Yang v. Shalala

22 F.3d 213 (1994)

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Yang v. Shalala

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
22 F.3d 213 (1994)

  • Written by Nicole Gray , JD


Lia Yang (plaintiff) was born on September 24, 1919, in Laos with no birth record. Laotian law, passed in 1955, allowed Yang to get an official birth record in 1962. Yang fled Laos when it was invaded and left all of her possessions behind. Yang’s birth year was recorded as 1929 when she entered a refugee camp and when she entered the United States on her immigration papers and her application for a Social Security number. Yang later obtained her Laotian birth record and had all of her records updated to reflect her 1919 birthdate. Yang applied for and was granted Social Security income (SSI) benefits based on her Laotian birth record. While receiving benefits, Yang moved to California, where she applied for a replacement Social Security card. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) California office questioned Yang’s birth record, had it translated, but noted no irregularities. However, the SSA terminated Yang’s benefits because she had not reached the age of 65. Yang requested reconsideration but was denied. Yang then requested de novo review by an administrative-law judge (ALJ), offering her birth record, a California Superior Court order, a declaration from a former Laotian judge, her own testimony, and her son’s testimony in support of her 1919 birthdate. The ALJ affirmed the termination, finding Yang’s initial application for her Social Security number determinative that she was born in 1929, although the application was not in the record. Yang filed suit in United States district court, challenging the ALJ’s decision, which was the final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala (defendant). A magistrate recommended that the case be remanded and that full faith and credit be given to Yang’s California Superior Court order. On remand, the appeals council recommended that Yang’s benefits be reinstated. Reinstatement was ordered accordingly. Yang applied for attorney’s fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and the secretary defended, claiming her position was substantially justified. Yang’s application was denied as untimely. Yang appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wiggins, J.)

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