August 8, 2015
A federal judge threw out a class-action lawsuit for same-sex couples forced to repay Social Security benefits after DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson said that the plaintiffs hadn’t exhausted administrative remedies on the forced SSI repayments.
“As SSA’s waivers of Plaintiff’s overpayments indicate, Plaintiffs cannot establish that exhaustion of their administrative remedies would be futile,” Anderson writes. “Again, Plaintiffs focus on SSA’s ‘fault’ does not establish futility. Instead, consideration of all the facts and circumstances that might cause SSA to determine that recovering overpayments from members of the putative class would be against ‘equity and good conscience’ is precisely the type of decision-making process that would benefit from administrative review.”
Gerald McIntyre, directing attorney at Justice in Aging, said Anderson “got this one wrong” by throwing out the lawsuit.
“He fundamentally misunderstood Hugh’s and Kelley’s claims, and mistakenly believed that the harm incurred can be corrected through Social Security’s administrative process,” McIntyre added.
The lawsuit, Held v. Colvin, was filed in May on behalf of two plaintiff couples by the New England-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Justice in Aging and Foley Hoag LLP.
The legal team behind the lawsuit is considering the next steps forward, including potential appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Organizations mentioned/involved: Justice in Aging