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Benavides v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 10, 2015

MIGUEL BENAVIDES, Petitioner,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: RESPONDENT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 9)

RONALD E. BUSH, Magistrate Judge.

Now pending before the Court is Respondent's Motion to Dismiss (Docket No. 9). Having carefully considered the record and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioner seeks judicial review of the denial of a claim for benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. Through its Motion to Dismiss, however, Respondent argues that Petitioner has failed to exhaust administrative appeal remedies with respect to that claim for benefits. The relevant factual/procedural background includes:

1. Petitioner filed applications for a Period of Disability, Disability Insurance Benefits (Title II) and for Supplemental Security Income payments (Title XVI) on March 31, 2009. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(a) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 1 (Docket No. 12)). These cases were denied by the State Agency on July 13, 2009. See id.

2. Petitioner's September 10, 2009 reconsideration request was denied on November 5, 2009. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(b) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 2 (Docket No. 12, Att. 1)).

3. On November 30, 2009, Petitioner filed a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(c) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 3 (Docket No. 12, Att. 2)).

4. On January 25, 2011, ALJ Lloyd E. Hartford held a hearing in Boise, Idaho, at which time Petitioner, represented by attorney Josh Decker, appeared and testified. See Ex. 3 (Docket No. 12, Atts. 2-5). A medical expert, Kristy Farnsworth, Ph.D., and a vocational expert, Anne F. Aastum, also appeared and testified. See id.

5. On March 31, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision denying Petitioner's claims, finding that Petitioner was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(c) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 3 (Docket No. 12, Atts. 2-5)).

6. On April 20, 2011, Petitioner requested review from the Appeals Council. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(d) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Att. 7)). At this time, Petitioner was represented by attorney Jessica B. Bublitz. See Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Att. 7).

7. On June 7, 2011, Petitioner filed a subsequent application for benefits. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(e) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Att. 8).

8. On July 20, 2012, the Appeals Council vacated the March 31, 2011 decision and remanded the action to an ALJ for further proceedings, in addition to combining Petitioner's June 7, 2011 claims into the remanded action. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(d) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Att. 7) ("The claimant filed a subsequent claim for Title II and Title XVI benefits on June 7, 2011. The Appeals Council's action with respect to the current claims renders the subsequent claims duplicate. Therefore, the [ALJ] will associate the claim files and issue a new decision on the associated claims.")).

9. On July 16, 2013, ALJ Lloyd Hartford held a second hearing in Boise, Idaho, at which time Petitioner, represented by attorney Jessica Bublitz, appeared and testified. See Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Atts. 8-11).[1] A medical expert, James R. Bruce, Ph.D., and a vocational expert, John F. Hurst, also appeared and testified. See id.

10. On August 9, 2013, the ALJ issued a second decision denying Petitioner's claims, finding again that Petitioner was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. See Weigel Decl., ¶ 3(e) (Docket No. 11) (citing Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Atts. 8-11)). This decision addressed Petitioner's June 7, 2011 claims. See Ex. 4 (Docket No. 12, Att. 8) ("In addition, the undersigned notes that the claimant filed a subsequent claim for title II and Title XVI benefits on June 7, 2011. Pursuant to the Appeals council's Remand Order, these subsequent claims have been associated with the ...


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