PRESTONSBURG – With some of the 1,500 former clients of Eric C. Conn receiving letters that their cases have been referred for hearings, the pressing issue has become finding legal representation for all of them.
According to Ned Pillersdorf, though, there is recourse for many.
The Prestonsburg attorney said earlier this week that Legal Aid in Prestonsburg and other legal aid groups have been pulling together a list of those wishing to have a lawyer represent them during the hearings to come.
But their claims must be justified, Pillersdorf says.
“The way we have been addressing this is that Legal Aid in Prestonsburg and other legal aid groups have been assembling a list of those who desire representation,” Pillersdorf said. “Feel free to contact other counsel. Also, if your claim for benefits is not justified, we will not assist you. Don’t ask.”
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has continued to insist on hearings, Pillersdorf has said. He has filed a motion for a class action lawsuit on behalf of Conn’s former clients who lost their benefits for a time following an investigation in the Stanville disability attorney for alleged fraud.
A conference has been scheduled in federal court on Aug. 10 in the class action injunction motion asking that there be no hearings until the SSA can certify that the hearing process will be fair, Pillersdorf said, adding that under their own regulations, it would seem they are to held to certain standards for hearings.
“It’s complicated, but we do not believe the SSA has the right under their own regulations to commence with 1,500 reevaluation hearings, when there is no evidence the recipients engaged in any wrongdoing,” Pillersdorf said.
And the Prestonsburg attorney is not mincing words when it comes to his view of the SSA as it pertains to the needs of his clients.
“In my view they (SSA) are an arrogant bureaucracy who are indifferent to the pain and anguish they are causing in our communities,” he said.
The SSA has threatened, according to Pillersdorf, to file a motion to dismiss the class action but have been ordered to first respond to the motion for preliminary injunction before filing for a dismissal.
Sheldon Compton is a staff writer at The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.