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Navarro v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 18, 2016

Susana B. Navarro, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR KOTELLY United States District Court Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint [ECF No. 9]. For the reasons discussed below, the motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff, a resident of the Philippines, see Compl. at 1, was awarded "monthly widow's insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act effective May 2006 . . . based on the Social Security record of her deceased husband, Eugenio Navarro, " Brief in Support of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss Pl's Compl. [ECF No. 9] ("Def.'s Mot."), Nicoll Decl. [ECF No. 9-1] ¶ 3(a). On March 31, 2009, the Social Security Administration ("SSA") informed plaintiff that it would deduct Federal income tax from her widow's insurance benefits. Nicoll Decl. ¶ 3(b). In relevant part, SSA's notice provided:

         We are deducting a Federal income tax from your benefits each month. We will stop deducting the tax or deduct it at a lower rate if:

• You become a U.S. citizen; OR
• You live in the United States, Canada, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Romania, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.
Please let us know if any of these things happen.
We collect this tax for the Internal Revenue Service. So, if you disagree with the decision to tax your benefits, you will have to contact [the IRS] to appeal. However, if you think we made a mistake about where you live or about your citizenship, let us know. We will correct the mistake.

Id., Ex. 2 (Letter to plaintiff from SSA, Office of Central Operations, dated March 31, 2009) at 1. Further, SSA included instructions for an appeal:

If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to appeal. We will review your case and consider any new facts you have . . . . We will correct any mistakes. We will review those parts of the decision which you believe are wrong and will at any new facts you have. We may also review those parts which you believe are correct and may make them unfavorable or less favorable to you.

Id., Ex. 2 at 1-2.

         Plaintiff unsuccessfully appealed the SSA's decision, and the SSA “continue[d] to deduct a Federal income tax” because “[t]he new facts [plaintiff provided] did not cause [the SSA] to stop deducting the tax.” Id., Ex. 3 (Letter to plaintiff from SSA, Office of Central Operations, dated September 19, 2013) at 1. The SSA's response included instructions for filing an appeal within 60 days of plaintiff's receipt of the September 19, 2013 decision. See id., Ex. 3 at 2.

         In subsequent correspondence, plaintiff argued that the deductions were not warranted based on her late husband's residency in the United States.[1]See Compl. at 1. The SSA responded that it did “not have any records of Eugenio Navarro having 5 year United States residency.” Nicoll Decl., Ex. 4 (Letter to plaintiff from SSA, Office of Central Operations, dated March 10, 2014). Thus, the SSA “determined that it would continue to deduct Federal taxes from the widow's insurance benefits to which . . . plaintiff is entitled.” Id. ΒΆ 3(d). According to the SSA's declarant, the ...


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