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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of social security disability benefits to plaintiff. The court held that the ALJ's decision not to follow the VA's 100% disability rating determination was supported by substantial evidence where the court considered, but ultimately rejected the VA's findings, in part because the VA relied heavily on a one-time evaluation by a doctor who had not formed a treating relationship with plaintiff. The court explained that reports by two state-agency consultants cut against the VA's determination, and it was emphatically the ALJ's province to weigh the evidence and decide among these competing accounts. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Garcia v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) termination of tier disability benefits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs’ failure to have exhausted their administrative remedies. After the SSA terminated the disability benefits that Plaintiffs had been receiving, Plaintiffs challenged that decision administratively. Before they had exhausted the administrative review process, however, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking various kinds of relief based presumably on the same grounds as the claims that had presented to the SSA in seeking to continue to receive their benefits. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show that they could not obtain a restoration of their benefits through the administrative review process, despite evidence suggesting that they would have a substantial chance of doing so. View "Justiniano v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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The North Dakota Department of Human Services appealed a district court judgment reversing the Department's order deciding Altru Specialty Services, doing business as Yorhom Medical Essentials, received overpayments for medical equipment supplied to Medicaid recipients and ordering recoupment. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the district court did not have jurisdiction and the appeal should have been dismissed because Yorhom failed to satisfy statutory requirements for perfecting an appeal. View "Altru Specialty Services, Inc. v. N.D. Dep't of Human Services" on Justia Law

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The "credit-as-true rule" permits, but does not require, a direct award of benefits on review but only where the ALJ has not provided sufficient reasoning for rejecting testimony and there are no outstanding issues on which further proceedings in the administrative court would be useful. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to remand for further administrative proceedings in a claimant's action seeking Title II disability insurance benefits. The panel clarified the district court's remand order, instructing the district court to remand to the ALJ consistent with the requirements pursuant to Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 775 F.3d 1090, 1101-02 (9th Cir. 2014), with an open record on the issue of claimant's fatigue related to his capacity to undertake full time employment. On remand, claimant shall be permitted to cross-examine the Commissioner's medical consultants, but only to the extent such cross-examination concerns the issue of claimant's fatigue. View "Leon v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Simmons contacted counsel in 2011, claiming that he developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome as a result of his 2010 flu vaccination. He provided his vaccination record. Counsel agreed to represent him. Counsel was subsequently unable to contact Simmons and sent a letter in 2013, stating that their attorney-client relationship had terminated. That letter was returned as undeliverable. Nearly two years later, shortly before the limitations period on his Vaccine Act claim would expire, Simmons contacted counsel’ and expressed that he would like to proceed. Counsel spoke with Simmons one additional time. The next day, on October 22, 2013, counsel filed Simmons’s petition, without any medical records or other supporting evidence. In January 2014, the special master ordered counsel to produce medical records. Counsel stated that counsel had again lost contact with Simmons and was unable to acquire those records. The master dismissed the case for failure to prosecute. Counsel then filed petitions seeking $8,267.89 in fees and costs. The master noted that because there was no direct evidence of bad faith and counsel had a vaccination receipt, counsel had satisfied the good faith and reasonable basis requirements and awarded fees. The Claims Court and Federal Circuit disagreed. The master erred in finding that counsel had a reasonable basis for Simmons’s claim. The fact that the statute of limitations was about to expire did not excuse counsel’s obligation to show some basis for the claim that Simmons suffered Guillain-Barre beyond their conversations. View "Simmons v. Secretary of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI) to plaintiff. The court held that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision to give little weight to the treating physician's opinion because it was inconsistent with his own medical records and the records as a whole; the ALJ's finding that plaintiff had the residual functioning capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of unskilled sedentary work was supported by substantial evidence; Social Security Ruling 16-3p applied only prospectively and did not provide a basis for remand; and the Appeals Council was not required to consider new evidence because it was not chronologically relevant. View "Hargress v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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Kerr sought judicial review of the final determination that Kerr’s husband was not disabled and not entitled to any Social Security disability insurance benefits before his death. Kerr was due to receive any payment owed to Mr. Kerr. The parties stipulated to reversal and remand under 42 U.S.C. 405(g). Kerr then sought an award of $3,206.25 in attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d), with any fees awarded “be made payable to Plaintiff’s counsel,” attaching an “Affidavit and Assignment of EAJA Fee.” The Commissioner did not oppose the motion. The district court granted the award, declined to honor Kerr’s assignment, and concluded that it was required to order payment to Kerr as the prevailing party. The court held that it could not “ignore the Anti-Assignment Act,” which prohibits “an assignment of a claim against the United States that is executed before the claim is allowed, before the amount of the claim is decided, and before a warrant for payment of the claim has been issued” but “le[ft] it to the Commissioner’s discretion to determine whether to waive the Anti-Assignment Act and make the fee payable to Mr. Marks.” The Commissioner responded that she would accept [Kerr’s] assignment and suggested that the court deny as moot Kerr’s Rule 59(e) motion. The district court and Sixth Circuit agreed that Kerr’s motion was moot, and did not reconsider the application of the AAA to the EAJA assignment. View "Kerr v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order affirming the denial of supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits. Plaintiff suffers from fibromyalgia. In July 2012, the SSA issued Social Security Ruling (SSR) 12-2P, a ruling that establishes that fibromyalgia may be a severe medical impairment for purposes of determining disability, and provided guidelines for the proper evaluation of the disease. The panel held that the ALJ, SSA Appeals Council, and the district court failed to heed the instructions of those rulings, and instead analyzed plaintiff's symptoms and rejected her claim without considering the unique characteristics of fibromyalgia, the principal source of her disability. The panel remanded with instructions for the district court to remand the case to the agency for the calculation and award of benefits. View "Revels v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's order affirming the Commissioner's denial of plaintiff's application for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. The panel held that the ALJ erred in its assessment by not calling a medical advisor at the hearing; by giving too little weight to the observations of plaintiff's fiancé; and by finding that plaintiff was only partially credible. The panel reversed on these grounds and remanded. In a separately filed memorandum disposition, the panel rejected plaintiff's other challenges and affirmed that portion of the ALJ's decision. View "Diedrich v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Oregon Supreme Court’s review was whether an adult foster care provider claiming unjust enrichment may recover the reasonable value of its services from a defendant who, through fraud, obtained a lower rate from the provider for the services. Plaintiff owned two adult foster homes for the elderly. Plaintiff had contracted with the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide services in a home-like setting to patients who qualified for Medicaid. For those patients, the rates charged would be those set by the department. Isabel Pritchard resided and received care in one of plaintiff’s adult foster homes until her death in November 2008. Because Prichard had been approved to receive Medicaid benefits, plaintiff charged Prichard the rate for Medicaid-qualified patients: approximately $2,000 per month, with approximately $1,200 of that being paid by the department. Plaintiff’s Medicaid rates were substantially below the rates paid by plaintiff’s “private pay” patients. Prichard’s application for Medicaid benefits, as with her other affairs, was handled by her son, Richard Gardner. Gardner had for years been transferring Prichard’s assets, mostly to himself (or using those funds for his personal benefit). Gardner’s misconduct was discovered by another of Prichard’s children: defendant Karen Nichols-Shields, who was appointed the personal representative for Prichard’s estate. In 2009, defendant contacted the police and reported her brother for theft. Ultimately, Gardner pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal mistreatment in the first degree. Gardner’s sentence included an obligation to pay a compensatory fine to Prichard’s estate, to which he complied. After defendant, in her capacity as personal representative, denied plaintiff Larisa’s Home Care, LLC’s claim against Prichard’s estate, plaintiff filed this action, essentially asserting Prichard had been qualified for Medicaid through fraud and that Prichard should have been charged as a private pay patient. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that, generally, a defendant who obtains discounted services as a result of fraud is unjustly enriched to the extent of the reasonable value of the services. The Court therefore reversed the contrary holding by the Court of Appeals. Because the fraud here occurred in the context of a person being certified as eligible for Medicaid benefits, however, the Court remanded for the Court of Appeals to consider whether certain provisions of Medicaid law may specifically prohibit plaintiff from recovering in this action. View "Larisa's Home Care, LLC v. Nichols-Shields" on Justia Law