Disability lawyer who made $22M cleared by probe, his lawyer says, but SSA axes some client benefits
Nearly two years after a Kentucky attorney and a West Virginia administrative law judge were accused of working together to get disability payments for individuals who may not qualify for them, an investigation has fizzled out, according to a lawyer for attorney Eric Conn.
Both Conn and the judge said they had done nothing wrong, and the probe of his client ended “without any finding of fraud or other misconduct,” lawyer J. Kent Wicker, who represents Conn, told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Tuesday.
However, local attorneys representing disability claimants said the Social Security Administration sent letters to as many as 800 individuals this month, telling them that their benefits would be suspended unless and until they submit additional proof that they are actually disabled, the newspaper reports. It is not clear whether all the recipients were represented by Conn, but some were.
Providing proof may not be easy, since the SSA is now refusing to accept reports from four doctors who worked with Conn’s clients during certain time periods. Conn also shredded a number of client files at the time of the U.S. Senate committee investigation, the Herald-Leader says.
Attorney Ned Pillersdorf is planning to meet with other disability attorneys to try to determine a joint strategy. One possibility is seeking a federal court stay of the suspension of benefits while the redetermination of eligibility is ongoing.
“To suspend these vulnerable people is unconscionable,” Pillersdorf told the newspaper. “This is almost an ambush by the Social Security Administration.”
Conn earned $22.7 million between 2001 and 2013 representing disability clients, the Senate committee report said.
ABAJournal.com: “Report accuses judge and disability lawyer of defrauding Social Security Administration”
ABAJournal.com: “Embattled disability lawyer featured on ‘60 Minutes’ says he served clients ‘with honor and dignity’”