Informational meeting scheduled for former clients of Eric C. Conn
Hundreds of clients of disgraced former attorney Eric C. Conn are still without their social security benefits, but attorneys are attempting to return them in a new class settlement.
The “Forgotten 500,” is actually closer to 600, said Ned Pillersdorf, one of the clients’ attorneys in the settlement. He said the term refers to people who lost their social security benefits close to seven years ago as a result of the fraud scheme perpetrated by Conn.
The hearings that caused them to lose those benefits have been found to be completely unconstitutional. As such, Pillersdorf said he and attorneys from WilmerHale Law Firm in Washington, DC have been fighting to give those people their benefits back.
“This past Christmas, we negotiated a wonderful class action settlement that simply said if these five, six hundred people, if they simply send in a form and request a new hearing, they will immediately get their monthly benefits back,” he said. “And, if they win their new hearing, they’re entitled to seven years’ worth of backpay. That’s probably close to $200,000 each.”
During negotiations, Pillersdorf said he and his fellow attorneys offered to notify each of the “Forgotten 500” of the settlement, but the Social Security Administration declined, citing confidentiality concerns, and agreed to notify the individuals themselves via mail. However, Pillersdorf said that arrangement has been problematic.
“These people are so conditioned to be suspicious of anything from the SSA. They’re throwing the letters in the basket; they don’t understand them,” he said. “Our estimate is maybe 100 of the 500 have taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”
Pillersdorf said he believes there’s another roadblock causing some of the individuals involved to balk at filing any paperwork: the potential downside of the settlement.
“If they go through a new hearing and they lose the new hearing, they have to pay back the benefits they received in the interim. It makes sure people who are truly disabled benefit from this,” he said. “But they fixate on that one downside, so they throw the letter in the garbage.”
Pillersdorf said time is running out for individuals to file the paperwork to begin receiving benefits again. To combat the issues presented by lack of awareness and misunderstanding of the language in the settlement, he said he’s taken to social media.
“I have a public Facebook page, and I’ve probably done 1,000 Eric Conn fiasco updates,” he said. “I’ve scheduled a meeting, and we’re going to put it on Facebook Live to try to get the word out.”
The meeting will be held in the old Floyd County Courthouse at 3 p.m. on Thursday, October 19.
Pillersdorf said none of the “Forgotten 500” have yet gone to trial, but around 100 have begun receiving monthly benefits.
Pillersdorf’s Facebook page can be found here.