social security

Perennial questions about Social Security

by lmallernee | June 6th, 2012

June 6, 2012

Should you apply for Social Security? If you have never worked, do you get Social Security? These are two perennial questions that pop up concerning Social Security retirement, according to The Sacramento Bee.

To answer the first question—you should apply for your Social Security online. There is no need to waste time by driving to a local Social Security office and waiting for an appointment with a representative. Applying online is user-friendly, convenient, easy, and it can take as little as 15 minutes.

After filling out the application, you can then submit it online electronically at the push of a button. There are no forms to sign and no documentations to mail. Social Security will contact you if they need further information.

Just go to //www.socialsecurity.gov and follow the directions.

To answer the second question, if your spouse has worked, you will be entitled to one-half of your spouse’s benefit if you start collecting at your full retirement age. If you start earlier, your benefits will be reduced.

For instance, if your full retirement age is 66, you can get 35 percent of your spouse’s unreduced benefit at age 62; but if you wait until your full retirement age, the benefit amount increases to the maximum 50 percent.

Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/yourspouse.htm.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Stalemate in Congress could doom SSDI

by lmallernee | June 5th, 2012

June 4, 2012

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is now projected to run out of money by the year 2016, according to Myrtle Beach Online.

That’s much sooner than the Social Security retirement plan or Medicare.

One of the reasons that the system is running out of money is the economy. When people can’t find work and use up their unemployment benefits, they turn to disability for assistance.

Another reason for the dwindling SSDI is that the 77 million baby boomers projected to swamp the federal retirement system will first use up the disability program.

One senator said that he has tried to interest his fellow lawmakers in the issue, but he said that they don’t want to touch things that they can get criticized for.

Another senator has said that the program’s finances are less dire than they may appear. Congress can funnel revenue from elsewhere to cover the shortfall.

Eleven million disabled people, their spouses, and their children depend on the SSDI program to stay out of poverty.

The number of Americans receiving disability benefits is up 23 percent since December 2007, and the applications have risen more than 30 percent since then.

Incoming payroll revenues will cover 79 percent of SSDI benefits. That means a possible 21 percent cut to its beneficiaries if changes aren’t made soon.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability eligibility, contact the Social Security lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Florida man collects dead mother’s Social Security

by lmallernee | June 1st, 2012

June 1, 2012

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Orlando said that a Brevard man was sentenced to four years in a federal prison for collecting nearly $160,000 from his dead mother’s Social Security checks for 20 years, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

His mother mysteriously disappeared in 1992, while living with her son.

Months later, Brevard County deputies found an elderly woman’s body floating in the Indian River. The death was ruled a homicide, but the sheriff’s office could not identify the remains of the woman.

Meanwhile, the son, who could not answer officials’ questions about his mother’s whereabouts, and unknown to the authorities, was living off his mother’s Social Security checks, federal officials said.

In 2007, detectives reopened the case, and DNA testing matched the elderly woman’s remains to his mother.

According to Florida Today, her son is considered a suspect in her death, but he claims that she died of natural causes and that he merely disposed of the body.

He has not been charged with her death at this time; however, in March, he pleaded guilty to the charges of using the money from his mother’s Social Security checks.

A U.S. District judge has sentenced the son to four years in federal prison, and he is to pay back $58,922.80 to the federal government.

If you or someone you know needs help with available SSD benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

SSDI can help save you financially

by lmallernee | May 30th, 2012

The Social Security Administration reports that just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before age 67, according to the South Bend Tribune.

In fact, they are three times more likely to become disabled for a year before age 65 than to die.

Before you knew those statistics, you may have thought that your most valuable asset was your car, your house, your savings, or your retirement account–it may not be. For many working people, your most valuable asset is your ability to earn money.

That means becoming disabled for an extended period and not being able to work can be financially devastating.

“Every consumer is vulnerable,” said the executive director of the Consumer Federation of America. “The probability of being out for an extended period of time applies to all Americans. This is coverage that should be part of everyone’s basic financial plan.”

The good news is that you probably are entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) through the pay roll taxes that you have already paid in.

The “not so good” news is that the SSDI can be a challenging system to navigate on your own. Fortunately, the Lawyers for Social Security Disability at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin are here to help you when you need it.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits and understanding the basics, contact us today.

Obama says Social Security just needs a ‘tweak’

by lmallernee | May 25th, 2012

In a recent interview with the American Association of Retired People (AARP), President Obama discussed unemployment, gas prices, tax cuts, and Social Security.  He said that it will not take much to fix Social Security and to keep it from going broke, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Many financial experts have said that the Social Security program is only sustainable by cutting benefits or raising taxes, but Obama disagrees, saying that only minor adjustments would do the job.

“Social Security is not in an immediate crisis,” the President  told the magazine. “We can easily tweak the Social Security program while protecting current beneficiaries.”

The program has been hurt by the slow economy. Also the huge baby boom generation is retiring and draining Social Security resources.

At age 50, Obama has reached the AARP’s eligibility age. In the interview, he was optimistic about the prospects of adjusting the program, which was estimated last month that at its current rate will only be able to provide 75 percent of promised benefits by 2033.

From the Oval Office interview, the president said,“We can’t privatize it. We don’t want it to be subject to the winds in the stock market. We want it there for people over the long run.”

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Compassionate allowances speed up SSDI

by Staff | May 10th, 2012

May 9, 2012

Lou Gehrig disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, is one of Social Security’s “compassionate allowances” according to The State Journal Register.

May is national ALS Awareness month. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spine. Each year more than 5, 600 people are newly diagnosed with ALS.

People who have ALS meet the medical criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

The Compassionate Allowances program, which was started in 2008, identifies claims where the nature of the applicant’s disease meets the statutory standard for disability and can be based on objective medical information that can be obtained quickly.

Social Security announced 52 new Compassionate Allowances conditions to the growing lists of severe medical conditions that qualify for expedited medical decisions. They include many neurological disorders, such as ALS, cancers, and rare diseases.

Based on minimal medical information, Compassionate Allowances allow Social Security Disability to quickly identify the most obviously disabled individual for allowances.

With the new ones added, the Compassionate Allowances list is now up to 165 diseases.

That list continues to grow as Social Security, the National Institutes of Health, and patient organizations help identify new conditions that clearly warrant quick approvals.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

More people collect Social Security early

by Staff | May 7th, 2012

May 7, 2012

For the first time in history, Social Security had to pay out more in benefits than it took in for payroll taxes, reports Fox Business. One of the reasons for this deterioration in the Social Security fund is the unexpected increase in the number of people filing for early benefits.

Why are more people filing for early Social Security benefits? The prolonged recession—and the double-digit unemployment rates—has caused more people than usual to take this step.

Only 38.3 percent of those reaching the age of 62, the earliest age that you can claim benefits, would have claimed benefits if the unemployment rate had remained at 4. 9 percent, according to the Center for Retirement’s research.

Because of the recession, many older workers are getting laid off and are forced to start their Social Security earlier than they had originally planned. Unfortunately, they are facing long-term consequences.

The government pays you a bonus of eight percent for each year that you can delay filing for benefits. For example, for an individual whose SS check is $1,000 at age 65, it will go up to $1320 at age 70—almost one third more.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Can you work and still receive SSD?

by Staff | May 2nd, 2012

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has special rules called “work incentives” that help you keep your benefits and Medicare while you test your ability to work, reports The Sacramento Bee.

If you are disabled and work in spite of your disability, you may continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) until your earnings exceed the SSD income limit, which varies from state to state.

If your SSD payments are stopped because of your earnings and you become unable to work again because of your disability, you may ask  to restart your SSD payments. If you make this request within five years after the month your SSD benefits stopped, you will not have to file a new application.

Because of your medical condition, if you work, you may pay for some extra expenses that people without disabilities do not need. For example, you may need to take a taxi to work instead of using public transportation. The SSA may be able to deduct such expenses from your monthly earnings.

If SSA approves your plan for a work goal and your working reduces your dependence on SSD, any money that you use for this purpose will not be counted against you.

For more information, go to Working While disabled–A Guide to Plans for Achieving Self-Support on the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Part 2: 4 steps to handling personal finances when a disability occurs

by Staff | April 25th, 2012

Today nearly 153 million workers are insured by Social Security Disability (SSD). If you are one of them, Market Watch cites these two (of four) steps that you should take to prepare:

(3) Consider your income sources, including SSD and long-term disability. If you have long-term disability coverage, the benefits usually begin three to six months after the onset of a disability.

Through the FICA taxes that you have paid, you may be eligible for SSD benefits. It can take more than two years to be approved for benefits, and many people are denied at the initial application level, so you should apply for SSD as soon as possible.

A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you navigate the system.

(4) Do not let your healthcare coverage lapse. If you do not have coverage, you may be able to purchase private insurance or secure COBRA coverage through your former employer. However, you need to have been uninsured for at least six months before qualifying for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans. All of these options are costly, but the alternative of not having health care may be far more expensive.

Individuals are not eligible for Medicare until 24 months after they begin receiving SSD benefits.

With the costs of medical treatments and medicine today, do you see the importance of having and/or maintaining your own health insurance?

Read more.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Part 1: 4 steps to handling personal finances when a disability occurs

by Staff | April 23rd, 2012

Planning for a life-altering disability isn’t always at the top of the priority list. But, when you’re diagnosed with a disabling condition, you just might need a plan.

According to Market Watch, here are the first two of four steps that people with serious health conditions should take:

(1) Develop a financial plan. Establish a budget and prioritize expenses. Figure out how to spend down your assets in the least harmful ways because using retirement income may trigger penalties, and charging to credit cards ultimately adds financial charges.

(2) Cut costs and identify sources of assistance for living expenses. Quickly cut discretionary spending and look at how you can reduce costs for necessary expenses, such as groceries, housing, utilities, and healthcare. The most common assistance programs that people used while waiting for Social Securiy Disability Insurance include the following: food stamps, prescription drug assistance, Medicaid, utility assistance, food pantry, free health clinics, and rent assistance.

Part 2 of this blog on Wednesday will cover two more steps for handling your personal finances if a disability occurs.

This information is not intended as a substitute for legal or other professional services. You  may want to seek expert assistance before making any decisions that may affect your personal financial situation.

Read more.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.