I am pausing the blog while I am in Atlanta attending the NOSSCR conference.

NOSSCR Atlanta

April 18, 2018

I am excited about my upcoming trip to Atlanta later this month where I am honored to be presenting a session with John M. Pennington, an attorney from Alabama I have known for years.  This is the first time John and I will be presenting together.

It’s always exciting to get out of the office and talk with other attorneys about issues that my clients are facing.  I like to brainstorm solutions and learn from colleagues in formal sessions, in the hallways and over meals during the week I will spend in Georgia.

From the Acting  Commissioner of the SSA:

I am delighted to inform you that President Trump has announced the intent to nominate Andrew Saul to be Commissioner of Social Security.  Andrew is a businessman from New York who served as the Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.  As Chairman, he was responsible for overseeing the Thrift Savings Plan, which is the retirement savings account for federal employees.

President Trump has also announced the intent to nominate David Black as the Principal Deputy Commissioner of Social Security.  Many of us have worked with David, whether in his current role as Advisor to the Office of the Commissioner or General Counsel of Social Security from 2007-2015.  David has also served in the U.S. Army on both Active Duty and in the reserves for over 27 years.

Sharon Ramos, age 56, of South Bend, Indiana was sentenced before District Court Judge Jon E. DeGuilio for ten counts of making false entries in government records, two counts of conversion of government money, and one count of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

Ramos, convicted after a four-day jury trial in November 2017, was sentenced to 46 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration in the amount of $550,383.66.

According to testimony during the trial, from approximately January 2008 and continuing until around December 2013, Ramos devised a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.  Ramos, then an employee of the Social Security Administration, made numerous false and fictitious representations in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) accounts of numerous SSI claimants.  These improper entries in the accounts resulted in numerous SSI claimants obtaining payments they were not eligible to receive.  As a result, Ramos fraudulently converted money belonging to the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration has updated the staff instructions in its POMS manual for Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. These accounts allow the sheltering of money which would otherwise render a person ineligible for Supplement Security Income (SSI).
The ABLE accounts exist and help people who have money and want to help their disabled relatives get around the ridiculously stringent SSI resource limits. Most disabled people don’t have relatives who can help them in this way.
What is urgently needed are updated resource and income limitations for everyone on SSI. The SSI resource and income limitations contain no cost of living adjustment and haven’t been updated since they were created in the 1970s. They are very stringent and allow people to have extremely minimal assets in order to qualify for SSI benefits.
One Social Security advocate has stated “there is no other issue in the Social Security world, apart from the agency’s operating budget, that’s anywhere near as important as an SSI update” and I cannot disagree.
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