Class Seeks Suspended Disability Benefits

     PIKEVILLE, Ky. (CN) – Social Security blindsided hundreds of Kentuckians whose attorney may have defrauded the government of millions, two of those clients claim in Federal Court.
     In a May 30 complaint, Cheryl Martin and Robert Martin claim that the agency has “chosen to punish hundreds of individuals for whom there is no allegation of wrongdoing” without bringing charges against the attorney. The Martins note that they share a last name but are not related.
     In May, the Social Security Administration suspended payments for 900 former clients of attorney Eric Conn, whom the government suspects may have used fraudulent information to secure over $22 million in benefit payments from the agency.
     As the plaintiffs note, Conn has not been charged with any crime, but the U.S. government sued him on June 1 to recoup allegedly fraudulently obtained disability benefits.
     The government’s complaint says Conn and an administrative law judge named David Daugherty engaged in a “fraudulent scheme involving Daugherty wrongfully taking control of a high number of Conn’s clients Social Security Disability claims from randomly assigned administrative law judges and conducting sham proceedings, resulting in the Conn clients overwhelmingly and fraudulently obtaining successful results.”
     Conn represented Cheryl Martin in her disability case following a car accident, and Martin began receiving benefits in 2009. She says she received a suspension of benefits letter from Social Security on May 22.
     The letter claimed “that her benefits were suspended because ‘there was reason to believe fraud was involved in certain cases including evidence from [several doctors]’ … [and] that she had ten days to submit additional evidence to the Appeals Council, after which her case would be remanded to an Administrative Law Judge to await a new hearing, during which time she would receive no Social Security Disability payments,” the complaint says.
     Martin, who is 65, has stage four lung cancer with a five percent chance of survival, and says she “is prescribed approximately 22 medications, the monthly out-of-pocket expenses for which exceed $600.00.
     “Plaintiff Cheryl Martin does not believe that she can afford her necessary medications without the $1,100.00 per month that she is receiving from Social Security Disability,” the complaint says.
     The class of affected individuals seeks a judgment that the SSA violated the Social Security Act when it suspended their benefits, as well as an injunction restoring benefit payments.
     According to an article in the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader, Attorney Eric Conn, who is still licensed to practice law in Kentucky, was “the subject of damning reports by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the Wall Street Journal and 60 Minutes.”
     Conn collected his millions over a ten-year period from 2001-2013, and allegedly destroyed computers and shredded millions of documents when the Wall Street Journal published its report on his alleged conduct.
     The class is seeking restoration of their benefits and injunction preventing Social Security from suspending them again.
     They are represented by Noah Friend of Pikeville, Kentucky.

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