social security lawyer

New Contingency Plan Protects Social Security Disability Operations

by Staff | September 28th, 2015

The Social Security Administration is responsible for handling all processes of the Social Security Disability (SSD) program. These operations are handled by thousands of government employees on a daily basis, but what happens when a government shutdown occurs and how could SSD applicants and recipients be affected? Our Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin explain questions like these are addressed in the SSA’s new contingency plan for the coming year.

A press release from the agency outlines a strategy to continue operation of the SSA in the event a government shutdown was to occur. Such an event could be prompted if planned annual funding was to run dry before financial decisions for the coming year could be finalized. The new plan simply creates a few minor updates and changes to the plan that was established in 2013.

The SSA says that as many as 11,197 employees would be furloughed in the event of a shutdown; however, an estimated 56,000 employees with certain titles would continue to perform their duties. These workers include executive officials and management, along with Human Resources employees and key members of each department.

This would allow the agency to continue to perform basic duties and meet its obligations to the public, regardless of funding issues.

It’s comforting to know that financial constraints caused by budgetary issues wouldn’t prevent you from receiving SSD benefits or hamper you from applying for SSD benefits. Our legal staff at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin are hopeful the new plan never needs to be put into action, but applaud federal officials for proactively determining what the course of action would be in the event the government ceased operations.

Your Social Security Disability Income May Be Scrutinized After You’re Approved

by Staff | November 19th, 2014

You may think that your financial worries are over once you’re approved for Social Security Disability benefits—but your finances may be scrutinized if you’re attempting to purchase a home.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has outlined several new regulations that will prevent lenders from implementing an illegal burden of proof of income on mortgage applicants who receive Social Security Disability benefits. According to an article from Mortgage Professional America, man lenders are asking disabled applicants for proof of how long they’re expecting to receive their benefits. Some are even going so far as to ask for doctor’s notes and records to determine the longevity of conditions.

The agency went on to explain this practice should be abandoned due to the fact that current regulations state that lenders should assume Social Security Disability benefits will continue indefinitely. Other ways lenders can avoid fair lending risks include:

  • Having clear verification requirements
  • Providing proper training to mortgage lenders
  • Monitoring of compliance with underwriting standards

Even if you can document your benefits to qualify for a mortgage, you may still struggle to overcome the income limits to continue receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Currently, recipients are only allowed to have access to $2,000 in savings.

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, we understand the struggles with income many disabled citizens face, which is why our Social Security Disability lawyers hope this information gives you some insight into what it may take to purchase a home while being considered disabled.

Social Security Common Conditions: Breast Cancer

by Staff | October 17th, 2014

Data from the National Cancer Institute indicates 232,670 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, and 40,000 patients will lose their battle with the disease.

To help educate the public about the impact of breast cancer, the month of October has been named National Breast Cancer Awareness month. That’s why the legal team at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin is doing their part by providing vital information about the disease and what resources are available to those who suffer from it.

What Is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer occurs when the cells begin to reproduce in an out of control manner in the breasts. The lumps of cells that are created are called tumors, for which there are two classifications—malignant (cancerous) and benign.

If the tumors break apart, the can travel, spread, and grow in other parts of the body. This can spread the cancer rapidly, which is why treatment is so important.

What Options Are Available for Those With Breast Cancer?

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy have all been found effective in treating breast cancer. But these treatments can be costly and take their toll on the body. The patient may be left unable to work due to the disabling nature of the disease.

For those with a cancer disability, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Being approved for the program can be difficult though and seeking legal advice prior to beginning the application process is often advised.

Get a Social Security Disability Lawyer.

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, our team of Social Security Disability attorneys are available to speak with you about your questions regarding your rights to benefits. Call us today at (800) 477-7315 to get the legal help you need.

What You Don’t Know About Social Security Benefits Can Affect Your Claim

by Staff | June 23rd, 2014

A portion of most workers’ paychecks go towards their Social Security benefits. But while millions of Americans are paying into this program, very few understand the policies that regulate it. Knowing the subtleties of these rules can add hundreds of dollars per month in benefits.

An article from The Wall Street Journal explains there are several things about the Social Security program that can have serious effects on many Americans’ ability to collect Social Security benefits. One of the biggest problems with the program is its complexity. In fact, the Social Security Administration’s handbook states there is too much information for them to include it all in the publication.

Other areas of concern within the Social Security program are their current lack of manpower available to process the growing number of claims and appeals.

Each of these issues plays a significant role in Social Security workers’ inability to provide applicants with guidance and direction about how to get the maximum benefits available.

At Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin, our Social Security Disability Attorneys can help you understand the steps to to file a successful Social Security claim. So call us anytime to discuss your claim.

Social Security Disability Lawyers Discuss The Claims Approval Process

by Staff | November 22nd, 2013

November 22, 2013

When an individual applies for Social Security disability benefits, the claim must go through a rigorous approval process before assistance can be offered. The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos and Newlin explain the first step in the process is having the claim examined at a local Social Security field office in your area.

According to the Social Security Administration, these individuals will check to ensure the claimant’s condition meets the eligibility requirements and that the claimant has worked long enough and paid enough into the system to receive benefits.  If these requirements are not met or any needed information is missing, the claim will receive a Social Security Disability Denial. Roughly, 70 percent of initial claims are denied for these reasons.

Hope is not lost for a claimant though, considering there is an extensive appeals process that can be utilized. There are four different levels of the appeals process where a prior decision on a claim can be overturned. The first involves having the Social Security Administration reconsider the claim. If they decide not to overturn the decision, the claim will begin the process of entering court proceedings to settle the matter.

Court cases regarding these claims can become quite confusing and complex, though. That is why the attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos, and Newlin urge anyone who has a Social Security Disability claim that has been denied in the past discuss their legal rights and options with a qualified attorney immediately.

Social Security Administration Renews Two Benefit Matching Programs

by Staff | July 10th, 2013

July 10, 2013

One of the major issues plaguing the Social Security Administration (SSA) today is ensuring that the right individuals are receiving the proper benefits through several different programs the agency oversees, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In an effort to create a more efficient way to correct this problem, the SSA has announced it will be renewing two computer-based matching programs.

According to a news release by Wolters Kluwer, the first program matches benefits offered through the SSA with payments made by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). The program, which was set to expire on September 1, takes annuity payment data and compares it with SSA records to double check SSI and other benefit payments to ensure they are correct. The renewal could keep the program in place for as long as the next two and a half years.

The other matching program that was renewed is between the SSA and Fiscal Service. The program offers data to the SSA that can be used to verify the amount of money an individual may have in savings. This can be used to determine eligibility for assistance to those with low incomes.

The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin understand how difficult getting all the benefits you need after becoming disabled or retired can be. The firm is here to help those individuals ensure they get the compensation they are entitled to.

Growing Number of Social Security Disability Fraud Cases Reported

by Staff | June 24th, 2013

June 24, 2013

Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) switched from cutting paper checks to recipients of Social Security Disability benefits to issuing direct deposits to beneficiary’s bank accounts. The move was made in an effort to provide the agency with a more streamlined and secure way to dispense payments.

However, reports indicate there have been a significant number of cases of Social Security Disability Fraud reported since the change was made. In fact, an article from the Patriot Ledger explains that estimates show as much as $28 million was stolen from beneficiaries between October 2011 and June of this year.

Those committing the fraud obtain a beneficiary’s private information, such as Social Security and bank account numbers. They then contact the SSA and have the account in which payments are deposited changed to their own.

This leaves many recipients wondering what they can do to protect themselves from being the victim of fraud. Experts say recipients should never give out personal information and should never send or wire money to a stranger. Furthermore, a recipient should contact their local SSA office if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from the agency and asking for a Social Security number.

The Social Security Disability Attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin acknowledge most Social Security recipients depend of their benefit payments to make ends meet. The firm hopes these tips will help to protect those individuals from fraud.

2013 Social Security Report Highlights Financial Struggles

by Staff | June 3rd, 2013

June 3, 2013

Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) released its report on the financial status of its trust funds. The report highlighted several areas of concern for citizens who depend on the Social Security Disability (SSD) program for benefits.

One area that has garnered a great amount of attention is the financial stability of SSD. The new report indicated that the trust fund supporting the program is sustainable only until the year 2020. At that point, the costs associated with the benefits given to recipients will outweigh the program’s income. By 2033, funding for the program will have run dry unless the government makes adjustments.

The financial struggles of the program mean that adjustments will likely be made in the coming years; however, the problem with using adjustments and cuts as a solution is that those who already depend on the meager payouts as their main source of income will be left receiving less money as the value of the American dollar continues to inflate. So, beneficiaries will not only be receiving less money, but the value of the money they receive will also continue to decline.

The Social Security Attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin recognize the financial struggles the program is facing may make it more difficult for an applicant to receive approval for benefits. The firm may be able to help though, if an individual is considering applying for benefits or has been denied in the past.

Who and What Is Covered By Social Security Disability Benefits?

by Staff | April 29th, 2013

April 29, 2013

When a worker is hurt on the job and is left unable to preform their duties, they can be left with no source of income. As a result, individuals may find themselves in need of applying for government assistance through Social Security Disability Benefits; however, this can raise numerous questions for an applicant.

One of the most common concerns for new applicants to the program is who and what is covered by Social Security disability. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), an individual must suffer from a condition that leaves them unable to work for at least a year or could result in death. The conditions that are considered as eligible for benefits range from mood disorders to terminal illnesses.

Once an applicant has been approved for benefits, the payments they are awarded can be used to replace income that would have been earned by the recipient. The amount that is issued is determined as a percentage of the recipient’s previous earnings.

If this money is not enough to cover expenses, the claimant may be eligible to receive compensation from other assistance programs, such as Supplemental Security Income.

The Social Security Disability Attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin point out that the process to receive these benefits can often times be extremely complex. That is why the firm suggests an individual discuss their legal options with an attorney before applying for benefits.

Changes Could Mean Reductions In Social Security Disability Benefits

by Staff | April 10th, 2013

April 10, 2013

With serious budget deficits looming over the federal government, officials are attempting to find areas where spending cuts can be made. Unfortunately for recipients of Social Security Disability Benefits though, payments through the Social Security system may be one of the first areas to see reductions.

According to a story published by MSN News, current law allows for the amount an individual receives through Social Security Disability benefits to be reevaluated and adjusted each year to meet increases in the cost of living. These Cost-Of-Living-Adjustments, or COLAs, are determined by the Consumer Price Index that examines costs of certain daily necessities, such as food, utilities, clothing, etc.

President Barack Obama is proposing changes to this system though, that would implement the use of a “chained CPI” to evaluate cost of living increases. This new system takes into consideration the theory that if the costs associated with certain products rise, consumers will switch to purchasing cheaper alternatives.

Officials believe switching to the new system would reduce COLAs by an average of .3 percent annually. While this number may seem small, it could save the nation more than $1 billion over the next decade.

The law firm of Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin and their team of Social Security Disability Attorneys recognize the budgetary restraints the Social Security system is facing makes it more difficult than ever before to receive an approval for disability benefits. That’s why the firm urges anyone considering filing a claim to discuss their options with an attorney.