Federal Judge throws lifeline to those receiving disability checks

Hundreds of people who live in Multnomah County and receive disability checks from the Social Security Administration received a lifeline Wednesday from a Federal Judge who ordered Social Security to help them.

The hundreds all have their money managed by an organization, Safety Net of Oregon, which is being shut down as the federal government investigates whether it mishandled clients’s money.

Social Security says the clients – approximately 1,000 people including several veterans and people who have suffered traumatic brain injury – all have to find a new organization to manage their money. Unfortunately, as KATU reported almost two weeks ago, many of them don’t have access to phones or mail.

The judge’s order prohibits Social Security from suspending benefits to Safety Net clients.

“If benefits are suspended, Plaintiffs will be unable to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, medications, and transportation,” the judge wrote. “The balance of the equities also favors Plaintiffs and it is in the public interest to continue providing benefits to Plaintiffs who depend on these funds every month.”

A spokesman for Social Security told KATU two weeks ago that workers sent letters to those affected and tried calling them.

Social Security officials said the affected clients had until March 21 to find a new group to manage their money or risk having their benefits interrupted.

As of earlier this week, nearly five hundred clients had still not switched.

On Monday, Disability Rights Oregon filed a lawsuit on behalf of five Safety Net clients.

The restraining order stems from that suit.

Kathleen Wilde from Disability Rights Oregon, who filed the suit, said the restraining order lasts ten days and that point the judge will evaluate the situation