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Mathews v. Lucas

United States Supreme Court
427 U.S. 495 (1976)


Facts

The Lucas children (plaintiffs) are illegitimate children who were denied survivor’s benefits after their father’s death. Under the Social Security Act, children who are dependent on a parent at the time of the parent’s death are entitled to survivor’s benefits. Under the Act, legitimate children and some classes of illegitimate children are presumed to be dependent, and need not submit proof of dependency when applying for benefits. Other illegitimate children must prove that the deceased was the child’s parent, and that at the time of death the parent was either living with or supporting the child. The Lucas children proved that the deceased was their father, but were denied benefits because they did not prove that their father was living with or supporting them at the time of his death. The Lucas children argue that their denial of benefits violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, because other children are entitled to benefits regardless of actual dependency, while they are not.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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