Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. D.C. No. CV-87-1004-E. William B. Enright, District Judge, Presiding. This Opinion Substituted by Court for Withdrawn Opinion of June 7, 1991
Before: James R. Browning, Dorothy W. Nelson and Stephen Reinhardt, Circuit Judges.
Appellant C.M. Higbee appeals pro se the district court's summary judgment dismissal of his action for reinstatement of Supplemental Security Income ("S.S.I.") benefits for which he had been declared ineligible by the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary"). The district court upheld the denial on the grounds that Higbee failed to maintain a "factual abode" in the United States and had countable resources in excess of the allowable limit.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Social Security Administration ("S.S.A.") personnel stated that C.M. Higbee, during a continuing eligibility review for disability benefits on July 22, 1986, informed them he resided in Mexico and traveled to the United States once every 30 days. They stated Higbee believed this travel was "the only requirement to make it legal," although he disputed the S.S.A.'s right to know where he lived. S.S.A. personnel also stated Higbee made similar assertions on July 28, 1986 concerning his residency.
Higbee subsequently denied he ever claimed to be a resident of Mexico. He submitted documents to the S.S.A. which indicated his mobile home was listed for sale in the United States. Other documents indicated a street address in Pine Valley, California, and a post office box in Guatay, California. A temporary driver's license listed a street address in El Cajon, California, but Higbee asserted this is merely an "office" address in an industrial complex.
Higbee also reported his mobile home was in storage and he was living in the wilderness. He listed his landlord as the United States Department of Agriculture and indicated he paid no rent. S.S.A. personnel advised Higbee his failure to maintain a "factual abode" in the United States, or to submit proof thereof, rendered him ineligible for S.S.I. benefits. This determination was upheld on reconsideration.
On November 24, 1986, the case was reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge ("A.L.J.") de novo. Higbee, appearing without counsel, refused to state his address, first claiming his statements as to his residence were in writing and then "taking the Fifth Amendment" with regard to any further Discussion of residence. He testified he had applied for political asylum outside the United States. He also stated his mobile home had a value assessed by the county of $6,700 and the only offer he had received had been for substantially less.
The A.L.J. held Higbee was not eligible for continuing S.S.I. benefits because (1) he had not established he was a resident of the United States, and (2) he had resources in excess of the allowable limit because of the value of the mobile home. This became the final decision of the Secretary when it was upheld by the Appeals Council on May 13, 1987.
Higbee sought review of this decision in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. The district court granted summary judgment to the Secretary, reasoning the Secretary's findings concerning residency and excess resources were supported by substantial evidence. Higbee filed a timely appeal to this court pro se.
The claimant is a mentally ill person whose disability benefits were cut off because he refused to provide information verifying his continued residence in the United States. The Social Security Act requires a recipient of S.S.I. benefits to be a resident of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(1)(B). Recipients are responsible for providing documentation and other evidence to establish that they fulfill residency and other eligibility requirements. See 20 C.F.R. 416.200; see also 20 C.F.R. § 416.708(a) (stating that S.S.I. recipients must keep the S.S.A. apprised of their current residence ...