A lawsuit alleging that five administrative judges in Queens, N.Y. were biased against Social Security Claimants has been settled by the federal government.
Under the terms of the settlement approved by Chief Judge Carol Bagely Amon, the five administrative law judges will undergo new training and will be monitored for 30 months.
The SSA has not provided any figures about exactly how many cases in Queens will get a fresh hearing. But the lawyers who fought the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs in Queens estimate that there are at least 4,000 cases that are eligible for a new hearing based on the period of the settlement agreement, which states fresh hearings for all claims denied by the five judges between Jan 2008 and the date of the settlement.
"Thousands of disabled workers suffering from financial hardship and declining health will now receive long overdue consideration of their claims, said Emilia Sicilia, director of the Disability Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center.
Plaintiffs’ case was proven based on statistics. The rejection rate for the Queens ALJs was the highest in New York State and the third highest in the nation. The rejection rate for Queens was twice as high as the adjacent borough of Brooklyn. Both boroughs are located on Long Island, NY.
Also, the Queens ALJ approval rates for applicants who were immigrants and had been low-income citizens were very different from those who came from a higher income bracket.