Many disabled individuals may get their day in court—again—thanks to a proposed settlement that, if approved, will address accusations of hostility and bias against five federal administrative law judges (ALJ) in Queens, New York.

Eight disabled people brought these claims in 2011 against Michael Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), complaining that the five ALJs—David Nisnewitz, Marilyn Hoppenfeld, Seymour Fier, Michael Cofresi and Hazel Strauss—were behind a “brick wall of bias” when they rejected the individuals’ disability benefit claims. The ALJs allegedly disregarded medical evidence and legal standards alike, depriving the plaintiffs of their right to a fair hearing.

The proposed settlement would allow approximately 4,000 people whose claims were rejected by one of the ALJs since 2008 to have new hearings before different ALJs. The accused ALJs would keep their jobs, but would have to be retrained and recertified by the SSA, and would be closely monitored for any signs of misconduct.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.


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