Smith v. Berryhill

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: November 6, 2018
  • Case #: 17-1606
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 880 F.3d 813
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Appeals Council’s decision to reject a disability claim on the ground that the claimant’s appeal was untimely is a “final decision” subject to judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

Upon denial of a request for supplemental social security income, an administrative law judge (ALJ) heard Petitioner’s claim and denied it. Petitioner asserts that he appealed to the Appeals Council within the specified 60-day filing period requesting review of the ALJ’s decision. But, upon inquiry into the status of the appeal, Petitioner was informed that the request was not received. At that time, the Petitioner formally filed a request, several months after the 60-day period had elapsed. The Appeals Council dismissed the request as untimely and Petitioner sought judicial review of that decision. The district court dismissed the complaint and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that an “untimely request for review [is] not a ‘final decision’ subject to judicial review under [42 U.S.C.] § 405(g).” In Petitioner’s brief to the Supreme Court, Petitioner argues that the Sixth Circuit’s decision is wrong because dismissal of an untimely claim is “indisputably a ‘final decision’ consistent with the plain meaning of the words.” Petitioner argues that the court’s supervision is necessary to ensure that agency action is lawful and fair. Petitioner argues that the circuit split over this issue needs to be remedied because it affects judicial review of a vital government benefit, adding that Congress intends that the court should enforce its directives.

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