» Social Security

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 19, 2016 – On June 13 a Social Security judge pleaded guilty to conspiring to retaliate against a former Social Security Administration (SSA) worker who was an informant to federal agents investigating fraud. The employee blew the whistle on a scheme devised by Kentucky disability lawyer Eric Conn. Conn obtained over $600 million in fraudulent SSA disability payments for thousands of individuals regardless of whether they were eligible for benefits or not. He allegedly falsified medical evidence to make clients appear disabled. The lawyer also paid physicians to approve bogus reports. “Fraudulent claims for […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) July 15, 2016 – Older workers need to be wary of some potential Medicare errors that may come up if they intend to continue working past the age of 65. Approximately one-third of Americans within the age group of 65 to 69 stay in the workforce. This rate is 50 percent higher than it was ten years ago. Thus, an increasing number of older Americans are not getting Medicare upon reaching age 65. Andrew H. Hook, a prominent Virginia elder law attorney of Hook Law Center with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk, […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 15, 2016 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) is planning to change how it handles some disability benefits appeals in an effort to reduce the claims backlog. A Senate oversight subcommittee held a hearing on May 12 to discuss SSA adjudication and appeals judges. The agency is transferring the responsibility for thousands of pending cases in certain categories from administrative law judges (ALJs) to federal administrative appeals judges (AAJs) and attorneys from the Social Security’s Appeals Council. They will deal with non-disability related appeals, such as those involving an applicant’s income, age or citizenship […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 8, 2016 – A U.S. postal worker from Tampa, Florida, has been charged with stealing Social Security benefit checks valued at more than $2 million from the mail. The man was identified on March 18 as 47-year-old Stacy Darnell Mitchell. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mitchell could face a maximum of 15 years in federal prison. He was charged with theft of government property and theft of mail. “Investigators have done well to find the alleged perpetrator of the crime,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose firm specializes […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 2, 2016 – Several cases of Social Security disability fraud have been reported in Florida in December and January. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, four Miami-Dade residents were charged with Social Security, immigration and health care fraud on January 8. The scheme involved submitting false statements to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Psychiatrist Fernando Mendez Villamil and three other defendants offered to help applicants file claims for Social Security disability benefits in exchange for money. Villamil allegedly provided them with fraudulent diagnoses of mental conditions. “The Social […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 11, 2016 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) is struggling with long wait times for disability benefits hearings. Administrative judges are facing heavy caseloads of pending appeals with a national average wait time of around 16 months. Two Florida cities have the country’s longest delays. It takes 22 months to get a hearing in Miami, while Fort Myers has a 20-month wait time. The SSA announced plans for two new judgeships in Miami to ease the burden of pending cases. “A lot can happen during such lengthy wait periods,” said David W. Magann, a […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) December 18, 2015 – It is generally assumed that student loan debt is a problem faced only by the young. However, that is not always the case. Seniors are increasingly having a difficult time paying off their student loans, even to the point at which their Social Security benefits are offset when they are unable to make payments. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in 2010, four percent of Americans ages 65 to 74 had federal student loan debt. This represents an increase of one percent from the year 2004. The collective amount […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 3, 2015 – Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, has introduced a bill to expedite the payment of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to people who are terminally ill by eliminating the five-month waiting period. The legislation was proposed on Sept. 9 with the aim to reduce delays in processing payments for individuals who would not live long enough to receive benefits under the current law. With the new legislation, eligible individuals diagnosed to be terminally ill would begin receiving benefits in the first month of their diagnosis. “The revision to the law ensures that terminally ill […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 29, 2015 – Recipients of Social Security disability could experience an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits as the disability trust fund is projected to run out of money by the end of next year. Eleven million Americans rely on disability benefits from Social Security, which turned 80 on Aug. 14. Disabled workers and their families receive an average monthly payment of $1,019, which adds up to $12,228 a year. A 19 percent cut would decrease average annual benefits to under $10,000. “A cut to benefits would be detrimental to the millions of disabled […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 25, 2015 – The House passed legislation on July 28 to speed up federal payments to veterans who have complex benefits claims and to raise the benefits compensation rate for disabled veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be required to pay benefits to veterans as parts of their claim are processed instead of waiting until the entire case is finished. According to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the typical benefits claim for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans is made up of eight components. She said the measure would “allow veterans […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 1, 2015 – There are a number of different retirement planning milestones that determine which benefits retirees can receive. Anticipating these milestones can be important for executing a retirement plan, and making any necessary changes. “Retirees can expect to start receiving various private funds and government benefits at different ages, and understanding when these funds will become available is essential for avoiding unexpected penalties or gaps in retirement funding,” said Andrew H. Hook, a Virginia elder law attorney with Hook Law Center, with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk. Age 59½ is […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 31, 2015 – An audit report released on July 1 reveals that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has overpaid almost $17 billion in disability benefits over the past decade, with some individuals still receiving payments despite being ineligible. The audit, issued by the Office of the Inspector General, examined a sample group of 1,532 Americans receiving disability benefits from October 2003 to February 2014. The results indicate that around 50 percent of the people were overpaid. The SSA estimates only $8.1 billion of the $17 billion in overpayments has been recovered, and that it […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 12, 2015 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) is seeking information from insurance companies and local and state government to ensure an appropriate offset of disability benefits. In April, the SSA forwarded a proposal that, if enacted, will require states, local governments and private insurers to report workers’ compensation benefits to the agency when those benefits affect the offset of the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) benefits that the SSA pays to disability insurance recipients. The proposal was included as part of the SSA’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Overview. Under current law, the SSA […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 10, 2015 – In an interview on March 12, David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States, warned that rising costs for Social Security, public pensions and healthcare could jeopardize the nation’s safety net for workers. Walker was the comptroller general of the United States from 1998 to 2008. He served as head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) during the same period. Now, his comments support a recent Social Security Administration (SSA) warning that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, in particular, could run out of money as early as next year. Walker […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 21, 2015 – A computer system hack at the University of Central Florida has exposed the names and Social Security numbers of 63,000 current and former students and staff. Two former university student leaders filed a class action lawsuit against UCF in the U.S. District Court’s Orlando division on February 5 after finding out their private information was stolen in the security breach. Former student body president Logan Berkowitz alleged UCF did not publicly announce the breach or notify victims until February 4 despite having been aware of it since December 2015. According to […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 20, 2015 – Obama’s call to redirect money from the Social Security retirement fund to its disability fund is facing resistance in Congress. On February 2, President Obama unveiled his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The $4 trillion budget includes more than $1 trillion in proposed new tax measures. Prominent among the president’s fiscal proposals is an increase in the Social Security Disability Trust Fund’s share of funding from payroll taxes – an attempt to shore up the finances of an entitlement program that is facing a major shortfall. Under the president’s […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 26, 2015 – Coupled with a presidential hopeful’s remarks, the surprise move elevated Social Security as an issue. Republican lawmakers — fresh from midterm elections that delivered the Senate to GOP control and expanded the party’s majority in the House — returned to Capitol Hill in January, energized and eager to forward conservative legislation. And based on an opening day rules change that House Republicans sprung on their Democratic colleagues, it is clear that Social Security will be a major point of contention for the new session. House Republicans signaled their intent to focus […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 28, 2015 – Law would allow those who qualify under executive action to collect disability, other payments. On November 25, key details about how President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform would translate into policy emerged. In an email, White House spokesman Shawn Turner stated that undocumented immigrants would be eligible to collect Social Security and Medicare benefits: “If they pay in, they can draw.” Federal law states that people who pay taxes and have been determined to be “lawfully present in the United States” are allowed to collect government benefits once they become […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 17, 2014 – A handful of judges have been found to have approved large numbers of dubious cases and benefits. The Social Security Administration’s inspector general issued a report on November 17 finding a significant number of disability cases approved by certain judges did not have “a well-supported rationale” for awarding benefits. According to the report, 44 judges over seven years were deemed to have decided an unusually large number of disability cases and awarded an unusually high number of benefits. More specifically, the report examined 275 cases and found 216 of them to […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 20, 2014 – While claimants wait for a judge to make decision on their case, the already-long Social Security application process can stretch on for more than a year. Some agencies of the federal government have acquired unflattering reputations for big backlogs to process applications or resolve appeals. One agency in particular, the Social Security Administration, has reached an unenviable milestone and is fast approaching another one. As of the third quarter of this year, the Social Security office of judges who hear appeals for for disability benefits ranks as the leading federal agency for […]


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