May 27, 2015

There's Not Enough Evidence To Charge Eric Conn With Any Wrongdoing But There Is Enough Evidence To Throw More Than 800 Of His Clients Off Benefits?

     From the Lexington Herald-Leader:
The federal government has moved to suspend disability payments to some people in Eastern Kentucky whose cases were handled by Floyd County attorney Eric C. Conn, citing suspected fraud by Conn and doctors whom his clients often consulted.
Attorneys familiar with the issue said it was possible that several hundred people received suspension notices from the Social Security Administration. ...
Conn's attorney, J. Kent Wicker, said Tuesday that a multiyear investigation of Conn's practice had concluded "without any finding of fraud or other misconduct."
Wicker said the Social Security Administration has directed that some cases should be returned to an administrative law judge for review, which he called an "unfortunate and unnecessary move." ...
The Social Security Administration, or SSA, did not respond to requests from the Herald-Leader for information about the suspension letters Friday or Tuesday. However, the newspaper obtained a copy of one of the letters with the name and claim number of the recipient redacted.
The letter, dated May 18, said "we are suspending your disability benefits and the benefits of anyone entitled under your Social Security record."
The letter said the Office of Inspector General had notified SSA that there was reason to believe fraud was involved in certain cases that used evidence Conn submitted on behalf of clients from four doctors: Frederic Huffnagle, who died in 2010; David Herr; Bradley Adkins; and Srinivas Ammisetty. ...
The letter that went out last week said that under the law, SSA must make a new determination of whether someone is eligible for benefits when there is reason to believe there was fraud in the earlier application. In doing the review, the agency must disregard information from the four doctors, the letter said.
The letter said the agency would not be able to consider evidence produced by Huffnagle from January 2007 to May 2011; from Adkins from July 2007 to May 2011; from Ammisetty any time after July 2007; and from Herr from December 2009 to April 2011. ...
Many people formerly represented by Conn will have trouble finding another attorney to represent them in the process of redetermining their eligibility, said Ray S. Jones, a Pikeville attorney and state senator who was contacted by three people who got letters.
"Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf said his information is that more than 800 suspension letters went out last week.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
There's going to be a lot of innocent people hurt by this," Jones said. ...


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
Conn's attorney, J. Kent Wicker, said Tuesday that a multiyear investigation of Conn's practice had concluded "without any finding of fraud or other misconduct."
Wicker said the Social Security Administration has directed that some cases should be returned to an administrative law judge for review, which he called an "unfortunate and unnecessary move."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
Conn's attorney, J. Kent Wicker, said Tuesday that a multiyear investigation of Conn's practice had concluded "without any finding of fraud or other misconduct."
Wicker said the Social Security Administration has directed that some cases should be returned to an administrative law judge for review, which he called an "unfortunate and unnecessary move."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/05/26/3870407_government-moves-to-suspend-disability.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The government will have do more than base the suspensions on the say so of some bureaucrat. I can't see a court allowing benefits to stop without evidence proving that the evidence in a given case was tainted. The Senate report that triggered all of this points to a slip shod process, but saying that it proved something akin to fraud is a stretch. SSA better have some good cards to turn over, or they are headed towards a colossal CF.

Anonymous said...

00-2p seems to cover this. It's been proven MSSs from those sources are false, and that fact can be used to show it's likely other MSSs from them are false, too. Though, the SSR does say the similar fault finding can't be based on suspicion alone.

I guess the fact that those sources completed, at random, the same dozen or so MSSs is being used to assert that all of their MSSs (at least those completed for Conn) are false.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see one of these letters from the Agency. I am not saying it is right but it seems that these 4 md's completed assessment forms without examining the claimants. Seems very similar to what DDS Md's do. I agree these claimants will be hurt and there does not seem to be a lot of due process going on here. Why wouldn't they get CDR payment continuation rights? I also don't understand why these claimants would have trouble finding another representative as it says in the article.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand how SS can cut off 800 clients without any finding of wrong dealing by Conn. It just seems to beg litigation. SSA should have just found that Conn did something unethical, which seems pretty obvious here, before issuing the cut off letters.

I agree with 4:14 about finding other reps. If I was another SSD attorney in the area, I'd be happy for the opportunity of an instant 800 possible new clients in the area, especially if there are no CDR payment continuation rights. Most of these clients would still likely meet the disability criteria, even without out the fault IMEs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 4:24. What I'd like to know, as does 4:14, whether these unfortunate souls who sought representation by Conn are being granted continuation payment rights. It's impossible to comply with the 10 days being mentioned to provide evidence. HIPPA gives treatment providers 30 days to produce medical records, and my office staff are finding more providers invoking that timeframe. Surely not ALL of Conn's clients were fraudulent--many must have gone to other physicians besides the tainted ones. This action suggests that SSA should be ripe for another Hyatt v. Heckler case.

Anonymous said...

This essentially amounts to no due process. Nasty kicking out even CDR payment continuation rights. It seems like another move by underlings unchecked by Colvin. Doubt this would have made it past Astrue even Apfel. How many of the 800 were and remain disabled – probably half. If even 10%, it is unconscionable. SSA knew this was happening 4 years ago and now is whipping beneficiaries while the representative had years to shred records and amass a fortune. The agency apparently forgot their charge is to conduct any administrative review process in a non-adversarial manner. These claimants are assumed guilty until proven innocent. The reality is appalling, the visuals more than inept, they are unfair, probably illegal and likely to result in desperate results for the disabled. Too bad this is happening in the 6th circuit. Wish Posner had a chance to slap the reckless moves SSA’s runaway star chamber is making.

Anonymous said...

you guys with your "due process" claims can't be serious. If I steal from the government, do you really believe that due process is required? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Due process is required to determine whether any of these people are not entitled to benefits (which wouldn't imply that they stole from the government, unless they committed fraud to obtain the benefits). You (7:13 AM) are saying that due process is not needed because the facts are known, but they are not.

Anonymous said...

"The action suspends Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits to more than 900 individuals and their auxiliaries, while payment to others receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or a combination of both will continue as the review proceeds."

If this news item is correct,( http://www.herald-dispatch.com/x1297588115/SSA-confirms-benefit-suspension-review ) it raises issues. A lot of those people who are only receiving SSDI would be receiving SSI if they were not receiving SSDI. That is, the income from SSDI is the only thing that puts them over the income limit and prevents them from receiving SSA.
If SSA actually did this, it is even stupider than the Anonymous ALJ program, or the "Act within 30 days if you want to object to a video hearing" program (which currently has about 72% of claimants objecting.) What this would mean is that SSA recognized that SSI recipients are particularly vulnerable and exempted them, then dropped hundreds of people who in an identical or worse situation the minute they lose their SSDI. That is not going to look good to a federal judge when SSA tries to avoid an injunction.

I cannot believe this got past the Acting COSS. I thought Colvin was a better person than this.

Dan Smith said...

@ 8:58

That was exactly my concern as well. If we are understanding these measures correctly, and they are going to be dropping individuals on SSDI, that's a PR nightmare. To do so effectively punishes those who have worked, pay taxes, and earned credits.

Anonymous said...

Just surprised those good ole boys from the mountains haven't taken things into their own hands with a bit of Mountain Justice. I guess they will wait & see how the civil lawsuit goes first! lol

Unknown said...

people who claim they have done nothing illegal do not plead the 5th