In a groundbreaking decision Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide training and assistance to two mentally disabled men, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The men said that they lost benefits because they couldn’t understand the rules, forms, and requirements. The two plaintiffs suffer from a variety of impairments, including schizophrenia, autism, severe anxiety, and functional illiteracy.
SSA also agreed to pay $900,000 for the men’s lawyers, who worked on the case for five years.
After nation-wide class action lawsuits, SSA began sending notices to the blind in braille or on audio discs and making similar accommodations for the deaf and hard of hearing.
The SSA doesn’t offer the same assistance to at least two million benefits recipients who have mental or learning disabilities who must decipher the complex eligibility requirements on their own.
Although the settlement in this case applies only to the two plaintiffs and is not a class action lawsuit, it may have a broader effect by raising awareness of the issue.
This case will “ideally pav[e] the way for millions of other mentally and developmentally disabled Americans to actually receive the equal, meaningful access” that is their legal right, said the legal director of the People with Disabilities Foundation, which represented the two men.
If you or someone you know needs help with SSD Basics, contact the Social Security Lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.
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