News 21 Jul. 2022

Curtis Client, Vaello Madero, Ultimately Obtains Relief in SSI Overpayment Action

New York, July 21, 2022 - After the Supreme Court ruled against Curtis client, José Luis Vaello Madero, holding that the exclusion of Puerto Rico residents from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program did not violate equal protection, the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico dismissed the U.S. government’s overpayment claim against Mr. Vaello Madero. The Social Security Administration has confirmed that it will not be conducting any administrative collection action of the alleged overpayment of $28,081 in SSI benefits received by Mr. Vaello Madero after he moved to Puerto Rico.

“Although we were disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the unequal treatment of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, we’re pleased that our client was ultimately able to obtain relief,” said Hermann Ferré, the Curtis partner who argued the case in the Supreme Court. “Mr. Vaello Madero will now be able to live without the fear of criminal prosecution or the burden of repaying a large sum that would have significantly impacted his ability to support himself.”

The Administration’s decision ends a litigation that began almost five years ago in August 2017 when the U.S. government sued Mr. Vaello Madero to recover the alleged overpayments. Curtis represented Mr. Vaello Madero on a pro bono basis from the district court to the Supreme Court. The Curtis team included partners Hermann Ferré and Juan Perla, as well as associates Robert Groot, Andrew Larkin, Lorena Guzmán-Díaz, and Jean Lambert. Curtis was assisted throughout by local counsel John W. Ferré-Crossley.

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