United States District Court, District of Columbia
P. MEHTA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Melinda Monet, proceeding pro se, seeks review of an August
1, 2006, determination by the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) affirming that the SSA had overpaid
Plaintiff by more than $13, 000 in disability benefits
(“Overpayment Determination”). See
Compl., ECF No. 1, at 11-12, 17-18. Under the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq., the SSA may not pay
benefits to an individual who is confined in an institution
for more than 30 days after being deemed “incompetent
to stand trial under an allegation of [ ] an offense.”
See 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1)(A)(ii)(IV). Relying
on this provision, the SSA found that it had improperly paid
Plaintiff benefits while she was in court-ordered confinement
after being found incompetent to stand trial. See
Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 20 [hereinafter
Def.'s Mot.], ECF No. 20-1 [hereinafter Nicoll Decl.], at
28-31 (Ex. 6).
Nancy Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Def.'s Mot.
According to Defendant, after the Overpayment Determination,
Plaintiff's representative sought, and received, a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) to review that determination. Nicoll
Decl. ¶ 3 & 32-33 (Ex. 7). In March 2008, the ALJ
issued a decision that was “fully favorable” to
Plaintiff, waiving recovery of any overpayment. See
Nicoll Decl. at 34-43 (Ex. 8). He concluded that, although
Plaintiff had received an overpayment of more than $13, 000,
she was “without fault” in receiving the
overpayment and therefore, because seeking recovery of the
overpayment would defeat the purposes of the Social Security
Act, the SSA would waive recovery of the overpayment.
Id. at 37-39. According to Plaintiff, she did not
learn of the ALJ proceeding, or the favorable ruling, until
February 2017, when Defendant filed her Motion to Dismiss in
this case. See Pl.'s Obj. to Def.'s Mot. to
Dismiss, ECF No. 23, at 4. Notice of the ALJ's
“fully favorable” determination did not, however,
deter Plaintiff's desire to appeal it. According to
Plaintiff, there was never a court order confining her in an
institution pursuant to a finding that she was incompetent to
stand trial that would justify the denial of benefits.
Id. at 5-7. Thus, Plaintiff maintains, the ALJ
“reached a correct result based on incorrect
facts and an incorrect legal conclusion.” Id.
at 5. Plaintiff asks the court to find that Defendant's
failure to provide timely notice of the ALJ's decision
resulted in waiver of the exhaustion-of-remedies requirement
and, for that reason, she contends, the court must deny the
Motion to Dismiss. Id. at 5, 14, 17.
same day that Plaintiff filed an “Objection” to
the Motion to Dismiss, see id., she also filed a
“Motion to Remand to the Social Security Administration
Appeals Council.” See Pl.'s Mot. to
Remand, ECF No. 24 [hereinafter Mot. to Remand]. In that
Motion, Plaintiff explained that, before she filed suit, in
July 2016, she filed a “Request for Hearing by
Administrative Law Judge” of the Overpayment
Determination. See Id. at 23; id., ECF No.
24-1, at 40-70 (Ex. 10). She received a response to her
Request, but was dissatisfied with the answer she received,
so she filed a “Request for Reconsideration, ” to
which she never received a response. See Mot. to
Remand at 23-24; id., ECF No. 24-1 at 73-79 (Ex.
12). As relief, Plaintiff asks the court to enter “an
order of remand back to the SSA Appeals Council for the
purpose of taking . . . evidence” on the question of
whether a court ordered her committed to a medical
institution during the period of her benefits overpayment.
See Mot. to Remand at 41.
the procedural history of this matter is complicated, the
outcome is not. First, the court will dismiss the Complaint
because Plaintiff has not alleged a cognizable
injury-in-fact, as required to have Article III standing.
See Arpaio v. Obama, 797 F.3d 11, 19 (D.C. Cir.
2015). Plaintiff has not alleged either that the SSA owes her
benefit payments or that the SSA is seeking recovery of
overpayment from her. Cf. Carpenters Indus. Council v.
Zinke, 854 F.3d 1, 5 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (stating that even
a “dollar of economic harm” is sufficient to
establish injury-in-fact). Mere correction of the factual
basis of the ALJ's otherwise favorable determination is
not the kind of “concrete” injury that
establishes Article III standing. See Spokeo, Inc. v.
Robins, 578 U.S. ___, ___, 136 S.Ct. 1540, 1548-49
(2016). Second, even if Plaintiff's suit is not
disqualified on standing grounds, the court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff has not exhausted her
administrative remedies as required under the Social Security
Act. 20 C.F.R. § 404.900; see also Ryan v.
Bentsen, 12 F.3d 245, 247 (D.C. Cir. 1993). Although
Plaintiff has presented her request to the SSA to correct its
records, she has not allowed the administrative process to
run its course. By Plaintiff's own admission, she has a
pending “Request for Reconsideration” before the
SSA. See Mot. to Remand at 23-24; id., ECF
No. 24-1 at 73-74 (Ex. 12). Even if the SSA had denied that
request, Plaintiff still would not have exhausted her
administrative remedies. See Ryan, 12 F.3d at 247
(describing the four stages of administrative review before
an SSA decision becomes “final” and thus
judicially reviewable). Finally, the SSA has not, as
Plaintiff asserts, waived the exhaustion-of-remedies
requirement, and the court declines to waive that requirement
because exhaustion in this case would not be futile. See
for the foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss
is granted, and Plaintiffs Motion for Remand is denied. A
separate Order accompanies this Memorandum Opinion.
 All pin citations are to the page
numbers generated by the electronic filing system.
 The court substitutes Nancy Berryhill
for Carolyn Colvin pursuant to Rule 25(d) of the Federal
Rules of ...