CHARLESTON — Former clients of Floyd County attorney Eric C. Conn, who are now facing review of their disability benefits by the Social Security Administration, may be eligible for free legal assistance in their cases from Legal Aid of West Virginia.
Last year a federal fraud investigation concluded that Kentucky attorney Eric Conn and former Social Security Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty had colluded to pay benefits in many cases where they were not appropriate. Now, hundreds of former clients of Eric Conn have received letters, dated May 18, 2015, from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that their social security benefits would be suspended while Social Security goes through another review to determine which cases were fraudulent and which were appropriate. Recipients, many of whom have no other income sources, reacted with anger and despair. Three suicides have been linked to the letters.
Reacting to pressure from local lawmakers, as well as an injunction filed in federal court, Social Security agreed to temporarily reinstate benefits while the reviews take place. Affected recipients are now left scrambling to find representation to help them navigate the complexities of the social security system a second time, trying to show that their cases were not fraudulent.
“These will be tough cases, particularly given the age of some of these cases, the allegations involved and the gathering of evidence that might be crucial to the redetermination process,” said Clint Adams, attorney and Legal Services Manager for Legal Aid of West Virginia. “We aren’t interested in helping people commit fraud, but we do want to help ensure that people who are disabled will keep getting their benefits.”
To receive help from Legal Aid of West Virginia, individuals must meet certain income guidelines and either be a resident of West Virginia or have the case pending in a social security office in West Virginia. Those who may be eligible should contact Legal Aid of West Virginia via their toll-free intake hotline at 866-255-4370, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8.30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.