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DELONEY v. CALIFANO

February 7, 1980

ISAAC DELONEY ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOSEPH CALIFANO, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parsons, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brought this case as a class action to challenge alleged "illegal" delays in processing Social Security disability benefit claims. Such delays assertedly violate Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 555(b), (e), and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, inasmuch as:

    (i) over half of the Illinois applicants do not
  receive a determination on an initial application
  within 60 days;
    (ii) half of the applicants who succeed at the
  reconsideration (first hearing) stage wait more
  than 90 days;
    (iii) an applicant waits between seven or
  fourteen months from the time of a hearing
  request to a decision and over two months for
  implementation of same.
    (iv) 40 per cent of those requesting Appeals
  Council review must wait more than 90 days for a
  ruling; and
    (v) defendant, Secretary of Health, Education
  and Welfare, has failed to promulgate through the
  Social Security Administration any regulation
  setting forth reasonable maximum time limits for
  each of the above stages.

In a memorandum opinion and order entered August 16, 1977, this Court concluded that subject matter jurisdiction was available pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and in the alternative, pursuant to a mandamus action under 28 U.S.C. § 1361. The Court also reserved final ruling on cross motions for summary judgment pending an evidentiary hearing at which defendant was to bear the burden of either:

    (1) presenting new justifications for the time
  delays in processing Title II claims; or
    (2) presenting evidence of progress made during
  1976 and 1977 in reducing these delays, so as to
  meet a 90 day maximum goal at each of the four
  stages in the "open files" process.

In proceedings held before me on June 23, 1978, the Court found that defendant had met its burden by showing some progress in decreasing administrative delay and by presenting credible justification for the delays. Accordingly the Court permitted a maximum time limit of 120 days for each stage in Title II cases for a six month period. At the end of this time, defendant retained the burden of presenting justifications for processing delays or of presenting evidence of progress made during the six months.

On December 27, 1978 defendant filed a six month report pursuant to this order. At that time, the Court permitted the Secretary to discontinue monitoring the time for processing disability benefit claims ...


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