Currently it is taking the Appeals Council over 18 months to issue decisions on most appeals. The Appeals Council has started screening cases to see if they meet any of the 21 circumstances listed below to see if they be assigned a priority status.   The list of circumstances includes:

  • Age 55
  • Death
  • Hospice care or inability to care for personal needs
  • ICU for more than 3 days
  • Hospitalization for more than 7 days
  • Transplant of an organ
  • Waiting list for transplant of an organ
  • Cancer with poor or no response to treatment
  • Cancer spread to other areas
  • Coma
  • Heart attack/MI
  • Stroke/CVA
  • Prescribed use of home oxygen
  • Prescribed use of a wheelchair
  • VA rating over 70%
  • Letter approving other forms of disability
  • Terminal condition
  • End State Renal Disease
  • Blood transfusion
  • Bed or home confinement
  • Very rare, unusual or compassionate allowance condition

If you one of the above situations applies to you, contact Tracy Tyson Miller at 904-981-9812.

Taking Advice from SSA

July 20, 2016

I’m kind of old school in that I still read the newspaper daily.  Imagine my surprise when I picked up the paper recently and there was a section called “Social Security Q&A” from the Tribune News Service.

Q:  “I was turned down by disability.  Do I need a lawyer to appeal?”

A:  You’re fully entitled to hire a lawyer if you wish to, but it is not necessary.

The response goes on to talk about how filing the appeal is easy, online and secure.  This is all accurate, but the fact is that if a person has already lost their initial application, an attorney can provide significant benefit and in many cases, increase the chances of benefits eventually being awarded.

The Consumer Protection Agency recent posted an article that raises concern:

Scammers are trying to get personal information from people by pretending to help with applications for disability benefits and claims. A recent alert from the Social Security Inspector General warns of this phishing scam, and — whether or not you’ve started an application for benefits — these scammers could contact you. They’re taking a shot in the dark, hoping that you have started an application, and hoping you’ll give them a little more info over the phone. To “complete the process,” they might ask you to give, or confirm, your Social Security number or bank account numbers.

If scammers get your information, you could face identity theft and benefit theft. So here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself:

  • Never give your Social Security number or account numbers to someone who calls you.
  • Don’t wire money or send money using a prepaid debit card. In fact, never pay someone who calls out of the blue.
  • If you receive disability benefits, regularly check the status online, and review your statements to make sure they’re right.

Pressured to provide your information? That’s a sure sign of a scam. Hang up immediately and report it to the Social Security Fraud Hotline and the FTC.

If you have any questions about disability benefits, or you get calls offering to help you with them, call Tracy Miller at 904-981-9812.

In April 2016, President Obama announced an executive action to identify and notify over 375,000 disability program beneficiaries of their potential eligibility to have outstanding student loan balances discharged on the basis of “total and permanent disability” or TPD. Letters began to go out on April 18, 2016 and will continue to go out on a rolling basis until all individuals identified as potentially eligible are notified. The process for applying for the discharge has been simplified.

The only beneficiaries who will receive notice for the TPD discharge are those who have been deemed “Medical Improvement Not Expected” (MINE).

Under current law, the amount of student loans being discharged are counted as income in the year in which the discharge is granted and reported to the Treasury Department. SSDI benefits can be garnished to pay the taxes on the amount of the loans discharged.

If you are interested in obtaining a discharge of a student loan based on your disability status, call Tracy Miller at 904-981-9812.

The Huffington Post recently posted an article about SSA’s new initiative to cut the backlog which will involve a subset of cases being heard by judges at the Appeals Council, presumably by video teleconference.  I’m a little wary of this plan.  I like being in front of a judge that I talk to and discuss the issues with.  Judges on a video monitor are not necessarily the best solution – technology often poses more problems than it solves.

For the full article:

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