Focused on class members with open claims
When: August 10, 2017
Hart v. Berryhill (Colvin) is a Social Security and SSI disability class action that challenged the Social Security Administration’s continued use of medical reports from Dr. Frank Chen even after he had been disqualified from performing medical examinations for Social Security because of serious deficiencies in his reports. The settlement, which was approved on April 25, 2017, provides an opportunity for new disability determinations for many class members.
Implementation of the settlement has begun. Social Security mailed the first wave of notices to class members with open claims to inform them of their rights under the settlement in mid-July. A second, larger wave of notices for people whose claims have been closed will likely go out in mid-September.
To help advocates in assisting Hart class members, Justice in Aging is holding a number of trainings on the process of obtaining relief under the settlement. This first training focuses on the first wave of notices that went out in July 2017 to class members with open claims (meaning that there was an active administrative appeal in process on the claim involving the Dr. Chen report, as of April 25, 2017). It briefly reviews the settlement relief for all class members, and then goes into detail about the relief for class members with open claims, and considerations about whether to request relief.
You can read more about the case and the settlement agreement here.
Gerald McIntyre, Special Counsel, Justice in Aging
Trinh Phan, Senior Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging
Our new issue brief Cuts to Multi-Recipient Households Push Older Adults & Their Families Deeper into Poverty outlines who’s most affected and discusses how these cuts would discourage families with older adults and people with disabilities from helping one another out by sharing their homes.
The cuts would push already poor families deeper into poverty, force people onto the streets or into institutions, and result in costly administrative burdens for the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Below is a statement strongly opposing Trump’s 2018 budget from Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging:
“President Trump’s 2018 budget is an attack on the millions of older adults who already live on meager incomes and struggle to pay their rent, buy food, and meet their health needs. The budget imposes massive cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, and other critical programs that many older adults rely on for their health and economic security.”
The program has been incredibly successful at keeping that promise. Today, more than 60 million older adults, disabled workers, and their families depend on Social Security to make ends meet. At a time when pensions are becoming a rarity, and as personal retirement savings lose ground to the cost of living, Social Security has become even more critical to keeping America’s workers and their families from living in poverty. Social Security keeps 22 million people out of poverty each year, and more than 61% of all older SS beneficiaries rely on SS for half or more of their income.
In order to ensure that the program is meeting the growing needs of today’s seniors—as well as future generations—we must make some important changes to the Social Security system. Read More
On March 1, 2017 the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it would reopen its decisions to deny spousal or survivor’s benefits to individuals who had been married to someone of the same sex, and whose marriage wasn’t recognized because of a discriminatory state or federal ban on marriage.
This ruling and policy applies not only to individuals who were denied benefits after the Supreme Court struck down federal discrimination against same-sex spouses (in United States v. Windsor in 2013) and state discrimination (in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015), but also to individuals who applied for and did not receive benefits before these Supreme Court decisions because of the discriminatory laws in effect at the time they applied.
A new Fact Sheet on this guidance includes more detailed information about who is affected by the new guidance, who isn’t, and what advocates and their clients should do to get their cases reopened.
This fact sheet was authored in collaboration with our partners at SAGE, Lambda Legal, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.
Millions of seniors and people with disabilities rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to make ends meet. There are people relying on SSI to survive in every community in the country. The majority of SSI recipients are women, and the program is especially beneficial for people of color and people with limited English proficiency. It’s also an essential safety net for older adults who do not receive sufficient Social Security income because they worked in low-wage or seasonal jobs, or stayed home from work to care for family members.
With leaders in Congress intent on cutting safety net benefits, it’s critical that advocates proactively educate lawmakers, the media, and fellow advocates about the important role SSI plays in ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people in our communities can meet their basic needs for shelter, food, and other necessities.
Please use this new Justice in Aging SSI fact sheet that shows who relies on SSI, why it’s important, and the dangers cuts to the program would pose for low-income families and communities.
If you would like us to insert statistics specific to your state and/or congressional district please email us for assistance.