Articles Posted in Public Benefits

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In this case, the Georgia Department of Human Services, Family and Children Services (DFCS) granted appellee Jerry Glover's application for Medicaid benefits but imposed a multi-month asset transfer penalty on him pursuant to section 2339 of DFCS's Georgia Economic Support Services Manual due to his refusal to name the State as the remainder beneficiary on an annuity. Glover appealed the penalty to an Office of State Administrative Hearings Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who issued an initial decision reversing the penalty. DFCS then filed a request for agency review by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). DCH issued a final decision upholding the penalty. Pursuant to OCGA 50-13-19 of the Administrative Procedures Act, Glover then sought judicial review from the Superior Court which affirmed the final agency decision. The Court of Appeals granted Glover’s application for discretionary appeal and reversed the superior court, concluding that section 2339 of the Eligibility Manual as applied to Glover was inconsistent with the plain language of the federal Medicaid statute and that pursuant to 42 U. S. C. sections 1396p (c) (1) (F) and (G), Glover's annuity was not an asset to which the asset transfer penalty would apply. Appellants, David Cook in his official capacity as Commissioner of DCH and Clyde Reese in his official capacity as Commissioner of DFCS, appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court arguing that the Court of Appeals improperly interpreted the annuity section of the Medicaid Act and erred in holding that sec. 2339 as applied to Glover violated federal law. Asserting that the statutory provisions at issue was ambiguous, appellants contended that the Court of Appeals was required to defer to CMS's interpretation of the federal statute. Because the Supreme Court found that the federal statutory provisions at issue were ambiguous and the relevant administrative agencies’ interpretations of them were based on a permissible construction of the statutory language, it reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision in this case. View "Cook v. Glover" on Justia Law

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The Public School Employees Retirement System of Georgia (PSERS) filed suit against Appellant Leroy Ayers to recover three months of benefit payments to his mother that PSERS mistakenly made after Mrs. Ayers had died. A jury ultimately returned a $5,000 verdict in favor of Appellant. PSERS appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the trial court erred in denying PSERS' motion for a directed verdict. The Supreme Court found that the statutes that established Mrs. Ayers' contract for retirement benefits did not authorize the payment of monthly retirement benefits beyond her life and her designated joint annuitant who predeceased her. Accordingly, no benefits were payable to Appellant after his mother's death. The Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the trial court erred in denying PSERS' motion for a directed verdict, but did so based on analysis of retirement forms Mrs. Ayers filled out and correspondence she exchanged with PSERS instead of analysis of the statutory scheme. View "Ayers v. Public School Employees Retirement System of Georgia" on Justia Law