AR 97-4(9) was published on 12/03/97, to explain how the decision by the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals in Chavez will be applied within the circuit. The Ninth Circuit held that a final decision
by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that found that a claimant is not disabled gives
rise to a presumption that the claimant continues to be not disabled after the period
adjudicated, and that this presumption of continuing nondisability applies when adjudicating
a subsequent disability claim with an unadjudicated period arising under the same
title of the Act as the prior claim. In order to rebut the presumption of continuing
nondisability, a claimant must prove “changed circumstances” affecting the issue of
disability with respect to the unadjudicated period.
The court further indicated that where the claimant rebuts the presumption by proving
a “changed circumstance,” the Commissioner then must give effect to certain findings
contained in the final decision on the prior claim in determining whether the claimant
is disabled with respect to the unadjudicated period involved in the subsequent claim.
The court concluded that where such final decision on the prior claim contained findings
of the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), education, and work experience,
the Commissioner may not make different findings in adjudicating the subsequent disability
claim unless there is new and material evidence relating to the claimant's RFC, education,
or work experience.