Brief Fact Summary. Appellees were financial aid recipients whose benefits were terminated without being afforded a pre-termination hearing, which they challenged as a denial of due process.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The extent to which procedural due process must be afforded is influenced by the extent to which he may be “condemned to suffer grievous loss.” Due process required a pre-termination hearing prior to termination of welfare benefits.
Facts. This case was brought by residents of New York City who received financial aid under the federally assisted program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or under New York State’s Home Relief Program. Their complaint alleged that City officials administering these programs terminated such aid without prior notice and hearing, denying them due process of law. After the suit was filed, the City adopted procedures for notice and hearing, which the plaintiff-appellees then challenged as constitutionally inadequate. The procedure allowed the recipient to challenge the proposed termination of benefits within seven days and submit a written statement for the reviewing official to make a final determination. Appellees’ challenged the procedures’ lack of an opportunity to personally appear before the reviewing officer for oral testimony and cross-examination of adverse witnesses. The procedure did allow for a post-termination “fair hearing,” however. The District Court held that only a pre-termination hearing would satisfy the constitutional due process requirement.
Issue. Does a State that terminates public assistance benefits to a particular recipient without affording him an opportunity for an evidentiary hearing prior to termination deny the recipient due process of law?