Why some former Eric C. Conn clients struggle in disability hearings

Published: Oct. 29, 2018 at 10:31 PM EDT
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It was just recently that many former Eric C. Conn clients learned their medical files had not been destroyed like many previously believed.

Attorney now representing the clients fear those documents might not be released back to the former clients until December of this year.

As Ned Pilersdorf explains, that is a problem considering 1,500 people have already had their redetermination hearings.

To help people understand just how important it is to have legal representation when entering these hearings, Pilersdorf and other officials from his law office have been holding informational meetings for anyone who previously used Eric. C. Conn.

Pilersdorf says these hearings are not about keeping disability benefits or getting them back, but about proving you were disabled nearly a decade ago.

"The hearings are about whether or not they were disabled back in 07, 08, and 09 when Conn originally represented them", said Pilersdorf, who represents many former Conn clients. "The federal courts have also put additional restrictions that you need to make certain legal objections to preserve your benefits. Unfortunately, the majority of people going through the second round of 2,000 hearings are representing themselves. That is a disastrous decision."

Now, close to 2,000 people are getting letters in the mail informing them they have to be present for the second round of redetermination hearings.

"What's likely in those files is information that talks about who you were treating with your medical records during the time frame in question", said Pilersdorf. "Asking someone today who were you treating with 10, 11 years ago, you're not probably going to get a very good answer."

One woman who is a former Conn client says she fears losing her benefits considering it is how she is able to pay her bills.

"I only get $550, but that $550 helps pay my bills", said Bonita Newsome, who is a former Conn client. "Just wondering day by day what's going to happen."

Even if Pilersdorf's law firm is able to help Newsome and others get their files back and use the evidence held inside, he says more challenges lie ahead.

"The (Social Security Administration) says any evidence generated from any of the four doctors Conn utilized or any testing they did, is automatically inadmissible", said Pilersdorf.

He says he is fighting to allow judges to at least be able to consider the information held in those files. He is also trying to get the hearing pushed back until the former clients have an opportunity to get their files back.

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