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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Arrest Warrant Trumps Right to SS Benefits

(CN) - A mentally disabled woman was properly denied Social Security benefits because of an outstanding arrest warrant, the 8th Circuit ruled.

Virginia Slusser, a paranoid schizophrenic, pleaded no contest to robbery and resisting arrest charges in 1993. She violated the terms of her community control, by moving from Florida to Minnesota, so Florida authorities issued a warrant for her arrest. Her SSI benefits were suspended in 2001 because she was considered a fleeing felon.

Slusser sued for the reinstatement of her benefits, but the administrative law judge (ALJ) and the district court denied her petition. Judge Smith of the St. Louis-based federal appeals court affirmed the decision.

"During the ALJ hearing, Slusser acknowledged that she knew that leaving Florida was in violation of the terms of her community control and that she had no intention of returning to Florida," Smith wrote.

The judge also rejected Slusser's contention that the Social Security commissioner disqualified her from benefits based on her disability, violating the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

"Slusser was not able to produce evidence beyond conjecture that she was incapacitated at the time she departed Florida an incapable of conforming her behavior to the conditions of her community control," Smith ruled.

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