What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California
I am not a lawyer, but helped a friend of mine with his SSI Disability claim. He challenged the ALJ's decision (a denial by ALJ #1) to the Appeals Council (AC). The AC sent a letter denying review, stating my friend had not submitted the additional evidence he said he would.
He had, however, sent a doctor's statement asking for an extension of time to submit medical evidence. He pointed this out to the AC.
The AC then sent a second letter, stating he had been granted an extension of time and that no action would presently be taken on his case. The medical evidence was submitted, and the AC sat on the case for over a year doing nothing. My friend filed a new SSI claim, using the original onset date, and was immediately approved--but beginning with the date of the second SSI claim.
He appealed the onset date by filing a Request for Reconsideration. After 17 months, the decision was that the back period covered by Claim #1 was already decided--res judicata--and it could not be reopened.
Appealing that decision to a hearing, after many more months the ALJ (ALJ #2) agreed with the Reconsideration decision, relying on the first letter of the AC, and disregarding the second one.
It was only after many more months that the US District Court overturned ALJ #2 and sent the case back to the Appeals Council for appropriate action, since res judicata did not apply.
Instead of reviewing ALJ #1's decision, the AC sent it back down to the Hearings Office, where ALJ #3 decided to hold a brand new hearing on the entire period including SSI Claim #1 and Claim #2.
He decided my friend was not disabled for Claim #1, but could not undo the approval for Claim #2.
Now is my friend not entitled to have ALJ #1's claim reviewed? That decision was marred by many things, including improper use of the grids, failure to use a vocational expert, failure to consider lay evidence, etc. I feel the errors of law by ALJ #1 make the decision reversible, rendering remand for payment appropriate...rather than having to challenge ALJ #3's decision (which I still plan to do). Any legal grounds I can cite--can I ask the US District court for a writ of mandamus to make the AC do its review rather than pass the buck for another bite of the apple? Thanks.