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In 1990, an Ohio state court ordered Jacobs to pay Collin $13,800 in child-support payments. Jacobs subsequently began to receive social security benefits, but, by January 2014, Jacobs’s arrearage totaled $45,356. The state court directed the Commissioner to garnish Jacobs’s social-security payments, 42 U.S.C. 659. In October 2015, the Commissioner mistakenly terminated the garnishment. A year later Collin asked the court to order the Commissioner to resume the garnishment and to pay a lump sum equal to the amount the Commissioner had failed to garnish. The Commissioner voluntarily resumed the garnishment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed dismissal, holding that Collin’s demand was for “money damages,” so the United States was immune from suit. Section 659(a) provides that moneys payable by[] the United States . . . to any individual . . . shall be subject, in like manner and to the same extent as if the United States . . . were a private person, to withholding . . . to enforce the legal obligation ... to provide child support"; but 5 C.F.R. 581.305(e)(2) states “Neither the United States ... nor any governmental entity shall be liable ... to pay money damages for failure to comply with legal process.” The relief Collin seeks is not enforcement of “the statutory mandate itself” but instead damages for the failure to withhold, for which the government has not waived its immunity. View "Collin v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Biestek, age 54, worked for most of his life as a carpenter and a construction laborer, frequently transporting scaffolding, panels, and other construction materials around work sites. He completed at least one year of college and received additional vocational training as a bricklayer and carpenter. He stopped working in June 2005, allegedly due to degenerative disc disease, Hepatitis C, and depression. Biestek applied for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits in March 2010, alleging a disability onset of October 2009. A Social Security Administration ALJ denied Biestek’s application. The district court remanded because the ALJ had not obtained necessary medical-expert testimony and did not pose a sufficiently specific hypothetical to the vocational expert. The ALJ subsequently issued a partially favorable decision finding Biestek disabled starting in May 2013, on his fiftieth birthday, the point at which the Agency deems an applicant “closely approaching advanced age” and presumptively disabled under 20 C.F.R. 404. The ALJ found that Biestek was “not disabled” before that date. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s finding the that Biestek did not meet or medically equal the back-pain-related impairment listed at 20 C.F.R. 404. The ALJ properly evaluated the testimony of medical experts and a vocational expert. View "Biestek v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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In 1988, an ALJ awarded Smith supplemental security income (SSI). Smith received benefits until 2004 when he was found to be over the resource limit. Smith filed another SSI application in 2012, alleging additional medical conditions. The application was denied on March 26, 2014. Smith claims that he mailed a request for review on April 24, 2014. On September 21, Smith faxed a correspondence to the Social Security Administration, inquiring about the status of his appeal, with a copy of his request, dated April 24, 2014. A representative informed Smith that his request was not in the “electronic folder,” that if the Council had received the request, it would have mailed a receipt, and that his appeals request was filed as of October 1, 2014. The Council dismissed the request as untimely, finding no good cause to extend the deadline because Smith could not provide evidence that it was sent within the appropriate time. The district court determined that there was no judicial review available because the dismissal did not constitute a final decision and Smith made no colorable constitutional claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that Smith suffered due process violations because his request was timely submitted, different ALJs presided over his hearing and signed his decision, and the ALJ referenced the 1988 decision but failed to attach a copy as an exhibit. View "Smith v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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In 1988, an ALJ awarded Smith supplemental security income (SSI). Smith received benefits until 2004 when he was found to be over the resource limit. Smith filed another SSI application in 2012, alleging additional medical conditions. The application was denied on March 26, 2014. Smith claims that he mailed a request for review on April 24, 2014. On September 21, Smith faxed a correspondence to the Social Security Administration, inquiring about the status of his appeal, with a copy of his request, dated April 24, 2014. A representative informed Smith that his request was not in the “electronic folder,” that if the Council had received the request, it would have mailed a receipt, and that his appeals request was filed as of October 1, 2014. The Council dismissed the request as untimely, finding no good cause to extend the deadline because Smith could not provide evidence that it was sent within the appropriate time. The district court determined that there was no judicial review available because the dismissal did not constitute a final decision and Smith made no colorable constitutional claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that Smith suffered due process violations because his request was timely submitted, different ALJs presided over his hearing and signed his decision, and the ALJ referenced the 1988 decision but failed to attach a copy as an exhibit. View "Smith v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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Under California’s workers’ compensation law, effective in 2013, an injured worker may challenge a decision denying medical treatment by requesting a determination of medical necessity from an independent medical review (IMR) organization. (Labor Code 139.5, 4610.5.1) The IMR organization, which is regulated by the Division of Workers’ Compensation and operates under contract with the Division, designates one or more medical professionals to review pertinent medical records, determine whether the disputed treatment is medically necessary, and prepare a written report including statutorily-required findings. The IMR organization is required to describe the qualifications of the medical professionals who prepare the determination of medical necessity and to keep the names of the reviewers confidential in all communications outside the IMR organization. The determination of the IMR organization is deemed to be the determination of the administrative director and is binding on all parties, subject to appeal on narrow statutory grounds. Zuniga availed himself of the IMR process and then petitioned the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to disclose the names of the reviewers. The Board declined to do so. The court of appeal upheld that decision. IMR determinations are not testimonial in character; IMR reviewers are not workers’ adversaries and are not subject to cross-examination. View "Zuniga v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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Under California’s workers’ compensation law, effective in 2013, an injured worker may challenge a decision denying medical treatment by requesting a determination of medical necessity from an independent medical review (IMR) organization. (Labor Code 139.5, 4610.5.1) The IMR organization, which is regulated by the Division of Workers’ Compensation and operates under contract with the Division, designates one or more medical professionals to review pertinent medical records, determine whether the disputed treatment is medically necessary, and prepare a written report including statutorily-required findings. The IMR organization is required to describe the qualifications of the medical professionals who prepare the determination of medical necessity and to keep the names of the reviewers confidential in all communications outside the IMR organization. The determination of the IMR organization is deemed to be the determination of the administrative director and is binding on all parties, subject to appeal on narrow statutory grounds. Zuniga availed himself of the IMR process and then petitioned the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to disclose the names of the reviewers. The Board declined to do so. The court of appeal upheld that decision. IMR determinations are not testimonial in character; IMR reviewers are not workers’ adversaries and are not subject to cross-examination. View "Zuniga v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered by the superior court upholding the final agency decision of the Department of Health and Human Services denying Appellant’s application for food supplement benefits. The Department denied Appellant’s application for food benefits based on language in the public law not present within the statutory text. The language at issue contained a fiscal limitation of $261,384 and a temporal limitation - June 30, 2015 - on the availability of funding for benefits for persons otherwise eligible under Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 3104-A(1)(D) (Paragraph D). The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Legislature intended for Paragraph D to be a permanent exception to the general ineligibility of noncitizen for food assistance under section 3104-(A)(1) and that the temporal and fiscal limitations contained in P.L 2013, ch. 368, section 00-14 applied only to the fiscal years ending June 30, 2013, June 30-2015, and June 30, 2015 and not beyond June 30, 2015. View "Manirakiza v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered by the superior court upholding the final agency decision of the Department of Health and Human Services denying Appellant’s application for food supplement benefits. The Department denied Appellant’s application for food benefits based on language in the public law not present within the statutory text. The language at issue contained a fiscal limitation of $261,384 and a temporal limitation - June 30, 2015 - on the availability of funding for benefits for persons otherwise eligible under Me. Rev. Stat. 22, 3104-A(1)(D) (Paragraph D). The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the Legislature intended for Paragraph D to be a permanent exception to the general ineligibility of noncitizen for food assistance under section 3104-(A)(1) and that the temporal and fiscal limitations contained in P.L 2013, ch. 368, section 00-14 applied only to the fiscal years ending June 30, 2013, June 30-2015, and June 30, 2015 and not beyond June 30, 2015. View "Manirakiza v. Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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Brown, the manager of a company that provided home physician visits, and Talaga, who handled the company’s billing, were convicted of conspiracy to commit health-care fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349; six counts of health-care fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1347; and three counts of falsifying a matter or providing false statements, 18 U.S.C. 1035(a). The district court sentenced Mr. Brown to 87 months’ imprisonment, 34 months below the Guidelines’ range, stating that a significant sentence was warranted because of the duration of the scheme, the amount of the fraud, the need for general deterrence, and Brown’s failure to accept responsibility. Ms. Talaga was sentenced to 45 months. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Brown’s argument that the court’s assumptions about the need for general deterrence were unfounded and constituted procedural error and Talaga’s arguments that the court calculated the amount of loss for which she was responsible by impermissibly including losses that occurred before she joined the conspiracy. The district court was under no obligation to accept or to comment further on Brown’s deterrence argument. Talaga, as a trained Medicare biller, knew that that the high-volume billings were fraudulent. View "United States v. Talaga" on Justia Law

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Accredo delivers clotting medication and provides nursing assistance for hemophilia patients. Accredo makes donations to charities concerned with hemophilia, including HSI and HANJ, which allegedly recommended Accredo as an approved provider for hemophilia patients. Greenfield, a former Accredo area vice president, sued, alleging violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b), and the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a)(1)(A)-(B). If Greenfield prevailed, he would get at least 25% of any civil penalty or damages award. The government did not intervene. The district court, following discovery, granted Accredo summary judgment, finding that Greenfield failed to provide evidence of even a single federal claim for reimbursement that was linked to the alleged kickback scheme. The Third Circuit affirmed. The Anti-Kickback Statute prohibits kickbacks regardless of their effect on patients’ medical decisions. Because any kickback violation is not eligible for reimbursement, to certify otherwise violates the False Claims Act but there must be some connection between a kickback and the reimbursement claim. It is not enough to show temporal proximity. Greenfield was required to show that at least one of the 24 federally-insured patients for whom Accredo provided services and submitted reimbursement claims was exposed to a referral or recommendation by HSI/HANJ in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute. View "Greenfield v. Medco Health Solutions Inc" on Justia Law