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Judge’s ruling pushes Puerto Rico to pursue SSI benefits

February 4, 2019

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A U.S. judge says 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 Federico Gelpi on Monday 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.

Gelpi says 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.”

Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress filed a bipartisan bill to extend SSI benefits to Puerto Rico following the ruling.

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