Mathews V. Eldridge Case Summary

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Mathews v. Eldridge is a case held by the United States Supreme Court that discussed about individuals have a statutorily granted property right in Social Security benefits, and the termination of such benefits implicates due process but does not require a pre-termination hearing. The case is significant in the development of American administrative law.
Mr. Eldridge, who was the plaintiff in this case, has begun receiving Social Security benefits since June 1968. However, those benefits of Mr. Eldridge were terminated without a hearing. In March 1972, the state agency in charge of monitoring Eldridge’s medical condition sent him a questionnaire. Based on Eldridge’s answers to the questionnaire and reports from Eldridge’s doctor and a psychiatric
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This contrasts to Goldberg in which the Court found that a pre-termination hearing was warranted because the case involved welfare benefits and people could starve without them. Therefore the private interest was greater.
The Court also brought out the example of Arnett v. Kennedy, which said that post-termination hearings were sufficient for situations where there was not the ‘brutal need’ in Goldberg. In Arnett, a federal employee was fired and without what he felt was due process. The court in that case found that since they could always reinstate his job and give him back pay later, the agency didn’t need to hold the hearing prior to firing the employee.
One criticism with this decision is that the court gives no guidance on how to compare the factors. For example, how do you compare the risk of error to the fiscal burden to the agency? It’s apples and oranges. It is impossible to create a common metric. For example, if there is a 15% chance of error, and the fiscal burden was one million dollars, is a pre-termination hearing required or

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