A California class action lawsuit against the Social Security Administration, Martinez v. Astrue, has led to a federal court settlement to restore $500 million in wrongfully suspended SSI and SSDI disability benefits to eligible beneficiaries.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) had mistakenly targeted people listed in an arrest-warrant database as felons and cut them off from the Social Security benefits they were qualified to receive. These people, who were either elderly or disabled, had warrants for minor infractions such as parking tickets, or had similar names as felons on the list. SSA has agreed to repay benefits and reinstate the financial safety net these people need.
SSA will be mailing out notifications about the reinstatement. However, it may be difficult to reach all the beneficiaries who were affected. Some are now homeless or have different addresses. Also, because some have lost their disability benefits over the last 10 years, they must reapply for them and will only have six months to do so or risk permanently losing them. Attorneys representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit are recommending that those affected by SSA’s wrongful suspension go online at www.ssa.gov to inform SSA of their current mailing address and, if necessary, get help to restore their benefits.
It may be a serious challenge to get the word out to some hard-to-find people who can now reclaim the benefits they have been entitled to receive for years.
Read the full New America Media news report and view the related video about the Martinez settlement.
Also read more about the settlement on the SSA Web site or on the Web site for the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) which provides explanations on the Martinez settlement in Spanish and Creole.