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Moore v. Berryhill

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

September 26, 2017

NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,[1] Defendant.



         In this action, pro se Plaintiff Anna Yvette Moore seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security that Plaintiff was overpaid $7, 463.37 in Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits from August 2011 through June 2013, due to unstated income and excess resources; that Plaintiff was at fault in causing the overpayment; and that she was liable for repayment of the overpayment. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner will be reversed and the case remanded for reconsideration and/or clarification of calculations underlying the overpayment determination.


         Plaintiff, who was born on July 20, 1966, filed for SSI benefits in May 1992. The application Plaintiff signed stated that the failure to report any change within ten days after the end of the month in which the change occurred could result in a penalty deduction of benefits. The Social Security Administration's (“SSA”) Disability Determination and Transmittal dated July 30, 1992, finding that Plaintiff was entitled to SSI, listed Plaintiff's primary diagnosis as Mental Retardation, and secondary diagnosis as Affective (Mood) Disorder. The record indicates that Plaintiff's SSI benefits ranged from approximately $675 to $700 per month.

         Sometime prior to April 22, 2013, the SSA initiated a review of Plaintiff's financial eligibility for SSI and requested that she provide copies of her bank statements from March 2011 through April 2013. On April 22, 2013, Plaintiff attested in writing as follows: “There was a cash deposit into my bank account on November 01, 2012 in the amount of $1, 803. I had been saving SSI checks so I could make my mortgage payment that I had not paid for several months. The funds went to my mortgage company.” Tr. 40.

         By letter dated June 4, 2013, the SSA informed Plaintiff that a review of her financial records indicated that she had been overpaid SSI benefits in the amount of $7, 463.37 from August 2011 through June 2013 (23 months), and that this was in addition to an old overpayment of $1, 276.64 already on her record. The June 4, 2013 letter stated that the basis of the overpayment determination was “multiple unreported deposits (unstated income) into your bank account, and some months your resources (assets) were over the $2, 000 SSI allowable resource limit.” Tr. 44.

         The SSA sent another letter to Plaintiff on June 10, 2013. This letter listed the 23 months at issue and the actual amount the SSA claimed Plaintiff should have been paid for each of these months. An explanation of the facts upon which these amounts were based followed. For example, the letter stated,

Your special one-time rents, interest, dividends, or royalties received September 2011 of $0.30, March 2012 of $0.82, June 2012 of $0.32, December 2012 of $0.04 and March 2013 of $0.04.
Your special one-time payment of other unearned income received August 2011 of $800.55, September 2011 of $740.00, February 2012 of $530.00, March 2012 of $1, 681.38, April 2012 of $255.00, May 2012 of $1, 896.00, June 2012 of $1, 100.00, July 2012 of $230.00, August 2012 of $390.00, October 2012 of $310.00, November 2012 of $1, 973.00, December 2012 of $46.00, January 2013 of $100.00, February 2013 of $164.00 and March 2013 of $175.00.

Tr. 52.

         Month-by-month “worksheets” explaining the purported overpayments accompanied the letter. The worksheets show two months of excess resources and 21 months of unstated income. Tr. 60-79. Some of the worksheets calculate the payment Plaintiff was due for one month, after accounting for miscellaneous income during that month. See, e.g., Tr. 63. Some of these single-month worksheets state, without explanation, that a previous month's income affected the current month's payment due. See, e.g., Tr. 71. In a number of the worksheets, payments due were determined for two or more months. In some of the multiple-month worksheets, a previous month's income was stated as affecting the payments due for the months at issue. See, e.g., Tr. 74 (“How we Figured Your Payment for January 2013 through February 2013”; “Income you receive in December 2012 affects your payment for January 2013 through February 2013.”)

         Plaintiff's income of $310.00 in October 2012, Tr. 52, was not factored into any of the worksheets. And Plaintiff's income of $46.00 in December 2012 appears to affect the payment due for both December 2012, Tr. 73, and for January 2013 through February 2013, Tr. 74.

         The Court's addition of the reported overpayments from August 2011 through June 2013, appearing on Tr. 48, [2] does not result in a sum of $7, 463.37, but rather in a sum of $8, 443.01.

         On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration. According to SSA records, she stated as follows: “I disagree with the determination made on my claim for [SSI] benefits because I was trying to save mortgage payment. Family members were borrowing my money for various reasons and they would put the money back into my account. I will provide statements from family members about the account activity and reasons for it.” Tr. 80. On ...

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