SCOTUS Opinion: Court Permits Judicial Review Of Social Security Benefits Appeal Dismissal

After Ricky Lee Smith’s claim for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration was denied on merit after a hearing before an administrative law judge, he failed to timely appeal to the agency’s Appeals Council. The Council dismissed his appeal, and he sought judicial review of the dismissal in federal court. The district court denied review, stating that it lacked jurisdiction because the dismissal was not a “final decision . . . made after a hearing.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed. In Smith v. Berryhill, a unanimous Court, in a decision by Justice Sotomayor, reversed, holding that the Appeals Council’s dismissal was a “final decision . . . made after a hearing” that permitted judicial review. In this case, there was a hearing, and Smith’s rights had been completely resolved. The Court also noted the “strong presumption that Congress intends judicial review of administrative action” in favor of its determination. A link to the opinion is here.