Published November, 2004

Garnes v. Barnhart, 352 F. Supp. 2d 1059 (N.D. Cal. 2004)

A mentally disabled woman was entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits despite the fact that she left a state in which there was an outstanding criminal charge against her. The court determined that it was not required to defer to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) interpretation of the “fleeing felon” statute, despite the statute's failure to define that phrase. SSA’s interpretation of the statute, that the mere issuance of a warrant sufficed as intent to flee regardless of any showing of intent, nullified the regulation’s plain language requiring “an appropriate finding that the individual is fleeing, or has fled, to avoid prosecution.”