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March 12, 2015: Deadlines. JEANNE RAYPHAND

Most people are familiar with statutes of limitations, which set time limits for bringing a civil action in court. See 7 C.M.C. § 2501 et seq. For example, a civil action for assault and battery must be commenced within two years after the cause of action accrues. An exception to this rule is that “[i]f the person entitled to a cause of action is a minor or is insane or is imprisoned when the cause of action first accrues, the action may be commenced with the time limits in [Chapter 5 of Title 7 of the Commonwealth Code] after the disability is removed.” 7 C.M.C. § 2506.

It is important to be aware of deadlines when one is applying for or being denied government benefits.

In response to an application for vocational rehabilitation services, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation is required to determine eligibility “within a reasonable period of time not to exceed 60 calendar days.” OVR Program Services Policy and Procedures Manual, Section 8. And “[a]fter determination of eligibility, Counselor shall develop an individualized plan for employment (IPE) within 60 work days.” OVR Program Services Policy and Procedure Manual, Section 16.

Time limits also apply in the event that an applicant disputes or is aggrieved by a decision of OVR. An applicant may request a fair hearing in writing not later than 60 calendar days after receiving notice of the disputed determination. Within 30 days of the disputed determination, an applicant may request an informal Alternative Dispute Resolution. OVR Program Services Policy and Procedures Manual, Section 26.

The applicant may also contact the Client Assistance Program at the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems, Inc. for assistance.

Similar time limits apply when requesting the Public School System for an individual initial evaluation before the provision of special education and related services for a child with a disability. NMIAC 60-50-300.301 (60 days to complete initial evaluation); NMIAC 60-50-300.323 (30 days after determination of eligibility to meet to develop an IEP).

Particularly critical for applicants of government benefits are the time limits for appealing a denial or termination of benefits. Carefully read any notice that an application for benefits has been denied or that benefits are being terminated. Take notice of the time limits for appealing the decision in order to avoid the loss of your claim. Generally a request for reconsideration of a denial of Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI, or Supplemental Security Income, SSI, must be filed within 60 days. However, when a benefit is being terminated, a special time limit of 10 days may apply to allow the continuation of benefits pending appeal. On the other hand, a time limit of 30 days is generally applicable for an adverse decision of the Northern Marianas Retirement Fund.

If you need assistance, contact NMPASI at (670) 235-7273; (670) 235-7274; (670) 235-7275 (fax); (670) 235-7278 (tty); NMPASI may be able to assist through one of its programs, such as Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness, or PAIMI; Protection & Advocacy for Traumatic Brain Injury, or PATBI; Protection & Advocacy for Developmental Disabilities, or PADD; and Protection & Advocacy for Individual Rights, or PAIR.Jeanne Rayphand Special to the Saipan Tribune

Jeanne Rayphand is legal counsel of the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. This article is an unsolicited and unpaid contribution by the author.