Monday, September 30, 2013

How I Win Social Security Disability Benefits for Claimants Over 60

The Social Security Administration acknowledges a basic precept of the human condition: the older we get, the harder it is for us to perform certain types of work and re-adapt to the requirements of a new job. In fact, Social Security Disability law provides special guidelines for persons over 60 who are seeking disability benefits. Here are some of the basic strategies that I use to win Social Security Disability Benefits for claimants over 60.
Social Security Disability rules regarding age are contained in the Medical Vocational Guidelines, which are rules used by the Social Security Administration to determine whether an applicant can adapt to a new job. Social Security Disability Lawyers commonly referred to these rules as: "the Grids".

Once a person turns 60, the Grids play a pivotal role in the Social Security Disability Process. In many instances, the Grids specifically establish that certain applicants qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits as a matter of law. For example, if your condition limits you to sedentary work but have not had a “sit down” job in the past 15 years and you are 60 or older, you have very good chance of winning benefits.

Age makes a huge difference in determining disability. Based on the Grids, a person that can only do simple sedentary work at 48, will loose, but would have a much better chance of obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits at age 60.

Social Security Rules call claimants between 60 to 65: “Claimants Closely Approaching Retirement Age”.  In determining whether a person is disabled, Social Security must determine whether the claimant who is unable to perform the work that he or she has performed in the past, has skills than can be transferred to another occupation. SSR 82-41 sets forth a very strict transferability standard in situations where a Claimant is Closely Approaching Retirement Age (60 to 65 years old).  SSR 82-41 states:

 [T]here must be very little, if any, vocational adjustment required in terms of tools, work process, work settings, or the industry.
[J]ob duties of their past work must be so closely related to other jobs which they can perform that they could be expected to perform these other identified jobs at a high degree of proficiency with minimal amount of job orientation.

Therefore, a claimant who is over 60 is likely to be found disabled if he or she needs to take special training or has to make special job adjustments in order  to find a new job.
As an attorney, I use the legal presumptions contained in the Grids to help persons over 60 win their Social Security Disability Benefits. If you are considering filing for Social Security Disability Benefits or would like to know how your age might impact the possibility of obtaining benefits, feel free to call me at (855) WIN-Ramos or (855) 946-7266  and ask for a free case evaluation. You may also fill the brief questionnaire at the top right corner of this page and submit it to my office. I will try to get back to you within 24 hours.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Social Security Announces New Mobile Site for Smartphone Users

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced that the agency is offering a new mobile optimized website, specifically aimed at smartphone users across the country.  People visiting the agency’s website,, via smartphone (Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Windows devices) will be redirected to the agency’s new mobile-friendly site. Once there, visitors can access a mobile version of Social Security’s Frequently Asked Questions, an interactive Social Security number (SSN) decision tree to help people identify documents needed for a new/replacement SSN card, and mobile publications which they can listen to in both English and Spanish right on their phone.
“We are committed to meeting the changing needs of the American people and the launch of our new mobile site helps reinforce our online presence and adaptability to advances in technology,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said.  “I encourage all smartphone users looking for Social Security information to take advantage of our new mobile site.”
In addition, visitors to the new mobile site can learn how to create a personal my Social Security account to get an online Social Security Statement, learn more about Social Security’s award-winning online services, and connect with Social Security on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. For people unable to complete their Social Security business online or over the telephone, the agency also unveiled a new mobile field office locator. The new mobile office locator has the capability to provide turn-by-turn directions to the nearest Social Security office based on information entered by the person.
“With significant budget cuts of nearly a billion dollars each year over the last few years, we must continue to leverage technology and find more innovative ways to meet the evolving needs of the American public without compromising service,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin.
Each year, more than 35 million Social Security web page views come via smartphones.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Social Security is Now Accepting Claims for Same Sex Couples

Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision in United States v. Windsor, the Social Security Administration has announced that it will begin processing Social Security claims for same sex couples.      
In the coming weeks and months, the Social Security Administration will be working with the Department of Justice to develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security benefits, we encourage you to apply now to protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.  Applying as soon as possible will establish a “protective filing date”; while waiting to file might end up costing benefits to claimants.
However, it appears that it will take a long time before the SSA establishes a new policy for processing these claims.  Anything that the SSA does must first be approved by the Department of Justice. 
SSA’s website has a link to information for same-sex couples:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can I Expedite My Social Security Disability Hearing Due to "Dire Need"?

A client who is on the verge of loosing her house due to foreclosure recently asked me whether I could write a "dire need" letter requesting that her case be expedited. 
Unfortunately, a large percentage of my Social Security Disability clients endure great financial hardship as a result of the long period of time that they must wait to have their case adjudicated by an Administrative Law Judge.  Many spend up to two years sick and without any income; waiting for a hearing.  Under certain circumstances, it might be appropriate to write a "dire need letter" to the Office of Disability Administration and Review (ODAR) handling your Social Security Disability case, explaining the reasons why there must be an early review of your claim.   
Pursuant to Hallex 1-2-1-40 expediting a hearing for dire need is appropriate when a claimant is without (and unable to obtain) food, medicine or shelter.  Note that dire need is much more than mere hardship.  Mere allegations of hardship that are common to must Social Security Claimants will not be sufficient to expedite a Social Security Disability hearing.
All dire need letters must be accompanied with detailed documentation showing the specific circumstances-- (not general allegations of financial hardship).  Hallex 1-2-1-40 Section 4.b. states:
"The claimant must allege specific, immediate circumstances: (1) lack of food (i.e., without and unable to obtain food), (2) lack of medicine or medical care (e.g., the claimant expresses that he/she needs medicine/medical care but is without and unable to obtain it; the claimant does not have any health insurance, or indicates that access to necessary medical care is restricted because of lack of resources), and/or (3) lack of shelter (e.g., shut-off of utilities such that home is uninhabitable, homelessness, expiration of shelter stay, or imminent eviction or foreclosure with no means to remedy the situation or obtain shelter)."

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Labor Day Issue: The Sail CT Access Program

I have worked very hard at updating the Connecticut Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog on a weekly basis.  Today is Labor Day and I figure that it is OK to blog about a subject that is a bit lighter than my usual Monday night commentaries about the fascinating world of Social Security Disability Law in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 
This week I want to tell you about my sailing trip with a wonderful group --called CT Sail Access-- that offer persons with special needs the opportunity to enjoy sailing.      
As my readers know by now, from time to time, I like to use this blog to acknowledge the work of organizations in our community that are helping persons with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses.  I was very well impressed with CT Sail Access and encourage my readers to visit their site at and, consider volunteering and/or participating in their programs. 
As a Social Security Disability Lawyer I hear many unfortunate stories of how my clients have lost the ability to enjoy the outdoors as a result of their disabling conditions.  This organization allows persons with disabilities the opportunity sail a fully adapted and equipped sailboat: allowing "challenged persons to move beyond disabilities so that they may focus on abilities".