Johnson v. United States Railroad Retirement Board
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
969 F.2d 1082 (D.C. Cir. 1992)
Nancy Johnson (plaintiff) was the wife of a former railroad employee. Beginning September 10, 1976, Johnson received a spousal annuity pursuant to the Railroad Act. The Railroad Act provided for continued spousal benefits as long as the spouse had a child under the age of 18 in her care. The Railroad Act stated that the amount of the annuity would be calculated in accordance with the method of calculating benefits under the Social Security Act (SSA). In 1981, Congress amended the SSA to lower the age for termination of children’s benefits from 18 to 16. Congress did not make a similar amendment to the Railroad Act. The United States Railroad Retirement Board (Board) (defendant) interpreted the Railroad Act and the SSA as requiring the Board to terminate children’s benefits under the Railroad Act at the age of 16 as well. The United States Courts of Appeals for the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits rejected this interpretation. The Board did not appeal to the United States Supreme Court nor request clarification from Congress on how to interpret the statutes. Rather, the Board continued to apply its interpretation at the administrative level, in direct conflict with appellate precedent. In 1986, the Board informed Johnson that she would become ineligible for a portion of her benefits once her youngest child turned 16. Johnson appealed the decision until it reached the Board, which affirmed the partial denial of her benefits. Johnson filed a class action in district court challenging the Board’s interpretation and its policy of intracircuit nonacquiescence. The district court dismissed the action because the Railroad Act vests exclusive jurisdiction to the courts of appeals. Johnson appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mikva, C.J.)
Concurrence/Dissent (Buckley, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 176,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.