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Encarnacion ex rel. George v. Astrue

568 F.3d 72 (2009)

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Encarnacion ex rel. George v. Astrue

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

568 F.3d 72 (2009)

Facts

Encarnacion (plaintiff) represented a class of children in a first case in federal district court challenging policies promulgated by the Commissioner of Social Security, Michael Astrue (defendant). Encarnacion claimed the policies violated the Social Security Act’s (SSA) requirement that the administration consider the combined effect of all of an individual’s impairments. Encarnacion also claimed that the policies violated a nearly identical regulation. Particularly, Encarnacion challenged the commissioner’s policy prohibiting the administration from combining less-than-marked functional limitations across domains to amount to a marked limitation and the policy preventing the administration from adjusting the level of limitation in one domain to reflect the impact of the limitation in another domain. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the commissioner. The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment after finding the commissioner’s regulations sufficiently flexible to adhere to the SSA. The circuit left open the possibility for a suit alleging that the regulations did not allow the administration to adjust the level of a claimant’s limitations across domains. Encarnacion filed such a suit for a second case in district court. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the commissioner in the second case after finding that the commissioner was not required to engage in cross-domain combination of less-than-marked limitations. Encarnacion appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McLaughlin, J.)

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