MATHEWS v. ELDRIDGE

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
74-204
Petitioner 
Mathews
Respondent 
Eldridge
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

George Eldridge, who had originally been deemed disabled due to chronic anxiety and back strain, was informed by letter that his disability status was ending and that his benefits would be terminated. Social Security Administration procedures provided for ample notification and an evidentiary hearing before a final determination was made, but Eldridge's benefits were cut off until that hearing could take place. Eldridge challenged the termination of his benefits without such a hearing.

Question 

Did the lack of an evidentiary hearing prior to the termination of disability benefits violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for Mathews, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. In an 6-to-2 decision, the Court held that the initial termination of Eldridge's benefits without a hearing did not violate due process. The Court noted that due process was "flexible" and called for "such procedural protections as the particular situation demands." The Court found that there were numerous safeguards to prevents errors in making decisions to terminate disability benefits and argued that "[a]t 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."

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MATHEWS v. ELDRIDGE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 27 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_204>.
MATHEWS v. ELDRIDGE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_204 (last visited October 27, 2014).
"MATHEWS v. ELDRIDGE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 27, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_204.