Social Security News and Information

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.


The SSA has many rules covering how attorneys are paid in Social Security Disability cases. This case outlines the rules regarding an attorney getting more than the $6,000 maximum outlined in the SSA rules regarding attorney’s fees.

Here, Flowers attorney asks that the court to authorize attorneys fees of $23,237.00, pursuant to the contingent-fee agreement. Filing 43. In calculating the requested fee, Flowers attorney starts with $29,237.00, an amount equal to 25 percent of Flowers $116,948.00 past-due benefits award.3 Filing 45-3 at CM/ECF p. 6. Flowers attorney then reduces $29,237.00 by $6,000, the amount the Commissioner withheld to pay him for his services at the administrative level under 42 U.S.C. § 406a.4 Filing 45-3 at CM/ECF p. 6.To generate a non-contingent fee of $23,237.00 for 35 hours of work, Flowers attorney would need to charge $663.91 per hour. However, when an attorney proceeds on a contingency basis, an attorney fee that might otherwise appear unreasonable is perfectly appropriate. See, e.g., Bear v. Astrue, 544 F.Supp.2d 881, 883 D. Neb. 2008 awarding $10,288.50 under section 406b for 29.4 hours of work; Watterson v. Astrue, No. 3:06-cv369-J-HTS, 2008 WL 783634 M.D. Fla. Mar. 21, 2008 awarding $28,767.10 under section 406b for 26.4 hours of work.


Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Financing Outlook Remains Unchanged

In the 2010 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced: The projected point at which the combined Trust Funds will be exhausted comes in 2037 – the same as the estimate in last year’s report. At that time, there will be sufficient tax revenue coming in to pay about 78 percent of benefits.The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2010.  Tax revenues will again exceed program costs in 2012 through 2014 before permanently falling below program costs in 2015 — one year sooner than the estimate in last year’s report.The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 1.92 percent of taxable payroll — 0.08 percentage point smaller than in last year’s report.Over the 75-year period, the Trust Funds would require additional revenue equivalent to $5.4 trillion in present value dollars to pay all scheduled benefits.

via Social Security Press Office: Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Financing Outlook Remains Unchanged.