Clark v. Astrue – As many as 140,000 Americans nationwide will get their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits restored as a result of an order issued by Judge Sidney H. Stein in a federal court in Manhattan on April 13, 2012. The benefits in question date back to October 2006 and may total $1 billion.
The Social Security Administration filed the outlines of its implementation plan with the court on June 12, 2012.
The order is the culmination of more than five years of litigation in Clark v. Astrue – Docket No. 06-15521 (S.D.N.Y.) – a case brought against the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) challenging its practice of relying exclusively on outstanding probation and parole warrants as sufficient evidence as a basis for denying them benefits.
Martinez v Astrue (U.S. District Court/Northern District of California) — This action challenged SSA’s interpretation of the Social Security Act provision which restricts payment of persons who are “fleeing to avoid prosecution or custody or confinement after conviction” for a felony. SSA policy is to suspend or deny Social Security, SSI and Special Veterans Benefits benefits anytime there is an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony, regardless whether or not the individual has any knowledge of the criminal charges against them. SSA agreed to a settlement for the 200,000 member class and agreed that after April 1 2009, it would no longer suspend or deny benefits unless it was in relation to an escape, flight escape or flight to avoid. The deadline for implementing the settlement agreement was extended to June 2011 so that the agency could reach more class members.
American Council of the Blind, et al v. Astrue (U.S. District Court/Northern District of California) — The case was brought under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 on behalf of 3 million blind or visually impaired individuals receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A favorable decision led to the Social Security Administration agreeing to provide notices in large print and audio CD formats beginning in 2011.