Minnesota medical resident case heading to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has scheduled a Minnesota case for its fall term.

The question: Are medical residents students who don’t have to pay Social Security taxes, or are they working professionals?

The Mayo Foundation and the University of Minnesota claim resident researchers are students, and are exempt from Social Security and IRS taxes. The IRS says if they work more than 40 hours a week, they’re not different than any other working stiff.

“Mayo and the University permit their residents to care for patients purely for educational purposes,” lawyers for the two argued in a brief filed with the High Court. “The educational program of a medical resident is indistinguishable in nearly all respects from the educational program of third- and fourth-year medical students.”

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that third- and fourth-year medical students are students.

Mayo and the U will start with one strike against them. “The word ‘student’ is most commonly used to refer to a pupil receiving formal instruction in an academic setting, not a full-time employee who learns by doing,” the government said in its brief.

That was written by Elena Kagan, the former U.S. solicitor general. She sits on the Supreme Court now.

The Court today scheduled oral arguments for Monday November 8th.

  • John

    If they get paid for it, it’s a job. I learn on my job, too. If they pay for it, they are a student. It seems simple to me.

  • Kassie

    Work study jobs are not jobs and exempt from Social Security taxes. They are considered financial aid. This would change that I suppose too. Having that money taxed would have been very difficult for me when I was a student, especially since my hours were capped at 10 per week.