Identification Number:
EM-19013
Intended Audience:NY RC/FOs/TSCs/NY OHO
Originating Office:ORDP, OISP
Title:Sharpe Court Order – Relief
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:Title XVI (SSI)
Link To Reference:See Reference at the end of this EM
 
Retention Date: April 30, 2020

A. Purpose

This emergency message (EM) provides information about the Sharpe Court Order that provides relief for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants who are residents of New York (NY) State. This EM also provides instructions for handling general information inquiries and opt out requests associated with the Sharpe Court Order.

B. Background

Under the SSI program, when a claimant files a request for hearing on a non-disability issue, an administrative law judge (ALJ) must issue a decision no later than 90 days after the date the claimant files the request for hearing with us – §20 CFR 416.1453. In July 1980, the district court in Sharpe entered a court order that set out certain notice and processing time requirements for SSI claims by New York State residents who request ALJ hearings. The order also requires SSA to pay interim SSI payments in certain cases when we do not meet the court-ordered processing time deadlines.

C. Policy

Sharpe relief includes suspended collection of an overpayment, return of recovered overpayment amounts, or payment of SSI benefits (interim payment) until the ALJ issues a decision. Sharpe class members include claimants who meet the following criteria.
    · Reside in NY State,
    · Have filed for SSI,
    · Have received an adverse determination(s) on a claim,
    · Have filed a request for hearing, and
    · Are awaiting the holding of a hearing, the issuance of a decision, or effectuation of a favorable decision
    Class members become entitled to relief when they have not received a hearing decision within 90 days filing their request for a hearing on a non-disability issue. The NY Regional Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) is responsible for identifying and notifying claimants who are entitled to relief under the Sharpe Court Order. Interim payments received under the Sharpe Court Order will be considered an overpayment if the decision is unfavorable. If the interim payment amount exceeds the final amount due, the excess interim payment amount will be considered an overpayment if the ALJ decision is favorable. Because there is the possibility of incurring an overpayment, claimants have the option to refuse (opt out) relief by contacting one of our offices.

    For claimants who do not opt out, relief begins on the first day of the month in which the 90- day period end if the 90th day occurs on or before the 15th day of the month. Relief begins on the first day of the month after the 90-day period end if the 90th day occurs after the 15th day of the month. Relief under the Sharpe Court Order ends with the month after the month in which the ALJ issues a decision.

    D. Process – instructions for handling Sharpe Cases

    The NY Regional OHO is responsible for identifying and notifying claimants who are entitled to relief under the Sharpe Court Order. In April 2019, the NY Regional OHO began sending notices to claimants who are entitled to relief under the Sharpe Court Order. The NYRO will process the cases of claimants who want to receive relief. However, some claimants will likely contact their local field offices and the Teleservice Center (TSC) to inquire about the Sharpe Court Order and opt out of relief. The following are instructions for handling Sharpe general information inquiries and opt out requests.
      1. National 800 Number Network instructions for handling Sharpe Court Order inquiries
        When a caller (claimant) identifies as a Sharpe class member, take the actions listed in 1.a. – e. Do not solicit a post entitlement appointment because the field office will not process Sharpe Cases. .
          a. Access the Claims File User Interface (CFUI), NDRED, or ORS to view the claimant’s Sharpe Notice.
          b. Determine whether the claimant wants general information about Sharpe or wants to opt out and go to D1.c or D1.d as appropriate.
          c. General information inquiry – See the information below in E. Direct questions not answered by E to the NY Regional OHO or the NYRO.
          d. Opt Out - Send an email to ^NY CDPS Assistance and include the following information in the email.
              · Subject Line: Sharpe Case
              · Body of the email:
                  o Claimant’s name
                  o Claimant’s Social Security Number
                  o Claimant’s Address,
                  o Claimant’s Phone Number
                  o Statement: “Opting out of Sharpe relief”
      2. Field office instructions for processing Sharpe Court Order inquiries
          a. Access the CFUI, NDRED, or ORS to view the claimant’s Sharpe Notice.
          b. Determine whether the claimant wants general information about Sharpe or wants to opt out. Go to D2.c or D2.d as appropriate.
          c. General information inquiry – See the information below in E.
          d. Opt Out - Send an email to ^NY CDPS Assistance and include the following information in the email
              · Subject Line: Sharpe Case
              · Body of the email:
                  o Claimant’s name
                  o Claimant’s Social Security Number,
                  o Claimant’s Address,
                  o Claimant’s Telephone Number
                  o Statement: “Opting out of Sharpe relief”
    E. Process – general information about the Sharpe Court Order and notices

    Use the following information to answer claimants’ questions about the Sharpe Court Order.
      1. Information about the Sharpe Court Order
          · Purpose – The purpose of the Sharpe Court Order is to provide interim benefits (relief).
          · Who – The Sharpe Court Order entitles SSI claimants, who are residents of NY State, have filed a request for hearing on a non-medical issue, and have not received a decision, to relief.
          · What – The Sharpe Court Order relief includes stopping overpayment recovery, returning the amount recovered for an overpayment, and paying benefits.
          · When –
              o Relief begins on the first day of the month in which the 90-day period ends if the 90th day occurs on or before the 15th day of the month. Relief begins the first day of the month after the 90-period ends if the 90th day occurs after the 15th day of the month.
              o Relief ends the month after the month in which the ALJ issues a decision on the request for hearing.
          · Overpayments –
              o The Sharpe Court order states that if the ALJ decision is unfavorable, the amount paid to a claimant is an overpayment.
              o The Sharpe Court Order states that if decision is favorable and we then determine that a claimant was due a lesser amount, the excess amount paid to the claimant is an overpayment.
          · Opt Out of Relief –Claimants may contact one of our offices and verbally opt out of Sharpe relief.

      2. Information included in the Sharpe Notice
          · When relief begins and ends,
          · Overpayment – unfavorable decision – see C. of this EM,
          · Potential Overpayment – excess payment amount – favorable decision – see C. of this EM,
          · Option to opt out of receiving relief under the Sharpe Court Order, and
          · Contact information

    Direct all program-related and technical questions to your Regional Office (RO) support staff. RO support staff may refer questions, concerns or problems to their Central Office contacts.

    Reference:

    HA-I-5-4-48 Sharpe v. Sullivan and Martinez v. Bowen

    EM-19013 - Sharpe Court Order – Relief - 06/13/2019