I-5-4-21.McDonald, et al., v. Bowen

Table of Contents
I Background
II Adjudication of Cases
III Questions

ISSUED: September 3, 1986


This temporary instruction (TI) applies only to cases involving persons residing in the State of Massachusetts. It is being issued nationally for informational purposes only. This TI obsoletes Interim Circular No. 194.

I. Background

On July 17, 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued an order reversing the district court's decision barring the Secretary from applying the “not severe” regulations and requiring SSA to reopen the claims of all the members of the class certified by the district court. The circuit court noted that under Social Security Ruling 85-28, SSA will follow a de minimis policy for determining that impairments are “not severe” and that benefits will not be denied to an applicant who cannot perform his or her past work or other substantial gainful activity. The circuit court upheld the district court order invalidating the Secretary's policy prior to December 1, 1984 of not considering the combined effects of multiple nonsevere impairments, and remanded the case to the district court for appropriate action.

II. Adjudication of Cases

All disability cases in Massachusetts should now be evaluated under the complete sequential evaluation procedure including the “not severe” step. Social Security Ruling 85-28 should be followed when applying the “not severe” step.

Since the circuit court upheld the district court's invalidation of SSA policy from June 28, 1984 to December 1, 1984 (the effective date of the 1984 amendments) on the failure to consider the combined effect of “nonsevere” impairments, action is required to comply with the court findings in this matter. Therefore, all claimants who were denied under the policy in effect during that five-month period and have exhausted their administrative remedies (i.e., had an Appeals Council decision or an AC denial of the request for review of an ALJ decision from June 28, 1984 through November 30, 1984) will have their claims reevaluated under the policy in the Disability Benefits Reform Act and SSR 85-28. We will further advise you as information becomes available concerning the identification of such cases.

III. Questions

Hearing Office personnel may call the Regional Office. Regional Office personnel may call the Division of Field Practices and Procedures in the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge on FTS 305-0022. Headquarters personnel may call DLAI on 305-0708.