20 CFR 404.408

SSR 74-9c

Dilley v. Secretary, U.S.D.C., D. of N.J., Civ. Action No. 1520-71 (3/26/73).

Plaintiff, a disability insurance beneficiary, appealed, inter alia, the reduction under section 224 of the Social Security Act, of the monthly benefits of her dependent child because of her (the worker's) receipt of workmen's compensation, asserting her child had an independent right to such child's benefits and reduction thereof because of the worker's receipt of workmen's compensation, constituted a violation of due process and equal protection of the law guaranteed the child by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Held, child's constitutional rights not violated since: (1) the child has no independent right to benefits since such entitlement derives from entitlement of parent for benefits; (2) the child must be dependent on the disabled worker; and (3) a rational basis exists for reduction of child's benefits pursuant to section 224 since the statutory scheme is concerned with total disposable family income in that it seeks to assure that total post-injury family income from social security benefits and workmen's compensation does not exceed disabled worker's pre-injury income from employment.

BARLOW, District Judge: THE COURT: The plaintiffs here are a disabled claimant under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. section 401, et seq., and her minor dependent child. They are appealing a final decision of the defendant, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, which reduced the amount of insurance benefits to which the disabled plaintiff and her minor plaintiff child are entitled under the Act, 42 U.S.C. 424a.

The defendant Secretary has moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for its failure to state grounds upon which relief may be granted.

After the complaint was filed but before oral argument was had on the motion to dismiss, the Supreme Court in the case of Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78 (1971) decided that a disabled worker, as is the plaintiff Ann Dilley here, has no sustainable cause of action as pleaded here. Accordingly, this Court's attention is directed solely to the sufficiency of the complaint of the plaintiff dependent child.

42 U.S.C. section 424a contains a formula by which the sum total of all benefits, disability and auxiliary, to which a disabled worker and his family are entitled under the Act, is reduced if that worker is also eligible to receive state workmen's compensation benefits. The Congressional purpose behind this statutory reduction is to encourage the injured worker to rehabilitate himself and to return to work by insuring that his post-injury income does not exceed his pre-injury income. Richardson, supra, at 83.

The essence of the plaintiff dependent child's claim is that his child's insurance benefits (42 U.S.C. section 402(d)) should not be reduced of workmen's compensation paid to his mother. He asserts he has an independent right to these benefits and that application of 424a in the instant case violates his rights to due process and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

Clearly, however, 402(d) does not create an independent right to a child of these insurance benefits. First, there is absolutely no claim to benefits under this section unless and until a parent becomes eligible for disability payments under 42 U.S.C. section 402(a). [sic]

Second, in order to be eligible for these benefits, the child must be dependent on the disabled worker. The obvious purpose of section 402(d), then, is to allow a statutory increase in total benefit payments paid to the family based on the additional cost of supporting dependent children.

424a similarly is concerned with total disposable family income. While section 404(d) [sic] permits certain benefit increases, those payments are, however, still limited by the broad policy underlying section 424a, namely that the total disposable family income from the Act's insurance benefits and from workmen's compensation shall not exceed the disabled worker's pre-injury income,regardless of the number of children he is supporting. In short, there is a rational basis for the reduction of section 402(d) benefits pursuant to 424a, because both sections deal with the concept of total disposable family income. Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471. 487, Further, there is no claim that the plaintiff was denied the opportunity to present his claim to the administrative bodies of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Accordingly, we find that the plaintiff Franklin Dilley was not deprived either of due process or equal protection of the laws. Accordingly, the defendant's motion to dismiss is granted without costs.

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