Social Security Administration

How common are mistakes by the Social Security Administration?

by Staff | August 25th, 2014

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is failing to process claims in a timely manner, and the situation has reached crisis levels. The Office of the Inspector General for the SSA states there are as many as 838,000 applicants awaiting decisions on their claims.

So, has the pressure that has been placed on the SSA to eliminate the backlog caused claims processors to rush and make mistakes? Some experts believe the answer to this question is an astounding “yes.”

The most typical mistake is when a Social Security Disability denial is issued for claims that should’ve been approved. Approximately 60 percent of initial disability claims are denied, but a majority of the decisions are overturned during the appeals process. A FOX News article highlights some of the alleged methods the SSA uses to deny claims and expedite processing.

In many cases, the SSA may also make mistakes when determining the amount in benefits claimants should receive.

One of the best ways to avoid either of these hazards is to hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer to assist you with your claim. At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we have decades of experience handling Social Security Disability claims, and we’re here to answer your questions. Call us at (800) 477-7315 to discuss your claim today.

Report Highlights Social Security Disability Processing Failures

by Staff | July 28th, 2014

The Social Security Administration has been working to implement a computerized Social Security Disability claim processing system that would improve efficiency. But a new report has been released which states the new program has been a failure while offering several suggestions for improvement.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Lockheed Martin was in charge of designing the $300 million web-based system to eliminate the need for the Social Security Administration to maintain 54 unique processing systems. Since the new system has been implemented, the number of unprocessed Social Security Disability claims has continued to grow. In fact, 660,000 claims had not received initial decisions after more than the 110-day processing goal as of June 2014.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the findings by management firm McKinsey & Co. and called for a number of recommendations to be followed, including hiring an executive leader to the system up to speed.

Until the system is fixed, many disabled individuals will be left wondering what they can do to help expedite the processing of their claims.

Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer may prove beneficial to many claimants. At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we’ve helped many disabled citizens get the benefits they’re entitled to and may be able to do the same for you. Call us anytime to discuss your claim.

Changes to the Social Security System Are Underway

by Staff | July 16th, 2014

An aging population of workers combined with a reduction in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) workforce has taken it’s toll on both funding and the agency’s ability to process new claims.

The SSA is taking steps to address these problems, but some feel their proposed plans may not make getting Social Security disability benefits any easier.

The SSA’s Vision 2025 plan calls for a majority of the agency’s field offices to be closed in order to transition to an online processing format. So far, as many as 80 SSA offices have shut their doors.

The Huffington Post explains another major change is the downsizing of the SSA’s workforce by as many as 30,000 employees. This leaves applicants dependent on a faceless system to make major decisions about their finances.

Some applicants may be savvy enough to navigate the new system, but others have severe disabilities or little computer knowledge. This leaves many applicants unable to navigate the online application process.

The Social Security Disability attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin point out these are just a few of the reasons it’s crucial to have legal representation by your side while applying for Social Security Disability benefits. If you are struggling with your Social Security Disability claim, we are here to help.

New Expedited SSD Filing Process for Veterans

by Staff | May 23rd, 2014

One of the most frustrating parts of the Social Security Disability filing process is the waiting. Claims take time to process, court dates have to be set, and if you’re denied, the appeal process can take even longer. According to a recent news communiqué from the Social Security Administration (SSA), that frustration may soon be alleviated for certain veterans.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, recently unveiled a new expedited filing process for veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T). Although this new policy promises to fast track such applications, it does not guarantee an approval of the claim. However, it’s still a very exciting announcement for veterans who have sacrificed so much.

“While we can never fully repay them for their sacrifices,” Colvin says. “We can be sure we provide them with the quality of service that they deserve.”

To take advantage of this fast-track initiative, veterans must show proof of their disability rating via a VA Notification Letter. However, to gain benefits, veterans will be required to meet the strict requirements that all applicants face. That’s why it’s important to have an Indiana Social Security Disability attorney on your side.

If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, call the Indiana injury lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin today.

Online Services Offered To Beneficiaries By Social Security Administration

by Staff | December 16th, 2013

December 16, 2013

Winter is in full swing, but the weather that accompanies this season of the year can often make travel extremely difficult, especially for those who are disabled by a mental or physical condition. The Social Security Disability Lawyers with the law firm of Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin point out the Social Security Administration (SSA) is attempting to take away some of these difficulties by offering numerous services online that once had to be done in person at a local office.

According to an article in the Daily Sun News, those who are recipients of Social Security Disability Benefits or those who are applying for such assistance can simply log on to an account they create at the SSA’s website. From there, individuals can receive instant and accurate estimates on the amount of benefits they should both receive currently and in the future. Furthermore, those who are attempting to receive benefits can complete an online application and check the status of their paperwork from the convenience of a home computer.

Lines are also open to those who wish to conduct their business with a representative over the phone.

The team of attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin applaud the efforts being made to more efficiently help those who are receiving benefits, as well as those who are Applying for Social Security Disability, by creating online services and hope to see the program expand in the future.

Girl Born Via In Vitro Can’t Receive Late Father’s Social Security Benefits, Says Court

by Staff | August 31st, 2011

An eight-year-old Iowa girl who was conceived via in vitro fertilization almost two years after her father died is not eligible to receive his Social Security benefits, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The girl and her mother traveled a long judicial road before this verdict was reached. On behalf of her daughter, the mother originally filed for benefits from the Social Security Administration in 2003 and was denied. The mother then sued to challenge that decision, and a district court ruling granted benefits to the girl. However, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision on Monday, asserting that the girl didn’t satisfy requirements under Iowa’s inheritance laws to be eligible for her father’s benefits.

The girl’s 37-year-old father died of leukemia in May 2001, and his wife was later artificially inseminated with sperm that the couple had preserved at a hospital in the event of his death. The man signed documents bequeathing the sperm to his wife so that she could conceive a child; three months later he died and 14 months after he died his wife was pregnant with his child.

The Houston Chronicle reports, “At dispute in the Iowa case is an outdated law that limited inheritance rights to a child who had a relationship with a person at the time of that person’s death. The Iowa Legislature passed a bill earlier this year granting inheritance rights to children conceived posthumously, but did not make those rights retroactive. The measure was signed into law in May.”

Read more.

Do you think this child should be able to receive her father’s Social Security benefits?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Deficit Reduction Deal Could Bring More Social Security Disability Reviews

by Staff | August 3rd, 2011

The deficit reduction deal passed earlier this week could mean that the Social Security Administration will put a higher priority on reviewing recipients of disability payments and supplemental security incomes to determine if their condition keeps them eligible.

The Wall Street Journal points out that fewer and fewer of these reviews have been conducted each year in the last decade – with 850,000 “continuing disability reviews” conducted in 2002 but only 200,000 in 2007. When conducting these reviews, the agency traditionally finds that 12 percent of recipients are no longer eligible for benefits and that for every $1 spent on the reviews it saves $10 in benefit costs.

The new deal hammered out by President Barack Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill will likely make it easier for the agency to accomplish a higher number of these reviews.

“The deficit-reduction measure doesn’t appropriate money for more reviews, but it would allow Congress to allocate funds for them without being limited by the bill’s spending caps,” explains The WSJ. “This is one of the only areas in the 74-page bill that receives such an exemption. The bill allows spending on continuing disability reviews and redeterminations to rise to $623 million above spending caps in 2012, and steadily raises exempted spending to $1.3 billion above caps in 2017. The agency doesn’t break out its spending on the reviews now.”

Read more.

Do you think the budget cuts will make a positive or negative impact on the Social Security Administration?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security Administration Struggles to Collect $5.4 Billion Overpaid to Disabled Workers

by Staff | July 29th, 2011

Last month it was revealed that the Social Security Administration overpaid approximately $5.4 billion in benefits to disabled workers in 2009; this week the United States Government Accountability Office indicated that the agency is having a difficult time recovering much of the money it overpaid in 2009, 2010, and in previous years.

The report found the following: “While the agency collected, or recovered, $839 million in overpayments in fiscal year 2010, monies still owed by beneficiaries grew by $225 million that same year, and cumulative DI overpayment debt reached $5.4 billion.”

These overpayments are most often the result of the agency not having timely information about beneficiaries’ earnings. Many people who have returned to work may no longer qualify for disability payments but fail to report their income and continue receiving monthly checks.

In an article out this week, The Center for Public Integrity says that the SSA doesn’t have a solid enough system for monitoring changes in beneficiaries’ incomes, instead relying on an annual report from the Internal Revenue Service.

“We use many tools to assist us in collecting overpayments—benefit withholding, repayment arrangements, and external collection agencies,” an SSA official wrote in response to the report. “We pursue other options to prevent overpayments from occurring … We are also pursuing legislative changes.”

Read more.

Do you think the SSA needs to do a better job keeping tabs on the changing incomes of its beneficiaries?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Budget Cuts Mean Social Security Field Offices Will Close a Half-Hour Early

by Staff | July 25th, 2011

Congressional budget cuts are forcing the Social Security Administration to reduce its public hours. Beginning August 15, 2011, Social Security field offices across the country will close to the public 30 minutes early each day. The hours will vary across the board, but if a field office is normally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., it will now close daily at 3:30 p.m., according to a news release from the agency.

This will allow the agency to avoid paying its employees overtime.

“While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow us to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime for our employees,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.”

The agency points out that most beneficiaries do not need to visit a field office, as most services can be accomplished at—including applying for benefits, signing up for a direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, etc.

Read more.

Do you think that the Social Security Administration’s reduced public hours will impede customer service or efficiency?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security Judge Retires As Investigation of Work Record Continues

by Staff | July 22nd, 2011

An administrative law judge from Huntington, West Virginia—David B. Daugherty—has announced his retirement as multiple investigations into his work record continue. Daugherty, 75, came under fire in May when The Wall Street Journal published a front-page whistle-blower questioning why the judge awarded Social Security Disability benefits in nearly all of the cases that he’s decided over the last few years.

Specifically, Daugherty awarded disability benefits in all of the 729 cases he decided in the first half of 2011, and in 2010 he granted benefits to all but four of the 1,300 cases he decided. Disability judges typically approve benefits in about 60 percent of the cases that come across their desks.

The Wall Street Journal reports that as a result of the situation in West Virginia, the approval rates amongst all Social Security Disability judges—and there are about 1,500 of them in the U.S.—have become more closely scrutinized. Among other issues, the agency is now considering putting a limit on the number of cases a judge can decide annually and working toward making it more difficult for judges to assign themselves cases.

Read more.

Do you think the method by which administrative law judges award disability benefits needs to be refined and better monitored?

If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.