The Social Security Law Group, LLP, is a Boston-based law firm that assists clients in the application process for SSI or SSDI benefits from the Social Security Administration. Their decision this March to file a class action lawsuit against the Social Security Administration is based on their growing frustration with what they claim is the SSA’s violation of two key acts – the Freedom of Information Act, and the 1974 Privacy Act.
The Social Security Law Group insists that in spite of their attempts to work with the often contradictory requirements and regulations the SSA imposes on clients that are applying for benefits, the SSA consistently acts apart from their own official policies of disclosing records, and in a greater sense, violates the law.
The Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act provide for a client’s right to review and be aware of all personal records in government, health, and other organizations’ databases; in this case, medical and other records that may sway the SSA in their determination of benefits for a particular applicant.
The medical, work, and other personal records the SSA gathers to decide whether to award benefits to each particular case are extremely important and in many cases, minor errors can make or break a decision. The SSA turns away a large percentage of disability benefits applicants every year, even those who enlist the help of disability lawyers like those who work for the Boston firm. Claimants have the right to appeal a negative determination, but the process is both lengthy and costly, and unless new information is presented, may still not result in a payout.
The Social Security Law Group’s class action law suit seeks to protect their clients from being unlawfully discriminated against and given inaccurate determinations because of the SSA withholding important information. This is not a phenomenon isolated to one particular state, either. Many other states such as New York are seeing an increase of class action suits against the SSA, and if the trend continues, the issue will reach its boiling point.
In the long court days to come it will become apparent whether the SSA will be found guilty of violating the information laws and be required to amend its inconsistent actions, or whether lawyers like those in the Boston firm will have to ‘”take up the cause” of the poor, disabled, and uninsured that much more zealously.