Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062 (8th Cir. 2012): Requiring Vocational Specialist (VS) or Vocational Expert (VE) Evidence When an Individual has a Severe Mental Impairment(s)-Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 29473-29475 [2014-11841]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 99 / Thursday, May 22, 2014 / Notices regarding access to information concerning the composition and/or changes to each Fund’s portfolio. In addition, the Funds’ Reporting Authority will implement and maintain, or be subject to, procedures designed to prevent the use and dissemination of material non-public information regarding the actual components of each Fund’s portfolio. B. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement on Burden on Competition The Exchange does not believe that the proposed rule change will impose any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purpose of the Act. The Exchange notes that the proposed rule change will facilitate the listing and trading of additional types of actively-managed exchange-traded products that will enhance competition with respect to such products among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace. C. Self-Regulatory Organization’s Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants, or Others No written comments were solicited or received with respect to the proposed rule change. III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action Within 45 days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period up to 90 days of such date (i) as the Commission may designate if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the self-regulatory organization consents, the Commission will: (A) by order approve or disapprove the proposed rule change, or (B) institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES IV. Solicitation of Comments Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods: Number SR–NYSEArca–2014–57 on the subject line. Paper Comments • Send paper comments in triplicate to Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549–1090. All submissions should refer to File Number SR–NYSEArca–2014–57. This file number should be included on the subject line if email is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission’s Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/ rules/sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for Web site viewing and printing in the Commission’s Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549 on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR– NYSEArca–2014–57, and should be submitted on or before June 12, 2014. For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.68 Kevin M. O’Neill, Deputy Secretary. [FR Doc. 2014–11831 Filed 5–21–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8011–01–P Electronic Comments • Use the Commission’s Internet comment form (http://www.sec.gov/ rules/sro.shtml); or • Send an email to rulecomments@sec.gov. Please include File VerDate Mar<15>2010 21:05 May 21, 2014 Jkt 232001 68 17 PO 00000 CFR 200.30–3(a)(12). Frm 00077 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 29473 SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION [Social Security Acquiescence Ruling (AR) 14–1(8); Docket No. SSA–2014–0008] Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062 (8th Cir. 2012): Requiring Vocational Specialist (VS) or Vocational Expert (VE) Evidence When an Individual has a Severe Mental Impairment(s)—Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act Social Security Administration. Notice of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling (AR). AGENCY: ACTION: We are publishing this Social Security AR in accordance with 20 CFR 402.35(b)(2), 404.985(a), (b), and 416.1485(a), (b). DATES: Effective Date: May 22, 2014. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marc Epstein, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Program Law, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235–6401, (410) 965–8122, or TTY 410–966–5609, for information about this notice. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national toll-free number, 1–800–772–1213 or TTY 1– 800–325–0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, at http:// www.socialsecurity.gov. SUMMARY: An AR explains how we will apply a holding in a decision of a United States Court of Appeals that we determine conflicts with our interpretation of a provision of the Social Security Act (Act) or regulations when the Government has decided not to seek further review of that decision or is unsuccessful on further review. We will apply the holding of the Court of Appeals’ decision as explained in this AR to claims at all levels of administrative review within the Eighth Circuit. We will apply this AR to all determinations or decisions made on or after May 22, 2014. If we made a determination or decision on an application for benefits between March 28, 2012, the date of the Court of Appeals’ decision, and May 22, 2014, the effective date of this AR, the claimant may request that we apply the AR to the prior determination or decision. The claimant must show, pursuant to 20 CFR 404.985(b)(2) or 416.1485(b)(2), that applying the AR could change our prior determination or decision in his or her case. When we received this precedential Court of Appeals’ decision and determined that an AR might be required, we began to identify those claims that were pending before the agency within the circuit that might be SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\22MYN1.SGM 22MYN1 29474 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 99 / Thursday, May 22, 2014 / Notices subject to readjudication if we subsequently issued an AR. Because we have determined that an AR is required and are publishing this AR, we will send a notice to those individuals whose claims we have identified. In the notice, we will provide information about the AR and the right to request readjudication under the AR. However, a claimant does not need to receive a notice in order to request that we apply this AR to our prior determination or decision on his or her claim, as provided in 20 CFR 404.985(b)(2) and 416.1485(b)(2). If we later rescind this AR as obsolete, we will publish a notice in the Federal Register to that effect, as provided in 20 CFR 404.985(e) and 416.1485(e). If we decide to relitigate the issue covered by this AR, as provided by 20 CFR 404.985(c)and 416.1485(c), we will publish a notice in the Federal Register stating that we will apply our interpretation of the Act or regulations involved and explaining why we have decided to relitigate the issue. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, Program Nos. 96.001 Social Security— Disability Insurance; 96.002 Social Security—Retirement Insurance; 96.004 Social Security—Survivors Insurance) Dated: April 17, 2014. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Acquiescence Ruling 14–1(8) Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062 (8th Cir. 2012): Requiring Vocational Specialist (VS) or Vocational Expert (VE) Evidence When an Individual has a Severe Mental Impairment(s)—Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act Issue: Must an adjudicator obtain VS or VE evidence to determine whether a claimant with a severe mental impairment can perform jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy, given his or her residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education and work experience? Statute/Regulation/Ruling Citation: Sections 205(b), 223(d)(2)(A); 223(d)(5)(A); 1614(a)(3)(B); 1614(a)(3)(H)(i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 423(d)(2)(A); 423(d)(5)(A); 1382c(a)(3)(B); 1382c(a)(3)(H)(i)); 20 CFR 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 404.1520(g), 404.1566, 404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.920(a)(4)(v), 416.920(g), 416.966, 416.969, 416.969a; section 200.00(e) of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2; Social Security Rulings (SSRs) 83–10, 83–12, 83–14, 85–15, 96–9p. Circuit: Eighth (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:36 May 21, 2014 Jkt 232001 Applicability of Ruling: This ruling applies to determinations or decisions made in the Eighth Circuit at all levels of administrative review. Description of Case: Michael Brock (Brock) applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments based on disability alleging he was disabled due to an anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.1 The administrative law judge (ALJ) found that Brock’s mental impairments were severe at step two of our sequential evaluation process. Despite the severe mental impairments, the ALJ found that Brock had the RFC to perform the full range of medium work contemplated in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the Grid rules). Considering Brock’s RFC, age, education, and work experience, the ALJ used Medical-Vocational Rule 203.25 as a framework to find that Brock could adjust to work existing in significant numbers in the national economy and was ‘‘not disabled.’’ The ALJ did not request VE testimony. On appeal, Brock argued that because his impairments were solely nonexertional, the ALJ erred in relying solely on the Grid rules and that the ALJ should have sought VE evidence to determine whether he could adjust to other work. Brock asserted that, because the Grid rules are premised only on exertional limitations, they are not meant to direct a conclusion of ‘‘disabled’’ or ‘‘not disabled’’ for individuals who have solely nonexertional limitations. Therefore, Brock asserted that substantial evidence in the record did not support the ALJ’s decision. Holding: The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concluded that the ALJ erred by relying solely on the Grid rules to determine that Brock could adjust to work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. The Court held that ‘‘[b]ecause the ALJ determined that Brock suffered from severe mental impairments, the ALJ should have consulted a [VE] in determining whether Brock had the RFC to perform other jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy.’’ Statement As to How Brock Differs From the Agency’s Policy At step five of the sequential evaluation process (or the last step in the sequential evaluation process in continuing disability review claims), we consider the vocational factors of age, education, and work experience in 1 Although Brock was a Title XVI case, the same principles apply to Title II. Therefore, this Acquiescence Ruling applies to both Title II and Title XVI disability claims. PO 00000 Frm 00078 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 conjunction with a claimant’s RFC to determine whether the claimant can adjust to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Section 200.00(e)(1) of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2 provides that ‘‘[i]n the evaluation of disability where the individual has solely a nonexertional type of impairment, determination as to whether disability exists shall be based on the principles in the appropriate sections of the regulations, giving consideration to the rules for specific case situations in this appendix 2. The rules do not direct factual conclusions of disabled or not disabled for individuals with solely nonexertional types of impairments.’’ As explained below, the rules are, however, used as a framework for decision making. Under SSR 85–15: Titles II and XVI: Capability To Do Other Work—The Medical–Vocational (Grid) Rules as a Framework for Evaluating Solely Nonexertional Impairments, where a person’s only impairment is mental, it is not of listing severity but does prevent the person from meeting the mental demands of past relevant work and prevents the transferability of acquired work skills, the final consideration is whether the person can be expected to perform unskilled work. The basic mental demands of competitive, remunerative, unskilled work include the abilities (on a sustained basis) to understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions; to respond appropriately to supervision, coworkers, and usual work situations; and to deal with changes in a routine work setting. Where there is no exertional impairment, unskilled jobs at all levels of exertion constitute the potential occupational base for persons who can meet the mental demands of unskilled work. Under our interpretation of the regulations, an adjudicator is not required to consult a VE or other vocational resource to determine whether a nonexertional limitation significantly erodes a claimant’s occupational base when adjudicative guidance on the effect of the limitation is provided in an SSR.2 If the 2 For example, the following non-exertional limitations do not significantly erode an occupational base: Limited exposure to dangerous moving machinery, unprotected heights, and ragweed allergies (sedentary jobs); limited climbing of ladders and scaffolding, crouching (sedentary and light jobs), exposure to feathers, use of a cane for prolonged ambulation and uneven terrain, or slopes (sedentary), and inability to sense texture or temperature with fingertips. See SSR 83–14: Titles II and XVI: Capability To Do Other Work—The Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework for Evaluating a Combination of Exertional and Nonexertional Impairments, at *2. Whereas, the E:\FR\FM\22MYN1.SGM 22MYN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 99 / Thursday, May 22, 2014 / Notices occupational base is not significantly eroded by non-exertional limitations, the adjudicator may use the Grid rules as a framework, and VE testimony is not required. In Brock, the ALJ found that Brock retained the ability to perform unskilled work. Pursuant to SSR 85–15, the ALJ found Brock’s non-exertional limitations had little or no effect on the occupational base of medium exertional level unskilled work before applying the framework of Grid rule 203.25 to find Brock was not disabled. The Brock Court’s decision differs from our policy because it held that, because the ALJ found Brock had severe mental impairments, ‘‘the ALJ should have consulted a [VE] in determining whether Brock had the RFC to perform other jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy.’’ The holding requires the ALJ to consult a VE before denying a claim at step five of our sequential evaluation process when the claim involves an individual with a severe mental impairment(s), regardless of whether adjudicative guidance available in an SSR holds that the resulting nonexertional limitation(s) does not significantly erode the occupational base and application of the applicable Grid rule is appropriate. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Explanation of How We Will Apply the Brock Decision Within the Circuit This Ruling applies only to claims in which the claimant resides in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota at the time of the determinations or decision at the initial, reconsideration, and ALJ hearing levels. In making a disability determination or decision at step five of the sequential evaluation process (or the last step in the sequential evaluation process in continuing disability review claims), we will not rely exclusively on the Grid following nonexertional limitations generally do significantly erode an occupational base: Loss of bilateral manual dexterity (sedentary jobs); constriction of visual field (light and medium jobs); no stooping, and poor balance when standing or walking on uneven terrain. See SSR 96–9p: Policy Interpretation Ruling Titles II and XVI: Determining Capability To Do Other Work—Implications of a Residual Functional Capacity for Less Than a Full Range of Sedentary Work, at *5–6. SSR 83–14: Titles II and XVI: Capability To Do Other Work— The Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework for Evaluating a Combination of Exertional and Nonexertional Impairments. SSR 83–10: Titles II and XVI: Determining Capability to do Other Work—The Medical-Vocational Rules of Appendix 2 and SSR 83–12: Titles II and XVI: Capability to do Other Work—The Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework For Evaluating Exertional Limitations Within a Range of Work or Between Ranges of Work also provide helpful adjudicative guidance on using the rules and the impact of nonexertional impairments on the exertional occupational base. VerDate Mar<15>2010 19:36 May 21, 2014 Jkt 232001 29475 rules as a framework for decision making when an individual has a severe mental impairment(s). Before we deny a claim for disability benefits at step five (or the last step in the sequential evaluation process in continuing disability review claims) when a claimant has a severe mental impairment(s), we will produce VE evidence in claims at the hearing level. For claims decided at the initial and reconsideration levels, we will use evidence from a VS, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), or another reliable source of job information, such as the ones listed in 20 CFR 404.1566(d) and 416.966(d). At the Appeals Council level, the Appeals Council will use this AR to determine whether it was correctly applied at the hearing level. However, when the Appeals Council exercises its authority to issue a corrective unfavorable decision, the Appeals Council may rely on vocational evidence adduced at the hearing. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: [FR Doc. 2014–11841 Filed 5–21–14; 8:45 am] ACTION: For further information, including a list of the exhibit objects, contact Julie Simpson, Attorney-Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State (telephone: 202–632–6467). The mailing address is U.S. Department of State, SA–5, L/PD, Fifth Floor (Suite 5H03), Washington, DC 20522–0505. Dated: May 15, 2014. Kelly Keiderling, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State. [FR Doc. 2014–11907 Filed 5–21–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4710–05–P DEPARTMENT OF STATE [Public Notice 8741] Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: ‘‘Taras Shevchenko: Poet, Artist, Icon’’ Department of State. Notice, correction. AGENCY: BILLING CODE 4191–02–P On March 4, 2014, notice was published on page 12261 of the Federal Register (volume 79, number 42) of determinations made by the Department of State pertaining to the exhibition ‘‘Taras Shevchenko: Poet, Artist, Icon.’’ The referenced notice is corrected here to include additional objects as part of the exhibition. Notice is hereby given of the following determinations: Pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Act of October 19, 1965 (79 Stat. 985; 22 U.S.C. 2459), Executive Order 12047 of March 27, 1978, the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (112 Stat. 2681, et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 6501 note, et seq.), Delegation of Authority No. 234 of October 1, 1999, Delegation of Authority No. 236–3 of August 28, 2000 (and, as appropriate, Delegation of Authority No. 257 of April 15, 2003), I hereby determine that the additional objects to be included in the exhibition ‘‘Taras Shevchenko: Poet, Artist, Icon,’’ imported from abroad for temporary exhibition within the United States, are of cultural significance. The additional objects are imported pursuant to a loan agreement with the foreign owner or custodian. I also determine that the exhibition or display of the additional objects at the Ukrainian Museum, New York, New York, from on or about June 6, 2014, until on or about November 14, 2014, and at possible additional exhibitions or venues yet to be determined, is in the national interest. I have ordered that Public Notice of these Determinations be published in the Federal Register. SUMMARY: DEPARTMENT OF STATE [PUBLIC NOTICE: 8743] Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: ‘‘The Holocaust’’ Exhibition Notice is hereby given of the following determinations: Pursuant to the authority vested in me by the Act of October 19, 1965 (79 Stat. 985; 22 U.S.C. 2459), Executive Order 12047 of March 27, 1978, the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (112 Stat. 2681, et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 6501 note, et seq.), Delegation of Authority No. 234 of October 1, 1999, Delegation of Authority No. 236–3 of August 28, 2000 (and, as appropriate, Delegation of Authority No. 257 of April 15, 2003), I hereby determine that the objects to be included in the exhibition ‘‘The Holocaust,’’ imported from abroad for temporary exhibition within the United States, are of cultural significance. The objects are imported pursuant to a loan agreement with the foreign owner or custodian. I also determine that the exhibition or display of the exhibit objects at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, from on or about June 12, 2014, until on or about June 11, 2017, and at possible additional exhibitions or venues yet to be determined, is in the national interest. I have ordered that Public Notice of these Determinations be published in the Federal Register. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00079 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\22MYN1.SGM 22MYN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 99 (Thursday, May 22, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29473-29475]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-11841]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

[Social Security Acquiescence Ruling (AR) 14-1(8); Docket No. SSA-2014-
0008]


Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062 (8th Cir. 2012): Requiring 
Vocational Specialist (VS) or Vocational Expert (VE) Evidence When an 
Individual has a Severe Mental Impairment(s)--Titles II and XVI of the 
Social Security Act

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Notice of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling (AR).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We are publishing this Social Security AR in accordance with 
20 CFR 402.35(b)(2), 404.985(a), (b), and 416.1485(a), (b).

DATES: Effective Date: May 22, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marc Epstein, Office of the General 
Counsel, Office of Program Law, Social Security Administration, 6401 
Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 965-8122, or TTY 
410-966-5609, for information about this notice. For information on 
eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national toll-free number, 
1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, 
Social Security Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: An AR explains how we will apply a holding 
in a decision of a United States Court of Appeals that we determine 
conflicts with our interpretation of a provision of the Social Security 
Act (Act) or regulations when the Government has decided not to seek 
further review of that decision or is unsuccessful on further review.
    We will apply the holding of the Court of Appeals' decision as 
explained in this AR to claims at all levels of administrative review 
within the Eighth Circuit. We will apply this AR to all determinations 
or decisions made on or after May 22, 2014. If we made a determination 
or decision on an application for benefits between March 28, 2012, the 
date of the Court of Appeals' decision, and May 22, 2014, the effective 
date of this AR, the claimant may request that we apply the AR to the 
prior determination or decision. The claimant must show, pursuant to 20 
CFR 404.985(b)(2) or 416.1485(b)(2), that applying the AR could change 
our prior determination or decision in his or her case.
    When we received this precedential Court of Appeals' decision and 
determined that an AR might be required, we began to identify those 
claims that were pending before the agency within the circuit that 
might be

[[Page 29474]]

subject to readjudication if we subsequently issued an AR. Because we 
have determined that an AR is required and are publishing this AR, we 
will send a notice to those individuals whose claims we have 
identified. In the notice, we will provide information about the AR and 
the right to request readjudication under the AR. However, a claimant 
does not need to receive a notice in order to request that we apply 
this AR to our prior determination or decision on his or her claim, as 
provided in 20 CFR 404.985(b)(2) and 416.1485(b)(2).
    If we later rescind this AR as obsolete, we will publish a notice 
in the Federal Register to that effect, as provided in 20 CFR 
404.985(e) and 416.1485(e). If we decide to relitigate the issue 
covered by this AR, as provided by 20 CFR 404.985(c)and 416.1485(c), we 
will publish a notice in the Federal Register stating that we will 
apply our interpretation of the Act or regulations involved and 
explaining why we have decided to relitigate the issue.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, Program Nos. 96.001 Social 
Security--Disability Insurance; 96.002 Social Security--Retirement 
Insurance; 96.004 Social Security--Survivors Insurance)


    Dated: April 17, 2014.
Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

Acquiescence Ruling 14-1(8)

Brock v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1062 (8th Cir. 2012): Requiring Vocational 
Specialist (VS) or Vocational Expert (VE) Evidence When an Individual 
has a Severe Mental Impairment(s)--Titles II and XVI of the Social 
Security Act

    Issue: Must an adjudicator obtain VS or VE evidence to determine 
whether a claimant with a severe mental impairment can perform jobs 
that exist in significant number in the national economy, given his or 
her residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education and work 
experience?
    Statute/Regulation/Ruling Citation: Sections 205(b), 223(d)(2)(A); 
223(d)(5)(A); 1614(a)(3)(B); 1614(a)(3)(H)(i) of the Social Security 
Act (42 U.S.C. 423(d)(2)(A); 423(d)(5)(A); 1382c(a)(3)(B); 
1382c(a)(3)(H)(i)); 20 CFR 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 404.1520(g), 404.1566, 
404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.920(a)(4)(v), 416.920(g), 416.966, 416.969, 
416.969a; section 200.00(e) of 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2; 
Social Security Rulings (SSRs) 83-10, 83-12, 83-14, 85-15, 96-9p.
    Circuit: Eighth (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, 
North Dakota, and South Dakota).
    Applicability of Ruling: This ruling applies to determinations or 
decisions made in the Eighth Circuit at all levels of administrative 
review.
    Description of Case: Michael Brock (Brock) applied for Supplemental 
Security Income (SSI) payments based on disability alleging he was 
disabled due to an anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity 
disorder.\1\ The administrative law judge (ALJ) found that Brock's 
mental impairments were severe at step two of our sequential evaluation 
process. Despite the severe mental impairments, the ALJ found that 
Brock had the RFC to perform the full range of medium work contemplated 
in the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the Grid rules). Considering 
Brock's RFC, age, education, and work experience, the ALJ used Medical-
Vocational Rule 203.25 as a framework to find that Brock could adjust 
to work existing in significant numbers in the national economy and was 
``not disabled.'' The ALJ did not request VE testimony.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Although Brock was a Title XVI case, the same principles 
apply to Title II. Therefore, this Acquiescence Ruling applies to 
both Title II and Title XVI disability claims.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On appeal, Brock argued that because his impairments were solely 
nonexertional, the ALJ erred in relying solely on the Grid rules and 
that the ALJ should have sought VE evidence to determine whether he 
could adjust to other work. Brock asserted that, because the Grid rules 
are premised only on exertional limitations, they are not meant to 
direct a conclusion of ``disabled'' or ``not disabled'' for individuals 
who have solely nonexertional limitations. Therefore, Brock asserted 
that substantial evidence in the record did not support the ALJ's 
decision.
    Holding: The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit concluded that 
the ALJ erred by relying solely on the Grid rules to determine that 
Brock could adjust to work existing in significant numbers in the 
national economy. The Court held that ``[b]ecause the ALJ determined 
that Brock suffered from severe mental impairments, the ALJ should have 
consulted a [VE] in determining whether Brock had the RFC to perform 
other jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy.''

Statement As to How Brock Differs From the Agency's Policy

    At step five of the sequential evaluation process (or the last step 
in the sequential evaluation process in continuing disability review 
claims), we consider the vocational factors of age, education, and work 
experience in conjunction with a claimant's RFC to determine whether 
the claimant can adjust to other work that exists in significant 
numbers in the national economy. Section 200.00(e)(1) of 20 CFR Part 
404, Subpart P, Appendix 2 provides that ``[i]n the evaluation of 
disability where the individual has solely a nonexertional type of 
impairment, determination as to whether disability exists shall be 
based on the principles in the appropriate sections of the regulations, 
giving consideration to the rules for specific case situations in this 
appendix 2. The rules do not direct factual conclusions of disabled or 
not disabled for individuals with solely nonexertional types of 
impairments.'' As explained below, the rules are, however, used as a 
framework for decision making.
    Under SSR 85-15: Titles II and XVI: Capability To Do Other Work--
The Medical-Vocational (Grid) Rules as a Framework for Evaluating 
Solely Nonexertional Impairments, where a person's only impairment is 
mental, it is not of listing severity but does prevent the person from 
meeting the mental demands of past relevant work and prevents the 
transferability of acquired work skills, the final consideration is 
whether the person can be expected to perform unskilled work. The basic 
mental demands of competitive, remunerative, unskilled work include the 
abilities (on a sustained basis) to understand, carry out, and remember 
simple instructions; to respond appropriately to supervision, 
coworkers, and usual work situations; and to deal with changes in a 
routine work setting. Where there is no exertional impairment, 
unskilled jobs at all levels of exertion constitute the potential 
occupational base for persons who can meet the mental demands of 
unskilled work. Under our interpretation of the regulations, an 
adjudicator is not required to consult a VE or other vocational 
resource to determine whether a nonexertional limitation significantly 
erodes a claimant's occupational base when adjudicative guidance on the 
effect of the limitation is provided in an SSR.\2\ If the

[[Page 29475]]

occupational base is not significantly eroded by non-exertional 
limitations, the adjudicator may use the Grid rules as a framework, and 
VE testimony is not required.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For example, the following non-exertional limitations do not 
significantly erode an occupational base: Limited exposure to 
dangerous moving machinery, unprotected heights, and ragweed 
allergies (sedentary jobs); limited climbing of ladders and 
scaffolding, crouching (sedentary and light jobs), exposure to 
feathers, use of a cane for prolonged ambulation and uneven terrain, 
or slopes (sedentary), and inability to sense texture or temperature 
with fingertips. See SSR 83-14: Titles II and XVI: Capability To Do 
Other Work--The Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework for 
Evaluating a Combination of Exertional and Nonexertional 
Impairments, at *2. Whereas, the following nonexertional limitations 
generally do significantly erode an occupational base: Loss of 
bilateral manual dexterity (sedentary jobs); constriction of visual 
field (light and medium jobs); no stooping, and poor balance when 
standing or walking on uneven terrain. See SSR 96-9p: Policy 
Interpretation Ruling Titles II and XVI: Determining Capability To 
Do Other Work--Implications of a Residual Functional Capacity for 
Less Than a Full Range of Sedentary Work, at *5-6. SSR 83-14: Titles 
II and XVI: Capability To Do Other Work--The Medical-Vocational 
Rules as a Framework for Evaluating a Combination of Exertional and 
Nonexertional Impairments. SSR 83-10: Titles II and XVI: Determining 
Capability to do Other Work--The Medical-Vocational Rules of 
Appendix 2 and SSR 83-12: Titles II and XVI: Capability to do Other 
Work--The Medical-Vocational Rules as a Framework For Evaluating 
Exertional Limitations Within a Range of Work or Between Ranges of 
Work also provide helpful adjudicative guidance on using the rules 
and the impact of nonexertional impairments on the exertional 
occupational base.
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    In Brock, the ALJ found that Brock retained the ability to perform 
unskilled work. Pursuant to SSR 85-15, the ALJ found Brock's non-
exertional limitations had little or no effect on the occupational base 
of medium exertional level unskilled work before applying the framework 
of Grid rule 203.25 to find Brock was not disabled.
    The Brock Court's decision differs from our policy because it held 
that, because the ALJ found Brock had severe mental impairments, ``the 
ALJ should have consulted a [VE] in determining whether Brock had the 
RFC to perform other jobs that exist in significant number in the 
national economy.'' The holding requires the ALJ to consult a VE before 
denying a claim at step five of our sequential evaluation process when 
the claim involves an individual with a severe mental impairment(s), 
regardless of whether adjudicative guidance available in an SSR holds 
that the resulting nonexertional limitation(s) does not significantly 
erode the occupational base and application of the applicable Grid rule 
is appropriate.

Explanation of How We Will Apply the Brock Decision Within the Circuit

    This Ruling applies only to claims in which the claimant resides in 
Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South 
Dakota at the time of the determinations or decision at the initial, 
reconsideration, and ALJ hearing levels.
    In making a disability determination or decision at step five of 
the sequential evaluation process (or the last step in the sequential 
evaluation process in continuing disability review claims), we will not 
rely exclusively on the Grid rules as a framework for decision making 
when an individual has a severe mental impairment(s). Before we deny a 
claim for disability benefits at step five (or the last step in the 
sequential evaluation process in continuing disability review claims) 
when a claimant has a severe mental impairment(s), we will produce VE 
evidence in claims at the hearing level. For claims decided at the 
initial and reconsideration levels, we will use evidence from a VS, the 
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), or another reliable source of 
job information, such as the ones listed in 20 CFR 404.1566(d) and 
416.966(d).
    At the Appeals Council level, the Appeals Council will use this AR 
to determine whether it was correctly applied at the hearing level. 
However, when the Appeals Council exercises its authority to issue a 
corrective unfavorable decision, the Appeals Council may rely on 
vocational evidence adduced at the hearing.

[FR Doc. 2014-11841 Filed 5-21-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P