Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Public Benefits
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Plaintiff, a retired "dual status technician" with the National Guard, argues that the civil service pension he received in connection with his employment as a dual status technician – a civilian position that requires concurrent National Guard membership – is not subject to reduction under the Social Security Act's Windfall Elimination Provision because the pension falls within an exception applicable to payments based wholly on work performed as a member of a uniformed service. The district court granted summary judgment to plaintiff and the Administration appealed.The Second Circuit reversed the Administration's calculation of plaintiff's Social Security retirement benefits. The court read the plain language of the statute and used traditional tools of statutory interpretation, holding that a civil service pension based on federal civilian employment as a dual status technician does not fall within the uniformed service exception. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings consistent with the court's opinion. View "Linza v. Saul" on Justia Law

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In March 2020, Congress created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which authorized the SBA to guarantee favorable loans to certain business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA Administrator promulgated regulations imposing several longstanding eligibility requirements on PPP loan applicants, including that no SBA guarantee would be given to businesses presenting "live performances of a prurient sexual nature." Pharaohs, a business featuring nude dancing, sought a preliminary injunction directing the SBA to give it a PPP loan guarantee.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Pharaoh's motion, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Pharaohs has failed to show that it is substantially likely to succeed on its claims that (1) the SBA exceeded its statutory authority to promulgate eligibility restrictions, and (2) the exclusion of nude-dancing establishments from the Program violates the First or Fifth Amendments. The court need not address the remaining preliminary injunction factors in light of its conclusion. View "Pharaohs GC, Inc. v. United States Small Business Administration" on Justia Law

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not permit a school district to amend an individualized education program (IEP) unilaterally during the thirty-day resolution period. The Act envisions the resolution period as a time for mediation and agreement, not one-sided action. In this case, the first IEP that the school district prepared for the child and presented to the parents indicated erroneously that the child would be placed in a 12-student classroom, which the parents deemed insufficient. After the parents filed a due process complaint, the school district sought to cure this deficiency by unilaterally amending the original IEP to reflect that the student would be in a 15-student class. The district court found in favor of the parents and ordered the school district to reimburse the parents for the private school tuition.The Second Circuit affirmed and concluded that because the school district argues only that it provided the student with a free appropriate education (FAPE) based on her IEP as unilaterally amended during the resolution period, and does not dispute that the unamended IEP denied the student a FAPE, the school district denied the student a FAPE for her 2016-17 school year. Finally, the district court's other conclusions relevant to the reimbursement order are not challenged on appeal and therefore stand unaltered. View "Board of Education of the Yorktown Central School District v. C.S." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed the district court's decision affirming the denial of her application for supplemental security income. The Second Circuit vacated, holding that the ALJ erred in assuming that plaintiff's ability to complete a probationary period was irrelevant to her ability to perform significant numbers of jobs in the national economy. Accordingly, the court remanded the matter to the Commissioner for further development of the evidence. View "Sczepanski v. Saul" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits
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After appellant successfully litigated her claim to supplemental social security income, she challenged the district court's denial of her application for attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C. 406(b).The Second Circuit affirmed the denial of appellant's attorney's fee application as untimely, because she filed well beyond the 14 days prescribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(2)(B). Assuming the court would entertain appellant's argument, it failed on the merits because she provided no factual basis to support a claim that it was reasonable to delay the filing of her section 406(b) application for more than six months after she received notice of the benefits calculation on remand. View "Sinkler v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court properly deferred to the decision of the New York State Review Officer (SRO), which concluded that student W.E. was not denied a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for the eighth grade school year and that Northwood School was not an appropriate unilateral private school placement for the ninth grade school year. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's November 2016 judgment and order in part.To the extent that the district court failed to accord appropriate deference to the SRO's conclusion that Northwood did not provide W.E. specially designed instruction so as to constitute an appropriate private school placement for the tenth grade school year, the court reversed in part the district court's opinion and vacated the award of tuition reimbursement to plaintiffs for that school year. The court also affirmed a July 2017 opinion and order granting the district court's grant of summary judgment and vacating the award of compensatory education for the eighth grade year. View "W.A.v. Hendrick Hudson Central School District" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's decision affirming the Commissioner's denial of social security disability benefits. The court held that the ALJ failed to comply with the procedural mandates of the treating physician rule where it explicitly failed to consider the first Burgess factor before assigning "little weight" to the opinion of plaintiff's treating psychiatrist. Furthermore, there was a lack of other "good reasons" to support that decision. Accordingly, the court remanded for the ALJ to reconsider plaintiff's claim for disability benefits consistent with the procedural mandates of the Social Security Act and this court. View "Estrella v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits
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The Coalition filed suit on behalf of its foster parent members, alleging that the State pays foster parents members inadequate rates to cover the costs of caring for their foster children, in violation of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that the Coalition has standing to sue on behalf of its members under Nnebe v. Daus, 644 10 F.3d 147 (2d Cir. 2011) and rejected the State's argument that the Coalition was barred by the third‐party standing rule.However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the Coalition's claims and joined the Sixth and Ninth Circuits in holding that the Act creates a specific entitlement for foster parents to receive foster care maintenance payments, and that this entitlement was enforceable through 42 U.S.C. 1983. Accordingly, the court vacated the order dismissing the case and remanded for further proceedings. View "New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children v. Poole" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's decision upholding the denial of plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits. The court held that the Commissioner's decision was not supported by substantial evidence because it relied on testimony from a vocational expert that appeared to be in conflict with the authoritative guidance set out in the Department of Labor's Dictionary of Occupational Titles. In this case, the Commissioner was not entitled to rely on this testimony without first identifying and inquiring into the apparent conflict. Therefore, the district court erred by declining to set aside the Commissioner's benefits decision. View "Lockwood v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits
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The Second Circuit granted a petition for review of the Commissioner's decision adopting the Department of Appeals Board's (DAB) decision and imposition of an assessment and penalty for petitioner's failure to report work activity while receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. Although the court agreed that petitioner's failure to report work activity was "material" and thus authorized the Commissioner to impose an assessment and penalty, the court held that the DAB lacked substantial evidence to support the amounts of the assessment and penalty it imposed. In this case, petitioner's earnings from work activity did not amount to "substantial gainful activity," he remained disabled while failing to report work activity, and the findings of fact on which the DAB relied established only that petitioner's work was "sporadic." Therefore, the court vacated the DAB's decision and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cappetta v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits