Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order upholding an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of Appellant’s application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. The Court held (1) even if this Court reviews the ALJ’s ruling on the understanding that it must apply a certain Social Security Ruling in reviewing the ALJ’s ruling, the ALJ’s determination that Appellant was not disabled still must be upheld; (2) substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s determination that Appellant’s ability to carry out certain daily activities undermined his contention that he was unable to perform light work; and (3) Appellant’s remaining allegations of error were without merit. View "Coskery v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

by
The district court properly placed the burden of proof on a grocery store (Store) in this action brought by Plaintiffs alleging that the Store unlawfully trafficked in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the bureau within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) charged with administering the SNAP regime, concluded that the Store had engaged in trafficking and permanently disqualified the Store from SNAP participation. The Store brought an action in Maine’s federal district court challenging the agency’s final decision. The district court granted summary judgment for the USDA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the burden of proof is imposed on the claimant - here, the Store; and (2) no rational fact-finder could conclude that the Store had demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the finding of trafficking was incorrect. View "Irobe v. United States Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that the “set-off rule” announced by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) in the form of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted on medicaid.gov represented a substantive policy decision that could not be adopted without notice and comment. In 1981, Congress authorized the payment of sums in addition to Medicaid payments hospitals that treat indigent patients receive in order to cover the full costs of care. Congress later passed a law seeking to cap those payments at each hospital’s “costs incurred.” At issue was to what extent “costs incurred” equals the total costs of service rather than the costs net of payments from sources such as Medicare and private insurance. With two exceptions, Congress stated that “costs incurred” are “as determined by the Secretary.” In 2010, the Secretary made its FAQs announcement that the payments to be offset against total costs in calculating “costs incurred” also included reimbursements received from Medicare and private insurance. The First Circuit held that the Secretary’s rule was procedurally improper for having failed to observe the notice-and-comment procedures prescribed by the Administrative Procedure Act. View "New Hampshire Hospital Ass’n v. Hargan" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) finding that Appellant was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act and thus not entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits, holding that the ALJ’s determination was supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, the Court held (1) the ALJ did not err in according only slight weight to the testimony of an orthopedic physician who treated Appellant for a non-displaced fracture of her left femur; and (2) the ALJ was entitled to rely on testimony of an impartial vocational expert presented by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration about available jobs that Appellant was entitled to perform. View "Purdy v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

by
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