Last month, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided Brown v. District of Columbia, 928 F.3d 1070 (D.C. Cir. 2019), in favor of a class of about 1,000 residents of D.C.-supported nursing facilities who are seeking transfers to community-based care. The class alleged that the District failed to transition them out of the public institutions in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities by programs receiving federal assistance (here, Medicaid, which helps fund the nursing facilities).
Standing is like a light switch; a plaintiff has either alleged an identifiable injury or not. The concept of Article III standing is used by the courts to distinguish between a dispute that is properly before the court, rather than an abstract interest intended to be addressed by the legislature. Given this, the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have consistently held that a minimal injury is sufficient to confer standing and have never weighed one’s injury relative to their resources.
Imagine receiving a notice from the IRS that your long-awaited tax refund has been withheld by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) because you were once paid Social Security benefits and SSA has identified a benefit overpayment that occurred over a decade ago — or one of your parents was once paid Social Security benefits on your behalf over a decade ago and SSA identified an overpayment. If the withheld amount was $2,100, would you go out and find an attorney to represent you in an individual case against the SSA?