Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: January 10, 2020
  • Case #: 19-199
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 765 Fed. App’x 79 ( 5th Cir. 2019).
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether, under section 5(f) of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act, 45 U.S.C. § 355(f), and section 8 of the Railroad Retirement Act, 45 U.S.C. § 231g, the Railroad Retirement Board’s denial of a request to reopen a prior benefits determination is a “final decision” subject to judicial review.

Petitioner worked for the Union Pacific Railroad until he was severely injured on the job. He resumed work after surgery, but ultimately was unable to continue due to ongoing pain from the accident. He applied for disability annuities in 1992 and Respondent denied his application, finding that his injuries did not prevent him from performing any regular work. He again applied in 2006 and was denied again for the same reason. He requested review which was denied. He applied once more in 2013 and Respondent found he qualified due to his age (55) and awarded benefits starting from 2012. Petitioner requested review again which was denied. The Bureau of Hearings and Appeals denied his request for review and refused to reopen his prior applications. In his petition to the Fifth Circuit, Petitioner pointed to Stovic v. R.R. Retirement Board, 826 F.3d 500 (D.C. Cir. 2016), which gave courts of appeals jurisdiction to review denials of requests to reopen initial benefits determinations. The Fifth Circuit denied review acknowledging the deep circuit split on the matter with the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits, holding that courts of appeals lack jurisdiction, whereas the Second and Eighth Circuits find jurisdiction. Petitioner argues that the Supreme Court needs to alleviate this circuit split, the question is squarely presented, and the Fifth Circuit’s decision is wrong.

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