Ershtyn v. Berryhill (2018)

18 Civ. 4872.

NYLAG filed a class action against the Social Security Administration (SSA) challenging an irresponsible administrative practice that regularly results in the loss of subsistence benefits to eligible Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.

The complaint, filed by the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) in the Eastern District of New York, alleges that SSA wrongfully terminates or reduces plaintiffs’ SSI benefits when SSA incorrectly counts a recipient’s early deposited benefits as a “resource” available to the recipient. SSI benefits are generally paid on the first of the month by direct deposit into a recipient’s bank account. Four times a year, when the first of the month falls on a weekend or a holiday, SSI benefits are paid a day or two early. In those months, SSA mistakenly treats countless recipients’ benefits as a resource for the coming month—even though federal law and SSA policies prohibit them from doing so. NYLAG’s lawsuit
challenges this unlawful practice for the many thousands of recipients who cannot get relief on their own.

SSI provides basic subsistence income to elderly, disabled, and blind Americans who meet financial eligibility requirements that place them substantially below the federal poverty level. SSI benefits are extremely modest. The maximum benefit for a person living alone in New York State in 2018 is $837 a month. Eligibility for SSI benefits includes eligibility for crucial Medicaid health care benefits. Members of the proposed class depend on SSI benefits to cover their most basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing. Without the full benefits to which they are entitled, they face a host of ills, including homelessness, hunger, and loss of critical medical coverage.

Individuals who believe they have been affected can call NYLAG attorney Michelle Spadafore 212-613-5024.

NYLAG Attorneys: Danielle Tarantolo, Jane Greengold Stevens, Michelle Spadafore, Elizabeth Jois

Press Release