9th Cir. case re: 2017 Social Security medical opinion regulations

The panel affirmed the district court’s decision which affirmed the Commissioner of Social Security’s denial of claimant’s application for benefits under the Social Security Act.

The panel held that recent changes to the Social Security Administration’s regulations displaced the prior case law requiring an ALJ to provide “specific and legitimate” reasons to reject an examining doctor’s opinion.  For claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, which are subject to the new regulations, the former hierarchy of medical opinions – in which the court assigned presumptive weight based on the extent of the doctor’s relationship with the claimant – no longer applies.  While the panel agreed with the Commissioner that the “specific and legitimate” standard was irreconcilable with the 2017 regulations, the panel held that the extent of the claimant’s relationship with the medical provider remains relevant under the new regulations.  An ALJ may consider the length and purpose of the treatment relationship, the frequency of examinations, the kinds and extent of examinations that the medical source has performed or ordered, and whether the medical source has examined the claimant or only reviewed the claimant’s records.  However, the ALJ no longer needs to make specific findings regarding those relationship factors.  Even under the new regulations, an ALJ cannot reject an examining or treating doctor’s opinion as unsupported or inconsistent without providing an explanation that is supported by substantial evidence.

Here, the ALJ acknowledged Dr. Causeya’s opinion that the claimant had marked and extreme limitations in multiple cognitive areas of functioning, including memory and concentration, but the ALJ found this opinion unpersuasive because it was inconsistent with the overall treating notes and mental status exams.  The panel held that substantial evidence supported the ALJ’s inconsistency finding.


SCOTUS decision re: SSI benefits in Puerto Rico

United States v. Vaella-Madero, 20-303

Link: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/21pdf/20-303_6khn.pdf

SCOTUS reversed a decision of the First Circuit, published at 956 F.3d 12 (1st Cir. 2020). SCOTUS held that the equal-protection component of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause did not require Congress to make Supplemental Security Income benefits available to residents of Puerto Rico to the same extent that Congress makes those benefits available to residents of the States.

4/26 Lunch and Learn: Providing Court Services to People Who are Elderly or Disabled

Multnomah County Circuit Court Lunch and Learn: Providing Court Services to People Who are Elderly or Disabled
Facilitated by Judge Morgan Long
12-1 p.m. on 4/26

Speakers: The Honorable Patrick Henry, Chief Probate Judge, and Mark Sanford, MG, Program Manager, Multnomah County Public Guardian and Conservator at Multnomah County

This presentation is one of a series offered to court employees and judges. All are welcome. There is no charge to attend.

Join via video or phone:

Meeting number: 2484 296 9322
Password: VpFCvy8j$36

Join by video system
Dial [email protected]
You can also dial and enter your meeting number.

Join by phone
+1.408.418-9388 United States Toll

Access code: 248 429 69322

Contact: Roger Rand, [email protected]

“College disability rights case could go to Supreme Court — a possibility advocates fear”

Plaintiffs, who are blind, have won lawsuits in federal court against Los Angeles Community College District, for the school’s failure to provide accommodations necessary to provide equal access to education for Plaintiffs. The LACCD is deciding whether to appeal to the Supreme Court, as the school maintains they did not violate federal law. Read more herE: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-02/disability-rights-case-against-laccd-could-go-to-supreme-court

Document Accessibility Testing

The Office of Equity and Human Rights’ Community Engagement Liaison(CEL) program is seeking Portlanders with communication disabilities to test digital content (primarily documents produced in Word, PowerPoint, or as PDFs). This is paid, flexible, periodic work. Share your perspective and help make our community more accessible by providing feedback on the accessibility of digital content CEL will host an informational meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting

Questions? email: [email protected]

Disability Law Section Executive Committee Openings

The nominating committee is currently seeking section members who would like to join next year’s executive committee. The Disability Law Section Executive Committee has several openings on the committee for 2022-23. The Committee is made up of a Chair, Chair Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, and Members-at-Large. We are seeking nominations (self-nominations welcome) for all positions. Voting will take place in December, and the new members will begin their roles in January 2022. If you’re interested in a role, please email [email protected] by the end of November.

FBA Social Security Section Message

The Federal Bar Association’s Social Security Section shared the below message today:

“Help Get Congress to Include as Much of the SSI Restoration Act as possible into the upcoming Reconciliation Bill.

Items that we will be fighting to include in the reconciliation bill include:

  • Increasing the SSI benefit rate to at least 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and adjusting it annually to keep pace with inflation;
  • Eliminating “in-kind support and maintenance” (ISM) as a type of countable income;
  • Increasing and inflation-indexing resource limits for the first time since 1989;
  • Updating the earned and general income disregards, which have not been adjusted since 1974; and
  • Eliminating installment payment requirements and extending the time SSI recipients have to spend down retroactive benefits.

The Reconciliation bill is currently in mark-up so time is of the essence.

Text SignPXPBNX to 59409 today if possible.”