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The Hayes family is a low-income family whose rent is subsidized by enhanced voucher assistance under the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437f(t) (Section 8). Because an ordinary voucher does not cover a tenant’s rent to the extent that it exceeds the applicable payment standard, and, following a valid opt-out, property owners are no longer subject to limitations on what they may charge for rent, enhanced vouchers exist to enable residents to “choose” to continue renting the “dwelling unit in which they currently reside.” The Hayes family's eligibility to receive enhanced vouchers is contingent upon their continued tenancy in a unit currently owned by Harvey. Toward the end of their most recent lease term, Harvey notified the Hayes family that he would not renew their lease. The Hayes family refused to vacate the premises, arguing that as enhanced-voucher tenants, they have an enforceable “right to remain” in their unit as long as it is offered for rental housing. The district court granted Harvey summary judgment. The Third Circuit affirmed. The Act does not obligate property owners to renew enhanced-voucher tenancies after the initial lease term. View "Hayes v. Harvey" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Cosenza sought disability benefits on behalf of her minor son. An ALJ determined that J.M.F. was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied her request for review. Cosenza argued that the ALJ improperly found that her son’s autism and Asperger’s syndrome were not “medically determinable” impairments. The district judge granted Cosenza summary judgment and remanded under 42 U.S.C. 405(g); 5), terminating the case in the district court. On remand, another ALJ conducted a hearing in March 2016. In June Cosenza filed a motion in the closed federal case to hold the Commissioner in contempt “for not following court-ordered remand.” In July the ALJ ruled against Cosenza. Cosenza did not wait for the decision to become final but moved for summary judgment in the closed federal case and filed a letter with the Appeals Council requesting review. The district court granted the agency’s motion to strike, reasoning that it had relinquished jurisdiction over Cosenza’s first case; as to most recent decision, the administrative appeals process had not finished so no final decision existed for judicial review. Cosenza had not shown that the Commissioner violated the court’s remand order. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. A district court lacks jurisdiction under the Social Security Act to review an ALJ’s unfavorable decision until the agency’s decision is final; the Appeals Council has not yet decided whether to review the ALJ’s decision. View "Cosenza v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Christensen, an applicant for aid under the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Act (CalWORKs) program, Welf. & Inst. Code, 11200, lives with her husband and her children. Her husband is the noncustodial parent of additional children, and court-ordered child support is garnished from his income for the benefit of these children who do not live in the applicant’s home. Counting the garnished amounts as nonexempt income to the applicant’s family, San Mateo County determined the family’s income was too high to qualify for CalWORKs cash aid and denied the application. The California Department of Social Services affirmed the denial. The trial court granted Christensen’s petition for writ of administrative mandate and request for declaratory relief, finding the Department’s policy of counting child support payments as nonexempt income was invalid on the grounds it was contrary to regulation, and it resulted in improper “double counting” of income among recipients of aid. The court of appeal reversed. No statute or regulation requires the exemption of the husband’s garnished child support from the income of applicant’s family, so the Department properly treated such amounts as income in determining the applicant’s family’s eligibility for CalWORKs cash aid. View "Christensen v. Lightbourne" on Justia Law

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McGann, who is blind and deaf, requested from Cinemark an American Sign Language (ASL) tactile interpreter so that he could experience a movie in his local Cinemark theater during one of its regular showings. Cinemark denied his request. McGann filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 ADA. After a bench trial in which the parties stipulated to all relevant facts, the district court entered Judgment in favor of Cinemark. It reasoned that McGann’s requested tactile interpreter was not an auxiliary aid or service under the ADA and that the ADA did not require movie theaters to change the content of their services or offer “special” services for disabled patrons. The Third Circuit vacated. The tactile interpreter McGann requested is an “auxiliary aid or service.” A a public accommodation may avoid ADA liability for failure to provide an auxiliary aid or service only if it shows that the aid or service in question “fundamentally alter[s] the nature” of its goods or services, or “would result in an undue burden, i.e., significant difficulty or expense.” The court remanded for consideration of CInemark’s possible defense. View "McGann v. Cinemark USA Inc" on Justia Law

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Bowling worked as a coal miner for 29 years, most recently for Island Fork. In 2002, Bowling unsuccessfully sought Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA) benefits. In 2010, Bowling filed the current claim. In the meantime, the Affordable Care Act amended the BLBA to reinstate a rebuttable presumption that claimants with respiratory disabilities and 15 years or more of underground coal-mining work experienced those disabilities as a result of pneumoconiosis, 30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4). The District Director designated Island Fork as the responsible operator and awarded benefits. At a hearing, the ALJ learned that Island Fork and its insurer, Frontier were insolvent. Frontier declared insolvency after the Proposed Order issued. At the initial stages, if the District Director determines that an operator is not financially capable, the Director can select another operator—such as a previous employer—to be the responsible operator; once the claim reaches the ALJ, there is no mechanism to designate a different responsible operator. The Trust Fund, created by the BLBA, provides benefits when there are no responsible operators available, including when an operator is deemed at the ALJ stage not to be financially capable. KIGA, created by the Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association Act, provides benefits when a member insurance company is insolvent. The ALJ decided that Island Fork was still the responsible operator because benefits could be paid by KIGA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The exclusions in the Guaranty Act do not apply; KIGA is liable. View "Island Fork Construction v. Bowling" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment affirming the denial of disability benefits to plaintiff. The court agreed with plaintiff and held that the ALJ improperly assessed the medical opinion evidence and disregarded the treating physician rule in rendering his residual functioning capacity (RFC) determination and finding that plaintiff could persist through an eight-hour workday. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Brown v. Commissioner Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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Goodman served in the U.S. Army, 1972-1992, with service in Southwest Asia during the Persian Gulf War. During his service and at his discharge, Goodman underwent medical examinations that returned negative for rheumatoid arthritis; he denied having pain in his joints or arthritis. In 2007, Goodman sought treatment at a VA medical center for hand stiffness and knee pain, which he said had begun during service. He sought VA benefits for rheumatoid arthritis. The Board sought an independent medical advisory opinion from the Veterans Health Administration, which was conducted by a VA medical center Director of Rheumatology in 2014 and concluded that “it is less likely than not” that Goodman’s rheumatoid arthritis can be characterized as a medically unexplained chronic multi-symptom illness (MUCMI) under 38 C.F.R. 3.317, and that it “is less likely than not that his rheumatoid arthritis is related to a specific exposure event experienced … during service. The Board concluded that Goodman was not entitled to a presumptive service connection for a MUCMI; the Federal Circuit affirmed. The VA adjudicator may consider evidence of medical expert opinions and all other facts of record to make the final determination of whether a claimant has proven, based on the claimant’s unique symptoms, the existence of a MUCMI. View "Goodman v. Shulkin" on Justia Law

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Schloesser worked for 23 years as a dry curer in a meat‐processing factory, regularly lifting more than 70 pounds. After undergoing rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder in 2001 and then a lactimectomy (disc removal in his lower back) in 2002, Schloesser left the factory in 2003. Until 2009, he was self‐employed in construction, until his persistent shoulder and lower back problems prevented him from being able to regularly lift more than 50 pounds as required by his work. In 2012, Schloesser applied for disability insurance benefits under 42 U.S.C. 416(i). The Social Security Administration initially denied his application but an Administrative Law Judge found him disabled and granted benefits in 2014. One month later, sua sponte, the SSA Appeals Council commenced review and reversed the ALJ’s favorable decision. The district court affirmed the Appeals Council’s decision as supported by substantial evidence. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding findings that Schloesser did not suffer from severe impairments of cervical radiculopathy, major joint dysfunction, and history of left shoulder surgery and that his residual functional capacity did not include being off‐task up to 10% of the workday or needing unscheduled breaks. View "Schloesser v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Kisor served in the Marine Corps from 1962-1966. In 1982, he sought disability compensation benefits for PTSD with the Portland, Oregon VA Regional Office (RO), which received a letter from a Vet Center counselor, expressing concerns that Kisor had “depression, suicidal thoughts, and social withdraw[a]l.” In 1983, the RO obtained a psychiatric examination for Kisor, which noted that Kisor had served in Vietnam; that he had participated in “Operation Harvest Moon”; that he was on a search operation when his company came under attack; that he reported several contacts with snipers and occasional mortar rounds fired into his base of operation; and that he “was involved in one major ambush which resulted in 13 deaths in a large company.” The examiner expressed his “distinct impression” that Kisor suffered from “a personality disorder as opposed to PTSD,” which cannot be a basis for service connection. Kisor did not pursue an appeal. In 2006, Kisor submitted a request to reopen and presented a 2007 report of a psychiatric evaluation diagnosing PTSD. He was granted a 50% rating. The Veterans Court and Federal Circuit affirmed that Kisor was not entitled to an effective date earlier than June 2006 for the PTSD. Kisor’s remedy for the earlier denial would have been an appeal. View "Kisor v. Shulkin" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income, holding that plaintiff's contention that the ALJ made two errors at step two of its analysis of disability claims had no merit; all impairments were taken into account both times; any alleged error was harmless and could not be the basis for remand; using the shorthand "personality disorder" did not indicate any error in the ALJ's determination of plaintiff's residual functioning capacity (RFC); Dr. Kenderdine's partial reliance on plaintiff's self-reported symptoms was not a reason to reject his opinion; conflict in the record corroborated the rejection of Dr. Toews' testimony as a basis for rejecting Dr. Kenderdine's opinion; the ALJ did not err in rejecting Dr. Schechter's opinion; plaintiff's complaint that the ALJ only considered Dr. Fisher's opinion in the third section of a submitted form and ignored the first section lacked merit; any error in excluding three jobs identified by the vocational expert (VE) was harmless; but, the vast discrepancy between the VE's job numbers and those tendered by plaintiff, presumably from the same source, was simply too striking to be ignored. Therefore, this inconsistency in the record must be addressed by the ALJ on remand. View "Buck v. Berryhill" on Justia Law