Washington Dept. of Social & Health Services v. Guardianship of Keffeler
December 3, 2002 (01-1420)
return to
case listing

Case Summary
Respondents, a class of children in foster care receiving Social Security benefits paid to the state as representative payee, brought suit claiming that Petitioner's policy violated the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 407(a) ("the Act"). Washington state law dictates that Petitioner attempts to recover the costs of foster care from parents. If the parents are unavailable or unwilling to reimburse Petitioner, the department reimburses itself using money and other funds that come into its possession while the child is in its custody. It is Petitioner's policy to use that money, including Social Security benefits, to help pay for the cost of foster care. The Act, however, prohibits creditor access to Social Security benefits. Respondents argue that Petitioner acts as a representative payee under 405(j) for foster children and then wrongly applies the Social Security benefits to reimburse the state budget for payments made to foster parents for the basic needs of those children. The trial court found in favor of Respondents. The Supreme Court of Washington affirmed and held that Petitioner violated the Act by reimbursing itself for foster care expenditures from children's Social Security benefits. The opinion of the Washington Supreme Court is found at 145 Wash. 2d 1, 32 P.3d 267.

To see the opinion of the lower court, click here.


PREDICTED OUTCOME ACTUAL
OUTCOME
Forecasting
Model
Expert
One
Expert
Two
Expert
Three
8-1 to Reverse 5-4 to Affirm 6-3 to Reverse 6-3 to Affirm 9-0 to Reverse
VOTING TO REVERSE
Rehnquist
O'Connor
Scalia
Kennedy
Souter
Thomas
Ginsburg
Breyer
Rehnquist
Scalia
Kennedy
Thomas
Rehnquist
O'Connor
Scalia
Kennedy
Thomas
Breyer
Rehnquist
Scalia
Thomas
Rehnquist
Stevens
O'Connor
Scalia
Kennedy
Souter
Thomas
Ginsburg
Breyer
VOTING TO AFFIRM
Stevens Stevens
O'Connor
Souter
Ginsburg
Breyer
Stevens
Souter
Ginsburg
Stevens
O'Connor
Kennedy
Souter
Ginsburg
Breyer

(With all voting to Affirm in Part and Reverse in Part)
 

return to case listing