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Supreme Court of the United States
March 19, 1979, Argued ; June 20, 1979, Decided
[*684] [***182] [**2549] MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner, the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), has determined that respondents, beneficiaries under the Social Security Act, have been overpaid. He seeks to recoup those overpayments by withholding future benefits to which respondents would otherwise be entitled. Respondents in turn have requested reconsideration or waiver of recoupment under § 204 of the Act, 42 U. S. C. § 404. The primary questions in this case are whether petitioner must grant respondents the opportunity for an oral hearing before recoupment begins, and whether jurisdiction under § 205(g) of the Act, 42 U. S. C. § 405(g), permits a federal district court to certify a nationwide class [****7] and grant injunctive relief.
Section 204(a)(1) of the Social Security Act, 53 Stat. 1368, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 404(a)(1), ] authorizes the recovery of overpayments made to a beneficiary under the old-age, survivors', or disability insurance programs administered by HEW. In particular, it permits the Secretary to recoup [*685] erroneous overpayments by decreasing future payments to which the overpaid person is entitled.
Section 204(b), however, expressly limits the recoupment authority conferred by § 204(a)(1). Section 204(b), as set forth in 42 U. S. C. § 404(b), commands that
] "there shall be no adjustment of payments to, or recovery by the United States from, any person who is without fault if such adjustment or recovery would defeat the purpose of this subchapter or would be against equity and good conscience." 2
[****8] The Secretary has undertaken to define the terms employed in § 204(b). Under his regulations, ] "without fault" means that the recipient [***183] neither knew nor should have known that the overpayment or the information on which it was based was incorrect. [**2550] 20 CFR § 404.507 (1978). For example, a recipient who justifiably relied upon erroneous information from [*686] an official source within the Social Security Administration would be "without fault." § 404.510.
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442 U.S. 682 *; 99 S. Ct. 2545 **; 61 L. Ed. 2d 176 ***; 1979 U.S. LEXIS 132 ****; 27 Fed. R. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 941
CALIFANO, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE v. YAMASAKI ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.
Disposition: 564 F.2d 1219, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
recoupment, recipient, prerecoupment, district court, oral hearing, notice, reconsideration, class relief, nationwide class, overpayment, injunctive relief, benefits, cases, mandamus, class action, courts, social security, federal court, certification, argues, fault, contends, requests, judicial review, class member, credibility, injunctions, overpaid, grounds, suits
Public Health & Welfare Law, Disability Insurance & SSI Benefits, Benefit Determinations & Payments, Overpayments & Underpayments, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance, Overpayments, Reduction, Social Security, Retirement & Survivor Benefits, General Overview, Disability Determinations, Surviving Dependents, Contracts Law, Consideration, Enforcement of Promises, Insurance Law, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Premiums, Forfeitures, Contract Formation, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, Governments, Legislation, Statute of Limitations, Time Limitations, Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Certification of Classes