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Michigan federal court makes favorable ruling in fugitive felon case, and further guidance from NSCLC in 2011

National Senior Citizens Law Center

Another federal district court has rejected the SSA's policy of using the mere existence of an outstanding warrant to terminate benefits under its "fugitive felon" provisions. The case is Cambero v. Commissioner, No. 1:06 CV 551 (W.D. Mich., S. Div. Sept. 10, 2007)(attached). The court found that SSA was not justified in using the existence of an arrest warrant as proof that the person was "fleeing to avoid prosecution" for a felony. All other courts to consider the issue have reached a similar result. See Fowlkes v. Adamec, 432 F.3d 90 (2nd Cir. 2005); Garnes v.Barnhart, 352 F.Supp.2d 1059 (N.D. Cal. 2004); Hull v. Barnhart, 336 F.Supp.2d 1113 (D. Ore. 2004); see also National Senior Citizen's Law Center (NSCLC) Washington Weekly, Dec. 9, 2005 & May 5, 2006. 

Relying on the prior decisions in Fowlkes and Garnes, the court found SSA's policy to be inconsistent with the ordinary meaning of the statutory language, and ruled that there must be a finding of a particular intent to avoid prosecution before benefits can be suspended.

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