United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
L. Miller, Jr., United States District Court Judge
Racene Johnson has filed a pro se complaint against
the Commissioner of Social Security. The complaint alleges
that she was discriminated against when her disability
benefits claim was denied. Ms. Johnson advances this claim
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the government now moves to
dismiss it. Ms. Johnson hasn't responded to the
government's motion. For the reasons that follow, the
court grant's the government's motion to dismiss Ms.
Johnson's §1983 claims.
5, 2015 Ms. Johnson filed a claim for disability benefits. An
administrative law judge found Ms. Johnson not disabled and
the Appeals Council subsequently denied Ms. Johnson's
request for review of that decision, making it final. On May
2, 2019 Ms. Johnson filed this pro se complaint alleging
“discriminatory litigation by the Commissioner of
Social Security, [sic] on the basis of her creed, age, or
race” under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The government now
moves to dismiss these claims and proceed as if Ms.
Johnson's complain was made pursuant to the Social
Security Act, which gives this court the traditional
authority to review her benefit denial under 42 U.S.C. §
Commissioner moves to dismiss Ms. Johnson's complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). “The purpose of a motion to
dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not
decide its merits.” Gibson v. City of Chi.,
910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). For a complaint to be
sufficient it must state a “plausible” claim for
relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
The complaint must also comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 by
providing “a short and plain statement of a claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” so that
the defendant has “fair notice of what the […]
claim is and the grounds for which it rests.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007)
(quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957);
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (“the
pleading standard Rule 8 […] demands more than an
court must read the complaint's claims in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff, and accept all factual
allegations as true. Tamayo v. Blagojevich, 526 F.3d
1074, 1081 (7th Cir. 2008). The court must also draw all
reasonable inferences the plaintiff's favor. Barnes
v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2007);
Bielanski v. County of Kane, 550 F.3d 632, 633 (7th
of a claim is only appropriate when it is “clear from
the face of the complaint, and matters of which the court may
take judicial notice, that the plaintiff's claims are
barred as a matter of law.” Parungao v. Cmty.
Health Sys., Inc., 858 F.3d 452, 457 (7th Cir. 2017). As
long as the complaint raises the possibility of relief beyond
a “speculative level” it will survive dismissal.
E.E.O.C. v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 496 F.3d
773, 776 (7th Cir. 2007). “Once a claim has been stated
adequately, it may be supported by showing any set of facts
consistent with the allegations in the complaint.”
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 558.
Johnson argues that the Commissioner discriminated against
her on the basis of her creed, age, or race in the denial of
her disability benefits in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Regardless of the merits of Ms. Johnson's argument,
she hasn't stated a cognizable claim for which relief
could be granted. 42 U.S.C. § 1983 only applies to state
actors and not federal agencies. Askew v. Bloemker,
548 F.2d 673 (7th Cir. 1967). Ms. Johnson doesn't offer
any supporting material that could argue the extension of 42
U.S.C. § 1983 to the Social Security Administration, a
federal agency. Her claim for disability benefits were denied
under the Social Security Act, and not under any state law.
Even if this court were to extend 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to
federal agencies, Ms. Johnson has provided nothing to support
her discrimination claim and has only attached information
relevant for a traditional review of her benefit denial under
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). A civil suit under the Social
Security Act is the proper avenue to challenge the denial of
Ms. Johnson's disability benefits. Shalala v.
Illinois Council on Long Term Care, Inc., 529 U.S. 1, 10
(2000). Accordingly, the court will construe her complaint as
arising under the Social Security Act and proceed
foregoing reasons, the court GRANTS the defendants'
motion to dismiss the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims against it
[Doc. No. 8]. The Clerk shall enter judgment accordingly.