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Parris v. Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 22, 2015

DEBRA PARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

ORDER ADOPTING REPORT & RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE CAM FERENBACH

RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court for consideration is the Report and Recommendation of the Honorable Cam Ferenbach, United States Magistrate Judge, entered June 27, 2014 (ECF No. 26), that Defendant Social Security Administration's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 22) should be granted. Plaintiff Debra Parris filed objections to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 27), and the Social Security Administration ("Administration") responded. The Court has conducted a de novo review of the record and, as set forth below, adopts the Report and Recommendation and grants the Administration's Motion to Dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

Sometime before December 2012, Parris lived in California. Decl. of Jill Baker in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. Dismiss ("Baker Decl."), Ex. A, June 2, 2014, ECF No. 22. While residing in California, Parris received approximately $769.00 per month in combined Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Pl.'s Opp'n Mot. Dismiss at 2, June 17, 2014, ECF No. 24 ("Pl.'s Opp'n"). The amount of benefits that Parris received during this time was based on, inter alia, her status as a California resident. Baker Decl., Ex. A at 2.

In a letter dated April 17, 2013, the Administration informed Parris that it had determined she had moved to Nevada as of December 2012. Id . Because of this determination, Parris lost her status as a California resident and, because SSI payments vary depending on where individuals live, the amount of her monthly social security and SSI benefits changed. Specifically, the Administration's letter included calculations showing that as of December 2012, Parris's monthly SSI benefit was $0.00. Id. at 9-11. In other words, Parris's monthly SSI benefit was reduced to nothing as of the date when the Administration determined she moved to Nevada.

In the same letter, the Administration informed Parris that it would stop her SSI payments beginning in May 2013 and that it "may be in touch with [Parris] later about any payments [the Administration] previously made." Id. at 1-2. This language suggested that the Administration may attempt at a later date to recover overpayments made to Parris after she allegedly moved to Nevada and had her SSI benefits eliminated. Finally, the letter informed Parris of her right to appeal and instructed her how to do so. Id. at 3-5. The letter specifically stated that if the Administration received a written appeal within ten days of Parris's receipt of the letter, it would not change her payment amount until after it decided her appeal. Id. at 3.

In a second letter dated April 24, 2013, the Administration notified Parris that it had determined she had begun living in Nevada as of February 2012. Baker Decl., Ex. B at 1-2. The second letter calculated Parris's monthly SSI benefit to be $0.00 starting in February 2012 and continuing onward. Id. at 11-22. This letter gave Parris the same notice of her appellate rights as the first letter, including that her benefits would not change until her appeal had been decided if she did so within ten days. Id. at 3-5. The letter also stated that this decision "replaces all earlier decisions for the above periods." Id. at 3.

Parris appealed the Administration's decision in a Request for Reconsideration signed on June 3, 2013 and stamped as received by the Administration on June 10, 2013. Baker Decl., Ex. C. In her request, Parris stated that she was not a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, that she still lived in California, and that she traveled between California and Nevada every thirty days to receive medical treatment in each state relating to injuries she suffered as a result of separate hit-and-run auto accidents occurring in both states. Id . Parris attached copies of medical bills from Nevada-based treatment providers and insurance companies to her Request for Reconsideration. Id . On June 3, 2013, Parris also submitted a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery or Change in Repayment Rate form, which the Administration did not stamp as received until September 10, 2013. Baker Decl., Ex. E. In her request for a waiver of the Administration's overpayment, Parris stated that she informed the Administration of the injuries she had sustained and the medical care she was receiving and that she no longer had the overpaid funds in her possession. Id.

On October 17, 2013, Parris submitted a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge. Baker Decl., Ex. H. In her request for hearing, Parris stated that money had been taken out of her monthly benefits check without a hearing, which she had requested. Id . Parris also stated that she had been given a hearing date but the Administration refused to change it, despite Parris leaving multiple messages requesting a change due to illness. Id.

In letters dated October 30, 2013 and November 6, 2013, the Administration denied Parris's Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery and her Request for Reconsideration, respectively. Baker Decl., Ex. G, D. Both letters instructed Parris as to her right to appeal the Administration's decision.

On May 28, 2014, the Administration sent Parris a letter acknowledging her request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Decl. of Miki Taguchi in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. Dismiss ("Taguchi Decl."), Ex. A, June 2, 2014, ECF No. 22. The letter informed Parris that she would be given notice at least 20 days prior to the hearing date and provided more information on the hearing process. Id . A supervisor at the Administration's Las Vegas Hearing Office attested that Parris would have the opportunity at her hearing to address the Administration's decision regarding her SSI benefits as well as its decision regarding her request for waiver of overpayment collection. Taguchi Decl., ¶ 4. The supervisor estimated that Parris's hearing would take place in October 2014. Id . ¶ 5.

Parris filed a complaint and application for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in this Court on August 7, 2013. ECF No. 1. Parris's application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis was granted on September 4, 2013, and her complaint was entered in the docket on that date. ECF Nos. 9, 10. Her motions for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction were denied with prejudice on September 5, 2013. Am. Minute Order in Chambers of the Hon. Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach, Sept. 5, 2013, ECF No. 12. On October 4, 2013, Parris filed an Amended Complaint into which she incorporated by reference the allegations made in her Complaint. ECF No. 13.

Parris's Complaint states that she is a temporary resident of Nevada and that on August 3, 2013, the Administration deducted $391.00 from her Social Security Disability check to pay for Medicare premiums without providing her a hearing as requested. Compl. at 2, 4-5. Parris's Amended Complaint further states that she was informed on August 22, 2013 by the Administration's North Las Vegas District Office that she had agreed to a monthly deduction of $104.00 from her Social Security Disability income to pay for Medicare insurance premiums. Am. Compl. at 2. In addition, Parris states that an additional $77.00 was deducted from her monthly check in August and September of 2013. Id . Parris claims that these deductions were made without providing her a hearing, without issuing a decision on her request for waiver of overpayment collection, and without considering how much she could afford to repay. Id . Parris asks that this Court find that the Administration violated the ...


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