July 11

Guardianship Hearing Must Be in the Presence of the Alleged Incapacitated Individual (N.Y. App.)

Gwendolyn R., an alleged incapacitated person (AIP), appealed an order appointing a guardian over her person and property. Although Gwendolyn informed the court evaluator of her intent to be present at the underlying hearing, she notified her counsel at the last minute that she was ill. Nevertheless, the Superior Court conducted the hearing, finding that Gwendolyn had waived her attendance. Gwendolyn appealed. The New York Appellate Division held that the state guardianship statute requires that a hearing to determine the appointment of a guardian must be conducted in the presence of the AIP, including at the AIP’s place of residence if necessary. This allows the court to observe firsthand the AIP. The appellate court reversed and remanded with instructions to conduct a hearing at which Gwendolyn was afforded the opportunity to be present.

In re Banks, 2016 WL 1453967 (N.Y. App. Div. First Dept. April 14, 2016)

July 7

Medicare Premiums Are Not Deducted from Annual Income When Determining Eligibility for Medicare Part D “Extra Help” (E.D. N.Y.)

Maria Parra, appearing pro se, appealed a final agency decision denying her application for Medicare Part D “Extra Help” benefits. Extra Help provides eligible low-income individuals assistance with their Medicare Part D drug plan costs. To be eligible, an individual must have income below 150% of the federal poverty line applicable to the relevant family size and meet certain resource requirements. Parra argued that she was eligible for Extra Help because the $104.90 monthly Medicare premium deducted from her Social Security disability benefits effectively reduced her annual income to below the 150% eligibility threshold. The federal district court for the Eastern District of New York granted the Commissioner’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court held that Medicare premiums are not subtracted from an applicant’s annual income when determining Extra Help eligibility. Moreover, even if the premium amounts were excluded, the Commissioner’s findings were supported by substantial evidence that both Parra’s income and assets still exceeded the program requirements.

Parra v. Colvin, 2016 WL 755629 (E.D. N.Y. Feb. 25, 2016) (unpublished)