The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE
Presently before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. Briefly stated, plaintiff argues that the termination of his Supplemental Security Income benefits ("SSI") for non-medical reasons prior to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") violates his Fifth Amendment right of due process. Taking a position contrary to that of plaintiff, the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary") contends that the pretermination process afforded plaintiff is sufficient. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be denied and the Secretary's motion will be granted.
The parties have stipulated to the facts in this case, and the court recited those facts in its Opinion of February 28, 1985 603 F. Supp. 1008. The court adopts that recitation of facts to the extent that those facts are relevant here.
By way of background, in order to reach plaintiff's principal challenge, the court has disposed of numerous preliminary issues in its prior rulings on the parties' other motions. Relevant to this decision are the following two holdings: (1) this court has subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's challenge under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Taddonio v. Heckler, 607 F. Supp. 620 (E.D. Pa. 1985); Taddonio v. Heckler, No. 83-5600 (E.D. Pa. April 9, 1984); and (2) plaintiff's motion to certify a class consisting of
the SSI beneficiaries whose benefits have been reduced or terminated based on non-medical eligibility factors and who, within 10 days of the reconsideration decision requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
was denied. The court found that plaintiff's proffered common issue of law was not common to all members of the proposed class and that plaintiff's claims differed from those of other class members. Taddonio v. Heckler, 607 F. Supp. 620 (E.D. Pa. 1985).
Turning now to the merits in the present case, the court adopts and applies, as it must, the well known standard of summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
The parties do not contest that plaintiff has a Fifth Amendment due process "property" interest in the continued receipt of SSI. That plaintiff has such an interest is well established. See Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 322, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18, 96 S. Ct. 893 (1976); Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 25 L. Ed. 2d 287, 90 S. Ct. 1011 (1970). Whether the process afforded plaintiff by the statute and regulations is all that is due is contested. Thus, at the heart of this case, like other Social Security Act due process cases, is not the issue of whether process is due, but, whether the process afforded plaintiff is constitutionally adequate. Here, as in other due process cases, the due process standard is flexible and depends upon the surrounding circumstances and existing procedural protections. In particular, the appropriate due process analysis focuses on the balancing of three factors. This test was set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, supra, as follows:
First, the private interest that will be affected by the official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.
Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18, 96 S. Ct. 893 (1976).
Before this test is addressed, a brief description of the procedure afforded ...