United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ANN VIAL LEMMON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
Objections (Rec. Doc. 12) to the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation (Rec. Doc. 11) are
SUSTAINED, and this matter is hereby
REMANDED to the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration ("SSA"), for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
appeals the decision of the Commissioner of the SSA finding
that he must repay $73, 180 overpaid to him by the SSA. The
Magistrate Judge recommended the appeal be denied, and
plaintiff filed the instant objections.
John Frabbiele, served as representative payee for his son,
Anthony Frabbiele, when his son began receiving social
security benefits on September 1, 2001. In March 2006, his
son was hospitalized at Eastern Louisiana Mental Health
System (hereinafter, "mental hospital"), where he
remained until March 2014. Upon his son's
hospitalization, plaintiff verbally informed the SSA of the
hospitalization, and plaintiff testified that he was verbally
informed at that time that it would not affect the Social
Security payments. Also, in his first representative payee
report filed after his son's admission to the hospital,
he reported that his son was living at the mental hospital.
In subsequent representative payee reports, from 2007 to
2014, plaintiff accurately reported that his son's living
situation was unchanged.
informing Social Security that his son was admitted to the
mental hospital, the plaintiff continued to receive benefits.
However, in a letter dated April 20, 2014, the SSA informed
plaintiff that Anthony Frabbiele's benefits would be
stopped because he was imprisoned for conviction of a crime.
On April 29, 2014, Social Security sent a letter to plaintiff
stating that he had received an overpayment of $75, 538,
spanning the period from March 2006 through March 2014, while
his son was in the mental hospital. It further stated that
$2, 358.00 of Patricia Frabbiele's benefits was applied
to the overpayment, and the remaining balance due was $73,
180.00. Since the overpayment was identified, plaintiff, who
has cancer that requires him to get regular treatment at
Ochsner, has had his own Social Security benefits withheld.
challenged this finding, arguing that his son had not been
imprisoned for conviction of a crime, that he had informed
the SSA of his son's residency at the mental hospital,
and that the Social Security payments had been used to cover
his son's expenses, and notably, $50, 000.00 had been
used to purchase a lot and trailer for his son to live in
upon his release from the mental hospital.
hearing, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not at fault in
causing the overpayment, because he had adequately and
accurately notified the SSA of his son's living
arrangements. The decision enumerated the reported expenses
on his son's behalf for the period at issue, based on the
representative payee reports. In her decision, the ALJ noted
that there was no supporting documentation for the trailer
and land purchase.
filed a request for review with the Social Security Appeals
Council. In connection with that review, he
provided a copy of the bill of sale for the land and trailer
purchased for his son for $50, 000.00. However, on February
1, 2018, the Appeals Council issued a denial. The denial
letter specifically recited that the new evidence "does
not show a reasonable probability that it would change the
outcome of the [ALJ's] decision. We did not consider and
exhibit this evidence."
district court's review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the SSA under 42 U.S.C. 405(g) is limited to
“whether (1) the decision is supported by substantial
evidence and (2) proper legal standards were used to evaluate
the evidence.” Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d
172, 173 (5th Cir. 1995); Austin v. Shalala, 994
F.2d 1170, 1174 (5th Cir. 1993). Substantial evidence is more
than a scintilla, less than a preponderance, and is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. Coastal Production
Serv. Inc. v. Hudson, 555 F.3d 426, 430 (5th Cir. 2009).