20 CFR 404.1560-404.1569
(This ruling supersedes SSR 82-33c)
Heckler v. Campbell, ____ U.S. ____, 103 S.Ct. 1952 (1983)
POWELL, Supreme Court Justice:
The issue is whether the Secretary of Health and Human Services may rely on published medical-vocational guidelines to determine a claimant's right to Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Act defines "disability" in terms of the effect a physical or mental impairment has on a person's ability to function in the work place. It provides disability benefits only to persons who are unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical and mental impairment." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(10(A). And it specifies that a person must "not only [be] unable to do his previous work but [must be unable], considering his age, education, and work experience, [to] engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).
In 1978, the Secretary of Health and Human Services promulgated regulations implementing this definition. See 43 Fed. Reg. 55349 (1978) (codified as amended at 20 CFR pt. 404, subpt. P (1982)). The regulations recognize that certain impairments are so severe that they prevent a person from pursuing any gainful work. See 20 CFR § 404.1520(d) (1982) (referring to impairments listed at 20 CFR pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1). A claimant who establishes that he suffers from one of these impairments will be considered disabled without further inquiry. Ibid. If a claimant suffers from a less severe impairment, the Secretary must determine whether the claimant retains the ability to perform either his former work or some less demanding employment. If a claimant can pursue his former occupation, he is not entitled to disability benefits. See § 404,1520(e). If he cannot, the Secretary must determine whether the claimant retains the capacity to pursue less demanding work. See § 404.1520(f)(1).
The regulations divide this last inquiry into two stages. First, the Secretary must assess each claimant's present job qualifications. The regulations direct the Secretary to consider the factors Congress has identified as relevant; physical ability, age, education and work experience. See 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); 20 CFR § 404.1520(f). Second, she must consider whether jobs exist in the national economy that a person having the claimant's qualifications could perform. 20 CFR § 404.120(f); §§ 404.1566-404.1569.
Prior to 1978, the Secretary relied on vocational experts to establish the existence of suitable jobs in the national economy. After a claimant's limitation and abilities had been determined at a hearing, a vocational expert ordinarily would testify whether work existed that the claimant could perform. Although this testimony often was based on standardized guides, see 43 Fed. Reg. 9286 (1978), vocational experts frequently were criticized for their inconsistent treatment of similarly situated claimants. See Santise v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d 925, 930 (CA3 1982); J. Mashaw et. al., Social Security Hearings and Appeals 78-79 (1978). To improve both the uniformity and efficiencyof this determination, the Secretary promulgated medical-vocational guidelines as part of the 1978 regulations. See 20 CFR pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 2 (1982).
These guidelines relieve the Secretary of the need to rely on vocational experts by establishing through rulemaking the types and numbers of jobs that exist in the national economy. They consist of a matrix of the four factors identified by Congress -- physical ability, age, education, and work experience and set forth rules that identify whether jobs requiring specific combinations of these factors exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Where a claimant's qualification correspond to the job requirements identified by a rule, the guidelines direct a conclusion as to whether work exists that the claimant could perform. If such work exists, the claimant is not considered disabled.
In 1979, Carmen Campbell applied for disability benefits because a back condition and hypertension prevented her from continuing her work as a hotel maid. After her application was denied, she requested a hearing de novo before an Administrative Law Judge. He determined that her back problem was not severe enough to find her disabled without further inquiry, and accordingly considered whether she retained the ability to perform either her past work or some less strenuous jobs. App. to Pet. for Cert. 28a. He concluded that even though Campbell's back condition prevented her from returning to her work as a maid, she retained the physical capacity to do light work. Ibid. In accordance with the regulations, he found that Campbell was 52 years old, that her previous employment consisted of unskilled jobs and that she had a limited education. Id., at 28a-29a. He noted that Campbell, who had been born in Panama, experienced difficulty in speaking and writing English. She was able, however, to understand and read English fairly well. App. 42. Relying on the medical-vocational guidelines, the Administrative Law Judge found that a significant number of jobs existed that a person of Campbell's qualifications could perform. Accordingly, he concluded that she was not disabled. App. to Pet. for Cert. 29a.
This determination was upheld by both the Social Security Appeals Council, id., at 16a, and the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, id., at 15a. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed. Campbell v. Secretary of HHS, 665 F.2d 48 (1982). It accepted the Administrative Law Judge's determination that Campbell retained the ability to do light work. And it did not suggest that he had classified Campbell's age, education, or work experience incorrectly. The court noted, however, that it
The court found that the medical-vocational guidelines did not provide the specific evidence that it previously had required. It explained that in the absence of such a showing, "the claimant is deprived of any real chance to present evidence showing that she cannot in fact perform the types of jobs that are administratively noticed by the guidelines." Ibid. The court concluded that because the Secretary had failed to introduce evidence that specific alternative jobs existed, the determination that Campbell was not disabled was not supported by substantial evidence. Id., at 54.
We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the Courts of Appeals Schweiker v. Campbell, _____ U.S. _____ (1982). We now reverse.
The Secretary argues that the Court of Appeals' holding effectively prevents the use of the medical-vocational guidelines. By requiring her to identify specific alternative jobs in every disability hearing, the court has rendered the guidelines useless. An examination of both the language of the Social Security Act and its legislative history clearly demonstrates that the Secretary may proceed by regulation to determine whether substantial gainful work exists in the national economy. Campbell argues in response that the Secretary has misperceived the Court of Appeals' holding. Campbell reads the decision as requiring only that the Secretary give disability claimants concrete examples of the kinds of factual determinations that the Administrative Law Judge will be making. This requirement does not defeat the guideline's purpose; it ensures that they will be applied only where appropriate. Accordingly, respondent argues that we need not address the guidelines' validity.
The Court of Appeals held that "[i]n failing to show suitable available alternative jobs for Ms. Campbell, the Secretary's finding of 'not disabled' is not supported by substantial evidence." 665 F.2d at 54. It thus rejected the proposition that "the guidelines provide adequate evidence of a claimant's ability to perform a specific alternative occupation." id., at 53, and remanded for the Secretary to put into evidence "particular types of jobs suitable to the capabilities of Ms. Campbell," id., at 54. The court's requirement that additional evidence be introduced be introduced on this issue prevents the Secretary from putting the guidelines to their intended use and implicitly calls their validity into question. Accordingly, we think the decision below requires us to consider whether the Secretary may rely on medical- vocational guidelines in appropriate cases.
The Social Security Act directs the Secretary to "adopt reasonable and proper rules and regulations to regulate and provide for the nature and extent of the proofs and evidence and the method of taking and furnishing the same" in disability cases. 42 U.S.C. § 405(a). As we previously have recognized, Congress has "conferred on the Secretary exceptionally broad authority to prescribe standards for applying certain sections of the [Social Security] Act." Schweiker v. Gray Panthers, 453 U.S. 34, 43 (1981); see Batterton v. Francis, 432 U.S. 416, 425 (1977). Where as here, the statute expressly entrusts the Secretary with the responsibility for implementing a provision by regulation, our review is limited to determinating whether the regulations promulgated exceeded the Secretary's statutory authority and whether they are arbitrary and capricious. Herweg v. Ray, 455 U.S. 265, 275 (1982); Schweiker v. Gray Panthers. supra, at 44.
We do not think that the Secretary's reliance on medical-vocational guidelines is inconsistent with the Social Security Act. It is true that the statutory scheme contemplates that disability hearings will be individualized determinations based on evidence adduced at a hearing. See 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A) (specifying consideration of each individual's condition); 42 U.S.C. § 405(b) (1976 ed., Supp. V) (disability determination to be based on evidence adduced at hearing). But this does not bar the Secretary from relying on rulemaking to resolve certain classes of issues. The Court has recognized that even where an agency's enabling statute expressly requires it to hold a hearing, the agency may rely on its rulemaking authority to determine issues that do not require case-by-case consideration. See FPC v. Texaco, Inc., 377 U.S. 33, 41-44 (1964); United States v. Storer Broadcasting Co., 351 U.S. 192, 205 (1956). A contrary holding would require the agency continually to relitigate issues that may be established fairly and efficiently in a single rulemaking proceeding. See FPC v. Texaco, Inc., supra, at 44.
The Secretary's decision to rely on medical-vocational guidelines is consistent with Texaco v. Storer. As noted above, in determining whether a claimant can perform less strenuous work, the Secretary must make two determinations. She must assess each claimant's individual abilities and then determine whether jobs exist that a person having the claimant's qualifications could perform. The first inquiry involves a determination of historic facts, and the regulations properly require the Secretary to make these findings on the basis of evidence adduced at a hearing. We note that the regulations afford claimants ample opportunity both to present evidence relating to their own abilities and to offer evidence that the guidelines do not apply to them. The second inquiry requires the Secretary to determine an issue that is not unique to each claimant -- the types and numbers of jobs that exist in the national economy. This type of general factual issue may be resolved as fairly through rulemaking as by introducing the testimony of vocational experts at each disability hearing. See American Airlines, Inc. v. CAB, 123 U.S. App. D.C. 310, 319, 359, F.2d 624, 633 (1966), en banc).
As the Secretary has argued, the use of published guidelines brings with it a uniformity that previously had been perceived as lacking. To require the Secretary to relitigate the existence of jobs in the national economy at each hearing would hinder needlessly an already overburdened agency. We conclude that the Secretary's use of medical-vocational guidelines does not conflict with the statute, nor can we say on the record before us that they are arbitrary and capricious.
We now consider Campbell's argument that the Court of Appeals properly require the Secretary to specify alternative available jobs. Campbell contends that such a showing informs claimants of the type of issues to be established at the hearing and is required by both the Secretary's regulation, 20 CFR § 404.944 (1980), and the Due Process Clause.
By referring to notice and an opportunity to respond, see 665 F.2d, at 53-54, the decision below invites the interpretation given it by respondent. But we do not think that the decision fairly can be said to present the issues she raises. The Court of Appeals did not find that the Secretary failed to five sufficient notice in violation of the Due Process Clause or any statutory provision designed to implement it. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(b) (1976 ed., Supp. V) (requiring that disability claimants be given "reasonable notice and an opportunity for a hearing"). Nor did it find that the Secretary violated any duty imposed by regulation. See 20 CFR § 404.944 (1982) (requiring the Administrative Law Judge to "loo[k] fully into the issues"). Rather the court's reference to notice and an opportunity to respond appears to be based on a principle of administrative law -- that when an agency takes official or administrative notice of facts, a litigant must be given an adequate opportunity to respond. See 5 U.S.C. § 556(e); McDaniel v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 426 (CA4 1964).
The principle is inapplicable, however, when the agency has promulgated valid regulations. Its purpose is to provide a procedural safeguard; to ensure the accuracy of the facts of which an agency takes notice. But when the accuracy of those facts already has been tested fairly during rulemaking proceeding itself provides sufficient procedural protection.See, e.g., Rivers v. Schweiker, 684 F.2d 1144, 1156 (CA5 1982); Broz v. Schweiker, 677 F.2d 1351, 1362 (CA11 1982); Torres v. Secretary of HHS, 677 F.2d 167, 169 (CA1 1982).
The Court of Appeals' decision would require the Secretary to introduce evidence of specific available jobs that respondent could perform. It would limit severely her ability to rely on the medical-vocational guidelines. We think the Secretary reasonably could choose to rely on these guidelines in appropriate cases rather than on the testimony of a vocational expert in each case. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is
Justice Powell was joined in this opinion by Chief Justice Burger and Justices White, Blackmum, Rehnquist, Stevens, and O'Connor. Justice Brennan filed a concurring opinion. Justice Marshall filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
 The regulations state that the Secretary will inquire each of these factors and make an individual assessment of each claimant's abilities and limitations. See 20 CFR §§ 404.1545- 404.1565 (1982); cf. 20 CFR § 404.944. In determining a person's physical ability, she will consider, for example, the extent to which his capacity for performing tasks such as lifting objects or his ability to stand for long periods of time has been impaired. See § 404.1545.
 The Social Security hearing system is "probably the largest adjudicative agency in the western world." J. Mashaw et al., Social Security Hearings and Appeals, p.xi (1978). Approximately 2.3 million claims for disability benefits were filed in fiscal year 1981. Department of Health and Human Services, Social Security Annual Report to the Congress for Fiscal Year 1981, pp. 32, 35 (1982). More than a quarter of a million of these claims require a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Id., at 38. The need for efficiency is self-evident.
 Each of these four factors is divided into defined categories. A person's ability to perform physical tasks, for example, is categorized according to the physical exertion requirements necessary to perform varying classes of jobs -- i.e., whether a claimant can perform sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy work. 20 CFR § 404.1567. Each of these work categories is defined in terms of the physical demands it places on a worker, such as the weight of objects he must lift and whether extensive movement or use of arm and leg controls is required. Ibid.
 For example, rule 202.10 provides that a significant number of a jobs exist for a person who can perform light work, is closely approaching advanced age, has a limited education but who is literate and can communicate in English, and whose previous work has been unskilled.
 The regulations recognize that the rules only describe "major functional and vocational patterns." 20 CFR pt. 404, subpt. P, app, 2 § 200.00(a). If an individual's capabilities are not described accurately by a rule, the regulations make clear that the individual's particular limitations must be considered. See app. 2, §§ 200.00(a), (d). Additionally, the regulations declare that the Administrative Law Judge will not apply the age categories "mechanically in a borderline situation," 20 CFR § 404.1563(a), and recognize that some claimants may possess limitations that are not factored into guidelines, see app. 2, § 200.00(e). Thus, the regulations provide that the rules will be applied only when they describe a claimant's abilities and limitations accurately.
 The Social Security Act provides each claimant with a right to a de novo hearing. 45 U.S.C. § 405(b) (1976 ed., Supp. V); § 421(d). The regulations specify when a claimant may exercise this right. See 20 CFR §§ 404.929-404.930.
 The Administrative Law Judge did not accept Campbell's claim that her hypertension constituted an impairment. He found that this claim was not documented by the record and noted that her current medication appeared sufficient to keep her blood pressure under control. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 27a.
Campbell later reapplied for disability benefits and was found disabled as of January 1, 1981. See Brief for Petitioner 8, n. 7. the Secretary's subsequent decision does not moot this case since Campbell is claiming entitlement to benefits prior to January 1, 1981.
 Every other Court of Appeals addressing the question has upheld the Secretary's use of guidelines. See Rivers v. Schweiker, 684 F.2d 1144, 1157-1158 (CA5 1982); McCoy v. Schweiker, 683 F.2d 1138, 1144-1146 (CA8 1982); Torres v. Secretary of HHS, 677 F.2d 167, 169 (CA1) 1982); Santise v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d 925, 934-936 (CA3 1982); Cummins v. Schweiker, 670 F.2d 81, 82-83 (CA7 1982); Kirk v. Secretary of HHS, 667 F.2d 524, 529-535 (CA6 1981); Frady v. Harris, 646 F.2d 143, 145 (CA4 1981). One Court of Appeals has agreed that the Secretary may use medical-vocational guidelines but has found that with respect to age the guidelines are arbitrary. See Broz v. Schweiker, 677 F.2d 1351, 1359-1361 (CAii 1982, cert. pending, NO. 82-816. The instant case does not present the issue addressed in Broz .
 The Courts of Appeals have read the decision below as implicitly invalidating the guidelines. See McCoy v. Schweiker 683 F.2d, at 1145; Torres v. Secretary of HHS, 677 F.2d, at 169; Santise v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d, at 937, and n. 25.
 Since Congress amended the Social Security Act in 1954 to provide for disability benefits, Pub. L. 761, § 106, Stat. 1079, it repeatedly has suggested that the Secretary promulgate regulations defining the criteria for evaluating disability. See, e.g., Subcommittee on the Administration of the Social Security Laws of the House Committee on Ways and Means, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., Administration of Social Security Disability Insurance Program: Preliminary Report 17-18 (Comm. Print 1960) (requesting Secretary to develop "specific criteria for the weight to be given non-medical factors in the evaluation of disability"); House Committee on Way and Means, 93d Cong., 2d Sess., Committee Staff Report on the Disability Insurance Program 6 (1974) (recommending that the Secretary promulgate regulations defining disability to ease accelerating case load)" Hearings on H.R. 8076 before the Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 7 (Comm. Print 1977) (comments of Rep. Burke) (noting with approval that the Secretary had promised to promulgate medical-vocational guidelines to define disability). While these sources do not establish the original congressional intent, they indicate that later Congresses perceived that regulations such as the guidelines would be consistent with the statute.
 Both FPC v. Texaco, Inc., 377 U.S. 33, 40 (1964), and United States v. Storer Broadcasting Co., 351 U.S. 192, 205 (1956), were careful to note that the statutory scheme at issue allowed an individual applicant to show that the rule promulgated should not be applied to him. The regulations here provide a claimant with equal or greater protection since they state that an Administrative Law Judge will not apply the rules contained in the guidelines when they fail to describe a claimant's particular limitations. See n. 5, supra.
 Respondent did not raise either her due process or her regulatory argument below. See Brief for Appellant in Campbell v. Schweiker, No. 81-6908 (CA2); Tr. of Oral Arg. 30. Nor has respondent filed a cross-petition. As she prevailed below, we could consider grounds supporting her judgment different from those on which the Court of Appeals rested its decision. See Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 475-476, n. 6 (1970). But where the ground presented here has not been raised below we exercise this authority "only in exceptional cases." McGoldrick v. Compagnia Generale Transatlantique, 309, U.S. 430, 434 (1940). We do not think this is such a case.
Alternatively, respondent suggests that if the Administrative Law Judge had inquired conscientiously and fully into the relevant facts, as required by 20 CFR § 404.944 (1980), he would have concluded that she was not capable of performing light work. The Secretary concedes that § 404.944 requires such an inquiry, see Brief for Petitioner 42, but argues that the inquiry undertaken by the Administration Law Judge satisfied any regulatory duty. Again respondent appears not to have presented her § 404.944 argument to the Court of Appeals, and we decline to reach it here.
 The Court of Appeals did not identify any basis for imposing this requirement other than its earlier decision in Decker v. Harris, 647 F/2d 291 (CA2 1981). Decker, however, identified the source of this requirement more clearly. It stated: "This requirement of specificity...assures the claimant of adequate notice of the grounds on which his claim may be denied, providing him with an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence. See generally 3 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise § 15.18, at 198-206 (2d ed, 1980)." Id., at 298.
In § 15.18 of his treatise, Professor Davis addresses the question of administrative or official notice of material facts in disability cases and the need for an adequate opportunity to respond. He states that an Administrative Law Judge may take administrative notice of jobs in the national economy. He emphasizes, however, that "[a] quick remark by an ALJ that he takes official notice of availability of jobs in the national economy that would be suitable for the claimant could be unfair for lack of sufficient specificity. The jobs should be identified, their characteristics should be stated...." § 15.18, at 204 (emphasis added). Decker's reference to this treatise makes clear that the requirement of specificity derives from a principle of administrative law.
 Respondent does not challenge the rulemaking itself, and, as noted above, respondent was accorded a de novo hearing to introduce evidence on issues, such as physical and mental limitations, that require individualized consideration. See supra, at 4-5.
Back to Table of Contents