Join the club.  In Jacksonville, Florida, over 8,000 claimants are waiting for hearings on their Social Security claims.  While the hearings are scheduled the order that claimants filed their Requests for Hearing, there are a few things that can be done to move cases along.

1.  Critical Need Cases:  A claimant can request that his case be prioritized based on critical need.  Those individuals with a terminal illness, conditions on the Compassionate Allowance list, military service casualty cases and those who are suicidal or homicidal are considered to be critical need and claimants should let the hearing office handling their case know about the pertinent factor.

2.  Dire Need Cases:  Dire need means that without Social Security benefits, the claimant will be unable to meet basic needs such as food, shelter or medicine.  Dire need goes beyond hardship, which many claimants face, and rests on the inability to meet the basic needs of life.  Again, claimants should let the hearing office handling their claim know about the dire need.  Documentation of foreclosure or homelessness can boost the credibility of the dire need statement.

3.  On the Record Request:  Claimants can bypass a hearing altogether by requesting that the hearing office approve disability benefits without a hearing by requesting an “On the Record” determination.  If an On the Record request is not granted, a hearing will be held.  On the Record requests should be made with the assistance of a Social Security Disability attorney.

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2013 Super Lawyers

June 19, 2013

I’m proud to once again be among the 2013 Florida Super Lawyers.  Only three lawyers in the State of Florida were chosen in the area of Social Security Disability and I was the only one selected north of the Orlando area, including the panhandle.  Sadly, I am too old to be a Rising Star; hopefully that makes me just a regular Star.  I am humbled by the award and pleased to be included, especially when I look at the other Jacksonville attorneys on the list.

The New York Times recently published an article stating that the retirement system can pay full benefits until 2035, when it will be able to pay about three-fourths of promised benefits. The described this as a “manageable problem” instead of a “crisis” as many news outlets are fond of describing Social Security.

I’m happy to hear that this!

Full article at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/opinion/whats-next-for-social-security.html?hp&_r=2&

 

Good News

June 5, 2013

On May 31, the Associated Press reported that Medicare looks a little better and Social Security doesn’t look any worse. The Medicare inpatient care fund should last until 2026, two years longer than previously estimated, and Social Security will be solvent until 2033, as predicted last year.

About 8.8 million adults receive disability payments. Factor in their children, and you’ve got nearly 11 million U.S. residents relying on this program, which according to Nolo.com averages $700 to $1,400 per month.

In the very near future these payments could be reduced by one-fifth. Why isn’t this considered a crisis?

Several reasons come to mind: 

The disabled population is relatively small. Currently, 40 million retirees receive Social Security and that number is rising fast — every day, 10,000 people turn 65.

The elderly are better organized. Simply put, baby boomers vote and the AARP is a pretty fierce lobbyist. By contrast, plenty of disabled people spend most of their time and energy dealing with the ramifications of their health issues, getting medical care, and navigating insurance and social service bureaucracies. 

Misperceptions are pervasive. Everybody seems to know a guy whose “bad back” keeps him from working but doesn’t interfere with his gardening, remodeling or dancing. When MSN Money ran an article called “Is America the land of opportunity — or the land of disability?,” plenty of the 740 commenters railed about laziness and “playing the system.”

No doubt those people exist, and shame on them. But according to the nonprofit National Academy of Social Insurance, many recipients have multiple and/or life-threatening conditions. About 1 in 5 one in five men and nearly one in six women die within five years of being approved for the payments.

Reducing the payments that our citizens need to survive and largely put back into their local economies would do these individuals a disservice and is a breach of the implied promise that the payment of Social Security taxes conveys.

 

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