hearing indicates he worked back and forth across the
Canadian/United States border, mainly as a welder but most
recently as a farm laborer harvesting crops. Id., pp. 24-26.
At the hearing, he recounted his most recent employment
history as follows. He was employed as a welder at a business
located on Bailey and Clinton streets in Buffalo, New York,
from February 16 to July 10, 1977. He then worked as a welder
for National Steel Car in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from
January 1978 through October 1979. From January 1, 1980 to July
16, 1987, he was employed as a foreman at Nash Farms in
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He then worked from July 15 to
November 7, 1987, as a farm laborer picking apples at Silsby
Brothers Fruit Farms in Gasport, New York. Id. p. 132.
Claimant explained he was unable to collect unemployment for
a long stretch of time because he was paid cash and did not
participate in the social security system.
Upon a complaint for review of the Secretary's final
decision, relevant inquiry is limited to determining whether
the Secretary's decision is supported by substantial evidence.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and § 1383(c); Richard v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971).
The Secretary has moved for judgment on the pleadings
asserting that the claimant's allegations of near total
disability are not supported by the medical evidence or
findings on the record before this court. Although defendant
concedes that claimant cannot perform his past relevant work as
a welder or farm laborer, the Secretary claims this alone does
not make claimant disabled under the Act. After considering
claimant's age, education, and residual functional capacity,
the ALJ found him not disabled under the Medical-Vocational
Claimant contends the decision of the Secretary denying him
SSI benefits is not supported by substantial evidence. He
insists he would have been found permanently and completely
disabled if the Secretary had not mechanically and incorrectly
set his age classification as that of a person approaching
After a careful review of the record, defendant's motion for
a judgment on the pleadings is denied. This case is remanded to
the Secretary, who is directed to classify claimant as a person
of advanced age and to compute SSI benefits accordingly. The
ALJ made formulaic application of claimant's age in conjunction
with the pertinent medical-vocational factors provided in 20
C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, as they relate to his
ability to do light work. The grid at Table 2 directs the ALJ
to factor in age, education, and previous work experience in
order to determine whether a claimant is disabled under the
Act. Under the relevant Social Security Regulations, advanced
age is defined as age 55 and over, while a person closely
approaching advanced age is defined as age 50-54. The advanced
age category reflects the point at which age can be expected to
be an adverse consideration in determining a claimant's
vocational adaptability to a new and different type of work. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1563.
Claimant validly protests the ALJ's determination that his
age falls into the classification of a person closely
approaching advanced age. Claimant was 54 years, 8 months, and
28 days at the time of the hearing, literally falling into the
category of a person closely approaching advanced age. However,
claimant was only 3 months and 2 days away from being
considered a person of advanced age. For claimant having an
advanced age category instead of a closely approaching advanced
age category is the difference between being disabled under
Rules 202.01 or 202.02 or being not disabled under Rules 202.11
or 202.12 of the Act. 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
2, Table 2.
Case law focusing on this narrow issue is decisive.
Mechanical application of the age criteria of Medical-
Vocational Guidelines is not appropriate in borderline cases.
Roush v. Heckler, 632 F. Supp. 710, 712 (S.D.Ohio 1984). See
also Gory v. Schweiker, 712 F.2d 929, 930- 31 (4th Cir.
1983) (tables should only serve as guidelines). 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563. "We will not apply these age categories mechanically
in a borderline situation." In the Roush case, a 54- year-old
man had worked one job for 20 years and could not physically
perform that job any longer. Under the Medical- Vocational
Guidelines, he was classified as a person closely approaching
advanced age and found not disabled. The district court
remanded the case to the Secretary to evaluate whether Roush
should be classified as a person of advanced age. After the
Secretary declined to classify Roush as a person of advanced
age, the district court then directed the Secretary to
specifically apply the rules of Medical-Vocational Guidelines
in a manner permitting claimant to be classified as a person of
advanced age and consequently find Roush disabled.
This action involves a borderline case quite similar to
Roush. In both cases, the claimants were 54-year-old men with
very limited job experience. In the instant case, claimant had
worked at only two different jobs in the last 20- 30 years,
working as either a welder or a farm laborer. He can no longer
do either one of these jobs. As a person only 3 months and 2
days shy of 55 years, or advanced age, at the time of the
hearing, he was at the point where age could be expected to
adversely affect his vocational adaptability to work differing
from that of his past experience. Therefore, this case is
remanded to the Secretary for the calculation of benefits.
Claimant shall be evaluated as a person of advanced age.
Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied.