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Medvrich v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 5, 2015

LARRY D. MEDVRICH, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM

DAVID D. NOCE, Magistrate Judge.

This action is before the court for judicial review of the final decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security denying the applications of plaintiff Larry D. Medvrich for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq., and for supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et seq. The court appointed counsel[1] for plaintiff under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, due to the complex nature of the legal arguments before the court. (Doc. 26.) Plaintiff has appealed only the decision regarding his application for Title II benefits. (Doc. 41 at 2 n.1.) The parties have consented to the exercise of plenary authority by the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 10.)

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Larry D. Medvrich was born August 27, 1956. He has filed at least eight applications for either Title II (disability insurance benefits) (DIB) or Title XVI (supplemental security income) (SSI) benefits since 2003. (Tr. 110.)

On January 15, 2003, plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income alleging an onset date of June 15, 1999 (2003 claim). (Tr. 110-11.) Both applications were denied, at the initial level and after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), because it was determined that plaintiff could perform his past relevant work. (Tr. 15, 24, 52, 110-11, 127.) The Appeals Council found no reason to disturb the ALJ's finding. (Tr. 22, 25, 110-11.)

On August 29, 2006, plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB alleging an onset date of April 20, 2006. He was awarded SSI, but denied DIB due to a lack of insured status.[2] Neither determination was appealed. (Tr. 22, 109-11.)

On October 9, 2007, plaintiff applied for SSI and DIB alleging an onset date of June 15, 1999. The alleged dates of disability as well as the alleged impairments were identical to the 2003 claim. Therefore, the Commissioner treated this application as an implied request to reopen that claim. See Brown v. Sullivan, 932 F.2d 1243, 1247 (8th Cir. 1991) (claimant's second application was identical to the first, and was treated by the Secretary as an "implied request to reopen"). The claim was denied on res judicata grounds due to the previously denied 2003 claim. (Tr. 110-11.)

On August 4, 2008, plaintiff applied for DIB alleging an onset date of June 15, 1999, the same alleged onset date as the 2003 claim. The alleged impairments were also identical to the 2003 claim. Therefore, the claim was denied on res judicata grounds. (Id.)

On March 2, 2009, plaintiff applied for DIB alleging an onset date of January 24, 2009. The claim was denied due to a lack of insured status. The decision was not appealed. (Tr. 52, 109-11.)

The applications at issue were filed on February 16, 2010. (Tr. 97-104.) Plaintiff alleged an onset date of disability of January 24, 2009. (Id.) His applications were denied on April 19, 2010, and he requested a hearing before an ALJ. (Tr. 45-48.)

On April 5, 2011, following a hearing, the ALJ made three dispositive determinations. First, he ruled that plaintiff did not meet the required insured status as of the alleged onset date of disability. Second, plaintiff is ineligible for SSI because he has income and resources beyond the allowable limits. Finally, the ALJ found he could not reopen the 2003 claim, because the decision is "administratively final and binding." The ALJ ruled that this claim could be reopened only for fraud or similar fault. (Tr. 23-26.) On August 19, 2013, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 4-5.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Res Judicata

Plaintiff objects to the ALJ's application of the res judicata doctrine to his claims filed on January 15, 2003, October 9, 2007, and August 4, 2008.[3] (Docs. 1, 18, 49); (Tr. 109-12, 920-38.) The Commissioner argues that the court lacks jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's claim because the ...


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