Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sabbia v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

August 25, 2010

DOMINIC SABBIA, SR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Elaine E. Bucklo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Dominic Sabbia ("Sabbia") filed this suit pro se against the Commissioner ("the Commissioner") of the Social Security Administration ("SSA"), seeking review of the Commissioner's partial denial of his application for disability benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Currently before me are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, I grant the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment and I deny Sabbia's motion. I also deny the many additional motions that Sabbia has filed in conjunction with his summary judgment motion.

I.

Sabbia filed a first application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") on December 15, 2001, alleging a disability onset date of November 2, 2001 ("the 2001 application"). The application was initially denied in 2002 for failure to submit evidence.*fn1 No further action was taken on the application because, so the SSA maintained at the time, Sabbia had never sought reconsideration of the decision. (The SSA has recently changed its position on this issue, a development that I discuss more fully below).

In 2005, Sabbia filed a series of additional applications for benefits ("the 2005 application"). The first of these was submitted on April 29, 2005, and alleged a disability onset date of March 3, 2003. R. at 1006. This application was subsequently consolidated with his later applications and eventually denied, both in the first instance and on reconsideration. On March 17, 2006,*fn2 Sabbia applied to have the Commissioner's determination reviewed by an ALJ. After examining the record, the ALJ issued a decision on November 1, 2006, concluding that Sabbia was disabled and suffered from "chronic back pain secondary to lumbar disc disease, asthma, anxiety and depression." R. at 22. However, given the records of Sabbia's earnings during the years in question, the ALJ determined that Sabbia was entitled to benefits only as of February 15, 2005 -- not, as Sabbia had claimed in his April 2005 application, March 2003.

Sabbia sought review of the ALJ's determination by the Appeals Council. On April 9, 2009, the Appeals Council denied Sabbia's request, R. at 4-8, and on May 11, 2009, he filed the present action seeking review of the Commissioner's decision denying him benefits for the period between March 2003 and February 2005.

In his motion for summary judgment, Sabbia cites evidence that was not presented in the proceedings below and argues that the case should be remanded to the Commissioner with an order to award him benefits. In the alternative, he contends that the case should be remanded so that the ALJ can consider the evidence in question in the first instance. In addition, Sabbia seeks review not only of the ALJ's decision regarding his 2005 application, but also the denial of his 2001 application. Further, Sabbia has filed a number of other motions, including a motion seeking to bar the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, a motion seeking excess damages, and a motion requesting that the Commissioner be held in contempt.*fn3 For his part, the Commissioner argues that I should disregard Sabbia's additional evidence and should affirm the ALJ's judgment. The Commissioner also argues that Catherine Corr ("Corr"), an SSA claims representative involved in processing Sabbia's 2001 application, should be dismissed as a defendant in the case.

As explained below, the denial of Sabbia's 2001 application is not properly before me and I accordingly decline to review it. With respect to Sabbia's 2005 application, I grant the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment and deny Sabbia's motion. I also deny Sabbia's ancillary motions to bar the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, his motion for contempt, and his motion for excess damages.

II.

"Judicial review of the Commissioner's decision is authorized by 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)." Butera v. Apfel, 173 F.3d 1049, 1055 (7th Cir. 1999). Since the Appeals Council denied Sabbia's request for review, the ALJ's opinion represents the final decision of the Commissioner. See, e.g., Getch v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 473, 480 (7th Cir. 2008). Under § 405(g), my review is limited to determining "whether the final decision of the Secretary is both supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal criteria." Scheck v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 697, 699 (7th Cir. 2004).

III.

A. Sabbia's 2001 Application

Before turning to the ALJ's decision concerning Sabbia's 2005 application, it is first necessary to address Sabbia's request that

I review the SSA's denial of his 2001 application for benefits. As noted above, although the SSA originally contended that this decision was not subject to review because Sabbia had failed to seek reconsideration of it, the SSA has recently changed its position.

By way of explanation, the Commissioner states in his summary judgment briefs that after the initial denial of Sabbia's 2001 application, Sabbia wrote to the SSA's Chicago Loop field office to request a copy of the form that he needed to submit in order to request reconsideration of the decision. The SSA contends that Sabbia was sent the proper form but that it has no record of Sabbia ever having returned it. However, in writing to request the reconsideration form, Sabbia asked that his letter itself be considered a request for reconsideration. R. at 231. According to the Commissioner, "[u]nder the procedures that SSA had in place at the time, that statement in and of itself was sufficient to constitute a timely request for reconsideration." Commissioner's Mem. at 9. As a result, the Commissioner concedes that the "SSA should have considered the request to be ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.