Fraud Alert!

October 17, 2018

The Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, is warning citizens about an ongoing Office of the Inspector General (OIG) impersonation scheme.  The OIG has recently received reports from citizens about suspicious phone calls claiming to be from the Acting Inspector General.

The reports indicate the caller identifies as “Gale Stone” and states the person’s Social Security number (SSN) is at risk of being deactivated or deleted.  The caller then asks the person to call a provided phone number to resolve the issue.  Citizens should be aware that the scheme’s details may vary; however, citizens should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.

The Acting Inspector General urges citizens to be cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it.  If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be the Acting Inspector General or from the OIG, you should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

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From the Social Security blogspot:
According to a study by Social Security’s Office of Chief Actuary, the chances of living to full retirement age without becoming disabled is 64% for males and 70% for females born in 1998. It is the same for females born in 1966 but only 58% for males born in 1966. Despite the improvement, that’s still a lot of death and disability before full retirement age. People dramatically undervalue the importance of Social Security disability and survivor benefits. Yes, it can happen to you.

Senator Sanders lays out a plan to bolster the services Social Security provides

But Social Security’s woes are about more than money. There are procedural issues, too, that can make getting benefits a chore for certain folks, such as the disabled. This is what prompted former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to introduce the Social Security Administration Fairness Act on June 27, 2018.

The Social Security Administration Fairness Act aims to make three substantive changes to the existing law.

To begin with, it would set the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) funding at 1.5% of overall benefit payments. Last year, despite $952.5 billion in expenditures, the SSA received just $6.5 billion in funding to run offices and pay employees. Though this was an improvement from the $6.2 billion in funding apportioned for 2016, the fact remains that the program’s funding has declined 9% since 2010 as its beneficiary count has grown by 15%. More than doubling the SSA’s funding should help it work through an exceptionally long disability request backlog, as well as meet the expectations of beneficiaries who have questions or concerns.

Secondly, Sanders’ bill would address the exceptionally long wait times those applying for disability contend with in regard to disability insurance payments and Medicare. This bill would eliminate the five-month waiting period to receive benefits for approved Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) recipients, as well as eliminate the two-year waiting period of SSDI beneficiaries to qualify for Medicare.

Third and finally, it would place a moratorium on the closure of Social Security field offices and contact stations that are on the front lines of providing services to the American public.

Social Security has added the following new medical conditions to its Compassionate Allowance list: 
  • Fibrolamellar Cancer
  • Megacystis Microcolon Intestinal Hypoperistalsis Syndrome
  • Megalencephaly-Capillary Malformation Syndrome
  • Superficial Siderosis of the Central Nervous System
  • Tetrasomy 18p
These are extremely rare disorders.  I have only represented individuals with one disorder that shows up on the Compassionate Allowance list.  That disorder is ALS, also knows as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
One suspicious SSA poster observed that Social Security seems to adds to the compassionate allowance list when they’ve got a Congressional hearing coming up and they want to show how *compassionate* they are, however,  it doesn’t seem that there are any upcoming  Congressional hearings.

From NBC in Philadelphia:

Good news for those who are collecting Social Security: Your monthly checks likely will be bigger next year.

The Social Security Administration generally announces its cost-of-living adjustment in October.

The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan organization, keeps an ongoing estimate of what that increase could be. The latest estimate — excluding September — pegs that increase at 2.8 percent. For those collecting the average Social Security benefit of about $1,400, that would mean an extra $39 a month.

If that does not change between now and October, that will be the highest bump retirees have seen in recent years.

Postive Feedback

September 12, 2018

Many thanks to my clients who have recently posted positive reviews on Avvo, Google Business, and the Yellow Pages sites.  It is very gratifying to work to help people and have them express their appreciation for me.

I am grateful for each one of you.

Recent Case

September 5, 2018

In 2016, a nice man named Tom came to see me.  Tom was a younger man – in his 40s – with severe foot issues that were related to his diabetes.  The bones in his foot had begun to collapse.  I helped him file an application for Social Security benefits.  Almost immediately, SSA agreed that he was disabled as of June 2016, but it took years to get a hearing on the issue of whether he was disabled prior to June 2015.  Because he had been having problems, he hadn’t had much money and security medical care in 2015 had been difficult.

At the hearing, a very nice judge listened to what had happened and together we agreed that I should contact his current physician and ask him to explain the current nature of his problem and provide an opinion as to his level of functioning prior to 2015.  The physician was able to explain that the foot problems were progressive and given the level of abnormalities in 2018, he was more likely than not very limited in 2015.  The judge accepted the doctor’s opinion and Tom was awarded retroactive benefits amounting to over $10,000.00.  These are benefits he paid for via his Social Security taxes.  He also became eligible for Medicare.

The case is interested for several reasons:

  1. Judges often try to work AGAINST attorneys instead of with them.  They will try to find a way to discredit a doctor instead of believing their opinions.
  2. Tom was so grateful–he couldn’t believe he got TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  So many people are disappointed in the sum they receive, not realizing that Social Security benefits are more of a safety net than a way to support yourself the way you did when earning an income.

In all fairness, I should tell you that Tom is one of my and Tiffany’s all time favorite clients.  Tom loves comic books and he gave us the best compliment ever, which is an email telling us that we are his AVENGERS!

I think the judge was an AVENGER as well.

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