The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an interesting decision in Maresh v. Barnhart, concerning SSA's mental retardation listings. If a claimant meets a listing, normally he or she will be found disabled. Social Security's interpretation of the mental retardation listing has become controversial in recent years. The Court held in Maresh that:
... the requirements in the introductory paragraph [of Listing 12.05] are mandatory. The overall introduction to the mental disorders section states: "Listing 12.05 contains an introductory paragraph with the diagnostic description for mental retardation. It also contains four sets of criteria (paragraphs A through D). If your impairment satisfies the diagnostic description in the introductory paragraph and any one of the four sets of criteria, we will find that your impairment meets the listing." Id at § 12.00.1 The cases Maresh cites are not to the contrary, because they do not discuss whether the introductory paragraph is mandatory. See Chunn v. Barnhart, 397 F.3d 667 (8th Cir. 2005); Jones v. Barnhart, 335 F.3d 697 (8th Cir. 2003); Sird v. Chater, 105 F.3d 401 (8th Cir. 1997). Under the plain language of the regulations a claimant must demonstrate or support onset of the impairment before age 22.Thanks to Eric Schnaufer for his excellent up to date listing of Circuit Court decisions.
However, this court disagrees with the Commissioner that the Listing's introductory paragraph requires a formal diagnosis of mental retardation. The plain language of the Listing does not so state, and the Commissioner cites no supporting authority. This court also rejects the Commissioner's assertion that Maresh is not entitled to benefits, applying the definition of mental retardation in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). In revising the Listings of Impairments in 2002, the Commissioner rejected a proposal that the DSM's definition be used for Listing 12.05. See 67 Fed. Reg. 20,022.