By, Rebecca Levin
A recent class action settlement could mean relief for many Bay Area residents whose Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) were denied or terminated between 2007 and 2013.
The case of Hart v. Berryhill, challenged consultative examinations conducted by Dr. Frank Chen, who was disqualified from performing medical exams after numerous complaints. The complaints were related to quality of his reports, the thoroughness of his examinations, and his manner toward claimants. Dr. Chen’s examinations were used as the basis for Social Security Administration (SSA) to deny or terminate SSI and/or SSDI benefits.
One such case was that of plaintiff Kevin Hart, who saw Dr. Chen in 2013 after applying for disability benefits due to injuries sustained after being hit by a car. The injury completely shattered his leg and resulted in permanent disability. “He didn’t even know me, he didn’t even look at me,” said Hart of the interaction he had with Dr. Chen. The report that Dr. Chen provided to SSA did not even note that Hart required a cane in order to walk.
Justice in Aging represented Hart and a class of approximately 4,000 other California residents whose benefits were denied or terminated based on Dr. Chen’s reports. The case resulted in a settlement that went into effect on June 26, 2017. SSA is currently undergoing an evaluation of effected cases and will send out settlement notices in July to eligible individuals.
Clients whose benefits were denied or terminated between 2007 and 2013 should contact SSA as soon as possible to verify their current mailing address to make sure they receive any relevant information regarding this case. To do so, please call 1-800-772-1213.
The first set of settlement notices:
- will be mailed out no later than July 17th;
- will be sent to class members whose claims are still pending; and
- these group members must decide whether to elect relief within 30 days after receiving their notice
The second set of settlement notices:
- will be mailed out no later than September 25th;
- will include class members who have closed claims that resulted in a fully unfavorable for partially favorable decision; and
- this group must decide whether to elect relief within 90 days (for fully unfavorable decisions) or 180 days (for partially favorable decisions)
For more information, contact Trinh Phan at Justice in Aging, 510-931-4203.