20 CFR 404.907-404.921 and 404.929-404.961
Heckler v. Day et al., _____ U.S. _____, 104 S.Ct. 2249 (1984)
POWELL, Supreme Court Justice:
The question presented is the validity of an injunction issued on behalf of a statewide class that requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to adjudicate all future disputed disability claims under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 401 et. seq., according to judicially established deadlines and to pay interim benefits in all cases of noncompliance with those deadlines.
Title II of the Social Security Act [Act] was passed in 1935. 49 Stat. 622, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 401 et. seq. (1976) ed. and Supp. V). Among other things, it provides for the payment of disability insurance benefits to those whose disability prevents them from pursuing gainful employment. 42 U.S.C. 423. Disability benefits also are payable under the Supplemental Security Income [SSI] program established by Title XVI of the Act, 76 Stat. 197, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1381 (1976 ed. and Supp. V). The disability programs administered under Titles II and XVI "are of a size and extent difficult to comprehend." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 399 (1971). Approximately two million disability claims were filed under these two titles in fiscal year 1983. Over 320,000 of these claims must be heard by some 800 administrative law judges each year. To facilitate the orderly and sympathetic administration of the disability program of Title II, the Secretary and Congress have established an unusually protective four-step process for the review and adjudication of disputed claims. First, a state agency determines whether the claimant has a disability and the date the disability began or ceased. 42 U.S.C. 421(a); 20 CFR 404.1503 (1983). Second, if the claimant is dissatisfied with that determination, he may request reconsideration of the determination. This involves a de novo reconsideration of the disability claim by the state agency, and in some cases a full evidentiary hearing. Id., 404.907-404.921. Additional evidence may be submitted at this stage, either on the request of the claimant or by order of the agency. Third, if the claimant receives an adverse reconsideration determination, he is entitled by statute to an evidentiary hearing and to a de novo review by an Administrative Law Judge [ALJ]. 42 U.S.C. 405(b) (Supp. V); 20 CFR 404.929-404.961 (1983). Finally, if the claimant is dissatisfied with the decision of the ALJ, he may take an appeal to the Appeals Council of the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]. Id., 404.967-404.983. These four steps exhaust the claimant's administrative remedies. Thereafter, he may seek judicial review in federal district court. 42 U.S.C. 405(g).
In this class action, the named plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief from delays encountered in steps two and three above. The action was initiated by Leon Day in November 1978 after his disability benefits were terminated and he suffered substantial delays in obtaining a reconsideration determination and in securing a hearing before an ALJ. After suffering similar delays, Amedie Maurais intervened in the action. On June 14, 1979, the District Court certified a statewide class consisting of:
Plaintiffs argued before the District Court that the delays they had experienced violated their statutory right under 42 U.S.C. 405(b) (Supp. V) to a hearing within a reasonable time. Both parties submitted the case to the District Court on motions for summary judgment. On the basis of the undisputed evidence, the District Court held that, as to all claimants for Title II disability benefits in Vermont, delays of more than 90 days from a request for hearing before an ALJ to the hearing itself were unreasonable. It granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiff class on that issue in December 1978.
After the submission of additional evidence, the District Court considered motions for summary judgment concerning the reasonableness of delays in the reconsideration process. The additional evidence also was undisputed. It consisted of factual summaries of 77 randomly selected disability cases submitted by the Secretary. The District Court noted that the "summaries support the positions of both parties. They show the reconsideration process is often time consuming and complex. They also show that the process is replete with unexplained delay; other requests are processed with commendable dispatch." App. to Pet. for Cert. 25a. In 27 of the 77 cases, reconsideration determinations took longer than 90 days. In each of these 27, the District Court concluded that the delays were caused by agency inefficiencies and were not justified by the "necessary steps in the reconsideration process." App. to Pet. for Cert. 28a. On the basis of this survey, the District Court concluded that, as a rule, delays of more than 90 days in making reconsideration determinations were unreasonable and violated the claimant's statutory rights. In August 1981, the District Court granted summary judgment for respondents on the reconsideration aspect of the case.
In November 1981, the District Court issued an injunction in favor of the statewide class that "ordered and directed [the Secretary] to conclude reconsideration processing and issue reconsideration determinations within 90 days of requests for reconsideration made by claimants." The injunction also required ALJs to provide hearings within 90 days after the request is made by claimants. Finally, it ordered payment of interim benefits to any claimant who did not receive a reconsideration determination or hearing within 180 days of the request for reconsideration or who did not receive a hearing within 90 days of the hearing request. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's determination that the challenged delays violated the statute and upheld the District Court's remedial order. Day v. Sckweiker, 685 F.2d 19 (CA2 1982). We granted certiorari to consider whether it is appropriate for a federal court, without statutory authorization, to prescribe deadlines for agency adjudication of Title II disability claims and to order payment of interim benefits in the event of noncompliance. _____ U.S. _____ (1983). We conclude that the legislative history makes clear that Congress, fully aware of the serious delays in resolution of disability claims, has declined to impose deadlines on the administrative process. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment below.
The Secretary does not challenge here the determination that 405(b) requires administrative hearings to be held within a reasonable time. Nor does she challenge the District Court's determination that the delays encountered in the cases of plaintiffs Day and Maurais violated that requirement. She argues only that a statewide injunction that imposes judicially prescribed deadlines on HHS for all future disability determinations is contrary to congressional intent and constitutes an abuse of the court's equitable power. She argues in the alternative that even if the injunction is appropriate, the order requiring payment of interim benefits in cases of noncompliance is not. The Secretary looks primarily to legislative history to support both arguments.
The Secretary correctly points out that Congress repeatedly has been made aware of the long delays associated with resolution of disputed disability claims and repeatedly has considered and expressly rejected suggestions that mandatory deadlines be imposed to cure that problem. She argues that Congress expressly has balanced the need for timely disability determinations against the need to ensure quality decisions in the face of heavy and escalating workloads and limited agency resources. In striking that balance, the Secretary argues, the relevant legislative history also shows that Congress to date has determined that mandatory deadlines for agency adjudication of disputed disability claims are inconsistent with achievement of the Act's primary objectives, and that the District Court's statewide injunction flatly contradicts that legislative determination. We find this argument persuasive.
Congressional concern over timely resolution of disputed disability claims under Title II began at least as early as 1975. It has inspired almost annual congressional debate since that time. The consistency with which Congress has expressed concern over this issue is matched by its consistent refusal to impose on the Secretary mandatory deadlines for resolution of disputed disability claims.
In 1975, the House Social Security Subcommittee held hearings on the delays encountered in resolving disputed Social Security claims, and sixty members of the House sponsored a bill imposing statutory deadlines for each step in the administrative review of disputed SSA claims. Expressions of concern were voiced in both the Senate and the House over the "huge backlog of some 103,000 cases awaiting hearing" before an ALJ. S. Rep. No. 94-550, p. 3 (1975); accord H. R. Rep. No. 94-679, pp. 1-2 (1975). Despite this concern, the Staff of the House Subcommittee advised against statutory deadlines because of the potential "adverse effect on the quality and uniformity of disability adjudication which is already somewhat suspect." Staff of the Subcomm. on Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways & Means, 94th Cong., 1st Sess., Appeals Process: Areas of Possible Administrative or Legislative Action 1-2 (Comm. Print 1975) [hereinafter 1975 Staff Report]. Congress agreed and refused to impose statutory deadlines on the Secretary.
Bills proposing statutory deadlines have been proposed almost annually since 1975, and congressional concern over the delay problem has remained high. For example, in 1980 Congress directed the Secretary to submit a report recommending the establishment of appropriate and realistic deadlines for resolution of disputed SSA claims. It ordered the Secretary in doing so to consider "both the need for expeditious processing of claims for benefits and the need to assure that all such claims will be thoroughly considered and accurately determined." Pub. L. 96-265, 94 Stat. 458, note following 42 U.S.C. 401 (Supp. V). The Senate Report explained that "Congress could then evaluate the recommendations for consistency with the elements it wishes to emphasize and, if needed, take further action next year." S. Rep. No. 96-408, p. 59 (1979). The Secretary submitted a report in October 1980, suggesting deadlines of 150 days for reconsideration determinations and 165 days from hearing to post-hearing decision, both subject to certain exceptions. Report of the Department of Health & Human Services 1 (October 21, 1980). The Secretary, however, cautioned Congress that budget and staff limitations and burgeoning workloads "mitigate against the Department meeting its proposed time limitation objectives in every instance." Id., at 2. Since receiving the Secretary's report, Congress has refused to impose mandatory deadlines on the Secretary, or to direct her to promulgate them herself.
Certainly in Congress the concern that mandatory deadlines would jeopardize the quality and uniformity of agency decisions has prevailed over considerations of timeliness. In its most recent comment on the subject, the House Committee on Ways and Means expressly disapproved mandatory hearing deadlines and indicated disagreement with recent judicial decisions imposing such time restrictions. Criticizing the decision in Blankenship v. Secretary of HEW, No. C75-0185L(A) (W.D. Ky. May 6, 1976), which had imposed judicially prescribed hearing deadlines on the Secretary and ordered the payment of interim benefits in the event of noncompliance, the Committee reported:
Finally, the Secretary points out that judicially imposed deadlines may vary from case to case and from state to state, requiring HHS to shuffle its staff nationwide. Not only would this tend seriously to disrupt agency administration, but wide variations in judicially imposed deadlines also would prevent realization of Congress' oft-repeated goal of uniform administration of the Act. See, e.g., S. Rep. No. 96-408, pp. 52-56 (1979) (emphasizing concern over "state-to-state" variations and expressing hope that current legislation would "both improve the quality of determinations and ensure that claimants throughout the Nation will be judged under the same uniform standards and procedures") (emphasis added.).
Legislation enacted by Congress in 1980 and 1982 is fully consistent with the repeated rejection of proposals for mandatory deadlines and with efforts by Congress to ensure quality and uniformity in agency adjudication. In 1980, Congress amended 405(b) to require that every initial determination of ineligibility contain an easily understandable discussion of the evidence and the reasons for the determination. Pub. L. 96-265, 94 Stat. 457, 42 U.S.C. 405(b) (Supp. V). At the same time, Congress added 421(h) to require a tri-annual assessment of the continuing eligibility of recipients of disability benefits. Pub. L. 96-265, 94 Stat. 460, 42 U.S.C. 421(h) (Supp. V). Congress also included in the 1980 amendments a requirement that the Secretary review at least 65% of all determinations of eligibility made by state agencies in any fiscal year after 1982. Pub. L. 96-265, 94 Stat. 456, 42 U.S.C. 421(c)(2), (3) (Supp. V). Before 1972, the Secretary had reviewed the majority of state determinations as a matter of course. A growing workload required the Secretary to abandon this practice for a sample review only 5% of the state agency determinations. H.R. Rep. No. 96-100, p. 10 (1979). The 1980 amendment, requiring review of a substantially higher percentage of state agency disability determinations, presumably will have an effect on the timely resolution of disputed disability claims.
Finally, in 1982 Congress provided that effective January 1, 1984, an initial determination that previously granted disability benefits should be terminated entitles the claimant not only to a de novo review on reconsideration, but to a full evidentiary hearing as well. Pub. L. 97-455, 96 Stat. 2499, 42 U.S.C. 405(b)(2). All of these changes will impose additional duties on the Secretary and her heavily burdened staff. In light of Congress' continuing concern that mandatory deadlines would subordinate quality to timeliness, and its recent efforts to ensure the quality of agency determinations, it hardly could have contemplated that courts should have authority to impose the very deadlines it repeatedly has rejected.
Persuasive evidence of the intention of Congress also is found in the distinction it has made between the resolution of SSI claims for old-age and survivor benefits and SSI claims for disability benefits. Section 405(b), governing eligibility determinations under Title II, and 1383(c)(1), governing eligibility determinations under Title XVI, are virtually identical. In the event of adverse determinations, both require the Secretary to provide claimants with "reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing." In the case of disputed SSI claims. This provision makes two things clear: (i) Congress will establish hearing deadlines when it deems them appropriate; and, (ii) Congress has determined that it is inappropriate to subject disputed disability claims to mandatory deadlines.
The Secretary also contends that quite apart from the congressional rejection of the mandatory deadlines discussed above, the District Court's order unduly intruded upon the discretion with which Congress has granted the Secretary to adopt rules and procedures for the adjudication of claims. See Heckler v. Campbell, 103 S.Ct. 1952, 1957, (1983); Schweiker v. Gray Panthers, 453 U.S. 34, 43-44 (1981); Batterton v. Francis, 432 U.S. 413, 425 (1977). We need not reach this broader contention, however, because of repeated congressional rejection of the imposition of mandatory deadlines on agency adjudication of disputed disability claims. In light of the unmistakable intention of Congress, it would be an unwarranted judicial intrusion into this pervasively regulated area for federal courts to issue injunctions imposing deadlines with respect to future disability claims. Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
Justice Powell was joined in this opinion by Chief Justice Burger and Justices White, Rehnquist, and O'Connor. Justice Marshall filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justices Brennan, Blackmun, and Stevens joined.
 Section 423(d) defines "disability" as:
"(A) inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months."
Any disability benefits payable under 423 are paid out of the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, which is funded by payroll taxes. 42 U.S.C. 401(b) (Supp. V).
 Social Security Administration Annual 1983 Report to Congress 43-44 (1983).
 Office of Hearings & Appeals, Key Workload Indicators 1, 16 (May 1983) [hereinafter Key Workload Indicators]. In May 1983, the average number of cases pending per administrative law judge stood at a record 221. Id., at 1.
 The state agency acts under the authority and control of the Secretary. See 42 U.S.C. 421(a).
 New material evidence may be submitted to the Appeals Council. The Council then reviews all the evidence and will reverse the ALJ's determination only if it finds that the determination is "contrary to the weight of the evidence currently in the record." 20 CFR 404.970(b) (1983).
 Day was forced to wait 167 days for a reconsideration determination. He received a hearing before the ALJ 173 days after his hearing request. App. to Pet. for Cert. 13a-14a.
 Maurais waited 215 days for a reconsideration determination after his disability benefits were terminated. He was given a hearing before an ALJ 65 days after his hearing request. App. to Pet. for Cert. 14a.
 That section provides that after any unfavorable determination of disability, the claimant, on request, shall be entitled to "reasonable notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to such decision."
 The evidence submitted by the government showed that 57% of the hearings requested in Vermont after January 1978 were scheduled within 90 days, with a range of delays varying between two and nine months. App. to Pet. for Cert. 15a. The District Court rejected the Secretary's claim that the delays were necessary to ensure quality decisions and to protect the limited resources of the Social Security program. It held that "[w]hile the SSA has made admirable strides in reducing the average length of delay experienced by claimants a few years ago, we [believe] . . . that the SSA is not warranted in forcing claimants to endure such lengthy delays without benefits, while it puts its administrative appeals process in order." App. to Pet. for Cert. 17a-18a.
 There is no express statutory requirement that reconsideration determinations be conducted within a reasonable time. The District Court reasoned, however, that because the reconsideration determination was an "administrative prerequisite" to an administrative hearing, "[u]nreasonable delays in the reconsideration procedures trench on the statutory duty to provide a hearing within a reasonable time." App. to Pet. for Cert. 27a. That reasoning is not challenged here.
 The order exempted reconsideration determinations from the 90-day deadline in the following circumstances:
App. to Pet. for Cert. 33a.
 The order exempted hearing requests from the 90-day deadline in the following circumstances:
App. to Pet. for Cert. 34a.
 Because the District Court held that the challenged delays violated 405(b) of the Act, it did not reach plaintiffs' claims that the delays violated the Administrative Procedure Act or their due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
 We note at the outset that the District Court had jurisdiction to consider respondents' statutory claim under 42 U.S.C. 405(g). There are two prerequisites to 405(g) jurisdiction. Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 328 (1976); Weinberger v. Salfi, 422 U.S. 749, 763-767 (1975). The non-waivable jurisdictional requirement that a claim for benefits shall have been presented to the Secretary has been met here. The jurisdictional requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted is waivable. In the present case, the Secretary has not challenged the sufficiency of respondents' efforts to exhaust administrative remedies. We interpret this to be a waiver by the Secretary of the exhaustion requirement under 405(g). See Salfi, 422 U.S., at 767.
 Nor do we understand the Secretary to dispute the District Court's determination that the 27 sample cases it studied evidenced statutory violations of the reasonableness requirement.
 The delays are not a recent development. In fiscal year 1973, the median time between hearing request and post-hearing disposition was 174 days. The mean processing time reached a high in fiscal year 1976 at 288 days. At the time this action was filed in district court (November 1978), the mean processing time was 151 days. Key Workload Indicators 1. As the District Court observed, "the [Secretary] has made admirable strides in reducing the average length of delay experienced by claimants a few years ago." See n. 9, supra.
 See Delays in Social Security Appeals: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways & Means, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975) [hereinafter 1975 Hearings].
 See, e.g., Disability Insurance Program: Public Hearings Before the Subcomm. on the Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways & Means, 94th Cong., 2d Sess., 341-343 (1976); Administrative Law Judges, HEW Executive Level Positions, and Salary Adjustment for Director of Office of Management & budget: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Employee Ethics and Utilization of the House Comm. on Post Office & Civil Service, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. 10-11, 16-17 (1977); Disability Insurance Program -- 1978: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on the Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways & Means, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. 15-17, 97-99 (1978).
 See 1975 Hearings.
 H.R. 5276, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975). That bill proposed the following deadlines: 90 days for an initial determination of eligibility; 90 days for a reconsideration determination; 120 days from hearing request to post-hearing decision; and 120 days for a decision by the Appeals Council.
 By the end of fiscal year 1975, there was a backlog of 111,169 cases, and a mean processing time of 262 days from hearing request to post-hearing decision. Key Workload Indicators 1.
 The concern was expressed throughout the House hearings that mandatory deadlines would worsen the situation of an already overburdened staff, thereby jeopardizing the quality of agency decisions. See, e.g., 1975 Hearings 8 ("Equally important as speed of processing of cases, is the question of the quality of adjudication"); id., at 17 ("Heavier work loads and efforts to increase individual ALJ production place more strain on quality of adjudication").
See H.R. 12466, 94th Cong., 2d Sess. (1976); H.R. 5151, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1977): H.R. 12672, 95th Cong., 2d Sess. (1978); H.R. 747, 96th Cong., 1st Sess. (1979); H.R. 4775, 97th Cong., 1st Sess. (1981).
 In requesting recommendations from the Secretary, Congress faced opposition from those who continued to press for statutory deadlines. See Disability Insurance Legislation: Hearings Before the Subcomm. on Social Security of the House Comm. on Ways & Means, 96th Cong., 1st Sess., 114 (1979) (Statement of Dennis M. Sweeney & Laura W.S. Macklin on Behalf of the Administrative Law Center, etc.) ("[T]he problem of delays in the Social Security hearing system has been before Congress repeatedly and for a number of years. . . . At this point, HEW is well aware of the problems in this area. . . . [W]e respectfully submit that this is not the time to further study the delay problem. A provision in this bill suggesting a study from HEW . . . can only be read as an invitation to further delay cleaning up the hearing process and getting rid of the unreasonable and unnecessary delays").
 The District Court's original unpublished memorandum opinion required the Secretary to comply with a hearing request within 90 days. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed that order and remanded for the Secretary to issue regulations promulgating mandatory deadlines. Blankenship v. Secretary of HEW, 587 F.2d 329 (CA6 1978). On remand, the Secretary attempted to promulgate such regulations, but concluded that unpredictable caseloads made deadlines impossible. The Secretary then petitioned the District Court for relief from the requirement that she promulgate deadlines. The District Court refused and ordered the Secretary to promulgate the regulations. Blankenship v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 532 F. Supp. 739 (WD Ky. 1982). The Sixth Circuit affirmed on appeal. Blankenship v. Schweiker, Nos. 82-5130, 82-5204 (December 1, 1983). JUSTICE O'CONNOR has stayed the District Court's order requiring the Secretary to promulgate regulations pending our decision in this case. Heckler v. Blankenship, _____ U.S. _____ (1984).
 This clear expression of congressional disapproval refutes the dissent's suggestion that Congress implicitly has endorsed judicially mandated deadlines by failing to repudiate those judicial decisions that have imposed them. See post, at 7. There is simply no basis for the dissent's proposition that this passage "when read in context, supports only the inference that Congress chose not to 'assert its power to give the district court's more specific direction.'" Post, at 8, n. 9 (quoting White v. Mathews, 559 F.2d 852, 861 (CA2 1977), cert. denied, 435 U.S. 908 (1978)).
 The dissent's suggestion that Congress meant to prohibit only nationwide and not statewide deadlines is unpersuasive. The legislative history suggests no distinction between the two. Moreover, injunctive orders imposing varying deadlines from state to state would defeat the express congressional goal of uniformity. See S. Rep. No. 96-408, 52-56 (1979).
 The 1980 amendments also authorized the Secretary to review determinations of ineligibility on her own motion. 42 U.S.C. 421(c)(1).
 The legislative history of this amendment suggests that Congress was concerned that undue emphasis on expediting resolution of disputed claims had resulted in a marked loss of quality and uniformity in agency decisions. See, e.g., S. Rep. No. 96-408, pp. 52-56 (1979).
 The suggestion made by the dissent that this legislative history "has little relevance to the task before us," post, at 6, is mistaken. The legislative history set forth in this opinion demonstrates far more than simple congressional inaction in the face of acknowledged delays; it explicitly shows that Congress has rejected repeated demands for mandatory deadlines. We rarely see as clear an expression of congressional intent.
 As early as 1967, Congress recognized the difference between old-age and disability claims:
"The process of making disability determinations is significantly different from the retirement and survivors insurance claims process. In the disability process[,] State vocational rehabilitation agencies are involved importantly in the making of the decision[,] and in the borderline cases[,] lengthy and extensive development of facts of a medical nature is often required." S. Rep. No. 744, 90th Cong., 1st Sess. 107 (1967).
 In view of Congress's unequivocal determination that mandatory deadlines are inappropriate, the repeated references in the dissenting opinion to the "reasonableness" of the injunctive order at issue here are simply irrelevant. See post, at 3, n. 1, 13-14, 15-16. The dissent states that the injunction at issue is "narrowly crafted," and assumes that the Secretary would have no difficulty complying with it. Even if this assumption were correct, it hardly suggests that this Court should disregard the considered determination of Congress that mandatory deadlines are inappropriate.
 We make clear that nothing in this opinion precludes the proper use of injunctive relief to remedy individual violations of 405(b). Our decision in this case is limited to the question whether, in view of the unequivocally clear intent of Congress to the contrary, it is nevertheless appropriate for a federal court to prescribe mandatory deadlines with respect to the adjudication of disability claims under Title II of the Act. We understand that the courts below were moved by long delays that well may have caused serious deprivations. But this does not justify imposing absolute periods of limitations applicable to all claims -- limitations that Congress repeatedly has declined to enact.
 The District Court's order requiring the payment of interim benefits was conditioned on noncompliance with the injunction. Because we have held that the injunction is invalid, we need not address the propriety of that part of the District Court's order requiring payment of interim benefits.
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