Califano v. Jobst

434 U.S. 47, 98 S. Ct. 95, 54 L. Ed. 2d 228 (1977)

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Califano v. Jobst

United States Supreme Court
434 U.S. 47, 98 S. Ct. 95, 54 L. Ed. 2d 228 (1977)

Facts

The Social Security Act of 1935 (the act) provided monthly benefits to qualified wage earners 65 years and older. In 1939, Congress extended coverage to secondary beneficiaries presumed to be dependent upon the wage earner at the time of the earner’s death, disability, or retirement, including wives, children, widows, and parents. A child was eligible for secondary benefits only if unmarried, under 18, and dependent upon the wage earner. In 1956, Congress amended the act to include continued benefits for children older than 18 if their disability existed before they turned 18. The benefits, however, still terminated upon marriage. In 1958, Congress again amended the act to provide that marriage would not terminate a child’s disability benefit if the child married another individual who was an eligible secondary beneficiary. Jobst (plaintiff) had cerebral palsy since his birth in 1932. After Jobst’s father died in 1957, Jobst qualified for child benefits due to Jobst’s preexisting disability. In 1970, Jobst married another disabled individual, but Jobst’s wife was not entitled to benefits under the act. US Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano (the secretary) (defendant) terminated Jobst’s benefits. Jobst sued, arguing that the 1958 amendment violated the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. The district court found in Jobst’s favor. The secretary appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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