Court Hearing Not Required Before Cutting Off Disability Benefits

1976

George Eldridge, who had been deemed disabled because of chronic anxiety and back strain, was informed by the Social Security Administration that his benefits would end. Although Social Security procedures provided for a hearing before a final determination, Eldridge’s benefits were cut off before the hearing. He sued, and in Mathews v. Eldridge, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the termination of benefits before a hearing does not violate the Fifth Amendment. The Court notes that due process is “flexible” and calls for “such procedural protections as the particular situation demands.” The court finds there are numerous safeguards to prevent errors in making decisions to terminate disability benefits and argued that “at some point the benefit or an additional safeguard to the individual affected by the administrative action and to society, in terms of increased assurance that the action is just, may be outweighed by the cost.”