Res judicata is applicable to an SSA initial determination that a claimant is “disabled.”
The plaintiff received SSI for twelve months until her benefits were stopped due to incarceration. The plaintiff filed a second SSI application which was denied initially, upon reconsdieration and at the ALJ hearing. The plaintiff's second application was deneid at the second ALJ hearing held upon AC remand. The plaintiff filed fed court appeal arguing that the ALJ incorrectly dismissed the disability determination made as to her pervious SSI application without a res judicata determination. The court agreed and held that although the previous administrative decision was not made by an ALJ, it did constitute a determination by the Social Security Administration that plaintiff met Listing 12.05. 20 C.F.R. § 404.901 (defining “determination” to include “the initial determination or the reconsidered determination”). Such determinations are “subject to the doctrine of administrative res judicata.” Drummond, 126 F.3d at 841 (citing Draper v. Sullivan, 899 F.2d 1127, 1130 (6th Cir.1990)).
The court remanded the case directing the ALJ to: (1) determine whether administrative res judicata applies to the prior administrative determination that Plaintiff was disabled; (2) determine whether the Commissioner has met his burden to show medical improvement; (3) if benefits are not awarded based upon the prior administrative determination of disability, review plaintiff's disability claim under the required five-step sequential analysis to determine anew whether plaintiff was under a disability and thus eligible to receive SSI; (4) reevaluate the weight given to the opinions of plaintiff's treating physicians, as well as any assessments provided by consultative examiners; and (5) reconsider the claimant's residual functional capacity