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TADDONIO v. HECKLER

February 28, 1985

ROBERT TADDONIO, by his next friend FLORIAN TADDONIO and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated
v.
MARGARET HECKLER, Secretary, Health and Human Services



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE

 BECHTLE, J.

 Presently before the court are (1) plaintiff's motion to certify a class, (2) plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, (3) the government's motion to dismiss the complaint as moot, and, in the alternative, (4) the government's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated herein, the government's motion to dismiss will be granted, and plaintiff's motions will be denied.

 I. FACTS

 The central issue in this case is whether or not the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984, Pub.L. 98-460, 98 Stat. 1794-1813 (1984) ("1984 Act"), allowing continuance of benefits pending appeal by persons such as the plaintiff renders moot the plaintiff's claim before this court that the cessation of benefits pending appeal under the outmoded Social Security Regulations entitles him to some remedy on behalf of himself and persons similarly situated.

 In 1977, plaintiff Robert Taddonio was adjudged eligible for Supplemental Social Security Income. Plaintiff was found to suffer from psychiatric problems including paranoid schizophrenia and a drug dependence disorder.

 In September, 1983, however, the Social Security Administration in an initial determination that plaintiff had engaged in substantial gainful activity between June and September, 1977, and again between September, 1979, and January, 1980. As a result of this initial determination, plaintiff was found to be not disabled. Plaintiff proceeded to the next step in the process and filed a timely request for reconsideration, but he did not seek a formal or informal conference. On reconsideration, the initial determination was affirmed. The court presumes that plaintiff was terminated at this time. *fn1"

 In November, 1983, plaintiff filed a class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking an order to have the regulations permitting termination of benefits prior to a hearing declared unconstitutional. Meanwhile, on January 12, 1984, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). As a result of a stipulation between counsel, plaintiff continued to receive benefits pending the ALJ's decision.

 In February, 1984, plaintiff filed a motion to certify a class. This court dismissed the motion for failure to meet the numerosity requirement. Taddonio v. Heckler, C.A. 83-5600 (E.D. Pa. April 10, 1984).

 On June 8, 1984, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was unable to perform substantial gainful activity. On June 20, 1984, plaintiff filed his second motion to certify a class.

 Plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of the Social Security Administration's procedure to terminate benefits for Supplemental Social Security Income beneficiaries. Under the Social Security Regulations in effect before the 1984 amendments became effective and at the time the plaintiff initiated this lawsuit, benefits for Supplemental Social Security Income beneficiaries would terminate after an initial determination and reconsideration (adverse to the claimant) and before hearing before an ALJ. 20 C.F.R. § 416.1336(b). The plaintiff asserts that such termination of benefits prior to a hearing before an independent adjudicator is a violation of due process. Plaintiff seeks a court Order authorizing him to represent the interests of Supplemental Social Security Income beneficiaries who had their benefits reduced or terminated on non-medical eligibility factors and who, within ten days of the reconsideration decision, requested a hearing before an ALJ.

 The plaintiff and defendant have agreed to the following stipulations:

 1. In calendar year 1982, 173,900 individuals were terminated from Supplemental Security Income disability benefits for ...


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