Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ALJ Bias Overcome

Padro v. Astrue is the class action filed against Hazel C. Strauss, David Z. Nisnewitz, Michael D. Cofresi, Seymour Fier, and Marilyn P. Hoppenfeld, who are Social Security Administration Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) from Queens (the “Queens Five”). The Padro Amended Complaint, which can be downloaded from my web page’s Resources tab, alleges that the Queens Five are biased against claimants.

One of plaintiffs named in the Padro Amended Complaint is my client. She applied for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits in April 2006. ALJ Nisnewitz denied the application in July 2007, but the Appeals Council remanded the case back to him in February 2009. In September 2009, ALJ Nisnewitz denied the application again, and the Appeals Council refused to review the claim, so I appealed to federal court.

The federal district court judge, Dora Irizarry, rejected Nisnewitz’s decision for many of the reasons asserted against him in the Padro bias class action. In fact, Judge Irizarry complained about Nisnewitz’s “contentiousness,” and ordered that the case be heard by a different ALJ.
The claim that Nisnewitz denied twice was approved today by another ALJ - without a hearing. However, because of ALJ Nisnewitz’s bias, the claimant had to wait three times as long as it should have taken the claimant to get her past due benefits. In the interim, she received no interest, and the cost to the SSA was needlessly excessive, as ALJ Nisnewitz required extra hearings and experts. Nisnewitz’s actions were a waste of tax dollars.

Padro is in the process of being settled. The settlement should result in many claimants whose applications were denied by the Queens Five receiving new hearings. Please contact our office if you would like more information about the Padro ALJ bias class action.

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