Appellant, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, appeals from the grant of full Social Security disability benefits by the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division.
This case is an extension of the debate previously joined in Lofty v. Richardson, 440 F.2d 1144 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 404 U.S. 985, 92 S.Ct. 443, 30 L. Ed.2d 369 (1971), and ultimately decided in Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78, 92 S.Ct. 254, 30 L.Ed.2d 231 (1971). These cases concerned a due process attack upon 42 U.S.C. § 424a (1970), wherein Congress provided an offset against Social Security disability payments of the amount of any payments for disability then being made under a state workmen's compensation plan.
In the instant case plaintiff Grant suffered the amputation of his arm in the course of his employment at the Lakey Foundry Corporation. The employer paid the sums provided by the Michigan Workmen's Compensation Act (see M.S.A. 17.237 (361) (Cum.Supp. 1972)), M.C.L.A. § 418.361. This provision provides in part that the "disability . . . shall be deemed to continue for the period specified. . . ." ". . . arms, 269 weeks . . ." (M.S.A. 17.237(361) (i) (Cum.Supp.1972)).
The administrative decision and that of the Hearing Examiner and the appeals council was that the payments provided for the loss of the arm must be offset against Social Security disability payments. On petition to review that decision before the District Judge, the Judge recognized that Richardson v. Belcher, supra, and Lofty v. Richardson, supra, were controlling on the constitutional issue pertaining to due process, but held that Michigan case law, particularly Jones v. Cutler Oil Co., 356 Mich. 487, 97 N.W.2d 74 (1959), demonstrated that specific loss benefits under the
The decision of this court in Lofty, supra, and that of the Supreme Court in Richardson, supra, apply an arguably harsh result because it seemed obvious to the courts concerned that Congress intended the offset and that its legislative decision was well within its legislative powers. In this case the harshness of the Congressional enactment is even further illustrated. The loss is permanent and in the instance of this totally disabled plaintiff, it will not result in any benefit at all in excess of what he would have received (without Workmen's Compensation) from Social Security total disability benefits alone.
The purpose of the offset amendment, as well as its method of operation, seems plain to us from the face of the statute:
We note, of course, the District Judge's reliance upon state law holdings that under the Michigan Compensation law specific benefits are not dependent upon proof of incapacity for work. See Magreta v. Ambassador Steel Co., 378 Mich. 689, 696, 148 N.W.2d 767 (1967). This fact, however, does not serve to remove these benefits from the Michigan Workmen's Compensation plan or to demonstrate any Congressional intent to exclude them under § 424a.
Since the benefits for specific loss which are the subject of this dispute are provided for the months concerned "under a workmen's compensation law or plan . . . of . . . a State" the offset mandated by the statute must be given effect. Richardson v. Belcher, supra, 404 U.S. at 84, 92 S.Ct. at 258.
The judgment of the District Court is reversed and the case is remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the Secretary.