SSR 87-18c: SECTION 210(a)(5) OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT (42 U.S.C. 410(a)(5)) COVERAGE OF WORK FOR U.S. INSTRUMENTALITIES -- EMPLOYEES OF THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS
20 CFR 404.1018
Vacchio v. Heckler, 794 F.2d 154 (4th Cir. 1986)
- The Secretary determined that the claimant's service in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from 1937 to 1941 was not covered employment and denied the claimant's application for old-age insurance benefits (OAIB) because he had only 13 of the 27 quarters of coverage necessary for him to be fully insured as required by the Social Security Act. The Secretary's decision was upheld by the district court. On appeal, the Court of Appeals noted that the CCC was created by an act of Congress, was directly administered by the Executive Branch, was wholly funded through the Federal Government, and that levels of compensation for services performed in the CCC were determined by the President. In view of these characteristics, the Court found that it was beyond dispute that the CCC was an instrumentality of the Government. Therefore, the claimant did not acquire any quarters of coverage during the period in question on the basis of his service in the CCC because that employment was excluded from coverage under section 210(b)(5) of the Social Security Act of 1935. Consequently, the Court of Appeals concluded that the claimant lacked the requisite number of quarters of coverage for a fully insured status and thus, was not entitled to OAIB. Although the claimant asserted that the Secretary was bound by the position of the former Civil Service Commission (CSC) that his status as a CCC "enrollee" was not Federal employment for purposes of the civil service retirement system, the Court saw no reason to bind the Secretary to that position because the evidence indicated that the issues considered by the CSC were somewhat different from those considered under the Social Security Act. In concluding further that the Secretary's construction of the applicable statutory provisions was reasonable, the Court of Appeals held that the claimant's service in the CCC was not covered employment for purposes of determining entitlement to OAIB and affirmed the district court's decision which upheld the Secretary's denial of benefits to the claimant.
Pasquale Vacchio appeals the decision of the district court affirming the denial of retirement insurance benefits by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Because we conclude that the Secretary's construction of the relevant statutory provisions is a reasonable one, we affirm the denial of benefits to Vacchio. See Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance v. Heckler, _____ U.S. _____, 105 S.Ct. 2210, 2215, 85 L.Ed.2d 577 (1985).
The sole issue here is whether plaintiff had the requisite number of quarters of coverage to attain fully insured status. Under the terms of 42 U.S.C. § 414(a)(1), plaintiff required 27 quarters of coverage to attain such status. An Administrative Law Judge concluded that plaintiff had only 13 quarters of coverage and accordingly denied benefits. The ALJ determined that plaintiff's service to the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1937 to 1941 was not covered employment since the plaintiff was performing services for an agency or instrumentality of the federal government. It is from that determination that plaintiff appeals.
The statutory provisions define "quarter of coverage" as a calendar quarter in which an individual was paid $50 or more in wages or was credited with at least $100 in self-employment income. 42 U.S.C. § 413(a)(2)(A)(i). Under the applicable provisions, wages were defined as "all remuneration for employment" paid to an individual after January 1, 1937. Act of August 10, 1939, Pub.L. No. 76-379, § 209(a), 53 Stat. 1360, 1373. "Employment" was any service performed within the United States by an employee for his employer, except "[s]ervice performed in the employ of the United States Government or of an instrumentality of the United States." Act of August 14, 1935 Pub.L. No. 74-271, § 210(b)(5), 49 Stat. 620, 625. Because it is undisputed that Vacchio served as a common law employee of the CCC from 1935 to 1941, the status of the CCC is dispositive. If the CCC was an instrumentality of the United States, Vacchio falls short of the requisite number of quarters of coverage.
The CCC was created by an act of Congress, "for the purpose of providing employment, as well as vocational training . . . through the performance of useful public work in connection with the conservation and development of the natural resources of the United States. . . ." CCC Act of 1937, Pub.L. No. 75-163, 50 Stat. 319 (1937). As noted by the ALJ, it was "directly administered by the Executive Branch of the federal government and wholly funded through the federal government." Levels of compensation for services performed in the CCC were determined by the President. Pub.L. No. 75-163, § 9, 50 Stat. 320. It is beyond dispute that these characteristics render the CCC an instrumentality of the government. See also Siclari v. Folsom, 251 F.2d 365 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 358 U.S. 844, 79 S.Ct. 68, 3 L.Ed.2d 78 (1958).
Vacchio asserts that the Secretary is bound by the position of the former Civil Service Commission that his status as a CCC "enrollee" was not federal employment for purposes of the civil service retirement system. Evidence indicates, however, that the issues considered by the CSC were somewhat different than those considered under the Social Security Act. We see no reason to bind the Secretary to the position of another agency in another context. Because we conclude that the Secretary's construction of applicable statutory provisions was reasonable, we affirm the denial of benefits to appellant.
 The ALJ also suggested that payments received from the CCC were not wages in any event because they constituted remuneration connected with training or unemployment relief. Our resolution of this dispute does not require us to consider this alternative ground for the result reached below.
 We note that no Social Security withholding was subtracted from plaintiff's earnings from the CCC.