l. Plaintiff
neither responded to SSA's letter nor filed an
administrative appeal of this decision. Id. ¶
asked SSA to notify him if fees associated with the response
to his second FOIA request (AM2699) exceeded $25.
Id., Ex. A-2. "SSA responded by letter dated
June 4, 2014 stating that the fee for the requested records
was $102." Id. ¶ 9. It supplied Plaintiff
with a copy of Form SSA-7050-F4 and the address to which he
should return the completed form. Id. Similarly, at
Plaintiffs request, "SSA responded by letter dated June
5, 2014 [to Plaintiffs third request for information
(AM2700)] and provided the cost for [the information he
sought along with] a copy of Form SSA-7050-F4 [and] the
address to send the form for processing." Id.
¶ 10. Plaintiff did not respond to these letters, and he
filed no administrative appeal of these initial decisions.
Id. ¶¶ 9-10.
fifth FOIA request (AM4326), dated May 6, 2014, included a
request for a fee waiver. Id. ¶ 11; see
id., Ex. A-4. "SSA responded by letter dated August
14, 2014, and explained that [Plaintiff] did not adequately
identify the records or ... submit sufficient information in
order for OPD to perform a search." Id. ¶
11. It instructed Plaintiff to contact his local Social
Security office if he sought information about himself, and
to submit a Form SSA-7050-F4 if he sought earnings
information. Id. In a separate letter, SSA advised
Plaintiff that it had denied his fee waiver request.
Id. Although both letters advised Plaintiff of the
process for appealing the decisions, Plaintiff neither
appealed nor responded in any other way. Id.
June 17, 2014 request (AM4400) mentioned earnings records and
lawsuits and discrimination complaints against the SSA.
See id., Ex. A-5. "SSA responded with a letter
dated November 21, 2014." Id. ¶ 12. It
referred Plaintiff to its earlier responses to prior requests
for earnings records (i.e., submission of Form SSA-7050-F4),
and "stated it could not conduct a search [for the other
records he sought] because the request failed to reasonably
describe" them. Id. This letter, too, advised
Plaintiff of the procedures for pursuing an administrative
appeal, yet Plaintiff neither responded to the letter nor
filed an appeal. Id.
"the time [Plaintiff] filed [this] lawsuit, [OPD] had
received five FOIA requests from [Plaintiff and had] already
responded to each ... request." Id. ¶ 7;
see Id. ¶¶ 8-12. SSA had no record of an
administrative appeal with respect to any of its responses.
Id. ¶¶ 8- 12. In addition, SSA's
Division of Earnings Records Operations responded to
Plaintiffs 2013 request for earnings information from 1981
through 2003 by sending him "a certified earnings record
on or about January 11, 2014 by mail[.]" Id.
submitted a FOIA request to the Rural Development's State
Director in ...