Harriman v Colvin, No. 1:12-cv-208-NT

John H. Rich III, U.S. Magistrate Judge

Claimant filed concurrent applications for disablity benefits.  SSA allowed the SSI application at Reconsideration but denied the SSDI application due to a Date Last Insured (DLI) issue.  When the claimant appealed the SSDI denial, the ALJ reopened and revised SSI allowance to a denial, as well as issuing a denial on the SSDI appeal.

The Magistrate found that the reopening was improper and vacated the ALJ decision, ordering SSA to pay the plaintiff the SSI benefits that would otherwise have been paid - and into the future - "until such time as SSA takes appropriate action, if any, affecting the amount of existence of the award."

This federal court decision held that (1) any reopening had to comply with good cause requirements; (2) ME testimony in the absence of new medical evidence did not constitute good cause; (3) the reopening was additionally defective because notice requirements were not met; and (4) in these circumstances the remedy is to reinstate and pay benefits, not remand for further proceedings.

Based on the decision, advocates may be able to argue that these principles apply equally to an attempt on remand to reopen a favorable obtained on a subsequent application.

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