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Judge’s ruling pushes Puerto Rico to pursue SSI benefits

  February 4, 2019 | By Danica Coto, The Washington Post

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. judge said Monday that the federal government is violating the Constitution by prohibiting people who live in Puerto Rico from receiving Supplemental Security Income.

The opinion was issued as Judge Gustavo Gelpi dismissed a lawsuit filed by the federal government seeking to recover more than $28,000 in SSI disability benefits paid to a U.S. citizen after he moved from New York to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Gelpi said a clause in the Constitution that allows federal legislators to enact rules and regulations for U.S. territories is not “carte blanche for Congress to switch on and off at its convenience the fundamental constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.”

“Congress, likewise, cannot demean and brand said United States citizen while in Puerto Rico with a stigma of inferior citizenship to that of his brethren nationwide,” Gelpi wrote, adding that powers granted under the Constitution are not infinite.

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