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Trouble in Guam

Katrina and Leslie Schaller are twins.  They are both United States citizens. They both suffer from myotonic dystrophy, which is a degenerative, debilitating genetic disorder that inhibits muscle function severely.  Only one of them, however, receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. Why? Because Leslie lives in Pennsylvania, and Katrina lives in Guam.

The existing SSI law limits benefits to American citizens who live in the United States.  “United States” means the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  It does not include Guam.

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the twins.  Their attorney asserted: “It is contrary to common sense, human decency, and sound public policy…to deny public benefits to Katrina Schaller and all other American citizens with disabilities living on Guam.”

Their attorney says that the current SSI law violates the Constitutions’ equal protection clause and the Organic Act of Guam.  The lawsuit asks that the Social Security Administration be ordered to provide the same benefits to US citizens who reside in Guam that it does to all other US citizens.