The US Supreme Court granted certiorari Monday in two cases involving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Social Security Act. The case United States v. Vaello-Madero involves an equal protection challenge, while Babcock v. Saul involves the Social Security Act’s windfall elimination provision.
In United States v. Vaello-Madero, the court will address whether Congress violated the equal-protection part of the Fifth Amendment’s due clause by establishing SSI but not extending it to Puerto Rico. SSI is a program that provides benefits to low income individuals who are over the age of 65, blind or disabled. Congress extended it to the 50 states, Washington, DC and the Northern Mariana Islands, but not to Puerto Rico.
The appeals court affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Congress violated the equal protection clause by not extending SSI to Puerto Rico because the Fifth Amendment “does not permit the arbitrary treatment of individuals who would otherwise qualify for SSI but for their residency in Puerto Rico.”
In Babcock v. Saul, the court will address the Social Security Act’s windfall elimination provision and whether a civil service pension received for federal civilian employment as a “military technician” constitutes a “payment based wholly on service as a member of a uniformed service.” The petitioner was formerly employed as a National Guard dual-status technician. When he applied for social security benefits, he was granted social security but his benefits were decreased under the Windfall Elimination Provision of the Social Security Act because of his Civil Service Retirement System pension.
The appeals court affirmed the district court’s conclusion the payment fell outside the uniformed-services exception.