WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice will defend a law that does not provide certain social security benefits to Puerto Rican residents, despite President Joe Biden this week saying the provision is “contrary to my government’s policies and values.”
The Justice Department will file a report on its position in the Supreme Court on a case that challenges the constitutionality of a provision that provides extra security income for the elderly and blind or disabled – but not in Puerto Rico and most other areas .
Lower courts ruled in the case that the provision violated the due process part of the same protection of the Fifth Amendment. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court in September to overturn the lower courts and uphold the law. The judges agreed in March to hear the case during the next term, which begins in October.
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The Trump administration, in its petition last year, told judges that if the 1972 provision were removed as unconstitutional, it would add an estimated $ 23 billion to Puerto Rico and an additional $ 700 million over the next 10 years. Dollars for other areas.
And the Trump administration argued that this “could affect numerous other laws in Congress that treat Puerto Rico differently from the states and District of Columbia for federal benefit program purposes.”
This includes portions of Medicare, Medicaid, a school lunch program, a pandemic relief fund, temporary relief for families in need, and child relief services. The federal district court in Puerto Rico, based on judgments from lower courts in the case, ruled that Congress had violated the constitution by serving Puerto Rico under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Trump administration , treated differently than the states told the judges.
Biden said his government would also argue that the provision was constitutional. The Justice Department, he said, has long defended the constitutionality of federal laws regardless of political preferences.
“This practice is critical to the ministry’s mission to uphold the rule of law,” said Biden.
Biden instead called on Congress to amend the Social Security Act to extend benefits to Puerto Rico, along with other steps he outlined in his budget proposal.
These include removing Medicaid funding caps for Puerto Rico and changing the SNAP.
“These steps, along with the US bailout plan, which included improved family child tax credits and permanent federal expansion of the federal income tax credit program, will give Puerto Rico families an equal chance to move forward,” said Biden.
In Puerto Rico, Congress provides federal aid through a different program – Aid for the Elderly, the Blind, and the Disabled – that provides more local control but less federal funding and covers fewer people with lower proficiency levels.
The challenges began with a man with severe health problems who moved to Puerto Rico from New York in 2013 and therefore lost his entitlement to SSI benefits. The Social Security Agency paid him until they learned of his move in 2016, then sued him in 2017 for recovery of the incorrect payments.
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