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U.S. Supreme Court

Social Security Bd. v. Nierotko, 327 U.S. 358 (1946)

Social Security Board v. Nierotko

No. 318

Argued December 12, 1945

Decided February 25, 1946

327 U.S. 358


1. "Back pay" awarded under the National Labor Relations Act to an employee who was found to have been wrongfully discharged is to be treated under the Social Security Act as "wages" for which the employee is entitled to credit on his Old Age and Survivors Insurance Account. Pp. 327 U. S. 359, 327 U. S. 364.

(a) The treatment of such back pay as wages under the Social Security Act is required by that Act's definitions of wages as "remuneration for employment" and of employment as "any service, of whatever nature, performed . . . by any employee for his employer." P. 327 U. S. 364.

(b) The word "service," as used in the Act's definition of employment, means not only work actually performed, but the entire employer-employee relationship for which compensation is paid to the employee by the employer. Pp. 327 U. S. 365-366.

(c) The construction of the Social Security Act by the Social Security Board whereby "back pay" is excluded from "wages" is unsound, and goes beyond the permissible limits of administrative interpretation . P. 327 U. S. 367.

(d) Administrative determinations must have a basis in law and be within the authority granted the administrative agency. P. 327 U. S. 369.

(e) An administrative agency may not finally determine the scope of its statutory power; that is a judicial function. P. 327 U. S. 369.

2. "Back pay" treated as "wages" under the Social Security Act should be allocated to the periods for which the wages ordinarily would have been paid. P. 327 U. S. 370.

Page 327 U. S. 359

3. The back pay having been awarded for a period prior to the 1939 amendments of the Social Security Act although actually paid thereafter, the decision here is controlled by the Action its earlier form. However, there is no suggestion of any significant difference in the amended Act so far as the question here involved is concerned. P. 327 U. S. 360.

149 F.2d 273 affirmed.

The Social Security Board refused to credit respondent's Old Age and Survivors Insurance Account with the amount of "back pay" awarded him by the National Labor Relations Board. The district court upheld the Social Security Board. The circuit court of appeals reversed. 149 F.2d 273. This Court granted certiorari. 326 U.S. 700. Affirmed, p. 327 U. S. 370.

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