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Edelman v. Commissioner of Social Sec.

May 7, 1996

HERMAN EDELMAN,

APPELLANT,

v.

COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,

APPELLEE.



An Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

D.C. No. 94-cv-03361

Before: GREENBERG, ROTH and ROSENN, Circuit Judges.

ROSENN, Circuit Judge.

District Judge: Honorable Mary Little Parell

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) March 29, 1996

Filed May 7, 1996)

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal from a grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner of Social Security *fn1 rejecting Herman Edelman's claim for social security benefits for the month of October 1993 presents the issue of the proper construction of the 1981 amendments to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) affecting the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 301 et. seq. Because we determine that the district court correctly interpreted the statute and applicable regulations, and because Edelman cannot sustain his constitutional claim, we will affirm.

The parties have agreed that the facts are not in dispute, and the issue for determination is purely legal. Herman Edelman turned sixty-two on October 3, 1993. On October 23, 1993, he applied for early social security benefits. The Social Security Commission informed him by letter on November 12 that he was entitled to such benefits as of November 1993, and began to pay him benefits. Edelman appealed this determination, asserting that his entitlement should begin as of October 1993, and not November.

In December of 1993, the Assistant Regional Commissioner of the Social Security Administration affirmed the original finding, that Edelman's benefits began as of November. Edelman requested reconsideration, which was denied. The parties then stipulated to an expedited appeals process, and Edelman filed a civil action for declaratory judgment in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. The parties each moved for summary judgment, and Edelman also moved for class certification. The district court, Judge Mary Little Parell, found that Section 202(a) of the Social Security Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 402(a) established the eligibility provisions for individuals seeking retirement benefits. After the 1981 amendments by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA), the statute provided for retirement benefits to a sixty-five year old individual in the month "within" which he or she met all of the eligibility requirements. However, sixty-two year olds seeking early retirement benefits were entitled to receive them in the month "throughout" which the requirements were met.

Because of this difference in language, the court held that early retirement benefits did not begin until the first month in which an individual had been sixty-two during the entire month. Because Edelman did not turn sixty-two until the third of the month, he was not eligible for benefits in October of 1993. Consequently, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner of Social Security and denied Edelman's two motions.

Summary judgment is proper when there are no material facts in dispute and judgment may be entered as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 56, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-32 (1986). In reviewing a district court's grant of summary judgment, we apply this same test, and our review is plenary. Erie Telecommunications, Inc. v. City of Erie, 853 F.2d 1084, 1093 (3d Cir. 1988).

The Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Section(s) 301 et. seq., provides old-age and pension benefits for persons who meet certain criteria specified in 42 U.S.C. ...


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