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Artz v. Barnhart

May 30, 2003

JAY ARTZ, APPELLANT
v.
JO ANNE B. BARNHART, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION



ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY (D.C. No. 01-cv-02004) District Judge: Hon. Joseph E. Irenas

Before: Alito, Fuentes and Greenberg, Circuit Judges

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alito, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued: April 7, 2003

OPINION OF THE COURT

This appeal requires us to interpret and apply a provision of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1)(A)(ii), that provides that disability insurance benefits and certain other benefits are not to be paid to a person who "is confined by court order in an institution at public expense in connection with... a verdict or finding that the individual is not guilty of [a criminal] offense by reason of insanity." Relying on this provision, the Commissioner suspended Jay Artz's claim for disability benefits for a 14-month period during which he was involuntarily confined in psychiatric institutions at public expense. The District Court affirmed the decision of the Commissioner, Artz v. Barnhart, 214 F. Supp.2d 459 (D.N.J. 2002), and we now affirm the order of the District Court.

I.

Before turning to the facts of Artz's case, we will briefly discuss the provision of the Social Security Act that is at issue in this appeal, and we will summarize New Jersey's treatment of persons who are found not guilty by reason of insanity ("NGRI").

A. Before 1994, a provision of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1) (amended 1994) provided that benefits were not to be paid to felons while incarcerated unless they were actively and satisfactorily participating in an approved rehabilitation program and were expected to be able to engage in substantial gainful activity upon release and within a reasonable time. In 1994, Congress broadened this prohibition to apply to several other categories of persons who are institutionalized at public expense following criminal proceedings. 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1)(A). Specifically, as amended in 1994 and as it now stands, the statute applies to any person who

(i) is confined in a jail, prison, or other penal institution or correctional facility pursuant to his conviction of a criminal offense,

(ii) is confined by court order in an institution at public expense in connection with —

(I) a verdict or finding that the individual is guilty but insane, with respect to a criminal offense,

(II) a verdict or finding that the individual is not guilty of such an offense by reason of insanity,

(III) a finding that such individual is incompetent to stand trial under an allegation ...


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