Faith in Humanity

April 24, 2019

I had a case recently where a gentleman was struggling after a serious cancer diagnosis that had impacted his health long term.  Chemotherapy had caused numbness of his hands and feet; he had loss of short term memory and difficulty with balance.  He worked in an office where his job performance declined over a period of years.

He was fortunate to have paid into Social Security, so retirement benefits and disability benefits would eventually be available.  In the meantime, his employer allowed him to continue to work and he continued to pay him despite the face that he was providing very little value to the company as a whole.  Others in the office had to help him with his duties, correct his errors and show him how to do simple things over and over again.  And yet, he continued to receive his full paycheck for years.

His employer provided not only employment, but a wealth of support for him.  His employer became his family when he had little contact with his own.  He has hired people to clean his apartment, he has purchased groceries when his refrigerator was empty, he had driven him home from the hospital, he meets him for breakfast weekly and this week, he came to his (now former) employee’s hearing to spend his morning telling the judge how hard things have been.  He was humble, playing down his contributions both financial and emotional.  But after the hearing, he became my hero and restored my faith in humanity.

Andrew Saul Nomination

April 17, 2019

Andrew Saul’s nomination for Commissioner of Social Security was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee on March 26. The next step is a vote by the full Senate, but a date has not yet been set. In the previous Congress, Saul’s nomination was approved by the Finance Committee but the full Senate never voted on it.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) launched a joint Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign addressing a nationwide telephone impersonation scheme. Social Security and the OIG continue to receive reports from across the country about fraudulent phone calls from people falsely claiming to be Social Security employees. Calls can even “spoof” Social Security’s national customer service number as the incoming number on the caller ID. The new PSAs will air on TV and radio stations across the country to alert the public to remain vigilant against potential fraud.

“We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security number or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or Internet,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “If you receive a call and are not expecting one, you must be extra careful – you can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and contact the official phone number of the business or agency the caller claims to represent. Do not reveal personal data to a stranger who calls you.”

Social Security employees do occasionally contact people–generally those who have ongoing business with the agency–by telephone for business purposes. However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent and people should not engage with the caller. If a person receives these calls, he or she should report the information to the OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

“These calls appear to be happening across the country, so we appreciate SSA’s partnership in this national public outreach effort,” said Gail S. Ennis, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. “Our message to the public is simply this: If you or someone you know receives a questionable call claiming to be from SSA or the OIG, just hang up.”

The new PSA addressing the telephone impersonation scheme is available online at www.youtube.com/socialsecurity 

Social Media and SSA

April 3, 2019

The government is interested in reading people’s posts on social media to use as evidence they are not disabled.  I’ve long counseled people to keep privacy settings high and to be careful about pictures showing activity, especially Throwback Thursdays where people may post photos that are very old and certainly not relevant to any current claim for disability benefits.

There have been many news outlets reporting, but here is the New York Times article:

 

 

 

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