ALJs & SSDI Benefits Decisions

ALJs & SSDI Benefits Decisions

September 18, 2011

Administrative law judges review decisions on Social Security Disability applications that have been denied, depending upon a number of factors.

September 18, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ — Recently, there have been a number of news stories concerning approval rates by administrative law judges (ALJs) in Social Security matters. ALJs review claims of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income applicants whose initial claims for benefits were denied. If the judge decides that the initial claim was unfairly denied, the judge will grant benefits and also determine the amount of Social Security benefits awarded to the applicant.

ALJs have to go through a rigorous screening process before they are allowed to handle these matters. One of the requirements includes having practiced in the specific field for several years, so ALJs are very familiar with the challenges that applicants face throughout the SSD process. Each request for benefits will receive a careful analysis of the facts, and the ALJ will issue a decision that he or she believes is correct for the situation being reviewed.

Just as no two SSD applications are alike, two different ALJs could reach two totally different conclusions on the same set of facts. Some judges may give more weight to specific factors, like the specific injury or illness, while others may be more focused on other characteristics. Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue has stated that Congress intended ALJs to use independent discretion when deciding claims, and that just “a handful” of ALJs have approval rates higher or lower than the national average of 30 percent.

SSD benefits remain extremely difficult to obtain. Many people go through the entire process without having any success. Applicants may not know the sort of information that will help them prove that they are disabled, which can make an already lengthy process even more time-consuming.

If you would like to know more about Social Security benefits or how an attorney can help you with your claim, contact a knowledgeable lawyer with experience in Social Security benefits claims.

via ALJs & SSDI Benefits Decisions – U.S. Politics Today – News Media Monitoring.

Local News | Mill Creek couple plead guilty in Social Security fraud scam | Seattle Times Newspaper

Part of the process we use in taking on new clients in the social security disability process is to have potential clients come in and tell their story. Attorneys work on a contingency basis in Social Security cases and trying to get benefits for someone that does not deserve them is more frustrating than dealing with the 18 month process it takes to get to a hearing before an administrative law judge.

After he turned 18, using the fictitious identity, he applied for disability payments.At numerous interviews, George, claiming to be Fisher, said he was profoundly disabled and could not work.In October 2010, Roxanne George claimed to be a neighbor of Fishers and verified that he never worked, could not work and could not drive, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.She said that Fisher had $100 in his bank account, when, in fact, Anthony George bought and sold used cars, lived in a $430,000 home and had more than $10,000 in his bank account, the U.S. Attorneys Office said in a news release.During in-home visits and in documents, the couple also pretended to be brother and sister. Between 1996 and 2010, Roxanne George fraudulently obtained $67,510 in food, health-care and financial-assistance benefits from the state of Washington.

via Local News | Mill Creek couple plead guilty in Social Security fraud scam | Seattle Times Newspaper.

SSA Expands List of Compassionate Allowances for Disability Benefits

Expedited Processing for Compassionate Allowances (CAL) Cases

Like other processes such as Terminal Illness TERI claims and Quick Disability Determinations QDD, the SSA provides expedited processing for CAL cases. The CAL process is triggered when a claimant alleges that he or she has a disease or other medical condition that is on the CAL list.

Based on that information, the disability determination process must be initiated by SSA staff within one day.Even though a verifiable CAL condition is subject to expedited review, the SSA still encourages adjudicators to obtain additional information from the claimant after receiving medical records from the health care provider who provided the diagnosis. This can include information about pending medical appointments, activities of daily living and, in rare cases, a request for a consultative examination.However, assessment of the applicants work history is not required do to the SSAs acknowledgment that an established CAL condition will not allow future work of any type. A final determination of a CAL case can take less than a month, much shorter that the SSDI process for a person with a chronic back injury, mental illness or other condition that requires substantial documentation and the likely necessity of an appeal.

Senior Legal Advocacy – Orange County Legal Aid Foundation

For people over 65 that are having trouble receiving the Social Security benefits they deserve, the Orange County Legal Aid Society offers a variety of assistance inlegla issues. Please contact them at 714 571-5200.

Senior Citizens Legal Advocacy Program (SCLAP)

The Senior Citizens Legal Advocacy Program (SCLAP) provides free, courteous, high-quality legal services to residents age 60 and over.

You can request legal assistance by calling the Legal Aid Hotline or by making an appointment at one of the Senior Centers, located throughout Orange County, that we visit once each month. You can also view or download one of our Fact Sheets.

The Seniors Program provides legal advice on a wide variety of issues:

Government Benefits – Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Health – Medicare, Medi-Cal, HMO and Nursing Home issues

Housing – Landlord-tenant, eviction defense, mobile homes, and board & care issues

Consumer Problems – contracts and debt collection defenses

Elder Abuse – financial and personal

via Seniors.

Westminster, Social Security Attorney | Westminster, California Disability Lawyer | Orange County SSI SSDI Benefits Attorney

The law offices of Tina Laine specializes in Social Security Disability Insurance and SSI cases for residents of Orange County. With offices in Santa Ana, we are conveniently located near all major cities in Orange County, including Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa MEsa and Huntington Beach.

We offer a free evaluation of YOUR case over the phone and will invite you to meet with the attorney if you decide it would be a beneficial next step in daling with the Social Security Administration.


If you or someone you care about lives in Westminster and can no longer work because of a disabling condition, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits such as SSDI Social Security Disability Insurance or SSI Supplemental Security Income. Generally speaking, SSDI is limited to those who have spent several years in the work force and have earned enough “credits” to qualify for the program and SSI is for those who either don’t qualify for SSDI or whose have low income and assets.It’s important when applying for benefits to have a professional Westminster Social Security disability lawyer in your corner. A Westminster disability attorney will know better than anyone else how to help you navigate the often confusing process necessary to obtain benefits.Even if you have already started the application process, and especially if you have been denied, you should call a Westminster disability lawyer. While it is best to have your Westminster Social Security attorney working with you on your claim from the beginning, statistics show that your chances of having your claim approved increase considerably at every stage of the application and appeals process if you have professional representation.

via Westminster, Social Security Attorney | Westminster, California Disability Lawyer | Orange County SSI SSDI Benefits Attorney.

Laine Presents NOSSCR Updates at OC BAR Meeting

Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Speaker: Tina L. Laine, Attorney at Law
Topic: Recent Updates from the Spring National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) Conference
• • • •
News from the NOSSCR general session News from Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) Update from the appeals council Potential changes in the disability program
This activity has been approved for MCLE credit by the State Bar of California in the amount of 1.0 hour(s), as appropriate to the content of the activity. OCBA is a State Bar of California approved MCLE provider and certifies that this activity conforms to the standards for approved education activities prescribed by the rules and regulations of the State Bar of California governing MCLE.

Tina recently presented updates from the NOSSCR conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, which she attended.

State Bar of CA :: Tina Louise Laine

Profile Information

The following information is from the official records of The State Bar of California.

Bar Number: 125705

Address: Law Office of Tina Laine

1450 N Tustin Ave #Suite 112

Santa Ana, CA 92705

Map it Phone Number: (714) 565-7855

Fax Number: (714) 565-7864

e-mail: Not Available

County: Orange

Undergraduate School: Univ of California Berkeley; Berkeley CA

District: District 8

Sections: None Law School: Western State Univ; CA

Status History

Effective Date Status Change

Present Active

12/11/1986 Admitted to The State Bar of California

Explanation of member status

via State Bar of CA :: Tina Louise Laine.

Who is disabled?

Who is disabled?

To be con­sid­ered dis­abled, you must have a med­ical con­di­tion that lasts 12 months from your date of onset. If you are dis­abled for only 11 months, you will not be eli­gi­ble for benefits.

SSA will also con­sider your age, edu­ca­tion and past work in its deter­mi­na­tion. It does not mat­ter whether you can­not find a job or that you can’t go back to your old job. SSA only con­sid­ers whether you are able to work at any job on a sus­tained basis.

Your dis­abil­ity claim is reviewed by a med­ical expert and by a voca­tional expert. The med­ical expert will deter­mine the sever­ity of your dis­abil­ity. The voca­tional expert con­sid­ers your age, edu­ca­tion, past work, and trans­fer­able skills. Usu­ally a per­son with a med­ical condition(s) who is over 50, can’t do pre­vi­ous work, is lim­ited to seden­tary work, and has no trans­fer­able skills, is con­sid­ered dis­abled. How­ever, if you are under 50, have a high school edu­ca­tion, and have had jobs with trans­fer­able skills, you will have a more dif­fi­cult time with the voca­tional expert. The VE will assume you can learn to do a vari­ety of other jobs even if there are no jobs available.

The Law Office of Tina Laine spe­cial­izes in cross exam­in­ing the expert wit­nesses and ques­tion­ing their deci­sions. Call 714 565‑7855 for a free consultation.

Closed Period

To be con­sid­ered dis­abled your med­ical con­di­tion must last 12 months. If your con­di­tion is healed in 12 months and you go back to work, you can be awarded a “Closed Period” and receive your retroac­tive ben­e­fits for 7 months – the first five months are exempt. So, even if you’ve gone back to work, you may be eli­gi­ble for months of retroac­tive pay.

By law, you can file appli­ca­tions your­self. How­ever, sta­tis­tics show that you have a bet­ter chance of win­ning your case when you have a lawyer who spe­cial­izes in SSDI.

How are ben­e­fits calculated

Ben­e­fits are cal­cu­lated by the num­ber of years you worked and by the amount you earned each year. To be eli­gi­ble for Social Secu­rity RETIREMENT you must have worked for 40 quar­ters – 10 years. How­ever, to be eli­gi­ble for Social Secu­rity DISABILITY, you must have worked 5 of the last 10 years. For instance, if you worked for 10 years and earned your 40 quar­ters, you will be eli­gi­ble for retire­ment ben­e­fits when you are 65. But if you stopped work­ing and pay­ing your FICAtaxes for five years prior to becom­ing dis­abled, you will not be eli­gi­ble for dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits. You have not worked 5 of the last 10 years. You will have to wait until your retire­ment age to col­lect any Social Secu­rity benefits.

You may con­tact SSA at 1–800-772‑1213 and ask them to send you a copy of your earn­ings record which will show you exactly what your ben­e­fits are for your­self and any eli­gi­ble fam­ily member.

SSI and SSDI Together
Sup­ple­men­tal Secu­rity Income (SSI) is avail­able for peo­ple who have not worked and earned the nec­es­sary quar­ters to be eli­gi­ble for reg­u­lar Social Secu­rity. They must also have very lim­ited income and less than $2000 in assets. They may own a car and a house. If they qual­ify for dis­abil­ity, they will receive a mea­ger monthly ben­e­fit and will receive Medi-Cal.

Some peo­ple who have earned their 40 quar­ters and have worked 5 of the last ten years my qual­ify for both SSI and SSDI. They must have earned mea­ger yearly salaries so that their SSDI pay­ments are under the amount paid by SSI. If this is so, they will receive the full amount of SSDIthat they earned, plus they will receive SSI to add up to the SSI max­i­mum. They will qual­ify for both Medi-Care and Medi-Cal.

When to apply

It is impor­tant that your SSDI claim is filed timely. Ben­e­fits will be paid only one year retroac­tively from the onset date plus 5 months exemp­tion. Sup­pose you are dis­abled on 1/1/08. You would be eli­gi­ble for ben­e­fits from 6/1/08 – five months from your date of onset. But sup­pose you don’t con­tact SSA to apply for ben­e­fits until 1/1/10 – or 24 months after your date of onset. Social Secu­rity ben­e­fits will be paid retroac­tively from 1/1/09. So you have lost ben­e­fits from 6/1/08 to 1/1/09 because you did not file timely.

If you are fil­ing for SSI ben­e­fits, the date you call SSA to apply for ben­e­fits is con­sid­ered your onset date. SSI does not pay the one-year retroac­tive benefits.