LOCATION: First Division Circuit Court, Pulaski County
DOCKET NO.: 76-860
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
CITATION: 434 US 47 (1977)
ARGUED: Oct 04, 1977
DECIDED: Nov 08, 1977
J. D. Riffel -
Jerome D. Riffel - for appellee
Stephen L. Urbanczyk -
Facts of the case
Media for Califano v. JobstAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 04, 1977 in Califano v. Jobst
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - November 08, 1977 in Califano v. Jobst
Warren E. Burger:
The Judgment and the opinion of the Court in Califano against Jobst , number 76-860 will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.
John Paul Stevens:
This case involves the constitutionality of the provision of the Social Security Act.
The statute authorizes a benefit for disabled children of wage earner, but provides that the benefits shall terminate when the disabled child marries.
There is an exceptional, if the marriage is to another person receiving benefits under the Act.
The appellee in this case has been disabled by the Cerebral Palsy since his birth in 1932.
He qualified for child's insurance benefits in 1957, several months after his father died.
In 1970 he married another cerebral palsy victim.
Since his wife was not entitled to benefits under the federal Act, the statute required the Secretary to terminate his benefits.
The appellee brought this suit in United District Court for the Western District of Missouri to review the Secretary's action.
The District Court held the statute unconstitutional because all child insurance beneficiaries are not treated alike when they marry disabled persons.
Beneficiaries who marry other social security beneficiaries continue to receive benefits whereas those like the appellee in this case who marry non-beneficiaries lose their benefits permanently, even though their spouses may be unable to support them.
We reverse the decision of the District court and hold that the statutory probation requiring the Social Security Benefits for widows, widowers, parents and children of the wage earner be terminated upon the beneficiary's marriage as constitutional and further that Congress had the power to create an exception for the special hardship which results when two beneficiaries marry one another.
That exception is not unconstitutional simply because it does not extend to every case in which the beneficiary's continued need for support is unaffected by his marriage.
The reasons supporting these conclusions are set forth in the unanimous opinion which has been filed with the clerk today.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Stevens.