Monday, November 9, 2015

Class Action Filed Against the SSA for Relying on Faulty Doctor

Just a few days ago, I was delighted to hear that a group of San Francisco Bay Area lawyers have brought a class action against the Social Security Administration on behalf of disability claimants who were denied benefits based on medical reports from a doctor who had been previously disqualified by the Agency.

Claimants are often required to undergo a medical examination conducted by a doctor hired by Social Security.  These evaluations are knows as "consultative evaluations" or "CE's". Unfortunately, a large number of CE's throughout the country are performed by highly incompetent doctors who perform inconsistent, cursory examinations of disability claimants. Disability lawyers become frustrated when they see that just one doctor has examined hundreds of their clients and notice that, in practically all of the cases, the CE reports are unfavorable to the claimants.

I hope that the issues raised by the class action Hart v. Colvin help raise awareness of the many abuses that are often committed in CE's.  In Hart, a group of claimants who were deprived of benefits are contesting the SSA's reliance on medical reports prepared by Dr. Frank Chen, a doctor who had been disqualified by Social Security.  These reports were based on unfair examinations conducted usually in ten minutes or less and often referenced tests which were never performed.  Even though Dr. Chen was disqualified, hundreds of claimants throughout the Bay Area were never informed of the doctor's disqualification.  These reports were often cited by judges and other adjudicators as a basis for the denial of benefits.

The class action seeks to reopen all prior determinations made by the SSA in which it relied on CE's conducted by Dr. Chen.  Plaintiff's demand an opportunity for a new hearing with the option to have a new exam from a qualified medical professional.

Plaintiffs are represented by Morrison & Foster LLP, the National Senior Citizens Law Center and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County.