There are unfortunately many Americans who fell for the recent “one-sided” 60 Minutes piece by Steve Kroft about how easy it is to get disability benefits from Social Security. For those who want to know the reality of how tough getting disability benefits can really be, you should read the attached Padro vs. Astrue (Colvin) Queens NY Social Security Judicial Bias Class Action decision from the Chief Judge of the US Federal District Court in New York filed today, October 18, 2013. Much credit goes to the lawyers for the plaintiffs, the Urban Justice Center and pro bono counsel Gibson Dunn led by Jim Walden for their “David vs Goliath” like victory.
Essentially, the settlement in Padro v. Astrue (Colvin) grants over 4000 New York disability claimants who were unfairly denied benefits by five rogue judges in Queens, NY the right to new hearings before different and independent judges. It also forces the five errant ALJ’s to undergo remedial re-training on Social Security law and proper procedures for conducting fair hearings. Finally, all future decisions by these five judges will be monitored by a special unit within the Social Security Administration for 30 months.
So there Mr. “Disability is Easy to Get” Kroft – stick this decision in your pipe and smoke it!
For more background on Padro v. Astrue and judicial bias against claimants, see my prior blog posts and the New York Times story that broke it all here. The important thing is that now over 4000 disabled claimants will now be given the opportunity for fair hearings by new, independent law judges.
Hopefully, the five offending judges have learned a valuable lesson - intimidation and bullying of disabled claimants appearing before you will no longer be tolerated either by the Social Security Administration (your employer) or New York Social Security disability attorneys. I am pleased to report that a few of the five ALJ’s have seemingly turned over a new page. Let’s hope it stays that way.