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Demir v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 26, 2015

OMER DEMIR, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JORGE L. ALONSO, District Judge.

Plaintiff appeals defendant's denial of his request for a waiver of overpayment of benefits. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms defendant's decision.

Background

John Demir, plaintiff's son, received Social Security Disability benefits from late 1993 until his death in 2009. (R. 6.) From March 28, 1994 until John's death, plaintiff served as John's representative payee. ( Id. )

In 2000, the Social Security Administration ("SSA") determined that John had performed substantial gainful activity from April 1997 through November 1999, and thus was ineligible for the benefits he had received during that period. ( Id. )

On September 18, 2000 and November 5, 2002, plaintiff requested waiver of recovery of the overpayment, which was denied. ( Id. )

On August 25, 2003, John and the SSA agreed that the overpayment would be recovered by withholding $20.00 per month from John's monthly benefits. ( Id. )

After John's death, plaintiff again requested waiver of recovery of the overpayment, which was again denied. ( Id. 7-10.) It is this decision from which plaintiff appeals.

Discussion

The Court reviews the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ's") conclusions of law de novo but gives deference to her factual findings. Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 734 (7th Cir. 2006). The decision will be upheld "if it is supported by substantial evidence, " i.e., evidence "sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that [it] supports the decision." Id. at 734-35 (quotations omitted). "We are not allowed to displace the ALJ's judgment by reconsidering facts or evidence, or by making independent credibility determinations." Elder v. Astrue, 529 F.3d 408, 413 (7th Cir. 2008).

Plaintiff first contends that there is no legal basis for holding a representative payee liable for an overpayment of benefits, an issue the ALJ did not reach. ( See R. 8 ("Although the claimant's attorney has argued that there is no legal basis for imposing the obligation to repay an overpayment on a representative payee...., the undersigned has no legal authority to overturn or disregard the general principle that a representative payee may be held liable for recovery of an overpayment that he or she was not without fault in causing.").) Recovery of overpayments is governed by 20 C.F.R. ยง 404.502, which in relevant part provides:

Upon determination that an overpayment has been made, adjustments will be made against monthly benefits and lump sums as follows:
(a) Individual overpaid is living.
(1) If the individual to whom an overpayment was made is at the time of a determination of such overpayment entitled to a monthly benefit or a lump sum under title II of the Act... no benefit for any month and no lump sum is payable to such individual... until an amount ...

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