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NYLAG Sues To Stop Widespread Social Security Mistake That Harms Recipients

Ershteyn v. Berryhill

NYLAG reached an innovative and critically important settlement with the Social Security Administration (SSA), requiring it to remedy a widespread mistake that has harmed countless recipients. The settlement brings needed protections to the 8.1 million Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.  

SSI is a subsistence benefit available to individuals who are far below the poverty line and are elderly, have disabilities, or are blind. For years, the Social Security Administration has regularly made an irresponsible mistake, over and over again, that has kept SSI recipients from getting the benefits they deserve and badly need. This class action lawsuit seeks to make SSA stop the unlawful denials. 

SSI benefits are generally paid on the first of the month by direct deposit into a recipient’s bank account. Four times a year, when the first of the month falls on a weekend or a holiday, SSI benefits are paid a day or two early. In those months, SSA for years had a practice of mistakenly treating countless recipients’ benefits as a part of the recipients resources for the coming month—even though federal law and SSA policies prohibit them from doing so—and then wrongly finds them to have too much money in resources to be eligible for SSI. 

Recipients depend on SSI benefits to cover their most basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing. Without the full benefits to which they are entitled, they face a host of harms, including homelessness, hunger, and loss of critical medical coverage. 

Under a settlement reached in April 2020, SSA agreed to make several changes to the SSA computer system, the most important of which was to create a “hard-stop” that will prevent SSA employees from moving forward on a case if they failed to properly account for early deposited benefits. These systemic changed to SSA’s computer system provided a robust way to protect the 8 million SSI recipients from further errors. 

More Information:

Name: Ershteyn v. Berryhill

Dkt. #: 18 Civ. 4872. (E.D.N.Y 2018)

Judge: Hon. Pamela Chen, Hon. Steven Tiscione

Status: Settled


Violations of federal Social Security law, violations of Due Process and Equal Protection 


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