There is clearly self-selection going on--good numbers of the barred claims tend to be from wealthier people, simply because most were barred because they were corporate units (i.e., businesses) or claimed cotton (not allowed because it was contraband of war). Many allowed claims actually requested some money for certain items that were not allowed because they were not taken for the army's use, but were simply taken illegally. This was seen as very unfair, of course, but this limitation usually did not result in a case being barred--just on the amount of money being limited.
The disallowed cases are also very useful cases--they include many claims from people who 1) supported the Unio after initially voting for secession candidates and/or supporting secession; 2) slaves who couldn't prove to the SCC's satisfaction that they owned the property claimed; 3) people who seemed to ride the fence or be neutral; 4) people who lied to the commission and were found out through subsequent investigations. Among these are certainly legitimate cases that were disallowed unfairly, just as I have found clearly disloyal people being awarded claims. The SCC, like any human agency, made mistakes. It is clear, however, that the SCC believed that residence in a rebellious state was enough to categorize a person as disloyal; to escape that, one had to prove one's loyal thoughts, statements, and/or deeds. There was little room for those who felt (as most people do in times of crisis) that they wanted to stay in the middle ground.
My limited perusal of the disallowed claims has not suggested to me that there were a higher number of wealthy or poor people in them than in the allowed claims. Remember, the very wealthy were deemed highly suspicious by the SCC--those claiming over 10,000 dollars had to go to DC to petition in person. Moreover, it was generally assumed by the SCC that those who owned slaves were, by default, sympathetic with the rebellion. It was also generally assumed that unionists were poor people who were hated by the planters who tricked them into the rebellion. If there is a bias among the SCC, it does not necessarily lie with the wealthy.
I wish that I had been able to take the disallowed claims and do the sort of intensive census research with them that I did with the allowed claims. But it took years to just do the 400 that I researched, and one must start with something. In a few counties, I researched the census material of the witnesses, not just the claimants. Though some of thewitnesses did file claims on their own, many did not, so they looked to me to be a good way to see if there were any immediately noticeable differences between the "class" or wealth of witnesses and the claimants. I did not see anything of that kind.
By the way, it might be helpful for you to know just exactly what kind of "wealth" we are talking about. These are the stats as I presented them in the JSH article to which I referred you:
In the hill counties, I found that the bottom fifty percent of claimants owned, on average,$900 or less in property, real and personal; the lowest 10 percent owned only 47 dollars worth of property. In the Valley, I found that the bottom fifty percent owned, on average, $1,444 or less; the lowest 10 percent owned 29 or less.In other words, in these two "subregions" the lower half of the group looks pretty similar, though there is a small rate of slaveholding among Valley claimants at the top of the group.
What's important is not that I conclude that there were no poor people in this group: there clearly were. My point is that there were wealthy people in the group, too--these are the ones that I think get overlooked, far more than poor folks, who are generally understood to be part of this group. In the hill country, for instance, the top 10 percent of claimants owned, on average, $15,379 worth of property; just over a third owned slaves. In the Valley, by contrast, the top 10 percent owned $55,604; ALL of these claimants owned slaves.
I guess that you can conclude that the presence of some wealthier folks in these groups is a product of bias in the sources. But when you read the testimony and do other research, it seems that these people were frequently very devoted unionists--over time, the idea of the poor unionists has become something of a chestnut. This doesn't mean that the idea is false. I'm suggesting that it doesn't tell the whole story--that there are more important factors at work than wealth--people act for all sorts of reasons, many of which have little to do with their "class" standing.