In 1974, Hansen (plaintiff) met with Don Connelly of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Hansen asked Connelly if she was eligible for “mother’s insurance benefits,” which required a written application. Connelly stated that she was not eligible. In reliance on this statement, Hansen did not file an application. Connelly’s statement was incorrect and not in accord with the SSA’s Claims Manual, a handbook for SSA employees. In 1975, Hansen did file an application and was approved for the insurance benefits. Hansen sought retroactive benefits from the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) (defendant) on account of Connelly’s incorrect advice. HHS denied Hansen retroactive benefits. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, finding that HHS was estopped from denying Hansen retroactive benefits on account of Connelly’s erroneous statement. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.