This case raised the legal question whether a person who was civilly confined pursuant to California’s Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) was banned from collecting Social Security benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 402(x)(1)(A)(iii). That law states that “no monthly benefits” shall be paid to individuals who are confined and maintained at public expense, including any individual who “immediately upon completion of confinement” for a criminal sexual offense “is confined by court order in an institution at public expense pursuant to a finding that the individual is a sexually dangerous person or a sexual predator or a similar finding.”
Looking to common usage of the statute’s terms “sexually dangerous person” and “sexual predator,” the court concluded that the plaintiff here was not eligible for Social Security benefits. The panel examined dictionary definitions contemporaneous with the statute’s enactment in 1999 and determined that the plaintiff fit into the original public meaning of the statute’s terms.