Articles Posted in Public Benefits

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Attorneys employed by the Franklin County Public Defender sought membership and service credit in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System for their years of service prior to January 1999, and challenged a decision the Ohio Public Employees Retirement Board’s denial of service credit. Persons hired by the Franklin County Public Defender on or before December 31, 1984, are public employees entitled to PERS benefits; effective January 1, 1999, the Franklin County Public Defender’s employees have been enrolled in and considered to be members of PERS. During the intervening years, pursuant to the Ohio Public Defender Act (R.C. Chapter 120), the Franklin County Public Defender Commission and its employees paid Social Security taxes on wages and did not consider the office to be a county agency. The Court of Appeals denied relief. The Supreme Court of Ohio granted a writ of mandamus to compel the board to award service credit, rejecting an argument that “there was no person holding the office of Franklin County Public Defender between 1985 and 1999 because a person was appointed as the ‘Director’ of the corporation. The plain language in R.C. 120.14(A)(1) indicates that the attorneys were employed by a public official, and hence, were public employees. View "Altman-Bates v. Pub. Emps. Retirement Bd." on Justia Law

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On April 25, 2011, Marcella Atkinson entered a long-term care facility. On June 16, 2011, Marcella and her husband Raymond submitted a Medicaid application for Marcella’s care. On August 9, 2011, Marcella transferred title to the house to Raymond. On September 28, 2011 the Knox County Department of Job and Family Services approved Marcella for Medicaid. The agency, however, delayed Medicaid benefits for Marcella until April 2012, asserting that the transfer of the home to Raymond was improper because it exceed the community-spouse resource allowance (CSRA) and was for less than fair market value. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services upheld the determination. The Fifth District Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) during the period between an application for Medicaid benefits and the notice of Medicaid approval, Medicaid law allows an institutionalized spouse to transfer a home or equivalent assets to a spouse living in the community to the extent that it does not exceed the CSRA; and (2) in this case, the state may have imposed a penalty on Raymond that was not authorized by law. Remanded. View "Estate of Atkinson v. Ohio Dep’t of Job & Family Servs." on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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On October 11, 2013, the Ohio Department of Medicaid (Department) submitted an application to the Ohio Controlling Board (Board) for an increase in its appropriation authority from the accounts holding federal Medicaid funds. The Board approved the Department's request on October 21, 2013, the effect of which was to provide medical services to Group VIII members under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The following day, Relators filed a request for writ of mandamus. Relators claimed that the Board violated Ohio Rev. Code 127.17, which provides that the Board shall take no action which does not carry out the legislative intent of the general assembly, by approving the Department's request for increased appropriation authority for the Hospital Care Assurance Match Fund. The Supreme Court denied the writ, concluding that Relators failed to establish a clear legal right to the requested relief and a clear legal duty on the part of the Board to undo the authorization of the expenditure of additional federal funds to provide medical insurance for Group VIII members. View "State ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life v. State of Ohio Controlling Bd." on Justia Law

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Law Firm filed a verified petition for a writ of mandamus to compel Housing Authority to provide copies of all records that documented any and all instances of lead poisoning in the last fifteen years in any dwelling owned or operated by Housing Authority. The court of appeals (1) granted Law Firm's motion for summary judgment regarding the request for lead-poisoning documents and ordered Housing Authority to produce the documents, and (2) granted $7,537 in attorney fees to Law Firm. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) to the extent that Law Firm's request properly sought the lead-poisoning records, the court of appeals did not err in granting the writ of mandamus to compel Housing Authority to provide access to them; (2) the personal identifying information in Housing Authority's lead-poisoning documents was not obtainable under the Public Records Act, but the remainder of the completed forms was subject to disclosure; and (3) the court of appeals erred in awarding attorney fees to Law Firm. Remanded. View "State ex rel. O'Shea & Assocs. Co., L.P.A. v. Cuyahoga Metro. Hous. Auth." on Justia Law

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Appellant Fairfield City Schools (Fairfield) sought reimbursement for a total disability compensation award given to one of its employees. Edward Carpenter, Jr. had hypertension since 1995. In 2002, he injured his back while at work. Mr. Carpenterâs injury resulted in a considerable amount of disability compensation. In 2008, Fairfield requested handicap reimbursement from the Ohio Bureau of Workersâ Compensation for at least part of the disability payments it made to Mr. Carpenter. Fairfieldâs application alleged that Mr. Carpenterâs pre-existing hypertension is a cardiac disease that delayed his recovery from back surgery, contributing to prolonged disability payments. The Bureau rejected Fairfieldâs application as âinsufficient to establish cardiac disease as a pre-existing condition.â Fairfield appealed the Bureauâs decision multiple times. With every appeal, Fairfield added additional doctorâs reports and Bureau datasheets to support its argument that hypertension is a cardiac disease. The court of appeals eventually denied Fairfieldâs appeal and application for a writ of mandamus. The appellate court found that the Bureau had exclusive authority to weigh the evidence Fairfield submitted, and the Bureau could find Fairfieldâs evidence insufficient to prove hypertension was a cardiac disease. Fairfield appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Court agreed with the Bureauâs and appellate courtâs decisions. The Court affirmed the lower courtâs judgment.

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Josephine Centorbi died intestate in 2007. At the time of her death, Ms. Centorbi received Medicaid benefits. Ms. Centorbiâs sister, Dianne Fiorille administered the estate, and acting without counsel, applied to relieve the estate from administration. When she filed the application, Ms. Fiorille did not check the box on the form to attest that the decedent was over 55 years old and received Medicaid assistance. In addition, as administrator, Ms. Fiorille failed to file some other forms necessary to notify both the probate court and the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) of the decedentâs death. The probate court granted Ms. Fiorilleâs application to relieve the estate from administration on the same day it was filed. Two years later, ODJFS learned of Ms. Centorbiâs death. It filed an application to vacate the probate courtâs order, but its application was denied. The probate court held that because Ms. Fiorille indicated that no notice was required (in the form of the omitted check box), ODJFSâs application was time barred. The appellate court affirmed the probate courtâs decision. The Supreme Court found that failing to check the box on the initial relief-from-administration form tolled the statute of limitations. Without the check, the Medicaid program had not been officially notified of the decedentâs death. The Court reversed the appellate courtâs decision and remanded the case to the probate court for further proceedings.