|Claims Covered by the Agreement|
|Implementation of the Agreement|
|- Settlement Agreement Dated January 3, 1990|
|- Notice to Claimant (for use by HO)|
|- Notice to Claimant (for use by Appeals Council)|
ISSUED: November 7, 1990
This Temporary Instruction (TI) contains instructions for implementing the settlement agreement approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Blankenship, et al., v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, No. C 75-0185-L(A) (W.D. Ky. Jan. 3, 1990).
On October 1, l986, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky ordered the Secretary to send notices to all title II and title XVI disability claimants residing in Kentucky to advise them that they could initiate action against the Social Security Administration in Federal court if they believed that their cases were being “unfairly or unreasonably” delayed at the hearing or Appeals Council level of review. The Government appealed this order to the Sixth Circuit arguing that Heckler v. Day, 467 U.S. 104 (1984), precluded classwide relief of any kind. The Office of Hearings and Appeals implemented the district court order while it was on appeal and has continued to send the court-ordered notices.
On October 6, l988, the Sixth Circuit remanded the case to the district court for specific findings of fact regarding the presence or absence of systematic, unreasonable delays. Thereafter, the parties negotiated a settlement agreement which the district court approved on January 3, 1990 (Attachment A).
The agreement covers all title II and title XVI disability claimants who reside in Kentucky and who request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and/or review by the Appeals Council.
When a hearing office (HO) receives a new request for hearing by a title II or title XVI disability claimant residing in Kentucky, HO personnel must send the notice in Attachment B to the claimant and a copy to the representative, if any, at the same time they send acknowledgment of the request for hearing. HO personnel must send the notice no later than 90 days after the date of the request for hearing. They must place a copy of the notice in the claim file and enter it into the record as an exhibit.
When the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) receives a new request for review from a disability claimant residing in Kentucky, OAO personnel must review the file to ensure that a Blankenship notice was sent at the hearing level. If a notice was sent, there is no need to send another because the hearing level notice also informs the claimant of the right to seek judicial relief if the Appeals Council's action is unreasonably delayed. If no notice was sent at the hearing level, OAO personnel must send the notice in Attachment C to the claimant and representative, if any. They must place a copy of the notice in the claim file and enter it into the record as an exhibit.
HO personnel may call the Atlanta Regional Office at (FTS) 242-5685. Regional Office personnel may call the Division of Field Practices and Procedures in the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge at (FTS) 305-0022. Headquarters personnel may call the Division of Litigation Analysis and Implementation at 305-9708.