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Claimants appealed the denial of civil claims under the Settlement Program that was established following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Claimants submitted Individual Economic Loss (IEL) claims for lost wages as employees of their architectural firm. The firm had already received a Business and Economic Loss (BEL) award under the Settlement Program. The Fifth Circuit held that the BEL framework, by compensating the business for the owners' lost wages through the fixed-cost designation of their wages, precluded compensating those same owners for the same wages through an IEL claim. Because the Settlement Program did not contemplate the requested compensation, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In Re: Deepwater Horizon" on Justia Law

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Summers was fired from her job as an Elkhart, Indiana production-line worker. She applied for disability insurance benefits, alleging that she became disabled on the date she was fired. The Social Security Administration denied the application. Summers attended a hearing with counsel and testified that she was unable to work because of headaches, difficulty breathing, atrial fibrillation, and dizziness with blackouts. She submitted medical evidence that she suffered from depression, anxiety, obesity, and sleep apnea. Summers made several inconsistent statements during the hearing, mostly about her work history and her use of drugs and alcohol. A Vocational Expert testified that a hypothetical individual who was limited to a restricted range of light work could perform Summers’s past job as an assembler, as well as other jobs (inspector, hand packager, photocopy machine operator, and palletizer) that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. The ALJ concluded that Summers retained the Residual Functional Capacity to perform a substantially limited range of light work; that Summers was not entirely credible; and that Summers was not disabled from the time of her alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ’s decision. The Appeals Council, the district court, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial as supported by substantial evidence. View "Summers v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Manzanares served on active duty, 1986-1991. In 1992, she was awarded service connection for a history of stress fractures in both legs, with a non-compensable rating. In 2006, she sought an increased rating. The VA assigned a 10-percent rating for each ankle, with a February 2006 effective date. Manzanares filed a notice of disagreement and claimed: “[e]ntitlement to service connection for degenerative disc disease lumbar spine as secondary to bilateral ankle disabilities.” The VA granted secondary service connection for “degenerative arthritis and disc disease, lumbar spine” with a rating of 20 percent and an April 2007 effective date. Manzanares argued that the VA should have awarded a February 2006 effective date for the secondary service-connected condition, citing 38 C.F.R. 3.156(b), which provides that, for a pending claim, “[n]ew and material evidence received prior to the expiration of the appeal period . . . will be considered as having been filed in connection with the claim which was pending at the beginning of the appeal period.” The Board of Veterans’ Appeals, Veterans Court, and Federal Circuit rejected her argument. The effective date for service connection is the later of the date the VA receives the claim or the date that entitlement arose; Manzanares’s secondary service claim was not filed until April 2007 and was not part of the ankle claim. View "Manzanares v. Shulkin" on Justia Law

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Minn. Stat. 125A.06(d), by its plain language, does not impose a heightened standard that burdens school districts with an absolute obligation to guarantee that each blind student will use the Braille instruction provided to attain a specific level of proficiency. I.Z.M. filed suit against the District, alleging claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and non-IDEA claims for relief under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the District's motions for judgment on the administrative record on the IDEA claim and for summary judgment on the non-IDEA claims. In this case, the ALJ cited the state regulation and expressly concluded that the District took all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in accessible formats in a timely manner. In regard to the non-IDEA claims, the district court used the correct standard and correctly concluded that I.Z.M. failed to present evidence of bad faith or gross misjudgment View "I.Z.M. v. Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools" on Justia Law

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Johnson served in the Army, 1970-1971. In 2008, the VA granted Johnson a 30% rating for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a 10% rating for tinea corporis, a skin condition which Johnson described as jungle rot under Diagnostic Code (DC) 7806. The Board of Veterans Appeals increased his PTSD rating to 70% and remanded with respect to his skin condition. After several rounds of review, the Board denied Johnson’s request for an increased rating for tinea corporis in 2014, finding that Johnson’s skin condition affected only a limited area of his body, and his topical corticosteroid treatment of that area did not qualify as a “systemic therapy” under DC 7806. The Veterans Court held that DC 7806 unambiguously defines a topical corticosteroid treatment as “systemic therapy” rather than “topical therapy.” The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the Veterans Court gave an overly broad reading of the term “systemic therapy” in DC 7806 that encompasses any and all forms of topical corticosteroid treatment. The court noted that Johnson did not challenge factual findings that his use of topical corticosteroids affected only the area to which he applied treatment and did not affect his body as a whole, and reinstated the Board’s findings. View "Johnson v. Shulkin" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of relators' qui tam action alleging that the College violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, by knowingly providing false progress reports on students in order to keep grant monies. The panel held that the Tribe is not a "person" under the FCA. The panel remanded for further jurisdictional factfinding on whether the College was an arm of the Tribe that shares the Tribe's status for purposes of the FCA. View "United States ex rel Cain v. Salish Kootenai College, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of disability benefits and held that the ALJ did not follow the appropriate methodology for weighing a treating physician's medical opinion. In this case, the panel explained that the ALJ should have credited the treating physician's opinion and found that plaintiff was disabled, and the district court erred by developing its own reasons to discount the treating physician's opinion, rather than reviewing the ALJ's reasons for substantial evidence. The panel held that substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding that plaintiff's symptoms were not as severe as she testified, particularly in light of the extensive medical record objectively verifying her claims. Because each of the "credit-as-true" factors in Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1020 (9th Cir. 2014), was satisfied, remand for the calculation and award of benefits was warranted. View "Trevizo v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Dawn McGee, who was receiving public assistance in the form of SNAP benefits, and Helge Naber were an unmarried couple living together with their five collective children. When the Department of Health and Human Services learned that Naber was living with McGee it sent McGee a notice requesting income information for Naber. McGee did not send the requested information, and the Department terminated McGee’s benefits. The Board of Public Assistance and district court upheld the Department’s determination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Department was required to terminate McGee’s SNAP benefits when the household, including Naber, refused to provide the income information that the Department requested. View "McGee v. State Department of Public Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the denial of plaintiff's disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The court held that the ALJ clearly considered the Polaski factors in accessing plaintiff's subjective complaints and substantial evidence supported her determination that plaintiff's statements concerning her symptoms were not entirely credible. Furthermore, substantial evidence supported the ALJ's residual functioning capacity determination that plaintiff was able to perform medium work. View "Bryant v. Colvin" on Justia Law

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Claimant sought permanent total disability benefits from the Multiple Injury Trust Fund. The Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims held that the claimant's combined injuries rendered the claimant permanently totally disabled and awarded benefits. The Multiple Injury Trust Fund appealed. On appeal, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed, finding claimant ineligible to claim benefits against the Multiple Injury Trust Fund as the claimant was not a "physically impaired person" at the time of the claimant's second on-the-job injury. The dispositive issue presented for the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s review was whether claimant met the statutory definition of a "physically impaired person" at the time of the claimant's second on-the-job injury for purposes of determining eligibility for Multiple Injury Trust Fund benefits. As a corollary, the Court considered whether a duly-executed settlement agreement (memorialized on a form prescribed by the Workers' Compensation Court) constituted an adjudication of the claimant's disabilities. The Court answered both questions in the affirmative. View "Multiple Injury Trust Fund v. Garrett" on Justia Law