Plaintiff was a welfare recipient in the state of New York. Plaintiff was notified that her benefits would be terminated. However, the state of NY had no set up or implemented any hearing or procedure for those whose benefits would be terminated. She argued that the termination of benefits without any hearing or procedure was a violation of her due process rights. The only procedure that existed was one where she could submit a challenge in writing for review. However, her benefits would still not be sent out while the challenge was under review. Plaintiff believed she had a right to appear before the panel.
Whether a state procedure that terminates welfare benefits without a formal evidentiary hearing violates the due process clause.
Yes, the court held that the state must hold an evidentiary hearing before benefits are terminated. The court determined first what sort of right was at issue; and they determined that the future stream of welfare benefits are statutory entitled rather than simply being privileges. While the state argued that the current procedure was administratively efficient, the court argued that the right to future aid superseded such efficiency interests. The court believed welfare recipients were entitled to a more formal hearing, where they could be heard in person or through an appointed representative and have the right to cross-examine confronting witnesses. Because of this, the court required the state have to pre-termination evidentiary hearing so that welfare benefits, which the recipients used as a basis to support their livelihood, would not be arbitrarily denied.