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Weinberger v. Salfi

United States Supreme Court
422 U.S. 749, 95 S. Ct. 2457 (1975)


A federal insurance law required that the surviving wife and stepchildren of a deceased wage earner must have had a relationship with the deceased for at least nine months prior to his death to be able to recover insurance benefits (a.k.a. the duration-of-relationship requirement). Salfi’s (plaintiff) husband died six months after they were married, despite being in good health when they got married. She applied for insurance benefits for herself and on behalf of her daughter from a previous marriage. The Social Security Administration (SSA) (defendant) denied her claims based on the duration-of-relationship requirement and did not afford her a chance to present evidence that her marriage was legitimate. Salfi brought suit and the district court ruled in her favor, invalidating the duration-of-relationship requirement. The district court ruled that the duration-of-relationship requirement improperly created an irrebuttable presumption that short-term marriages such as Salfi’s were entered into in order to take advantage of the social security system. The SSA appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

Dissent (Douglas, J.)

Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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