Valent v. Commissioner of Social Security, No. 17-2109 (6th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
The Commissioner of Social Security imposed an assessment of $51,410 and a civil monetary penalty of $75,000 on Valent after the Social Security Administration found that Valent failed to disclose that she had engaged in paid work activity while receiving Social Security disability benefits. Valent argued that 42 U.S.C. 421(m)(1)(B) prohibits the Administration from considering her work activity in determining whether she continues to be eligible as a disability-benefits recipient and that her failure to disclose her paid work activity was, therefore, not a material omission, and that even if her failure to disclose her paid work activity was a material omission, she did not have actual or constructive knowledge that her omission was material. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Valent’s argument that the Administration can consider “substantial gainful activity” but not “work” or “work activity.” The Administration’s interpretation is a permissible construction of the statute and Valent’s construction “would be impossible to implement.” The Administration would be unable to examine a beneficiary’s substantial gainful activity without considering the beneficiary’s work activity that generates profit or pay. Valent had constructive notice that her failure to report her work activity that generated profit or pay was a material omission that misled the Administration.