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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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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) July 11, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has accidentally declared thousands of veterans dead and stopped their benefits over the past five years. The issue was discussed in correspondence between the VA and U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R., Fla.) when he found that the same clerical error occurred 4,200 times between 2011 and 2015. The congressman received complaints from several constituents regarding cases of incorrect death notices of still-living veterans whose benefits payments were cancelled. The VA asserted the errors comprise under 1 percent of total benefits cancellations, according to recent […]


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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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Roseville, CA (Law Firm Newswire) February 11, 2016 – Special needs trusts (SNTs) are established for beneficiaries who are physically or mentally disabled. They are drafted in such a way that the beneficiary can reap the benefits of property that is held in trust for them while simultaneously maintaining eligibility to receive needs-based government benefits. The three kinds of SNTs are first-party, third-party and pooled trusts. First-party SNTs are used to hold property owned by the person with special needs, and are established by the disabled person’s parent, grandparent, conservator or the court. These trusts apply in cases in which […]


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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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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) July 23, 2015 – Measures would update Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “grid rules” for calculating applicant eligibility. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced a trio of bills on May 6 that would change the SSA’s “grid rules,” which are the standards the agency employs to determine an applicant’s eligibility for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Hatch’s measures would also simplify the benefit process and establish standards for medical evaluation that would be similar to those that Medicare uses. Hatch, who is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that the SSDI […]


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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) 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) 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) May 23, 2014 – On February 19, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a new policy to expedite some high-priority disability claims. Hopefully, these changes are already helping former members of the military who are awaiting a determination on benefits eligibility. The new policy went into effect in March. Under it, SSA will accelerate the claims process for veterans who have been classified as fully disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Fully disabled veterans, or those with a 100 percent disability rating, will be prioritized, as will other groups, including service members who were […]


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Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) May 22, 2014 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) owes thousands of Americans higher benefits, amounting to millions of dollars in total. SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) – the agency’s internal watchdog – recently conducted an internal audit that revealed failures to increase some retirees’ benefits properly. “The problem lies with some retirees’ receipt of spousal benefits,” explained elder law attorney Andrew Hook. “These retirees initially claimed spousal benefits, but they later became eligible for higher benefits based on their own employment. Social Security failed to notify them of that fact.” The […]


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White Plains, NY (Law Firm Newswire) April 30, 2014 – The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits is to be expedited for some veterans. Under a new initiative, veterans who have a 100 percent Permanent and Total disability compensation rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be able to apply for Social Security disability benefits on an expedited basis. Social Security is to handle these claims on a high-priority basis, similar to the way claims from service members wounded in combat are processed. Carolyn Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), said that […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 27, 2013 – The United States House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements has opened hearings with testimony on the SSA’s struggles with its disability program. A subcommittee of the House Oversight and Oversight Reform Committee launched hearings November 19 on the Social Security Administration. The Republican-controlled body headlined its mission on the committee website as one of overseeing the SSA’s “mismanagement of federal disability programs.” The SSA officials who offered opening statements did acknowledge some of their agency’s ongoing problems. Inspector General Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr. shed some light on the […]


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