Commonwealth Citizen loses Federal Benefit Available in Other Countries
Was thinking about this one and Dale Coberly asked if I would write on this. For “Arne,” this post is about Supplemental Security Income. 🙂
How can that be?
“The Supreme Court’s Callous Blow to Puerto Ricans” | Washington Monthly
The majority opinion relies on precedent, Puerto Rico is part of the U.S., Congress. Congress does not have to treat it as a real part of the nation. Puerto Rico citizens do not pay federal income tax. Apparently, it makes a difference. The citizen living on the mainland, was paying income tax and payroll tax like other citizen for almost three decades.
A little history;
The issue is being assessed as part of a case involving José Luis Vaello-Madero, 67, a disabled man who lived in New York from 1985 until 2013. He then moved to Puerto Rico to care for his wife. He had begun receiving SSI benefits in 2012, when he was still in New York, until he was told in 2016 he was ineligible after moving to the island.
whines says “not so fast,” aided by the Supreme Court majority in Kavanaugh’s opinion. Previous cases state that Congress can treat Puerto Rico differently from the rest of the United States as long as it has a “rational basis” for doing so. Kavanaugh found that “rational basis” in “Puerto Rico’s tax status—in particular, the fact that residents of Puerto Rico are typically exempt from most federal income, gift, estate, and excise taxes.”
There is a difference which the majority tosses to the side. This case is not about treating the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, its legislature, its courts, its tax system, or any other feature of the commonwealth as a commonwealth. And differently from governments of states. It is about treating an individual American citizen. A citizen, an individual, who lived on the mainland for nearly 20 years, working and paying taxes. SCOTUS is treating José Luis Vaello-Madero differently from other citizens.
Equal protection, correctly understood, does not protect governments. Equal protection protects “persons” in the United States (which, whatever the SSI statute says as part of the United States).
To wit, would we be having this discussion if Puerto Rio native José Luis Vaello-Madero wife was in Mexico, Canada, or South America? And he went there to care for her there? Kavanaugh and SCOTUS penalize him due to his return to Puerto Rico. José Luis earned SSI in the United States which can be used in other countries.
The Supreme Court’s Callous Blow to Puerto Ricans | Washington Monthly
United States v. Vaello-Madero – Harvard Law Review
20-303 United States v. Vaello Madero (04/21/2022) (supremecourt.gov)
Supreme Court seems divided over Puerto Rico’s exclusion from federal benefits (nbcnews.com)
Please note that coberly’s expertise is about Social Security and this discussion is about Supplemental Security Income, which is not the same thing. SSI is not funded by the payroll taxes that Vaello-Mader (and all the rest of us potential SS beneficiaries) paid while he was working in NY.
The problem here has nothing to do with Social Security.
Where did I say SS = SSI or talk about SS? If he stayed in the states, he would have been fine.
To me, referencing Dale Coberly suggests Social Security. Since you did not anywhere write out Supplemental Security Income, you leave way too much room for the many people who do not know the difference between SS and SSI to come away from reading the post thinking that SS is involved.
probably better to have left my name out of it. I would like to think I could comment on something without people thinking I am outside my field. So far, I don’t think Run has even suggested here that I commented on the SSI issue.
I brought the subject to Run’s atttention because at first I thought an injustice was being committed. Then I found out that Puerto Ricans did not pay income tax, so maybe there is no inherent injustice in their not getting SSI [not SS] benefits.
I was a little annoyed with “the Left press” for reporting this without noting the difference in taxation.
But then I found out, First, that Vaello-Madero HAD paid SSI taxes [in the form of income taxes] while he lived in U.S. (proper) and therefore had a claim in justice for receiving the benefits…after all Puerto Rico is not Guantanamo where American justice does not apply, even if american punishments do. [and i imagine most people receiving SSI are not at that time also paying income tax, so it does not seem to me that he, or they, place an unusual burden on the American Taxpayer if they decide to move to a cheaper place to live.
Second, it infuiates me that the Court was agreeing with SSI that Madero had to pay the money that he had received BACK. To me this is an injustice on its face..the SSI administration made the “mistake” in the first place, and to come after someone who had no reason to “know the law” and demand repayment is just stupid arrogance, whatever the law says.
Then I found out, that Justice Gorsuch had written a separate opinion pointing out the injustice of the whole United States — Puerto Rico relation.. which treats P.R. like a nation of conquered savages incapable of managing their own affairs. And he suggests [and I concur] that this needs to be fixed.
So I come down to agreeing with Gorsuch , to my surprise, but also feeling that a stupid injustice is being perpetrated by the Court, not to my surprise, and still being annoyed with the Leftish press for presenting this case as a simple [simple] injustice without mentioning the tax issue, or even the Gorsuch opinion.
We can choose to be simple minded and wallow in pity and outrage, but that won’t help us actually fix what is wrong. And it does give the Right the right to be simple minded and mock us.
So, this is not about Dale Coberly, or Social Security…except perhaps to point out the advantages of worker paid insurance over welfare.
Looking at the longer picture: they’re already willing to garnish your SS for student loans, what else are they willing to take, and why? What precedent does this set?
I could be mistaken, it’s happened a time or two, but I think it’s a real bad idea to piss off old people ~ especially some of us ~ who have nothing left to lose.
At this point time in I’m ready for it, quit fiddle-fooling around: if we’re gonna’ have a civil let’s get it on, get over with, so’s we can move on to more important things …
I agree that garnishing Social Security is a bad idea and a gross injustice. But not because it might piss off old people. Because it is a stupid idea and an affront to the American claim of “justice for all.”
I have mixed feelings about “recedent.” Bad precedents need to be set aside. Good precedents need to be respected. It shouldn’t be too hard for a Supreme Court Justice to find a good precedent in the Fourteenth Amendment trumping whatever defilements of common decency have been created by Congress or past Courts. [Good precedents would include laws created to protect the source of all our lives and prosperity from the harms that arise by the unregulated free market….we cannot save ourselves if every new Congress or Adminstartion can set aside the laws we enacted to protect ourselves in order to satisfy the pfree market demands of the predators among us.]
“recedent’ should have been precedent
on the other hand
pfree should have been pfree [sic]
The article linked under Kavenaugh [third paragraph Opinion] is worth reading.
this one is worth watching