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MATHEWS v. ELDRIDGE government interests v. private interests
Social Security Administration • Established in 1935 during the Great Depression under President Franklin Roosevelt in an effort to promote greater economic security for the elderly – social insurance, to those who paid into the system, instead of social welfare – pay retired workers age 65 or older a continuing income after retirement
Soup kitchen during Great Depression
President Roosevelt upon signing Social Security Act • "We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age. "
Disability • Disability insurance added to the Social Security program in 1954 – Pays benefits to workers who are unable to work due to a medical condition, either physical or mental – To qualify for benefits, the worker must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and must have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability.
Disability cont. • SS’s definition of disability = an individual must be unable to engage in any "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA) due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) 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. In addition to being unable to perform his or her previous work, the person cannot, considering age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of SGA that exists in the national economy. • Eligibility for monthly disability benefits begins five months after SS determines the onset of disability. • Disability benefits stop if SS decides that the recipient’s medical condition has improved to the point that the recipient is no longer disabled.
Reconsideration/appeals procedure • After an individual files a Social Security disability claim, the case is sent to a disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency in the individual’s state. • The examiner, working with a doctor, makes the initial decision on the claim. If the claim is denied and the individual requests reconsideration, the case is then sent to another disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency, where it goes through much the same process. • If a claim is denied at reconsideration, the claimant may then request a hearing. At this point, the case is sent to an Administrative Law Judge who works for Social Security. • The Administrative Law Judge makes an independent decision upon the claim. • An appeal of the ALJ’s decision goes to the Appeals Council. • After being denied by the Appeals Council, the claimant can file a civil action in the United States District Court, requesting review of Social Security's decision.
What is Due Process? • In United States law, adopted from English Law, due process (more fully due process of law) is the principle that the government must respect all of a person's legal rights instead of just some or most of those legal rights when the government deprives a person of life, liberty, or property. • Due process has also been frequently interpreted as placing limitations on laws and legal proceedings, in order for judges instead of legislators to guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. The latter interpretation is analogous to the concepts of natural justice and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions.
MATTEWS v. ELDRIDGE 424 U. S. 319 (1976) § “[R] esolution of the issue whether the administrative procedures provided here are constitutionally sufficient requires analysis of the governmental and private interests that are affected. ” are affected. 424 U. S. at 334
GOLDBERG v. KELLY 424 U. S. 254 (1970) § Goldberg was decided 6 years prior to Matthews. § In Goldberg, the situation was similar to that in Mathews except that the benefits at issue were welfare instead of disability § The Court in Goldberg held that “the extent to which procedural due process must be afforded to the recipient is influenced by the extent to which he may be condemned to suffer grievous loss. ” 397 U. S. at 262 -263
Goldberg holding • Because of the “individual’s overpowering need in this unique situation not to be wrongly deprived of assistance”, the court found that to satisfy due process the recipient was entitled to a full evidentiary hearing prior to termination of benefits
Shift on Supreme Court • Goldberg 1970 – Majority: Brennan, Douglas, Harlan, White, Marshall – Minority: Burger, Stewart, Black • Mathews 1976 – Majority: Powell, Burger, Stewart, White, Blackmun, Rehnquist – Minority: Brennan, Marshall
Mathews FACTS • George Eldridge was first awarded disability benefits following an evidentiary hearing in June of 1968. • He was found permanently disabled due to chronic anxiety and back strain, and was subsequently diagnosed with diabetes. • He was advised that the award of disability benefits would be reviewed in June 1969 • In February 1970, it was determined that his disability had ceased and his benefits were terminated.
FACTS continued. . . • Eldridge requested a reconsideration hearing in April 1970. • In August 1970, through his lawyer Donald Earls, he filed suit in district court seeking a hearing before termination of benefits. • The district court ordered that payment of disability benefits be continued during the pendency of his claim. • In March 1971 he was granted an evidentiary hearing. The hearing officer determined that his disability had not ceased and ordered his benefits continued. • Time elapsed between the decision that no longer disabled and the evidentiary hearing? 18 months.
FACTS continued. . . • In March 1972, the state again reviewed Mr. Eldridge’s eligibility in the form of a mailed questionnaire. • Mr. Eldridge indicated on the questionnaire that his disability had not ceased & provided medical sources in corroboration. • The state obtained medical reports from his physicians and psychiatrist. Based on that, the state again determined that his disability had ceased as of May ‘ 72. • Notification of the decision was sent to Mr. Eldridge. • He was advised of the agency’s reasoning, and given an opportunity to submit any additional information.
DISTRICT COURT • “the legal criterion for Title II disability benefits is whether the beneficiary continues to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. . . and to cut off payments erroneously may create a loss as grievous as that which concerned the Supreme Court in the cases of welfare and old age beneficiaries. ” • “In light of a prior hearing being required in cases of interests which are seemingly less substantial than receiving disability benefits this court can find no basis for considering disability payments such an unusual situation as to require a lesser due process standard. ”
FACTS continued. . . • Mr. Eldridge replied to the agency indicating that they already had enough evidence to find that his condition was the same. • The state agency then made the FINAL determination that he ceased to be disabled in May 1972. • The Social Security Administration notified him in July 1972 that his disability benefits would stop at the end of July. • The notification advised him that he could seek reconsideration of the determination within six months. • Mr. Eldridge filed suit against the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, which oversees the Social Security Administration, challenging the constitutionality of its administrative procedures.
GREIVOUS LOSS. . . • Mr. Eldridge was a widower with dependant children. • Carl E. Mc. Afee, Attorney for Mr. Eldridge: “the hardships that Mr. Eldridge and his family suffered without his benefits were very evident. • Mr. Eldridge’s house was foreclosed and all of his furniture was repossessed.
Supreme Court • In Mathews, the Supreme Court expanded the balancing test it used in Goldberg v. Kelly to include three factors.
Supreme Court • 1) The private interest that will be affected by the 1) government’s action • 2) The risk of an erroneous deprivation of such 2) interest through the procedures used and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards • 3) The government’s interest, including the function 3) involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail
Distinguished from Goldberg • The Court in Eldridge distinguished the facts from Goldberg on the basis that a determination on disability is an objective medical decision made by a “team” consisting of a physician and non-medical person specifically trained in disability evaluation, and based on “unbiased medical reports. ” 424 U. S. at 344. Whereas a determination of need for welfare is not as sharply focused and easily documented.
But. . . • But the Court itself recognized that “[t]he decision is not purely a question of the accuracy of a medical diagnosis since the ultimate issue which the state agency must resolve is whether in light of the particular worker’s age, education, and work experience he cannot engage in any substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy. . . ”
Written Presentation Enough? • The court reconciles this contradiction by stating that these “characteristics [are] amendable to effective written presentation. ” • But even just considering objective medical evidence can be cumbersome. The American Medical Association labeled disability “an elusive concept. ” Amicus Br. 12.
Distinguished from Goldberg II • The Court also distinguished welfare benefits from disability benefits. It found that eligibility for disability benefits, in contrast to welfare benefits, is not based on financial need. Because of this, the Court found that “the disabled worker’s need is likely to be less than that of a welfare recipient”. The Court also suggested that because a person whose disability benefits have been cut off could still go on welfare, the need for a pre-hearing is not as great.
Reliable? • Mr. Eldridge’s case emphasized the nonreliability of the termination procedures. • Mr. Eldridge’s case had already been reversed multiple times. • Even after the Supreme Court’s decision, Mr. Eldridge’s benefits WERE eventually restored. The difference was that he was forced to live without the benefits during the pendency of his case.
Reversal Rate • According to the Amicus Brief filed on behalf of the Plaintiff, in 1973 58. 6% of all appealed decisions terminating Social Security disability benefits were reversed following evidentiary hearings. • According to Respondent’s Brief, appealed reconsideration decisions were reversed at a rate of 3. 3%.
58. 6%? OR 3. 3%? • “Bare statistics rarely provide a satisfactory measure of the fairness of a decisionmaking process. Their adequacy is especially suspect here since the administrative review system is operated on an open file basis. ” • “In this context the value of reversal rate statistics as one means of evaluating the adequacy of the pretermination process is diminished. Thus, although we view such information as relevant, it is certainly not controlling in this case. ”
Mathews v. Eldridge was a landmark decision that established the analytical framework for procedural due process issues. • The Court reversed the lower court, because procedures in place were sufficient to satisfy due process, and the state of persons receiving disability benefits was typically not as serious as that of welfare recipients. • Justice Powell delivered the Opinion. • Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. • Justice Brennan delivered the dissenting opinion with whom Justice Marshall concurs.
The Supreme Court Decision • Fundamental requirement of due process is opportunity to be heard at meaningful time and in meaningful manner. • Evidentiary hearing is not required prior to termination of social security disability benefits - present administrative procedures terminations fully comport with due process. • Degree of potential deprivation. • Financial cost alone- is not controlling weight in determining whether due process requires particular procedural safeguard prior to some administrative decision. • Government's interest-is factor which must be weighed. • The nature of the hearing must be commensurate with the interest affected, taking into account the states’ administrative needs: All courts must now employ the Mathews balancing test to determine the type of procedures that are required by due process when a governmental action would deprive an individual of a constitutionally protected liberty or property interest.
What is the balancing test? • The Court in Mathews, noting that due process was flexible and called for such procedural protections as the particular situation demands, set forth a three-part test for analyzing procedural due process issues like the constitutional sufficiency of administrative procedures prior to the initial termination of benefits and pending review.
Formulation: o If X+Y>Z which means the current protection for the due process is not enough o If X+Y<Z Which means just the contrary XY Z X= private interest that will be affected by official action Y= the risk of erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards Z= government's interest, including function involved and fiscal and administrative burdens that additional or substitute procedural requirements would entail
Formulation cont. - That is A’s property may probably be infringed upon by the inappropriate action of the government, which is not providing a hearing before the termination of his interests. - Suppose that the loss of interests of A will probably be about $5, 000, because no hearing is provided. That means the percentage of the government to make mistakes on such issues will grow 2 percentages higher. Meanwhile, if the government offers the prior hearing for everyone which will cost them more than $100, 000 person, in this circumstance, the process of prior hearing does not meet the satisfaction of the due process of law which is written in the Constitution.
Comments on the balancing test Lydia Lazar “It seems to me that the Court has tried, through the balancing test in Mathews, to help create a more predictable environment for plaintiffs to evaluate their chances of success in litigation. The Court has created a set of criteria to consider and to balance one against the other in a fact-based approach to problem solving case by case. This is the heart of the common law method, and a balancing test is uniquely well suited to calibrate and reconcile competing interests. The words “due process” alone do not provide sufficient guidance for adjudication of claims relating to entitlements or other matters. If for some reason the balancing test is challenged as no longer suited to the conditions facing society, and if that challenge is supported by sufficient empirical data, I am certain the Court would reconsider the test. ”
Carl E. Mc. Afee ATTORNEY FOR PLAINTIFF • “the facts just were what they were, and you can’t change those facts, but for some reason the Supreme Court decided the way they did, maybe they saw the process independent of the facts, I don’t know. . ” • “the hardships that Mr. Eldridge and his family suffered without his benefits were very evident, and the fact that every time he WAS given an opportunity to be heard his benefits were reinstated. . . it just reinforced his argument.
Justice Brennan’s dissenting opinion: “For the reasons stated in my dissenting opinion in Richardson v. Wright, I agree with the District Court and the Court of Appeals that, prior to termination of benefits, Eldridge must be afforded an evidentiary hearing of the type required for welfare beneficiaries under Title IV of the Social Security Act. I would add that the Court's consideration that a discontinuance of disability benefits may cause the recipient to suffer only a limited deprivation is no argument. It is speculative. Moreover, the very legislative determination to provide disability benefits, without any prerequisite determination of need in fact, presumes a need by the recipient which is not this Court's function to denigrate. It is also no argument that a worker, who has been placed in the untenable position of having been denied disability benefits, may still seek other forms of public assistance. ”
The due process of law • The phrase “due process of law” has been mentioned twice in the constitution, in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. These two Amendments can be said to be the vital ones of the Bill of Rights. • A long history • Significant position No unanimous opinion • And there’s no definite rules which can be appropriately apply to the cases that are concerned about the due process of law.
Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution “ No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. ”
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution “ Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. ”
The Court has kept using the balancing test established in Mathews v. Eldridge: o Lassister v. Department of Social Service，452 U. S. 18（1981） o Schweker v. Mc Clure， 456 U. S. 188（1982） o Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill， 470 U. S. 532（1985） o Wallkers v. National Association of Radiation Survioes. 473 U. S. 305（1985) In the 1990 s, the Supreme Court in the Doehr’s case articulated the balancing test which made it quite tenable. • The contexts are different. Mathews’ is about Social Security benefits. Doehr’s is about the possibility of private damage. In the former case, the actor of the relinquishment is the executive branch, while in the later one, it’s the court. • In Mathews’, the Court denied the need of a prior hearing by using the balancing test, while in Doehr, the Court held that it is unconstitutional to not provide a prior hearing according to the balancing test.
Application of Mathews v. Eldridge • In California v. Sanders (1977) the Supreme Court noted that a decision denying judicial jurisdiction in Eldridge would effectively have closed the federal forum to the adjudication of reasonable constitutional claims. Thus Eldridge merely adhered to the well-established principle that when constitutional questions are in issue, the availability of judicial review is presumed. • The positive value of the balancing test • Objective and transparent • A reflection of change • Critics and Suspicion of the balancing test 1. The suspicion of the balancing test. 2. The uncertainty of the application of it. 3. Possible challenge poses on the nature of the Constitution.
Comparative Cases Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U. S. 209 Where a new prison policy provided notice to an inmate of the basis for the inmate’s consideration for Supermax placement and a fair opportunity for rebuttal without witnesses, with multiple levels of review during which the inmate could object and review 30 days after placement, the policy satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U. S. 507 Although the Government was authorized to detain a citizen-detainee who was allegedly an enemy combatant, he was entitled to a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for that detention before a neutral decision maker. City of Los Angeles v. David 538 U. S. 715 A 30—day delay in holding a towing fee payment-recovery hearing did not violate due process because it was unlikely to spawn significant factual errors, and it reflected no more than a routine delay substantially required by administrative needs.
Comparative Cases Cont. Am. Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co v. Sullivan, 526 U. S. 40, 60 Workers’ compensation procedure allowing insures to withhold payment of medical expenses pending review to determine if they were reasonable and necessary did not violate Fourteenth Amendment because insurers were not state actors. Medina v. California, 505 U. S. 437, 443 The Due Process Clause required only the most basic procedural safeguards, and the State’s procedural was constitutionally adequate to prevent an incompetent defendant from standing trial. Santo sky v. Kramer, 455 U. S. 745, 767 A statute’s preponderance of evidence standard for terminating petitioners’ parental rights was found to be unconstitutional, and a clear and convincing standard was necessary to protect petitioners’ due process rights. Corey v. Dep’t of Land Conservation & Dev. , 212 Ore. App. 536 Oregon is free, by statute, to require more than the minimum procedural safeguards that a government agency must provide.
FIN • Happy Turkey Day! • That’s all folks!