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CANFIELD v. EWING

November 10, 1952

CANFIELD
v.
EWING



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BYERS

Both parties move for summary judgment, in the absence of contested issues of fact.

The plaintiff, being 65 years of age, attacks the constitutionality of the Social Security Act, Title II, 42 U.S.C.A. 401 et seq., (Old Age Benefits) in that it is said to be 'arbitrary' concerning deductions from sums otherwise payable to an individual under 75 years of age, who has net earnings of $ 50 per month.

 The complaint seeks to recover the sum of $ 477.90 plus any accumulated amounts at the rate of at least $ 53.10 per month at the time of adjudication, plus interest and costs and 'that the defendant be ordered to pay the sum of at least $ 53.10 per month to the Plaintiff thereafter and any extra amount due him when his wife becomes 65 years of age.'

 It is undisputed that such administrative proceedings have been had that a final determination, adverse to the plaintiff, was duly made, whereby the court review contemplated by Section 205 of the Act may be sought, Tit. 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g).

 The defendant's motion, based upon the Answer, asserts the legal finality of the administrative determination and the sufficiency of that proceeding in the legal sense, and that the constitutionality of the challenged section of the Act has been decided by the Supreme Court.

 The controversy is narrow and clearly defined, namely, that the plaintiff, having reached 65 years of age on July 21, 1951 became entitled to apply for Social Security payments on August 3, 1951 and made proper application therefor; on September 10, 1951 he received a certificate of Social Security Award stating that he became entitled to Old Age Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, payable monthly at the rate of $ 53.10, beginning July, 1951.

 The certificate states that its reverse side 'tells you the conditions under which your benefits are subject to deductions. If you have any further questions, we suggest that you get in touch with our Field Office at the address shown above. Our representatives there will be very glad to assist you in completing the statement required by the law * * * .

 'Read the other side of this certificate for the conditions under which these benefits are not payable, and for other important information.'

 So much of the applicable conditions reads:

 'This insurance benefit is not payable for any month in which you are under age 75 and you work for wages of more than $ 50.00 in employment that is covered by the Social Security Act. This does not mean that because you are entitled to monthly benefits you may not work, but simply that for those months when you do work and earn more than $ 50.00 you will not be eligible to receive a benefit payment.'

 Seemingly, the $ 50 limit has since been raised to $ 75, which does not affect this controversy.

 The plaintiff's application contained a series of questions designed to develop whether he was working for wages of more than $ 50 a month in employment covered by the Act. The foregoing are expressed in questions 6 to 8 inclusive and as to all of which he wrote 'Unconstitutional question.' Under the heading of Remarks, the following appears:

 'I look upon Social Security as an insurance policy whose premiums have been paid for out of my earnings during the past years and that it is unconstitutional to refuse to pay me my monthly annuity, because I happen to desire to preserve my Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness' and to refuse to be a party to Special Privilege, Regimentation, Pauperism and Slavery.'

 The original application, dated July 21, 1951, from which the foregoing has been quoted, was followed by a supplemental application dated August 29, 1951 in which the questions above referred to were answered: 'I am my own employer. I was an independent contractor. I am not covered by Social Security.' And these applications were followed by an interview with one Charles S. ...


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