Roose & Ressler is proud to have been co-counsel in a national class action case against Social Security that proved that about 70,000 people were owed over $100 million dollars. Social Security is the largest agency of the U.S. government. Its mission is to “maintain the basic well-being and protection of the people we serve.” Its duty is to provide a safety net for the retired and disabled. In this instance, SSA failed in its mission. It not only failed to follow its own rules in calculating the benefits owed to some disabled individuals for the last 15 years, but it also fought hard in litigation to deny the problem existed and to evade responsibility to correct it. The case is Steigerwald v. Berryhill (http://steigerwaldclassaction.com).
One would like to believe that Social Security would have been eager to correct its past and ongoing mistakes. Sadly, that was not their response. The agency initially denied that there was a basis for a class action. It moved to dismiss the case after correcting the problem for our named plaintiff, Ms. Steigerwald. It continued to argue that it was not legally responsible when we filed a motion for summary judgment. Nevertheless, our motion was granted. Then, while reviewing claimants’ cases to correct the harm it had caused claimants, it issued overpayment notices to over 8,400 people, some for mistakes the agency had made more than 15 years ago. This, too, was against SSA’s own rules! The agency eventually reversed course and withdrew the overpayments, but only after much prodding.
While Roose & Ressler is happy to have played a part in the case, we want to acknowledge the important contributions of others. First, one of our clients for whom we helped establish entitlement to disability benefits, Stephanie Steigerwald, brought it to our attention that she thought that her benefits had been incorrectly calculated. If not for her persistence and willingness to serve as the named plaintiff, the case may have never gotten off the ground.
Roose & Ressler’s founding principal, Kirk Roose, spent numerous hours investigating the issue and determining that there appeared to be a pervasive problem, planning to bring an action to fix the problem, and finding a firm with class action experience to partner with us to bring this case. Sadly, Mr. Roose died prior to case completion and was not able to witness the excellent result of his work.
Mr. Roose found great partners at the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP. Ira Kasdan his team at Kelley Drye did some groundbreaking work in an earlier class action case against Social Security, and Mr. Kasdan was lead counsel in the case. Mr. Kasdan worked tirelessly over several years to vindicate the rights of over 70,000 disabled people.
Roose & Ressler works hard to make sure that our disabled clients receive all the benefits to which they are entitled. There are many ways that Social Security can and does make mistakes in computing benefits, as it did in the Steigerwald case. We are committed to making sure that our clients get the benefits to which they are entitled when they are found “disabled.” Call us now to obtain the benefit of our experience.