United States District Court, E.D. California
DEIDRA A. LINTZ, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
F. BRENNAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Deidra Lintz, is the representative payee for Brandon
Blackmon, a disabled individual who receives Supplemental
Security Income benefits. As discussed below, Blackmon was
overpaid benefits and at some point Lintz requested a waiver
of the recovery of the overpayment. That request was denied
and Lintz now seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her applications for
waivers of recovery of overpayment of Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) benefits under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment are pending. For the reasons discussed
below, it is recommended that plaintiff's motion be
granted, the Commissioner's motion be denied, and the
matter be remanded for further proceedings.
2002, plaintiff's son (the “claimant”) filed
an application for SSI benefits, which was granted.
Administrative Record (“AR”) 15. In July 2006,
the Social Security Administration informed plaintiff, who is
the claimant's representative payee, that there was an
overpayment of $2, 605 for the period of March 1, 2005
through December 1, 2005, due to unreported income received
by plaintiff during that period. AR 20. Plaintiff
subsequently received a second notice of overpayment, this
one indicating that the claimant was overpaid $2, 787 from
November 2006 to April 2007, also due to unreported income.
Id. at 30-33.
filed requests for waiver of overpayment recovery
(id. at 112-121), which were denied initially and on
reconsideration (id. at 25-29, 36-41). On October
29, 2009, a hearing was held before administrative law judge
Stanley R. Hogg (“ALJ Hogg”). Id. at 59.
On December 14, 2009, ALJ Hogg issued a decision denying
plaintiff's request for waivers. Id. at 59-62.
The Appeals Council subsequently denied plaintiff's
request for review, leaving ALJ Hogg's decision as the
final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 69-71.
then filed the instant action challenging the
Commissioner's denial of her application for a waiver.
ECF No. 1. In July 2012, the court granted the
Commissioner's unopposed motion to remand the matter
pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), finding
that meaningful review of ALJ Hogg's decision could not
be completed because a recording of the October 29, 2009
hearing was unavailable. ECF Nos. 11, 15.
April 26, 2013, a new hearing was held before ALJ Peter F.
Belli (the “ALJ”). AR 126-155. On June 10, 2013,
the ALJ issued a decision denying plaintiff's
applications for waivers. Id. at 15-19.
Specifically, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not
“without fault” in causing or accepting the
overpayments because she accepted payments she knew, or
should have known, were incorrect. Id. at 18.
subsequently filed a written exception to the ALJ's
decision, but the Appeals Council declined to assume
jurisdiction. Id. at 3-4. Accordingly, the
ALJ's June 10, 2013 decision is the final decision of the
Commissioner. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1484(d).
Commissioner's decision to not waive recovery of
overpayment will be upheld if the findings of fact are
supported by substantial evidence in the record and the
proper legal standards were applied. Anderson v.
Sullivan, 914 F.2d 1121, 1122 (9th Cir. 1990).
findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, are conclusive. See Miller v.
Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial
evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521
(9th Cir. 1996). “‘It means such evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v.
N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).
ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving
ambiguities.” Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d
1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). “Where
the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational
interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's decision,
the ALJ's conclusion must be upheld.” Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002).
does not dispute that an overpayment occurred. Nor does she
challenge the amount of the assessed overpayment. Rather,
plaintiff only challenges the ALJ's finding that she was
not entitled to a waiver of recovery of the overpaid amounts.
ECF No. 24. To qualify for a waiver, she must have been
without fault in causing or receiving the overpayment. She
argues that the ALJ erred in (1) finding that she was not
“without fault” in receiving the overpayment
because she knew, or should have known, that the payments
were incorrect, and (2) failing to fully develop the record
by obtaining testimony pertinent to the overpayment ...