Califano, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare v. Webster No. 76-457 Supreme Court of The United States 430 U.S. 313; 97 S. Ct. 1192; 1977 U.S. LEXIS 5; 51 L. Ed. 2d 360

March 21, 1977

CORE TERMS: wage, earner, computation, elapsed, female, retirement, monthly, formula, earning, classification, Fifth Amendment, male, woman, old-age, sex, favorable, situated, gender, Social Security Act, compensate, attained, Constitutional Law, irrational, died, immunized, alterations, equaled, calculation, replace, struck


Under 215 of the Social Security Act (42 USCS 415) prior to a 1972 amendment, the computation for old age insurance benefits was such that a woman obtained larger benefits than a man of the same age having the same earnings record. The 1972 amendment altered the formula for computing benefits so as to eliminate the previous distinction between men and women, but only as to men reaching the age of 62 in 1975 or later. After he had pursued his administrative remedies, a man who had reached the age of 62 before 1975, and who was dissatisfied with the amount of his benefits under 215 as amended, brought an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to challenge the constitutionality of 215. The single-judge District Court held that the statutory scheme for determining old age benefits under 215 violated the equal protection component of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment (413 F Supp 127).

On direct appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed. In a per curiam opinion expressing the view of Brennan, White, Marshall, Powell, and Stevens, JJ.

Burger, Ch. J., joined by Stewart, Blackmun, and Rehnquist, JJ., concurred in the judgment on the ground that the challenged classification was rationally justifiable on the basis of administrative convenience.

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