Social Security Class Action Deal Approved

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge approved the settlement of a class action involving Social Security benefit reductions.
     Ephraim Greenberg sued the Social Security Administration in 2013 after it implemented a reduction to old-age, survivors or disability benefits under the windfall-elimination provision of the Social Security Act.
     In the lead plaintiff’s case, Greenberg saw a reduction in insurance benefits because he also received old-age benefits from the National Insurance Institute of Israel.
     The Social Security Administration immediately admitted that the reduction was wrong, and refused to fight Greenberg’s motion for class certification.
     As the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer found last year that class counsel deserved attorneys’ fees under the Social Security Act.
     Collyer granted the parties’ settlement final approval from the bench this past Tuesday and issued an opinion Wednesday explaining why.
     “The relief here is significant,” she wrote. “SSA has agreed to pay each class member the full amount that was deducted from his/her OASDI Benefits payments since September 3, 2004 (less attorney fees) and to rescind all overpayments assessed against eligible class members that it made since September 3, 2004.”
     OASDI is short for old-age, survivors or disability insurance.
     “If this case did not settle and were to proceed to trial, class members would have to continue to wait for relief,” Collyer added. “Even if plaintiffs were to prevail at trial, that verdict could be appealed, resulting in even further delay to the final resolution of the case. Such a delay is of particular concern here given the aging population of the class members, which is comprised of Social Security recipients.”
     The settlement approves attorneys’ fees in the amount of 20 percent of each payment of past-due benefits made by SSA as a result of Greenberg’s class action.

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