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The Disability Claims Digest

Volume 13

Copyright 2011

In This Issue
Peruse Our Archived Newsletters
Visit our Disability Forum
What Would You Like to Know?
New Address
Our New Website is Now Live!
Electronic Payments Will Be Mandatory
Article Headline
What is an Overpayment?
Social Security is Reducing Office Hours
Widow/Widower's Benefits and Disability
New Compassionate Allowance Conditions

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Welcome to the Thirteenth edition of The Disability Claims Digest.

In this edition, we will be talking about Compassionate Allowance Conditions, Overpayments, Electronic Payments and Widow/Widower's benefits and disability.
Please remember that we are here to answer any questions that you may have regarding the disability claim process. And if you or someone you know would like any assistance or guidance with their claim, please be sure to reach out to us.

You can reach us at:



Please read on....
We Are Proud to Announce the Launching of Our New and Improved Website
We have worked very long and hard to create an educational website that we feel will be helpful to individuals who are in need of filing for Social Security disability benefits.


The site has an entirely new fresh look.  But more importantly, we have made it easier then ever to navigate through the plethera of information. 


Please click the link below to take a look.



Reminder: Electronic Payments of Your Social Security or Retirement Benefits Will Become Mandatory

Just a reminder that electronic payments are not simply the best way to receive Federal benefits - they will soon be the only way. The U.S. Department of the Treasury's new rule phases out paper checks for Federal benefit and non-tax payments by March 1, 2013. In fact, effective May 1, 2011, all new recipients of Federal benefits, including those filing for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), must receive their payments electronically unless they meet one of the very limited exceptions.


Electronic payments are safer, easier, more reliable, less costly, and good for the environment. If you have clients who still get Federal benefit checks in the mail, have them visit today to sign up for direct deposit or Direct Express.


Please visit our website for helpful information and guidance regarding the Social Security claims process.

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What is an Overpayment?

The term "overpayment" means that Social Security believes that they paid you too much money and they are requesting that you pay it back.  A written notice is sent through the mail by Social Security advising you of an overpayment situation. 


There are several types of overpayment situations.  We will discuss the more common types of overpayments here.  Social Security paid benefits to a claimant for either Title II (disability) or Title XVI (SSI) while a claimant attempted to go back to work and earned other income. 


If a claimant is receiving disability benefits and earned over $1,000 per month at any given time, Social Security can notify a claimant that there is an overpayment and request the overage to be repaid.


If a claimant is paid SSI benefits under a critical need situation, and while their claim is pending, the amount paid will be offset from any Title II disability back benefits that will be paid once the claim is awarded.  If the claim is denied after all levels of appeal have been exhausted, Social Security will issue an overpayment for any benefits paid.


If a claimant is receiving SSI benefits and earned any income at all while receiving SSI benefits, an overpayment situation can occur.  SSI benefits are subject to an offset (or reduction) if a claimant earns any income.


If a claimant receives an overpayment letter and has been asked to repay funds to Social Security, and this repayment would present a dire financial hardship to the claimant, a request for waiver of the overpayment can be filed at their local Social Security office.  There is no guarantee that Social Security will waive the overpayment, however, they must consider doing so upon the filing of the waiver.  If the overpayment waiver is denied, a claimant can request that Social Security arrange a reasonable monthly repayment plan of the overpayment.


For more information concerning overpayments, please visit the official Social Security Administration site:



Some Social Security 
Offices Will Be 
Reducing Their Office Hours Due to Budgetary Issues

Congressional Budget Cuts Force Reduced Public Hours


For example, effective August 15, 2011, the Trenton, NJ Social Security office will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. - a reduction of 30 minutes each weekday. 


While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime.   Congress provided Social Security with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for the budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for the agency to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.  


Most Social Security services do not require a visit to an office.  For example, anyone wishing to apply for benefits, sign up for direct deposit, replace a Medicare card, obtain a proof of income letter or inform Social Security of a change of address or telephone number may do so at or by dialing their toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.  People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

Can You Receive 
Widow/Widower's Benefits Under Your Spouse's Social if You Are Disabled?


Your widow or widower may be able to receive full benefits at full retirement age. The full retirement age for survivors is age 66 for people born in 1945-1956 and will gradually increase to age 67 for people born in 1962 or later. Reduced widow or widower benefits can be received as early as age 60. If your surviving spouse is disabled, benefits can begin as early as age 50. For more information visit Widows, Widowers & Other Survivors


If you have been divorced, your former wife or husband who is age 60 or older (50-59 if disabled) can get benefits if your marriage lasted at least 10 years. Your former spouse, however, does not have to meet the age or length-of-marriage rule if he or she is caring for his/her child who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled and also entitled based on your work. The child must be your former spouse's natural or legally adopted child.


Benefits paid to you as a surviving divorced spouse who meets the age or disability requirement as a widow or widower won't affect the benefit rates for other survivors getting benefits on the worker's record. However, if you are the surviving divorced mother or father who has the worker's child under age 16 or disabled in your care, your benefit will affect the amount of the benefits of others on the worker's record.


For additional information concerning widow's benefits, please visit the official Social Security Administration webiste at:


Widow/Widower's Benefits


Social Security Announces New Compassionate Allowances Conditions 


Fast Track Disability Process Will Now Look at 100 Conditions.


Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 12 additional Compassionate Allowances conditions involving severe heart diseases, bringing the total number of conditions in the expedited disability process to 100. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for disability benefits.


These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. "We have reached a significant milestone for the Compassionate Allowances program," Commissioner Astrue said. "We have an obligation to award benefits quickly to people whose medical conditions are so serious they clearly meet our disability standards. We are now able to do precisely that for 100 severe conditions." The Compassionate Allowances initiative is one of two parts of the agency's fast-track system for certain disability claims.


When combined with the Quick Disability Determination process, Social Security last year approved more than 100,000 cases, usually in less than two weeks. This year, the agency expects to fast-track nearly 150,000 cases. Social Security has held seven public hearings and worked with experts to develop the list of Compassionate Allowances conditions. The hearings also have helped the agency identify additional ways to improve the disability process for applicants with Compassionate Allowances conditions. "By definition, these illnesses are so severe that we don't need to fully develop the applicant's work history to make a decision," said Commissioner Astrue. As a result, beginning in August, Social Security is eliminating this part of the application process for people who have a condition on the list.


For more information on the Compassionate Allowances initiative, please visit: 

From The President's
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We hope that the information in this edition of our Disability Digest will prove to be beneficial to you or someone you know who is applying for or receiving Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits.

It is our mission to help as many people as we can to make their way through the frustrating claims process.  We are here to help anyone who is on this journey.  In addition to excellent representation services, we provide all of our clients with guidance, words of comfort, compassion, encouragement and kindness.

If you know of anyone that may benefit from the information contained in our newsletter, please forward it along to them by using the link below.

Until next time, take care and be well.


Sincerely yours,
Lisa S. Wagman, CP, NJCP 






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Social Security Disability Benefit Consultants is a subdivision of Premier Legal Services, LLC. We are independent benefit consultants authorized by law to represent claimants before the Social Security Administration from the initial application to the Appeals Council level. We are in no way affiliated with the Social Security Administration directly.

We do not provide any legal advice. Our newsletter is a general service that provides legal information. We are not a law firm. The information contained in this newsletter is general legal information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual information. We do not endorse any content provided by any linked sites, nor do we assume any responsibility for the interpretation or application of any information originating from such content.
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