TOA ALTA, Puerto Rico, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Emanuel Rivera Fuentes, severely disabled since birth and lying in bed at the home he shares with his parents in Puerto Rico, recites a list of 14 medications he must take daily for medical conditions including cerebral palsy.
The drugs represent just one aspect of the care he requires, a burden that largely falls upon his parents, Abraham Rivera Berrios and Gladys Fuentes Lozada, who adopted him when he was a baby given just weeks to live.
Now 35, Rivera Fuentes spends most days in his room in the family’s modest teal-colored house in Toa Alta, a town about 20 miles (32 km) west of the U.S. Caribbean territory’s capital San Juan. He cannot walk and needs help performing basic tasks.
As a resident of Puerto Rico and not the U.S. mainland, he is denied a federal benefit worth hundreds of dollars a month that other Americans are routinely eligible to receive. He and his family argue that this denial is unlawful and are hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will soon rectify the matter.
At issue is whether the U.S. Congress unconstitutionally denied the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit to Puerto Rico’s residents. The nine justices, whose new nine-month term begins next Monday, are scheduled to hear arguments in a case on this issue on Nov. 9.
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