KENTUCKY (WOWK) — The Social Security Administration (SSA) will reinstate benefits to 500 victims of the largest social security scam in the United States, said Ned Pillersdorf, a lawyer in the case.

In 2017, disbarred attorney Eric Conn pleaded guilty to “bribing doctors to falsify medical records for his clients and then paying judges to approve their lifetime disability benefits.

Conn later fled to Honduras to avoid persecution.

A judge sentenced Conn to 12 years during proceedings without him while he was on the run. He was given an additional 15 years after pleading guilty to fleeing the U.S. He is serving a 27-year sentence in federal prison.

Many of Conn’s clients lived in the underserved Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky, and they depended on him for help getting their benefits.

Pillersdorf said the SSA agreed to reinstate 500 of Conn’s former clients who lost their benefits in 2017. Clients can get six years’ worth of backpay (collectively totaling millions) if they file new hearings and prevail.

Pillersdorf applauded the volunteer legal network in this case and the SSA for their willingness to negotiate.

“This truly historic settlement was the direct result of [the] greatest volunteer legal network ever [that] assembled winning legal victories all over the country,” Pillersdorf said “We must also compliment the new leadership of the SSA who engaged in good faith negotiations that made this agreement possible.”

Pillersdorf said Conn’s victims became known as the “Forgotten 500,” and they likely do not know lawyers advocated on their behalf for the last seven years. The SSA will notify the Forgotten 500 because legal experts cannot know their identities under social security confidentiality rules.

“There have been a lot of dark days for our vulnerable neighbors. Hopefully, this just settlement will lead to brighter days. The truth is the ‘Forgotten 500’ have never been forgotten.”

Attorney Ned Pillersdorf

There will be an open client meeting to go over the comprehensive settlement on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Floyd County Courthouse, according to Pillersdorf.