Advocate Guide: Understanding the Martinez Settlement

Justice in Aging

From the Justice in Aging (formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center): The settlement of a class action lawsuit (Martinez v. Astrue) has ended the Social Security Administration's policy of denying or suspending benefits for "fleeing to avoid prosecution," based solely on the existence of an outstanding felony arrest warrant. In addition to abandoning the illegal policy, SSA has agreed to repay more than $500 million in benefits that were unlawfully withheld from 80,000 people whose benefits have been suspended or denied since January 1, 2007. People whose benefits were suspended or denied between 2000 and 2006 will be notified of the change in policy and given a chance to re-establish eligibility. All told, over 200,000 people will benefit from the settlement.

To assist advocates who are working with Martinez class members, NSCLC (co-lead counsel in the case) has created the advocate guide, "Understanding the Martinez Settlement." The guide provides background on the SSA policy and the litigation, summarizes the benefits of the settlement and relays practice tips to advocates. (Click the Go To Website link below to access the guide)

NSCLC also hosts a listserv for advocatesassisting Martinez class members. The listserv provides the latest information about the implementation of the settlement and a forum for discussing with other advocates strategies for serving class members. This listserv is for advocates only. Go to for more information and to join the list.