Almost four years ago, Goss & Fentress answered the call put out by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) for volunteer attorneys to rescue disabled people in Eastern Kentucky. Decent people were caught up in a scandal that had reached epic proportions. As it turned out, one attorney, Eric C. Conn, and one administrative law judge, engaged in a massive fraud scheme to approve disability claims for their own personal and corrupt profit.
It has long been accepted that the claimants themselves weren’t aware of, and had nothing to do with, the fraud. They were legitimate workers with serious medical problems seeking benefits they became entitled to through years of work in Appalachia’s coal country. This hard work breaks backs and ruins health. Workers’ bodies break down from it at very young ages.
The Social Security Administration abruptly terminated benefits for thousands of disabled workers caught up in the scandal. The government proceedings harkened back to the much-maligned English Courts of Star Chamber, in which an accused never got to see or confront the evidence against him before being convicted and punished. We have argued from the beginning that the process Social Security used to terminate benefits was a serious violation of constitutionally protected rights to due process of law. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has now agreed that the Social Security Administration acted unconstitutionally in terminating benefits for Conn’s victims.
We celebrate the decision and feel vindicated for our years of hard work. This cause has been taken up by some of the very best lawyers in the country who believe in fundamental notions of justice.
Always fight for justice, even if only sometimes you prevail.