Monday, April 29, 2013

New Online Services for SSDI and SSI Claimants

The Social Security Administration is expanding the services available with a my Social Security account, a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and continuing throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits. More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients can now access their benefit verification letter, payment history, and earnings record instantly using their online account. Social Security beneficiaries also can change their address and start or change direct deposit information online.
“We are making it even easier for people to do their business with us from the comfort of their home, office, or library,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I encourage people of all ages to take advantage of our award-winning online services and check out the new features available through an online my Social Security account.”
Social Security beneficiaries, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)  and SSI recipients with a my Social Security account can go online and get an official benefit verification letter instantly. The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to secure loans, mortgages and other housing, and state or local benefits. Additionally, people use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. People can print or save a customized letter.
Social Security processed nearly nine million requests for benefit verification letters in the past year. This new online service allows people to conduct business with Social Security without having to visit an office or make a phone call, and very often wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. It also will reduce the time spent by employees completing these requests and free them to focus on other workloads.
People age 18 and older can sign up for an account at

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Importance of the Work History Report in a Social Security Disability Case

In my experience as Connecticut and Massachusetts Social Security Lawyer, I have noticed that one of the most common mistakes made by SSI or SSDI claimants is that they fail to recognize the importance that their "work history" plays in the disability determination process. It is fair to say that many Claimants focus mostly on their medical conditions and neglect to provide the Social Security Administration with a precise description of the work that they performed prior to becoming disabled.

Any competent Social Security Disability Lawyer knows how important it is to take some time in completing the SSA's Work History Report. This report can be made using Social Security Form 3369 or by completing the electronic "Adult Disability and Work History Report" provided in If you need help with this form, you should contact a Social Security Lawyer who handles these types of cases on a regular basis. Every week, my Connecticut and Massachusetts office helps 3 to 4 claimants complete these forms.

A well done Work History Report is important for three main reasons:


1.    This work history report will assist the Social Security Administration understand how your injury or illness affects your ability to do the work that you performed in the past. Social Security focuses on the work that you performed on the 15 years prior to the date when you became disabled. In the report, it is important to describe the specific physical requirements of the jobs that you held during these 15 years.

2.    This report also helps Social Security determine whether you will be able to transfer your skills to any new type of work that you have not performed in the past 15 years. For this reason, you must also explain the level of skills that were required at your past jobs.

3.    A good work record enhances your credibility as a Claimant! Pursuant to Social Security Disability Rules, a Claimant who worked consistently before becoming disabled must be given more credibility than a claimant who was never able to stay employed for a considerable period of time. When assessing a claimant’s pain and subjective symptoms, it is entirely appropriate to consider his or her prior work record. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1529(c)(3) and Social Security Ruling 96-7. The Claimant with an excellent work history are entitled to a favorable credibility inference.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our Office will be at the May 5th Walk to End Lupus

MAY 5, 2013

Blue Back Square
50 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107

As a Social Security Disability Attorney I believe that it is essential that I stay connected with those who advocate for persons with chronic conditions.  For this reason, our office will be at the May 5, 2013 Lupus Walk in West Hartford Center.  Please join us, raise some money and awareness, and... stop by the table with our office display to say hello. 

Join the Lupus Foundation of America, CT Chapter in celebrating their 40th Anniversary of raising awareness and educating the public about lupus as well as providing educational programs and services to all people with lupus and their families.

WALK TO END LU?US NOW™ is the signature event of the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. In more than 50 cities across America, thousands of people walk to make a difference in the lives of those affected by lupus and to raise essential funds for research, education, and support services.

Join us for a half-day day of fun, food, and friendship with activities for the whole family! Walkers can stroll the 1/4 - 3 mile long walk to show thier support in raising the awareness of lupus.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eight Former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration Defend the Agency's Disability Programs

Eight former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration have expressed their concerns about a very misleading and inaccurate series that was broadcast last week on NPR.  In an April 8th, 2013 letter, the former Commissioners have presented the facts that should have been reported. We and other Social Security Disability lawyers in Connecticut, in Massachusetts, and throughout the country are continuing to work hard on correcting the misinformation and errors reported by news organizations such as NPR and the Baltimore Sun.  Special thanks to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) and to The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities for their great job defending SSDI and SSI. The letter makes some very important points regarding the Social Security Disability programs that I was not aware of:
  • About 1 in 5 male DI beneficiaries and 1 in 7 female DI beneficiaries die within 5 years of receiving benefits.
  • Despite their impairments, many beneficiaries attempt work using the work incentives under the Social Security Act, and some do work part-time. For example, research by Mathematica and SSA finds that about 17 percent of beneficiaries worked in 2007. However, their earnings are generally very low (two-thirds of those who worked in 2007 earned less than $5,000 for the whole year), and only a small share are able to earn enough to be self-sufficient and leave the DI and SSI programs each year.
  • The increase in the number of children receiving SSI benefits in the past decade is similarly explained by larger economic factors, namely the increase in the number of poor and low-income children. More than 1 in 5 U.S. children live in poverty today and some 44 percent live in low-income households.
  • Read the complete letter:
    To read the CCD response to the NPR report visit:
    Perhaps the strongest defense of SSDI and SSI came from former Commissioner Michael Astrue at an MSNBC program.  Keep in mind that Former Commissioner Astrue was a Bush appointee.  He did a great job at refuting the ridiculous notion that "SSD is the new welfare".  In fact, he stated that currently the level of approval for SSDI is the lowest since 1978!  (Applications are up but not the approval rates.)  To see the MSNBC program visit:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mystery ALJ Policy Will End on April 20, 2013

On December 19, 2011, the Social Security Administration decided that it would no longer provide to the claimants or their lawyers the name of the Administrative Law Judge who was assigned to hear a particular person's case.  In response to this policy, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), --an organization of which I am a supporting member-- commenced several lawsuits and waged an intense lobbying campaign to make available before the hearing date the name of the judge assigned to a case.  This policy became known as the "Secret ALJ Policy".
Today, I am happy to report that the Social Security Administration has announced the that Secret ALJ Policy will end effective April 20th of this year.  The SSA issued the following statement to Social Security Lawyers and Representatives who are NOSSCR members:
  • Beginning on April 20, the agency will resume disclosing the name of the ALJ assigned to a hearing when it sends out a Notice of Hearing. (Note: Under our rules, we must send out this Notice at least twenty days before the hearing, but typically we send it out 60-90 days prior to the hearing.)
  • In addition, beginning on April 20, we will add the ALJ's name to the Appointed Representative Services (ARS) internet application. ARS users represent claimants in about 85% of all represented cases currently pending in ODAR.
  • We encourage representatives who are not signed up for ARS to ask about registering in their local hearing office.  Registered ARS users can access up-to-date electronic folders for their clients, download hearing recordings, and access case status and scheduling information in one convenient location.