[Hpn] Rights of Workers with Disabilities Broadened (SSA)

Thomas Cagle nh-adapt@juno.com
Sun, 11 Jun 2000 06:00:04 -0400

From: "Paul Harcz" <harcz@office.mv.com>

From: Lisa LaNell Mauldin <lisamauldin@earthlink.net>
To: Multiple recipients of NFBnet BlindLaw Mailing List
>Rights of Workers with Disabilities Broadened
>By Laurie Asseo, Associated Press Writer
>People who go to federal court to appeal a denial of Social Security
>disability benefits can raise issues they did not pursue during an
>earlier administrative appeal, the Supreme Court said today.
>Ruling 5-4 in a Mississippi woman's case, the justices said federal
>law and agency rules do not require all issues to be raised at such
>administrative proceedings before they can be pursued in court.  The
>justices noted the administrative appeal procedure is informal and
>many people are not represented by lawyers.
>"The differences between courts and agencies are nowhere more
>pronounced than in Social Security proceedings," Justice Clarence
>Thomas wrote for the court. The documents for seeking administrative
>review "strongly suggest that the (appeal) council does not depend
>much, if at all, on claimants to identify issues for review."
>The ruling reversed a federal appeals court decision that said courts
>could not hear some of the arguments raised in an appeal by Juatassa
>Sims of Como, Miss.
>Sims applied in 1994 for Social Security disability insurance and
>Supplemental Security Income benefits. A former food store cashier and
>factory worker, she said she had been disabled since 1992 by
>depression, hypertension, anxiety disorder and other ailments.
>An administrative law judge at the Social Security Administration
>denied her application, and the administration's Appeals Council
>agreed in 1997. Sims then took her case to federal court.
>A federal judge and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the
>denial of benefits. The appeals court said it could not consider two
>of her arguments -- that the administration improperly determined her
>ability to work and failed to order a physical or psychological exam
>-- because she did not raise them before the Appeals Council.
>Two other federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings. One of
>them said Social Security documents do not notify people that they
>might waive an argument if they do not raise it during the
>administrative appeal.
>Sims' appeal to the Supreme Court said requiring people to raise all
>issues during an administrative appeal conflicted with the "informal,
>non-adversarial" nature of those proceedings, where many people are
>not represented by lawyers.
>The Supreme Court agreed.
>Thomas' opinion was joined in full by Justices John Paul Stevens,
>David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and in part by Justice Sandra
>Day O'Connor.
>Dissenting were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices
>Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer. Writing for
>the four, Breyer said Sims was represented by a lawyer who should have
>known to raise all issues in the administrative appeal.
>The case is Sims vs. Apfel, 98-9537.
>Copyright 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
>may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
>(This story was posted on 5 Jun 2000)
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