Social Security Inspector General Report: Implementation of Phase I of the Martinez Settlement Agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jonathan Lasher
Phone: (410) 965-2671
http://oig.ssa.gov

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided appropriate settlement relief to 91 percent of Phase I Martinez Settlement-agreement class members, according to a report from Social Security Inspector General Patrick P. O'Carroll, Jr.

The Martinez v. Astrue class action lawsuit challenged SSA's policy of suspending benefit payments to fugitive felons based solely on the existence of an outstanding felony arrest warrant, rather than developing information to ensure that the individual was "fleeing." The parties reached a settlement in September 2009 in which SSA changed its policy to suspend Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits and deny Supplemental Security Income payments only if the outstanding felony warrant was for one of three National Crime Information Center Uniform Offense Classification Codes:

  • Escape (Offense Code 4901);
  • Flight to avoid prosecution, confinement, etc. (Offense Code 4902); and
  • Flight-Escape (Offense Code 4999).

In Phase I of its Martinez Settlement implementation, SSA provided relief totaling about $321.6 million to about 30,000 Martinez class members whose OASDI benefits SSA suspended after 2006, according to estimates from the Office of the Inspector General. For these individuals, SSA reinstated benefits and paid any benefits withheld; and repaid any overpayments collected based on SSA's previous fugitive felon policy, if there was no other basis for suspending payment. SSA will provide relief to the remaining class members in Phases II through IV of the settlement implementation.

Despite the complexities of Phase I cases, the Inspector General's report found that SSA provided appropriate settlement relief to about 91 percent of these individuals. Specifically,

  • 27,524 (91 percent) members received appropriate settlement relief;
  • 1,864 (6 percent) received about $14.3 million more than was due; and
  • 768 (3 percent) did not receive about $828,600 that was due.

SSA indicated that it would take corrective action on all incorrect payments made.

To view the full report, click here, or for more information, contact Jonathan Lasher, Assistant Inspector General for External Relations, at (410) 965-2671. Refer to Common Identification Number A-01-10-10160.