UPDATE: Legal Times Covers Filing of Class Action Lawsuit (12:29PM February 18, 2015)
This morning, Legal Aid and the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge issued a press release announcing that they have filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of three individuals against the Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Treasury, and District of Columbia government.
The lawsuit alleges that the government defendants confiscated the plaintiffs’ tax refunds, without notice, in violation of federal law — including Social Security’s own regulations and the Administrative Procedures Act — and without the due process required under the Constitution. The seizure of funds is based on alleged debts that the plaintiffs owe to the Social Security Administration, but those alleged debts are decades old, and the agency has been unable to date to provide an adequate explanation for them. In some cases, the Social Security benefits in question were paid to a relative of the plaintiffs, and not to the plaintiffs themselves.
The experiences of all named plaintiffs are similar: None had received any benefits or had any interaction with the Social Security Administration in over 20 years. None had ever received any notice about owing the Social Security Administration money before the Treasury Department and D.C. government took all or part of their tax refunds last year. And – despite their repeated efforts -- none were able to get an adequate explanation from the Social Security Administration about why they might owe it money in the first place.
Recent public statements by SSA officials suggest that roughly 400,000 individuals were affected by the regulatory changes, and at least $75 million has already been taken from them. It is unclear how many of these individuals, all of whom could be members of the proposed class action, received actual and proper notice prior to their tax refunds being seized.