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BUCKLES v. WEINBERGER

December 20, 1974

MARIE BUCKLES, FELICITA ALICEA, NICHOLAS SMERASKI, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated
v.
CASPAR WEINBERGER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE DEPARTMENT


Fogel, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: FOGEL

This is an action which seeks to enjoin the practice of the defendant Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and his agents and delegates, by means of which certain Supplemental Security Income benefits are terminated without adequate advance notice and the opportunity for a full and fair hearing. On December 18, 1974, we heard oral argument on the cross-motions for summary judgment filed by the parties, and on plaintiffs' oral motion for a preliminary injunction. On the basis of the arguments and briefs of counsel, and the Stipulation filed in lieu of documentary exhibits and oral testimony, we have determined that a Preliminary Injunction will issue, pending a full consideration of the record and the preparation of a definitive opinion and order. *fn1" In support of the Preliminary Injunction, we make the following tentative Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, pursuant to Rules 65 and 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. These Findings and Conclusions are subject to modification prior to the issuance or denial of a permanent injunction. *fn2"

 FINDINGS OF FACT *fn3"

 1. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program went into effect on January 1, 1974, replacing three categories of public assistance then in effect, Aid to the Aged, Aid to the Blind and Aid to the Permanent and Totally Disabled (APTD).

 2. SSI is a subsistence income program which in Pennsylvania provides $146.00 per month to an eligible individual and $219.00 per month to an eligible couple. These amounts are supplemented in Pennsylvania by $20.00 for an individual and $30.00 for a couple.

 3. The SSI program was enacted by Congress in October of 1972 (P.L. 92-603, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et seq.), to take effect on January 1, 1974.

 4. In the December 1972 legislation, Congress provided that any person who was permanently and totally disabled as defined in a state public assistance plan and who had received benefits under that state plan in December, 1973, would automatically qualify under SSI. Act of Oct. 30, 1972, Pub. L. 92-603, § 1614(a) (3) (A), 86 Stat. 1471.

 5. On December 31, 1973, Congress amended this "grandfather" provision in the 1972 enactment by passing Public Law 93-233, § 9(2), 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a) (3) (E), one day before the new program was to be effective. The amendment permitted benefits to be paid without further inquiry only to those who had qualified under a state plan and received benefits for at least one month prior to July, 1973.

 6. Therefore, those persons who first received state benefits after July 1, 1973, did not automatically and unconditionally qualify for conversion to SSI; instead it was required that a determination of disability be made as to them by the Social Security Administration pursuant to the new SSI standards.

 7. In Pennsylvania, prior to January 1, 1974, named and class plaintiffs were beneficiaries of Pennsylvania's APTD program.

 8. Named and class plaintiffs received APTD in December of 1973, but not for any month prior to July 1, 1973.

 9. Approximately 10,500 people were transferred into SSI from the rolls of Pennsylvania's APTD program who had received APTD in December, 1973, but not for any month prior to July, 1973.

 10. Named plaintiffs represent a class, under Rule 23(b) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, of over 4,500 persons in Pennsylvania who were found ineligible for SSI without an opportunity for a hearing prior to being found ineligible, because they were, according to defendant, allegedly not disabled.

 11. Because named plaintiffs and those similarly situated had been determined by Pennsylvania officials to be disabled, and were receiving APTD benefits, on or about December, 1973, they received letters from the Social Security Administration stating in part:

 
"You do not need to file an application to get supplemental security income. A gold colored check for the amount shown above ($130.00) will come to you automatically about the first day of each month. This check will take the place of the checks you now get from your state or local public assistance office."

 12. Plaintiffs were at no time requested by defendant to submit any additional evidence on their cases. Plaintiffs' checks began arriving on the first of each month. Plaintiffs took ...


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