With around 3 million inhabitants, Puerto Rico, which is not a province, is the most populated of the US territories.
The Boston-based 1st U.S. Constitution that requires that laws apply equally to everyone.
Vaello-Madero, who is 66 years old and disabled, mounted his constitutional challenge after the government sued him in federal court in Washington in 2017 seeking more than $28,000 for payments it had made to him after he moved to Puerto Rico.
The SSI benefits are available to any U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year in favor of a Puerto Rican resident named Jose Luis Vaello-Madero who had previously received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits when he lived in New York but lost eligibility when he moved to Puerto Rico in 2013.
The 1st Circuit decided that Puerto Rico’s exclusion from the program violated a provision of the U.S. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court decided to consider the validity of a decades-old congressional decision to exempt Puerto Rico from a federal program that serves low-income elderly, blind, and disabled people.
The Supreme Court heard a government appeal of a lower court decision that deemed the exclusion unconstitutional, which was initially brought by Republican former President Donald Trump’s administration.
Many Puerto Ricans have long argued that, despite being residents of the United States, they are treated differently than other Americans. citizen living in any of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the Northern Mariana Islands, but not the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
“This inequality is both unconstitutional and unacceptable.”
The court is likely to hear and decide the case in its next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2022. Congress, said in a statement that Biden should “do the right thing and withdraw the case.” Gonzalez-Colon has introduced legislation that would extend the SSI program to Puerto Rico and the other territories.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Puerto Rico asked the Supreme Court to uphold the 1st Circuit ruling.
“United States citizens who reside in Puerto Rico enjoy much lesser rights than those who reside in the States merely because of Puerto Rico’s status as a territory,” Puerto Rico’s government said in court papers. [L1N2KM1J8]
Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, a Republican who is Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in the U.S. The decision not to include Puerto Rico was made by Congress when it enacted the program in 1972. Puerto Ricans are eligible for a different program, called Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled, that allows for more local control but not as much federal funding, the Justice Department said in court papers.
After Democratic President Joe Biden took office in January, some religious groups urged his administration to drop the appeal.