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Due Process

Our series of Clearinghouse articles on due process and public benefits concluded in March 2016. We've collected the four articles in that series along with three other articles on due process and public benefits from our deep Clearinghouse Review archive. Be sure to watch the recordings of our conversations with some of the authors; those are embedded in the article from Gina Mannix and her coauthors on due process and "modernized" benefits systems and in the article from Sovereign Hager and Ty Jones on due process and notices from state agencies.

Demanding Ascertainable Standards

Medicaid as a Case Study

By Jane Perkins

Public benefits programs increasingly use preset guidelines and assessment tools to make coverage decisions. In some instances, agencies withhold these standards from program applicants and beneficiaries. The lack of ascertainable standards is inconsistent with the transparent use of public funds and creates serious due process problems. Legal protections can prevent the application of secret standards in the Medicaid context; such protections can be used in other public benefits programs, too.

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What Does Due Process Mean for State Notices on Receiving Public Benefits?

By Sovereign Hager & Ty Jones

State agencies notify recipients of public benefits when those benefits are denied, terminated, or reduced. Such notification must be constitutionally adequate to satisfy the due process protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. The three main public-benefits programs—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—have specific notice rules. Advocates should make sure their state’s notices comply with the law and are clear and understandable. Advocates in New Mexico succeeded in improving their state’s notices.

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How to Protect Clients Receiving Public Benefits When Modernized Systems Fail

Apply Traditional Due Process in New Contexts

By Amy Hirsch, Gina Mannix, Greg Bass, Kristen Dama & Marc Cohan

States have transformed their administration of public benefits by incorporating sophisticated technology to submit applications, receive inquiries, update case files, or terminate cases. But sometimes those systems fail and result in chaos and arbitrary exclusions. Fundamental procedural due process protections can remedy many of the failures that result from public benefits modernization. By using the due process hook, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia secured improvements in Pennsylvania’s modernized public benefits system.

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“Transitional Due Process”

Still a Viable Theory for Challenging the Implementation of Tightened Public Benefit Program Rules

By John Bouman & Lauren P. Schroeder

“Transitional due process” refers to the procedural rights that public benefits recipients have when a public benefits program changes its rules to reduce benefits or tighten eligibility. The Seventh Circuit set out rules for these transitional due process claims in its 1995 decision in Youakim v. McDonald. Since then, courts have refined the analysis, but the basic requirements for a successful transitional due process claim have remained the same.

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Goldberg on Life Support at the Social Security Administration

By Gerald A. McIntyre & Rachel Gershon

The Social Security Administration commonly fails to comply with its governing regulations and with the constitutional principles set forth in Goldberg v. Kelly when it processes appeals of proposed reductions or suspensions of benefits. The agency’s handling of the first stage of appeal, requests for reconsideration, is particularly rife with due process violations. The agency also commonly mishandles disputes on overpayments and treats appeals of findings of overpayment as requests for waiver of overpayment. Advocates, too, sometimes fail to perceive the critical distinction and should take care not to confuse appeals with waiver requests.

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Making the Fair Hearing More Fair

By Robert P. Capistrano

Critical to an effective poverty law practice is a thorough understanding of procedural due process rights to which clients involved in public benefits proceedings are entitled. These rights are rooted in the Goldberg v. Kelly decision and have evolved through numerous, subsequent court decisions. Both newer and more experienced advocates can benefit from understanding all of the due process rights afforded public benefits litigants throughout the fair hearing stages.

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Due Process for Welfare Recipients Subject to Changing Program Rules

An Illinois Case Study

By John Bouman

As federal statutory protections for welfare recipients become threatened or weakened, what protections remain available under the Due Process Clause to ameliorate the transition from existing eligibility rules to new and tighter rules? This article explores "transitional" due process issues with Youakim v. McDonald as a case study.

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