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Proposed ALJ bias settlement would give thousands of disabled New Yorkers new benefit hearings

The ALJs were accused of ignoring medical evidence and legal standards

Many disabled individuals may get their day in court—again—thanks to a proposed settlement that, if approved, will address accusations of hostility and bias against five federal administrative law judges (ALJ) in Queens, New York.

Eight disabled people brought these claims in 2011 against Michael Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), complaining that the five ALJs—David Nisnewitz, Marilyn Hoppenfeld, Seymour Fier, Michael Cofresi and Hazel Strauss—were behind a “brick wall of bias” when they rejected the individuals’ disability benefit claims. The ALJs allegedly disregarded medical evidence and legal standards alike, depriving the plaintiffs of their right to a fair hearing.

The proposed settlement would allow approximately 4,000 people whose claims were rejected by one of the ALJs since 2008 to have new hearings before different ALJs. The accused ALJs would keep their jobs, but would have to be retrained and recertified by the SSA, and would be closely monitored for any signs of misconduct.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


For more InsideCounsel coverage of disabilities, see below:

Labor: Disability law can force employers to discriminate

Disabled people cannot bring employment discrimination claims under ADA’s Title II

ADA requires reassignment as a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees

6th Circuit rules that counseling recommendation violated the ADA

Avoiding ADA liability when dealing with obese workers

Lawyers partner with Equip for Equality to defend disabled peoples' rights

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