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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,
v.
MARGARET HECKLER, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Moran, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

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
  experience.
  [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.

I.

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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