United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JONATHAN R. BOYCE, et al., Plaintiffs,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
A. RUIZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
August 7, 2018, Plaintiffs Jonathan Boyce and Douglas Boyce,
pro se, filed an Amended Complaint seeking judicial
review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (R. 5). Unlike
typical social security appeals that come before this court,
Plaintiffs do not challenge a denial of benefits, but instead
challenge the Social Security Administration's decision
to recover an alleged overpayment. (R. 5-1).
Social Security Act provides that when a claimant has been
overpaid, “proper adjustment or recovery shall be
made.” 42 U.S.C. § 404(a).
An overpayment is the difference between the amount paid to
the claimant and the amount the claimant was actually
entitled to receive under the Act. 20 C.F.R. § 404.504.
In the case of an overpayment, “there shall be no ...
recovery by the United States from, any person who is without
fault if such adjustment or recovery would defeat the purpose
of this subchapter or would be against equity and good
conscience.” 42 U.S.C. § 404(b)(1). The
regulations instruct that a fault determination turns on
whether the overpayment resulted from:
(a) An incorrect statement made by the individual which he
knew or should have known to be incorrect; or
(b) Failure to furnish information which he knew or should
have known to be material; or
(c) With respect to the overpaid individual only, acceptance
of a payment which he either knew or could have been expected
to know was incorrect.
20 C.F.R. § 404.507. If the claimant is not without
fault, then he is not entitled to a waiver of overpayment,
and the Administration will pursue recovery. Id.
§ 404.511. Here, the ALJ determined that Garcia was
without fault, but the Appeals Council reached the opposite
conclusion. At issue now is whether the Appeals Council's
findings as to fault are supported by substantial evidence.
Garcia v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 732 Fed.Appx.
425, 428 (6th Cir. 2018).
February 4, 2019, Defendant has filed a Motion for Remand for
Further Proceedings Pursuant to Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). (R. 26). Defendant asserts that a remand is
Further clarification is necessary regarding the ALJ's
calculation of the months constituting Plaintiff's trial
work period and the total amount of the overpayment that
Plaintiff owes. Remand is also appropriate so that the ALJ
can separately determine whether the claimant (Jonathan
Boyce) and the representative payee (Douglas Boyce) were at
fault in causing or accepting the overpayment under Social
Security Ruling (SSR) 64-7 and whether the claimant and the
representative payee were jointly and/or individually liable
for the overpayment pursuant to SSR 64-7. Such clarification
is appropriate to fully inform Plaintiff of the basis for the
ALJ's decision, and, if necessary, to permit meaningful
judicial review. On remand, the ALJ will also ensure that the
record is complete.
(R. 26, PageID# 214).
oppose the motion to remand and filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment, arguing a remand is inappropriate pursuant to
sentence four of § 405(g) where new evidence is not
implicated. (R. 27). Plaintiffs' position is untenable,
as § 405(g) expressly states that “[t]he court
shall have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript
of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing
the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with
or without remanding the cause for a rehearing.”
(emphasis added). Further, this court routinely remands
cases to the Social Security Administration pursuant to
sentence four when it finds that a decision is either
unsupported by substantial evidence or in violation of a
procedural rule. Finally, a district court rarely awards
benefits. “If a court determines that substantial
evidence does not support the Secretary's decision, the
court can reverse the decision and immediately award ...