PRESTONSBURG, KY (WOWK) – After the fraudulent schemes of Eric Conn came to light, Ned Pillersdorf, an attorney from Prestonsburg has been working with volunteer lawyers on a class-action lawsuit to reinstate benefits for the 500 clients Conn scammed.

Pillersdorf held a meeting inside the Floyd County Courthouse on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023 to share the historic settlement agreement with the Social Security Administration, which was approved on Monday. Pollersdorf says it’s evident the SSA is now considering those who lost their benefits, otherwise known as the Forgotten 500, as “victims, not criminals.”

“They just done a fellow pretty dirty, I think… just cut me off,” Floyd County, Kentucky, resident John Wireme said.

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.” The scheme is considered the largest social security scam in the United States.

For nearly six years, the SSA rejected payouts to Conn’s victims, many of whom have now been living without their disability benefits for the past seven years. Several of Conn’s clients lived in the underserved Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky, and they depended on him for help getting their benefits.

Pillersdorf says the recent settlement is designed to help these people get their benefits back as soon as possible.

Pillersdorf says he believes this sudden change could be a direct result of the new administration or the latest documentary highlighting Conn’s scheme.

“I was very depressed and discouraged…. I’m hoping for a better outcome now,” said Mingo County, West Virginia resident Doug Johnson. “It sounds a lot better now that they’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I want to thank all the law firms for all their help and its looking more favorable now.”

According to Pillersdorf, to get their monthly benefits reinstated, the victims need to request a hearing, and if they win that hearing, they could receive six years of back-pay, totaling millions of dollars. Pillersdorf also says with assistance from organizations such as AppleReD Legal Aid that offer legal help for low-income or fixed income individuals, some people will not have to pay a dime for those hearings.

Lawyers say their goal now is to get the word out to as many of the scam victims who have not been notified of this development.