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9 min read

Summaries of 16 Published Social Security Court of Appeals Cases 

man in a wheelchair Social Security Court of Appeals Cases

Raitport v Callahan-quarters of coverage


Raitport filed a pro se complaint against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Raitport was seeking judicial review of the SSA's administrative determination that he had too few "quarters of coverage" to be eligible for Social Security Retirement Insurance (SSRI) benefits The district court remanded the case to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for further administrative proceedings Raitport appealed the remand, arguing that it was inappropriate and that there was no reason for further delay The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, noting that the district court failed to specify the basis for remand The Court of Appeals also noted that the remand appeared inconsistent with the requirements of the Social Security Act, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)

McCarthy v Apfel-waiver of recovery

McCarthy v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1119 (2000) concerns a dispute over disability insurance benefits between Charles M. McCarthy, Jr. and Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. McCarthy stopped working in 1980 due to a psychological disability and began receiving Title II disability insurance benefits and Title XVI supplemental security income. After returning to work in December 1987, McCarthy's Title XVI supplemental security income ended, but he allegedly continued to receive and cash Title II disability benefits through March 1990. The SSA notified McCarthy that he was overpaid $10,207.00 in Title II disability benefits, and his appeal and request for a waiver of recovery was partially denied. An ALJ denied McCarthy's request for waiver of recovery, but the district court reversed the Commissioner's determination that McCarthy was at fault. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the case, clarifying the process for obtaining review of a Social Security decision, the burden of proof for establishing overpayment, and the regulations that apply to the case.

Jackson v Apfel-jurisdictional issues

In the case of Jackson v. Apfel, the court has remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration. This decision was made in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Sims v. Apfel. Unfortunately, Jackson's claim for disability insurance benefits was denied by the Commissioner of Social Security. Jackson argues that the Commissioner failed to apply the correct legal standards and that the decision lacks substantial evidence. However, the court has found that the district court did not have jurisdiction to entertain Jackson's claim of hearing loss because he did not raise the issue before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). As a result, Jackson has decided to abandon his claims of right-eye blindness and foot injury. Ultimately, the district court's decision has been affirmed.

Gisbrecht v Barnhart-calculating attorney fees

The case delves into the landmark case of Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 300 F.3d 1158 (2002), where the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a decision regarding the calculation of attorney fees in similar cases. Consequently, the matter was sent back for further proceedings, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently remanding it to the district court. The earlier opinion consolidated four cases, but now each case will be returned to its respective judge for individual consideration. The plaintiffs involved in these four cases are Gary E. Gisbrecht, Barbara A. Miller, Nancy Sandine, and Donald L. Anderson. Jo Anne B. Barnhart, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, is the defendant in all four cases. On August 26, 2002, the case was reversed and remanded. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs are Ralph Wilborn and Etta L. Wilborn, while William W. Youngman, Charlotte M. Connery-Aujla, and Lucille G. Meis represent the defendant. The case was heard by Circuit Judges Hall, Rymer, and Graber.

Gisbrecht v Barnhart

The case makes reference to four other cases, namely Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, Miller v. Barnhart, Sandine v. Barnhart, and Anderson v. Barnhart. In each of these cases, the plaintiff is taking legal action against Jo Anne B. Barnhart, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. These cases are currently being heard in the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. Representing the plaintiffs are Ralph Wilborn and Etta L. Wilborn, while Charlotte M. Connery-Aujla, Lucille G. Meis, and William W. Youngman are representing the defendant. The order was officially filed on September 24, 2002. Following the defendant's motion to reconsider, the order issued on August 26, 2002 was revoked specifically in relation to Anderson v. Barnhart.

Hartfield v Barnhart-parent's insurance benefits

Hartfield sought parent's insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, claiming that her son was responsible for half of her financial support before his passing. However, her application was initially denied, then reconsidered, and denied once again. Hartfield then took her case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who determined that she did not meet the requirements for benefits because she failed to prove that she received at least half of her support from her son. Unsatisfied with this decision, Hartfield appealed to the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration, only to have her request for review denied. The district court upheld the Commissioner of Social Security's decision, prompting Hartfield to further appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals upheld the denial of benefits, asserting that there was substantial evidence supporting the decision, as Hartfield had not provided sufficient proof that her son covered more than half of her expenses.

Stephens ex rel RE v Astrue-reasonable fee for representation

The document delves into the various avenues for attorney's fees available to claimants seeking Social Security benefits. It highlights the Social Security Act and the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) as the two main sources. The Social Security Act empowers the court to determine a reasonable fee for legal representation, while the EAJA allows for fees and expenses to be rewarded to the prevailing party in a civil action against the United States. The Savings Provision further clarifies that if an attorney receives fees under both acts, they are required to refund the smaller fee to the claimant. The document also touches upon the Debt Collection Improvement Act and the Treasury Offset Program, which facilitate the administrative offset of debts. The Commissioner argues that attorney's fees should be directed towards the claimants themselves, rather than the attorneys, as a means to offset any outstanding debts. However, the magistrate judge ruled that fees should be directly payable to the attorneys. The Court of Appeals overturns this ruling, emphasizing that the language of the EAJA clearly states that fees are payable to the claimant. The court stands by its reasoning, despite counterarguments put forth by Stephens.

Crawford v Astrue

The document is an order from Chief Judge Kozinski in the case of Crawford v. Astrue. The order states that the case will be reheard en banc, as voted by a majority of nonrecused active judges. The three-judge panel opinion is not to be cited as precedent. The document lists the plaintiffs (Clara Crawford, Ruby Washington, and Daphne M. Trejo) and the defendant (Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security Administration). It also lists the real-parties-in-interest (Brian C. Shapiro, Young Cho, and Denise Bourgeois Haley). The document provides the case numbers (06-55822, 06-55954, 06-56284) and the date of the order (May 27, 2009). It lists the attorneys and law firms involved in the case, including the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Social Security Administration's Office of the General Counsel. The document cites the case as "567 F.3d 1043 (Mem)."

Bassett v Astrue

Bassett v. Astrue, 641 F.3d 857 (2011) concerns a dispute over the onset date of Rodger Bassett's disability. Bassett filed for disability benefits and the administrative law judge (ALJ) concluded that he became disabled on his 55th birthday. The ALJ reasoned that before that day, Bassett's severe back pain allowed him to perform light work, but after turning 55, he was only capable of sedentary work. Bassett argued that his disability began two-and-a-half years earlier, in April 2005. The district court remanded the case to the Commissioner of Social Security for further explanation. Bassett then requested attorney fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), but the district court denied his request. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision, finding that the Commissioner's position was substantially justified.

Heggem v Colvin

The document is a court order from the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, in the case of Heggem v. Colvin. The plaintiff-appellant is Neil M. Heggem, and the defendant-appellee is Carolyn W. Colvin, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. The case number is 15-15553, and the order was issued on April 4, 2016. The district court in Arizona had previously issued a judgment on January 22, 2015. The order grants the appellee's unopposed motion for remand, vacates the district court's judgment, and remands the case to the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings. The district court is instructed to enter judgment consistent with Shalala v. Schaefer, a 1993 Supreme Court case.

Collin v Commissioner of Social Security

Victoria Collin sued the Commissioner of Social Security to recover money she says is "due and owing" as a result of the Commissioner's failure to garnish benefits paid to her ex-husband, James Jacobs. The district court dismissed the suit on grounds of sovereign immunity, and Collin appealed. Jacobs was ordered to pay Collin $13,800 in child support and attorney fees in 1990, but never did. By 2014, the arrearage totaled $45,356, and the state court ordered the Commissioner to garnish Jacobs's social security payments. The Commissioner complied until October 2015, when the garnishment was mistakenly terminated. Collin's suit asked the district court to order the Commissioner to resume the garnishment and pay a lump sum equal to the amount not garnished. The district court dismissed the suit, ruling that the request to resume garnishment was moot and that the demand for a lump sum was a demand for "money damages" to which the United States was immune. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the lump sum would be a substitute for money the government should have withheld, and thus constituted money damages.

Schuster v Commissioner of Social Security

Schuster v. Commissioner of Social Security is a case from the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit. The plaintiffs are Darleen R. Schuster and Richard Allen Culbertson, while the defendant is the Commissioner of Social Security. The case number is 16-14004 and the ruling was made on March 8, 2019. Attorneys for the plaintiffs include Richard Allen Culbertson, Sarah Fay, and the Culbertson Law Group, PLLC. Attorneys for the defendant include Rebecca Ringham, Jerome M. Albanese, Nadine DeLuca Elder, Megan Elizabeth Gideon, William Lawrence Hogan, Mary Ann Sloan, John C. Stoner, Susan Kelm Story, Richard Harrison Winters, and the Social Security Administration, Office of the General Counsel. The case is being remanded to the District Court for calculation of attorney's fees, in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Culbertson v. Berryhill.

Jaxson v Saul

Jaxson v. Saul, 970 F.3d 775 (2020) is a case involving a fraud scheme related to applications for social security benefits. The scheme involved administrative law judge David Daugherty, attorney Eric Conn, and four physicians, including Frederic Huffnagle. Daugherty took bribes from Conn in exchange for favorable decisions, while Conn wrote reports that the physicians would sign without examining the applicants. After the scheme was uncovered, Conn and Daugherty pleaded guilty to federal felonies, and one of the physicians was convicted by a jury. Tyler Jaxson, one of the people named in the Inspector General's report, had his benefits redetermined and was denied benefits because the agency disregarded a report from Huffnagle. Jaxson filed a suit, and the district court remanded the case for further proceedings, ruling that the summary exclusion of Huffnagle's report violated the Due Process Clause. The Court of Appeals held that the Commissioner had to provide Jaxson the opportunity to reply to the agency's evidence of fraud, rather than categorically excluding the physician's report. The case also discusses the procedures for redeterminations, emphasizing that Jaxson is entitled to present his case to the administrative law judge, and references statutes that allow for the exclusion of evidence if there is reason to believe it is fraudulent.

Jaxson v Saul

In Jaxson v. Saul, Tyler Jaxson is seeking judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of his application for disability income and supplemental security income benefits. The case stems from a fraud scheme involving administrative law judge David Daugherty and attorney Eric Conn, in which Daugherty took bribes from Conn in exchange for favorable decisions. Four physicians, including Frederic Huffnagle, submitted evaluations to support Daugherty's decisions. After the agency's Inspector General notified the agency of potential fraud in 1,787 cases, the agency redetermined Jaxson's eligibility and disregarded evidence from Huffnagle. Jaxson argues that the exclusion of Huffnagle's report violated the Due Process Clause. However, the Court of Appeals held that the Commissioner had to provide Jaxson the opportunity to reply to the agency's evidence of fraud, and that Jaxson was given a fair opportunity to present his case. The court also emphasized the importance of excluding potentially fraudulent evidence. Ultimately, the district court's decision to remand the case for further proceedings was affirmed.

Walker v Social Security Administration Commissioner

John Dixon Walker Jr. applied for disability insurance benefits after being injured while unloading an air-conditioning unit from a truck. He visited various medical professionals, who provided differing opinions on his ability to work. While some stated that he was permanently disabled, others found that he could work with certain restrictions. Walker's disability claim was denied by an administrative law judge, and his request for review was also denied. He filed a complaint in the district court, which remanded the claim for further proceedings. However, the administrative law judge again denied the claim, citing the five-step evaluation process in the governing regulations. The Court of Appeals affirmed this decision, noting that the administrative law judge had good cause to assign little weight to the opinions of the medical professionals who stated Walker was permanently disabled.

Kaufmann v Kijakazi

In Kaufmann v. Kijakazi, the claimant sought judicial review of an administrative law judge's denial of social security disability benefits. The district court initially reversed and remanded the case, but later granted the Commissioner of Social Security's motion to amend the judgment in the Commissioner's favor. On appeal, the Court of Appeals addressed the constitutionality of a removal provision, the district court's grant of the Commissioner's motion, and the question of whether the removal provision is severable from the statute. The Court of Appeals held that the removal provision violated separation of powers principles, but was severable from the statute. The Court of Appeals also found that the claimant did not demonstrate any harm caused by the unconstitutional removal provision, and ultimately affirmed the amended judgment in favor of the Commissioner.


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