In September 2009, the County filed objections to inadequate notice provisions contained in a proposed class-action settlement agreement between the federal Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and individual plaintiffs. The SSA had wrongfully denied or terminated federal benefits for the proposed class members based on an agency policy of prohibiting benefits for individuals with outstanding felony warrants. In the settlement agreement, the SSA agreed to reimburse and/or restore or offer benefits for the first time to class members who had been wrongly deprived of federal benefits under the now-abandoned policy. However, the proposed agreement’s terms only required the SSA to use the “last known address” in its records for contacting class members, instead of requiring the agency to use its normal follow-up procedures to find class members who had moved. In response to the County’s objections, the SSA filed a brief agreeing to use its normal follow-up procedures for one part of the class, and the Court ordered the SSA to address the County’s concerns for the other part of the class within 45 days, by mid-November 2009. The County estimates that the improved notice procedures obtained will result in at least 5,000 additional class members receiving notice of their rights under the settlement agreement, which could translate into $50 million more in benefits distributed to eligible class members.
More information about the lawsuit is available on the National Senior Citizens' Law Center website.