Update on Eric Conn cases:
On November 21, 2018, a panel of Federal Appeals Court Judges for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the process that the Social Security Administration used to cut off benefits from former clients of Eric Conn is unconstitutional and flawed.
Per Ned Pillersdorf, the man who has become the face of the cases of thousands of people trying to keep their benefits, it means that people who lost their benefits in the last few years in relation to having Eric Conn represent them will get them back.
For background, please see the attached article: https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/article222030290.html?fbclid=IwAR3lL_hI2TWftdRJQV04xTiTUpOzCyUx1S2xkFuSIgqUx3eKR4EiLzIvuts
Most of the Country did not know about Eric Conn’s scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration until he was to testify in front of a U.S. Senate subcommittee, where he asserted his Fifth Amendment Right not to incriminate himself, which was in October 2013. This was after he had worked with a Social Security Judge from 2004 to 2011 to pay the judge to award benefits to all of Conn’s clients.
When you hear how much Conn “defrauded” the government for, remember that the money actually should have gone to the people applying for Social Security benefits. When they are awarded benefits 25% of their backpay is paid to their attorney. Otherwise, that 25% is given to the clients. So realistically he was really stealing from his clients and any money that is given back to anyone should be to the clients, in my opinion.
It wasn’t until 2015, so about two years later, that the Social Security Administration starting sending out letters to 1,787 former clients of Eric Conn to tell them that they would lose their benefits due to allegations of fraud by their attorney. Some did lose their benefits almost immediately and that coupled with the same people getting letters stating that they would have to pay back all the benefits they had received directly caused numerous suicides. The official count is two, but as anyone that has done any work on these cases knows, there are more suicides related to this than those listed.
At that point U.S. Representative Hal Rogers got involved and got the Social Security Administration to allow people to keep their benefits until they had new hearings. That would be new hearings without the files from their prior attorney, which were recently discovered, and without being able to include any medical evidence that showed that they were disabled after they received their benefits and a medical insurance card.
I know for many of my clients, before the Affordable Care Act, the medical card was more important than the benefits themselves, and I still have a thank you card from a minister’s wife telling me that she didn’t have to choose between paying for medicine and food for her child once they received benefits.
Some of the original 1,787 hearings are still going on, or being appealed, as this case that made it to the Federal Court is. Earlier this year Social Security has decided to look at an additional 1,965 cases.
Since that time, some of the clients’ files have been found and are in the process of being sorted out to get back to the clients and a few weeks ago, they stopped the hearings for two months.
Hopefully with this ruling, the Social Security Administration will stop taking benefits away from people who never did anything wrong, who have never been accused of doing anything wrong, other than hire “Mr. Social Security” aka Eric Conn.
The 6th Circuit Judges gave us something to be Thankful for.
Update on Eric Conn cases: