Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News from
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,
 "Of Counsel" at Needham Mitnick & Pollack
Picture of Sheri Abrams
In This Issue
Social Security Payback Option Eliminated
Social Security Disability Judges Face Violent Threats
15 Questions with ... A Lupus Expert
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Issue: # 29December 2010
Picture of Social Security Card and Dice

Welcome to the twenty-ninth edition of our newsletter.

These monthly newsletters are designed to show you how not to gamble with your or your patients/clients Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits.  We also provide you with information on Special Needs Planning.

You may have been added to our e-mail newsletter mailing list if you have been in contact with Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law or the Law Firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack PLC.

You may unsubscribe by clicking on the link at the end of this e-mail.
Social Security Payback Option Eliminated


Social Security LogoAs I predicted in my September 2010 newsletter the Social Security Administration has announced that retirees will no longer be able to pay back benefits already received in exchange for higher Social Security payments in the future.


A little-known provision of Social Security law previously allowed individuals to begin payments at age 62, pay back all the benefits received at age 70 without interest, and then reclaim at a higher rate due to delayed claiming.


Under the new rules, Social Security beneficiaries may withdraw an application for retirement benefits only within 12 months of their first Social Security payment and are limited to one withdrawal during their lifetime.


Another way Social Security beneficiaries were previously allowed to boost their checks was by suspending benefits already received retroactively, repaying the amount received, and then getting higher checks in the future. The new rules allow retirees to voluntarily suspend benefits only for months in which they did not receive payments. Beneficiaries may also suspend future payments beginning the month after the request is made.


These changes apply only to retirement benefit recipients, not to survivor and disability beneficiaries.

Social Security Disability Judges Face Violent Threats

GavelThe Associated Press has reported that the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs)who hear Social Security Disability cases are facing a growing number of violent threats from claimants angry over being denied benefits or frustrated at lengthy delays in processing claims.

While I have not heard of any incidents at the Washington DC Hearing office, where most of my client's Social Security Disability hearings are held,  there were at least 80 threats to kill or harm ALJs or their staff over the past year - an 18 percent increase over the previous reporting period.

Fifty of the incidents occurred between March and August 2010.  This includes a Pittsburgh claimant who threatened to kill herself outside a hearing office or fly a plane into the building like a disgruntled tax protester did earlier this year at the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Texas.

Nearly 2 million people, including all of my clients,  are waiting to find out if they qualify for benefits, with many having to wait more than a year and a half to see their first payment.

While no ALJs were harmed this year, there have been past incidents:  an ALJ in Los Angeles was hit over the head with a chair during a hearing and an ALJ in Newburgh, N.Y., was punched by a claimant.

There are about 1,400 ALJs who handle appeals of Social Security Disability claims at about 150 offices across the country, of which the Washington DC Hearing Office in NW DC is one.   The DC Hearing office, like many around the country, are in leased office space rather than government buildings.

At the DC Hearing Office, as at all other hearing offices, a private security guard is assigned to each office.

Claimants and their belongings are screened by the guard

before entering hearings rooms, and the ALJs are equipped with duress alarms to notify the guard immediately of any problems.

15 Questions with ... A Lupus Expert

Lupus Foundation of America LogoThe Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) offers a helpful source for information called "15 Questions with ...A Lupus Expert" which features the nation's leading experts in lupus responding to selected questions submitted through the LFA website.


As part of this program I was asked to answer 15 questions  (I actually answered 16 questions) on how to work through the Social Security Disability system.


I was asked questions from people all over the country.  Some examples of these questions are:


"Does a person with lupus have to be completely unable to work to receive disability income?  If not, what are the guidelines? "; and


"I have been living with lupus and RA.  I have been denied disability 3 times and am now waiting for a court hearing.   What happens if I am denied at the court hearing?"


Please Click here to see my answers to these two questions and to read the full transcript.

Press Release:  Sheri Abrams' New Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits--What Every Virginia Resident Needs To Know To Win A Social Security Disability Case" Is Now Available!
Picture of Book 
For more information please click here to see our Press Release.
You can also download a free copy of the book at our websites:
The law firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC, is located at:
NMP's Office Building 
400 S. Maple Avenue
Suite 210
Falls Church, VA 22046
(703) 536-7778
This is in downtown Falls Church and the office has plenty of free and accessible parking.

Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLCIf you know of someone who could use my legal services or any of the other members of the law firm of Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC please forward to him/her this e-mail newsletter or give him/her our telephone number: (703) 536-7778.

We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law , Elder Law, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Trust Administration, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Guardianships, Long Term Care Planning, Disability Planning, Medicaid Eligibility, Veterans Benefits and Special Needs Trusts.
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on any of the areas of law for which we provide legal services, please call us at (703) 536-7778.