Appeal From the United States District Court For the District of New Jersey - Camden D.C. Civil No. 83-3338.
Before: ADAMS, HUNTER, and MANSMANN, Circuit Judges
1. Appellee, Paul Baeder brought this action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey under § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (1982), to review a final determination of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, denying his application for disability and disability insurance benefits. Baeder applied for benefits on November 17, 1982. The Secretary denied him benefits both initially and on reconsideration. Baeder requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). After a de novo consideration of the case, the ALJ ruled on May 27, 1983, that Baeder was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. The ALJ's ruling became the final decision of the Secretary when the Appeals Council approved it on July 21, 1983. Baeder then commenced the present suit in the district court to review the Secretary's decision finding him not disabled, as well as to determine the validity of the regulation pursuant to which the finding was made. The district court invalidated the regulation and remanded Baeder's case to the Secretary for further proceedings.
2. For thirty years, from 1950 through 1980, Baeder worked as a glass bottle machine operator at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company plant. The job required Baeder to lift up to 35 pounds frequently during each work day. The job also required continual bending, reaching and climbing as well as constant standing and walking. Because of developing health problems in the last few years of his employ at Owens-Illinois, Baeder did less strenuous work, such as "spare boy" and janitor. Baeder left the company in 1980, allegedly due to his physical impairments.
3. The ALJ evaluated Baeder's claim for disability using the five-step process set out in the regulations promulgated by the Secretary to implement the Social Security Act. 20 C.F.R. 404.1520, 404.1521 (1985). The pertinent regulations provide as follows:
(a) Steps in evaluating disability. We consider all material facts to determine whether you are disabled. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will determine that you are not disabled. If you are not doing substantial gainful activity, we will first consider your physical or mental impairment(s). Your impairment must be severe and meet the duration requirement before we can find you to be disabled. We follow a set order to determine whether you are disabled. We review any current work activity, the severity of your impairment(s), your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience. If we can find that you are disabled or not disabled at any point in the review, we do not review further.
(b) If you are working. 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.
(c) You must have a severe impairment. 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 now have a severe impairment.
(d) When your impairment meets or equals a listed impairment in Appendix 1. If you have an impairment which meets the duration requirement and is listed in Appendix 1, or is equal to a listed impairments, we will find you disabled without considering your age, education, and work experience.
(e) Your impairment(s) must prevent you from doing past relevant work. If we cannot make a decision based on your current work activity or on medical facts alone, and you have a severe impairment(s), we then review your residual functional capacity and the physical and mental demands of the work you have done in the past. If you can still do this kind of work, we will find that you are not disabled.
(f) Your impairment(s) must prevent you from doing any other work. (1) If you cannot do any work you have done in the past because you have a severe impairment(s), we will consider your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and past work experience to see if you can do other work. If you cannot, we will find you disabled. (2) If you have only a marginal education, and long work experience (i.e., 35 years of more) where you only did ...