Bowen v. Yuckert

LOCATION: Harris County Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 85-1409
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-1987)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 482 US 137 (1987)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1987
DECIDED: Jun 08, 1987

Carole F. Grossman - on behalf of the respondent
Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Bowen v. Yuckert

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1987 in Bowen v. Yuckert

Well, some of the statistics cited by the respondent don't bear that out, that is, that in those jurisdictions that did strike down the Secretary's regulation the grant rates went up something like 35 percent.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

The severity threshold comes not simply from the word "impairment" but by reason of impairment in the basic definition, which--

Well, they isolate on what happened at the ALJ stage.

William H. Rehnquist:

Your time has expired, Mr. Kneedler.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

In the Smith class action in District Court in California, for example, at the initial and reconsideration stages there was a difference in only 6 percent of the cases.

--Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.

It is also important to bear in mind that if the decisionmaker reflexively applies the vocational guidelines then you might find people disabled because the vocational guidelines are expressly premised on the existence of a severe impairment.

William H. Rehnquist:

The case is submitted.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

It says so in the charts that describe the matrix of various factors.

I don't understand what you have just said.

Say it again.

Edwin S. Kneedler:

If someone is found disabled at Step 5 of the sequential evaluation process by considering his age, education, and work experience, the regulations are drafted in a way that you are only supposed to get there if the claimant has first been found to have a severe impairment.

If the decisionmaker applies those regulations without having made that threshold determination, you will get improper decisions at Step 5 because they are not predicated on the existence of a severe impairment.

I would like to reserve the balance of my time.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Kneedler.

We will hear now from you, Ms. Grossman.

Carole F. Grossman:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, Congress created the disability insurance program with a specific goal in mind.

That was to provide benefits to fully insured workers whose medically determinable impairments prevented them from working.

The Secretary has designed through the severity regulation a mechanism which prevents many disabled workers from establishing their eligibility for benefits.

The Court of Appeals as well as ten other Courts of Appeals have found the Secretary's construction and use of the severity regulation is illegal in that it denies claimants the opportunity to prove that their medically determinable impairments in fact prevent them from working.

Those were in individual cases?

Carole F. Grossman:

Some were in individual cases, and some were class actions.

There are classes--

But have other Courts of Appeals declared the regulation invalid on its face?

Carole F. Grossman:

--I take issue with the reading that even the Ninth Circuit declared--

Well, has any Court of Appeals then held the regulation invalid on its face?

Carole F. Grossman:

--All the Courts of Appeals who have invalidated the regulation have found that it is invalid by its terms as well as by its application.

So your answer is yes?

Carole F. Grossman:

Yes, it--

It is Just invalid?