CALIFANO V. JOBST, 434 U. S. 47 (1977)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Califano v. Jobst, 434 U.S. 47 (1977)

Califano v. Jobst

No. 76-860

Argued October 4, 1977

Decided November 8, 1977

434 U.S. 47


Provisions of the Social Security Act specifying that secondary benefits under the Act received by a disabled dependent child of a covered wage earner shall terminate when the child marries an individual who is not entitled to benefits under the Act, even though that individual is permanently disabled, held not to violate the principle of equality embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 434 U. S. 50-58.

(a) The general rule that entitlement to a child's statutory benefits terminates upon marriage is rational. Congress, in lieu of requiring individualized proof of dependency on a case-by-case basis, could assume that marital status is a relevant test of probable dependency, a married person being less likely than an unmarried person to be dependent on his parents for support. Pp. 434 U. S. 52-54.

(b) The exception provided for disabled children who marry individuals entitled to benefits under the Act to the general rule that marriage terminates a child's statutory benefits is likewise rational. That exception, which is a reliable indicator of probable hardship, requires no individualized inquiry into degrees of need or periodic review to determine continued entitlement. Moreover, Congress could reasonably take one step to eliminate hardship caused by the general marriage rule without at the same time accomplishing its entire objective. Williamson v. Lee Optical Co., 348 U. S. 483. Pp. 434 U. S. 54-58.

368 F.Supp. 909, reversed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 434 U. S. 48

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