Protecting Seniors' RightsChanges to SSI Suspension Procedures Under Amin v. Kijakazi
As advocates for seniors, the Elder/YAD team are excited to share with you the important developments in the Amin v. Kijakazi case, which has the potential to help many seniors who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to make ends meet.
The Amin v. Kijakazi case challenged the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) practice of suspending SSI benefits without giving recipients adequate notice or an opportunity to contest the suspension. The plaintiffs argued that this practice violated their due process rights, and the case ultimately resulted in a settlement agreement that provides greater protections for SSI recipients.
Under the settlement agreement, the SSA is required to make several changes to its procedures for suspending SSI benefits, including:
- SSA has agreed to expand the Goldberg Kelly (GK) appeal period (within which an SSI recipient can receive ongoing SSI benefits while their appeal is pending) from 10 to 60 days.
- If an SSI recipient has filed a timely request for reconsideration but does not continue to receive their benefits while their appeal is pending, then their representative should contact the manager of their SSA Local Office and reference the Emergency Message (EM-21064 REV) and the Amin Settlement.
- If this does not result in the SSI benefits being paid within 30 days of the filing of a timely reconsideration request, then the representative should contact their Regional Communications Director (RCD), who serves as an ombudsperson for case-related service issues, including those related to timely and accurate processing of SSI post-eligibility non-disability reconsideration requests. (Note that an SSI recipient’s name and Social Security number should not be sent via email to the RCD.)
- If, after contacting the RCD, the SSI recipient does not continue to receive their benefits while their reconsideration request is pending, then the representative should contact the Amin plaintiffs’ counsel.
These changes are significant because they ensure that SSI recipients have a meaningful opportunity to contest the suspension of their benefits and provide greater protection against wrongful or improper suspensions of benefits.
For seniors on SSI, these changes can make a real difference in their lives. Many seniors on SSI live on fixed incomes and may not have the resources to hire an attorney or navigate complex legal procedures. The Amin v. Kijakazi settlement agreement ensures that seniors on SSI will receive notice before their benefits are suspended and will have a fair opportunity to contest the suspension if they believe it is wrongful or improper. Additionally, the continuation of benefits during the appeals process can help seniors avoid financial hardship and ensure they can continue to pay for essential expenses like housing, food, and healthcare.
As advocates for seniors, we recommend that seniors on SSI familiarize themselves with their rights under the Amin v. Kijakazi settlement agreement. If they receive notice of a proposed suspension of benefits, they should take advantage of the opportunity to request a hearing and contest the suspension. Additionally, seniors on SSI should be aware of the resources available to them, including legal aid organizations (like API Legal Outreach) and advocacy groups that can help them navigate the appeals process.
In conclusion, the Amin v. Kijakazi settlement agreement provides important protections for seniors on SSI and ensures that they have a fair and meaningful opportunity to contest the suspension of their benefits. Seniors on SSI should be aware of their rights under the settlement agreement and take advantage of the resources available to them to protect their benefits and financial security. (Source: Amin v. Kijakazi – Litigation (formerly Amin v. Azar) – Justice in Aging)
About the APILO’s Elder and Disability Rights Project:
APILO’s Elder and Disability Rights Project provides legal services in a variety of areas to assist elders and individuals with disabilities to receive public benefits and live a life free from abuse.
The Elder Team works to both to prevent abuse towards elders and people with disabilities and to assist survivors of abuse. We work closely with senior centers, churches, and senior meal sites to keep our services accessible.
With a team of exemplary attorneys and dedicated staff, the team provides a wide range of legal services, including naturalization assistance, other immigration cases, Elder Abuse, Estate planning, eviction defense, conservatorship, guardianship, and restraining orders to name a few.
If you want to learn more about what our team does, please feel free to reach out to us.
–The Elder and Disability Rights Project