Heckler v. Campbell

LOCATION: New Jersey General Assembly

DOCKET NO.: 81-1983
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 461 US 458 (1983)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1983
DECIDED: May 16, 1983

John H. Garvey - on behalf of the Petitioner
Ruben Nazario - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Heckler v. Campbell

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1983 in Heckler v. Campbell

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear argument first this morning in Schweiker against Campbell.

Mr. Garvey, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

John H. Garvey:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court, the issue in this case is the validity of regulations governing claims under the Social Security Act for disability in cases that can't be decided on the basis of medical evidence alone.

In 1979, the respondent who was then 51 years old applied for disability benefits under Title II claiming a back problem and high blood pressure.

Warren E. Burger:

Total impairment?

John H. Garvey:

I believe so.

She had been born in Panama where she was educated through the sixth grade, and moved to the United States in 1964.

Between that time and the time of filing her claim, she had worked as a maid in a hotel and as a seamstress and had injured her back moving a laundry truck.

Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration by the State agency, and she then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

The Administrative Law Judge took evidence on her medical claims, on her back impairment and her other claims, and concluded that she was capable of doing light work as that term is defined in the regulations which are at issue in this case.

The Administrative Law Judge also took evidence on respondent's age and education, and on her work experience and training, and after consulting the guidelines in Appendix 2 of the regulations, concluded that she was not disabled.

The respondent then sought review in the District Court which upheld the Secretary's determinations and respondent then appealed to the Second Circuit which reversed.

The Second Circuit held that in cases which can't be decided on the basis of medical evidence alone where the claimant is incapable of doing her prior work, the Secretary is required to show two things in order to find the claimant not disabled.

The first thing the court said the Secretary must demonstrate is what the claimant can do, that is to say, what kinds of physical activities like lifting and walking, and what sort of skills she may have acquired in her past work.

With respect to that issue, the Court of Appeals concluded that the Secretary's determination that respondent was capable of doing light work was supported by substantial evidence.

The Court of Appeals said that the Secretary must also introduce evidence on a second question.

The Court said that the Secretary must show what kinds of jobs are available for a person who is capable of doing what the claimant is capable of doing.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Garvey, do you interpret the Court of Appeals' decision as perhaps being based on some kind of due process, lack of notice requirement?

John H. Garvey:

I find it difficult to understand the Court of Appeals as having said that, because it made no mention of the due process clause.

Respondent contends that the Court of Appeals was concerned about giving notice to claimants of the issues which are at stake in disability hearings.

The Secretary understands the Court of Appeals to have done something more radical than that.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Short of a due process requirement of notice, what other requirement would there be?

John H. Garvey:

What other requirement might the Court--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

For notice.

John H. Garvey:

--There is also a statutory--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

--as far as this Court is concerned?

John H. Garvey:

--There is a statutory requirement of notice in Section 205(b) of the Social Security Act that provides that the Secretary must give notice and reasonable opportunity for a hearing, and the Secretary has in fact implemented that notice requirement by regulations, and there are a couple in particular.

In 20 CFR 404.938, the Secretary has provided that notice of a hearing will be mailed or served at least ten days before the hearing.

It will contain a statement of the specific issues to be decided and tell you that you may designate a person to represent you during the proceedings.

The regulations then go on to provide that once the hearing has begun, the Administrative Law Judge may consider a new issue at the hearing, that is to say, an issue not raised at the initial or reconsideration stage.