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MARCUS v. HECKLER
October 21, 1985
ESTHER MARCUS, MICHELLE W., BY HER NEXT FRIEND MARIE W., LARRY RHYNE, AND CONSUELO ALLEN, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
MARGARET HECKLER, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moran, District Judge.
Plaintiffs challenge step three in the five-step sequential evaluation
process the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) has
established for evaluating claims for disability benefits under the Old
Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI or Title II) program and
the Supplemental Security Income (SSI or Title XVI) program of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. and 1381 et seq.
According to regulations promulgated by the Secretary, the first three
steps of the five-step process are:
[Step 1] . . . If you are working and the work you are
doing is substantial gainful activity, we will find
that you are not disabled regardless of your medical
condition or your age, education, and work
[Step 2] . . . If you do not have any impairment or
combination of impairments which significantly limits
your physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, we will find that you do not have a severe
impairment and are, therefore, not disabled. We will
not consider your age, education, and work
experience. However, it is possible for you to have a
period of disability for a time in the past even
though you do not have a severe impairment.
[Step 3] . . . If you have an impairment(s) which
meets the duration requirement and is listed in
Appendix 1 or is equal to a listed impairment(s), we
will find you disabled without considering your age,
education, and work experience.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b)-(d), 416.920(b)-(d) (1984) (emphasis
added).*fn1 Plaintiffs claim that the Secretary is failing to make
"medical equivalence findings" as required by these regulations.*fn2
The named plaintiffs filed claims under the various Social Security
disability programs: adult SSI (Larry Rhyne); child's disability
(Michelle W.); widow's disability (Consuelo Allen), and surviving
divorced spouse (Esther Marcus). In each case the Secretary denied
disability benefits. Plaintiffs invoke the court's jurisdiction under
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) and under 28 U.S.C. § 1361.
Presently before the court is plaintiffs' motion for class
certification under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 23(a) and (b)(2).
The class is defined as
All persons who [reside] or have resided in Illinois:
(a) who have claimed or are claiming initial or
continued disabled widow(er)s', disabled surviving
spouse's, disabled child's, or disabled workers'
benefits under the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability
Insurance Benefits program and/or disability benefits
under the Supplemental Security Income program of the
Social Security Act; and
(b) whose claim for such benefits was or is being
evaluated under the Department of Health and Human
Services' (HHS) Secretary's sequential evaluation of
disability, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520 and 416.920; and
(c) whose claims were or are denied initially or on
any administrative appeal by a decision on or ...
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