United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ANTOINETTE R. MEDINA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. GARZA, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff Antoinette R.
Medina's Motion to Reverse [or] Remand (the
“Motion”), (Doc. 28), filed March 20, 2019; and
Defendant Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill's Response
to Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse and Remand the
Administrative Decision (the “Response”),
(Doc. 31), filed April 24, 2019. Ms. Medina did not file a
Reply and the time for doing so has passed.
Medina filed applications for disability insurance benefits
and supplemental security income on April 16, 2014.
(Administrative Record “AR” 200, 202). In both of
her applications, Ms. Medina alleged disability beginning
January 15, 2014. Id. Ms. Medina's applications
were denied initially on July 23, 2014 and upon
reconsideration on December 30, 2014. (AR 120, 124, 133,
135). Shortly after her applications were denied, Ms. Medina
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on November 2, 2016,
before ALJ James Bentley. (AR 29). ALJ Bentley issued his
decision on November 23, 2016, finding Ms. Medina not
disabled at any time between her initial filing date through
the date of his opinion. (AR 22). Ms. Medina requested review
by the Appeals Council, which was denied, (AR 1-4), making
ALJ Bentley's opinion the Commissioner's final
decision for purposes of judicial review.
Medina, appearing pro se, now asks the Court to
reverse the ALJ's decision because she is “dealing
with a lot  emotional[ly], mentally, and physically due to
[her] disability, which is another reason why [she] [is]
declining.” (Doc. 28 at 1). The Court has reviewed the
Motion, the Response, and the relevant law. Because Ms.
Medina does not present an articulable argument before the
Court to review, the Court finds Ms. Medina's Motion
should be DENIED and this case
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
August 8, 2018, Ms. Medina filed her Complaint in the United
States District Court for the District of New Mexico. (Doc.
1). The entirety of Ms. Medina's Complaint alleged the
I filed for SSI at their administrative office back in April,
2014. I was denied, then I hired a lawyer to represent
me… Her name is Catalina Marie Laaroussi. During the
four years I have declined, I have lots of visits with
doctors to this present day. So suddenly on 6/10/2018 I
received a notice of Appeals of Council Action Letter. So, I
called Catalina to get more info about the letter. I left her
numerous messages, being that she was still representing me
…. She never returned my calls. Ins[t]ead she sent me
a letter stating she was unable to appeal my case and that
I need to file a civil action by filing a complaint in the
United States District Court. Basically the same as what SSI
is telling me what to do.
(Doc. 1 at 2). Simultaneous with the filing of her Complaint,
Ms. Medina also filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in
Forma Pauperis, (Doc. 2), and a Motion to
Appoint Counsel, (Doc. 3). On August 13, 2018,
the Court granted Ms. Medina's Motion to
Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (Doc. 6). Shortly
thereafter, on September 27, 2018, the Court denied Ms.
Medina's Motion to Appoint Counsel without
prejudice, (Doc. 8), and directed the United States Marshal
to serve a copy of the Summons and Complaint on the United
States Attorney, (Doc. 9).
Order Denying Motion for Appointment of Counsel, the
Court explained that Ms. Medina failed to demonstrate due
diligence in attempting to secure counsel on her own. (Doc. 8
at 2). The Court stated that unlike other civil cases,
“social security attorneys often require no payment
from the plaintiff unless a verdict is returned in the
plaintiff's favor.” Id. The Court listed a
number of resources to assist in Ms. Medina's search for
counsel, including the phone numbers of the State Bar of New
Mexico and the National Organization of Social Security
Claimants' Representatives. Id. at 3. The Court
also ordered the Clerk of Court to send Ms. Medina a copy of
the Local Rules of Civil Procedure and a copy of the
Guide for Pro Se Litigants. Id. at 4.
October 3, 2018, the Court received a letter from Ms.
Medina's mother, Patricia Sepulveda, explaining the
impact of Ms. Medina's disability on her family and
relatives. (Doc. 11). On January 7, 2019, the Social Security
Administration filed its Answer, (Doc. 21), and an
Unopposed Motion to Seal the Administrative Record,
(Doc. 22). Shortly thereafter, the Court granted the
Administration's Motion to Seal and set this
case on a briefing schedule. (Doc. 24); (Doc. 25). Ms. Medina
then filed a document entitled “Order Setting Briefing
Schedule, ” explaining that she had “decided for
[her] case to stay through Federal Court.” (Doc. 26 at
March 12, 2019, the Court entered an Order to Show
Cause, explaining that Ms. Medina was directed to file
her Motion to Reverse or Remand by March 8, 2019, and ordered
Ms. Medina to file her Motion within fourteen days or risk
her case being dismissed for want of prosecution. (Doc. 27 at
1). In response to the Court's Order, Ms. Medina timely
filed her Motion to Reverse [or] Remand, (Doc. 28 at
1). This Motion, in its entirety, sets forth the following:
I Antoinette R Medina, hereby to the best of my knowledge
wish to do a Motion Revers[e] [or] Remand. It's been a
long and stressful process with my case pending going on five
years. I had a lawyer that represented my case and as of mid
2018 she was no longer my lawyer. She refer[re]d me to
district court. Since then I have been trying to represent
myself. Therefore I would like for my case to continue and to
be heard. I am dealing with a lot of emotional, mentally, and
physically due to my disability. Which is another reason why
I am declining.
(Doc. 28 at 1). The Commissioner filed a Response on April
24, 2019 and Ms. Medina did not file a Reply. (Doc. 31). As
such, Ms. Medina's Motion is now ripe for disposition.