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United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
March 10, 2020, Argued; May 11, 2020, Decided; May 11, 2020, Filed
File Name: 20a0142p.06
[***1] [*212] COLE, Chief Judge. This case asks us to decide whether a federal civil-service pension based on work as a National Guard dual-status technician qualifies as "a payment based wholly [***2] on service as a member of a uniformed service" under the Social Security Act. We agree with the district court that it does not.
Plaintiff-Appellant David Babcock joined the Michigan National Guard in 1970 as an enlisted soldier. After serving for three-and-a-half years, Babcock went to flight school, received his pilot license and, in 1975, became employed as a National Guard dual-status technician. He worked in that position for over 33 years.
] By statute, [**2] a National Guard dual-status technician "is a Federal civilian employee" who "is assigned to a civilian position as a technician" while maintaining membership in the National Guard. 10 U.S.C. § 10216(a)(1); see also 32 U.S.C. § 709(e) (providing that National Guard dual-status technicians are employees of both the United States and either the Department of the Army or the Department of the Air Force). These technicians are responsible for "the organizing, administering, instructing, or training of the National Guard" or "the maintenance and repair of supplies issued to the National Guard or the armed forces." 32 U.S.C. § 709(a)(1)-(2); accord 10 U.S.C. § 10216(a)(1)(C). Babcock, for his part, served in various roles as a test pilot and pilot instructor for the Michigan National Guard. Additionally, as is required of all dual-status technicians, Babcock held the appropriate military grade for his position, wore a uniform that displayed his rank and unit insignia while working, and attended weekend drills. See 32 U.S.C. § 709(b); see also id. § 502(a) (requiring National Guard members to complete certain drills and training). Dual-status technicians may also be required to support operations or missions undertaken by their units. See 32 U.S.C. § 709(a)(3)(A). Indeed, for a period between 2004 and 2005, Babcock was deployed [**3] to Iraq on active duty.
Babcock received military pay for his active-duty service in Iraq and his inactive-duty training, including weekend drills. See generally 37 U.S.C. §§ 204(a), 206 (military pay provisions). But otherwise, he received civil pay and participated in the Civil Service Retirement System ("CSRS"). See generally 5 U.S.C. §§ 5301 et seq. (describing the federal civil pay system); id. § 8332(b)(6) (providing that employment as a dual-status technician is eligible for the CSRS). In accordance with the Social Security Act, Babcock paid Social Security taxes on [***3] the wages for his active-duty service in Iraq and for his inactive-duty training from 1988 onwards. See 42 U.S.C. § 410(l)(1). He did not pay Social Security taxes on his wages for inactive-duty training before 1988 or on his civil-service wages. See id.; see also id. § 410(a)(5).
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959 F.3d 210 *; 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 14935 **; 2020 FED App. 0142P (6th Cir.) ***; Unemployment Ins. Rep. (CCH) P15,942
DAVID BRYON BABCOCK, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant-Appellee.
Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari granted by Babcock v. Saul, 141 S. Ct. 1463, 209 L. Ed. 2d 179, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 1253 (U.S., Mar. 1, 2021)
Motion granted by Babcock v. Saul, 141 S. Ct. 2721, 210 L. Ed. 2d 882, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 2857, 2021 WL 2301970 (U.S., June 7, 2021)
Affirmed by Babcock v. Kij, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 494 (U.S., Jan. 13, 2022)
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:18-cv-00255—Gordon J. Quist, District Judge.
Babcock v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85986, 2019 WL 2205712 (W.D. Mich., May 22, 2019)
dual-status, pension, uniformed-services, military, uniformed services, civilian, retirement benefits, noncovered, benefits, retirement, claimant, earnings, training, district court, calculated, eligible, taxes, civilian employee, Social Security Act, receives, resident
Military & Veterans Law, Civilian Employees, Armed Forces, Service Branches, US National Guard, Pensions & Benefits Law, Governmental Employees, US Civil Service Retirement System, Definitions, Servicemembers, Retirement, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Public Health & Welfare Law, Social Security, Retirement & Survivor Benefits, Administrative Proceedings & Judicial Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Eligibility, Simultaneous Benefit Entitlements, Benefit Entitlements, Computation of Annuities, Constitutional Law, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection