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Social Security Disability Blog

News and Information Relevant to Your Legal Issues ()

Update: The Social Security Administration has been taking small steps towards normalization. At present, only telephone and video hearings are available and many employees are still working from home. The Administration has indicated that it is moving towards more in-person hearings, but no timetable has been provided. The Courts in Ohio and elsewhere are on a similar track, although many have incorporated, and are now reliant on, video services such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to allow for remote hearings. This has proven to be more efficient with less waiting and travel time for the litigants and counsel. Depositions and mediations are more frequently being More...

FOCUS: Activities of Daily Living Analysis ()

The effect of a disability on one’s normal activities is an element of damages in most litigation cases. It has vital importance in disability cases. At Social Security hearings, you will typically be asked about your typical at-home activities. This inquiry is a constant in Social Security law, and is needed by a Judge to determine the client’s baseline level of activity at home, to see how that translates to potential work activities. The inquiry often is intrusive, with questions directed to whether the claimant goes grocery shopping, does yardwork or household cleaning, travels or exercises. A portion of a judge’s decision is usually directed More...

When You Should Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney ()

The timing in determining when to hire an attorney is often a difficult decision for an individual. Some claimants wait too long and often face a multi-year delay or have a hearing where no additional evidence is allowed. It is not required to have an attorney or representative to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Yet an attorney often allows for faster and more successful resolution of a claim. Moreover, too many individuals, their claims seem far easier than it actually is. The Social Security Administration conducts an analysis where they look at a person’s age, vocational background, skills, and diagnoses and treatment, and often More...

Covid-19 in Litigation and Social Security Disability Settings ()

The ongoing COVID pandemic has affected everyone’s lives over the past 20 months or so. Even those who did not suffer from the disease often had friends or family who did, or had employment interrupted or affected. Prices seem to continue to spiral upward in this environment. The day-to-day disruptions to all of our lives continue to this day, and will do so in the future as well. For those employed, for those unemployed, for those who have new or ongoing litigation issues, and for those pursuing benefits for disability, the pandemic has brought added changes and challenges. As to the disease itself, our attorneys More...

Legal Standards to Prove A Case ()

It may be worth reminding people about some of the different standards of law we face. Most civil cases, such as car accidents, employment cases, or contracts, operate under a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This often is referenced as needing 51% of the evidence in your favor, or showing a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true. Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standrd but has no exact definition. That standard, however, has never been defined by the United States Supreme Court. See Thomas v. Arn; 1 Sand et al., Modern Federal Jury Instructions (1991) More...

Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Information for 2022 ()

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 5.9 percent in 2022. The 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2022. Increased payments to approximately 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2021. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $147,000. The earnings limit for workers who are younger than “full” retirement age (see Full Retirement Age Chart) will increase to $19,560. (SSA deducts More...

School Employee, Teacher and Public Employee Disability Benefits: When Do You File and What Should You Know? ()

The process for filing disability under all three state systems is quite similar. To file, you would contact your retirement system and ask for a disability application packet to be sent to you (the OPERS application is available online at www.opers.org/disability). All applications require that your Attending Physician certify your disability on a specific report form and that your employer complete a report regarding your prior employment. You will also need to provide information regarding your disability and why you feel you are unable to continue working. If you have worked in more than one of the three systems, you must file in the system More...

News Relevant to Your Legal Issues ()

Update: A semblance of normalcy is returning to litigation and legal issues throughout the country. Once dormant, litigation is slowly returning to a more normal status. As before, Social Security disability hearings continue to occur, mostly by telephone. The administration is conducting some hearings by video as well. In most all legal forums, if individuals do not have video capabilities on their phone, I-pad or computer, then telephone or in-person accommodations are available. Long term disability claims are being processed at pre-pandemic levels. Still, many insurance carrier employees are working remotely and communication delays may occur. Employment litigation and personal injury claims are proceeding forward More...

Are Social Security Benefits Taxable? ()

Per tax experts at AARP, Social Security disability benefits may be taxable, “depending on two things: the type of disability benefit you get and your overall income.” It depends, to some extent, on whether you receive SSI or SSD: “Social Security operates two benefit programs for people with disabilities:Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is cash assistance for disabled, blind and older people with low incomes and limited financial assets. Social Security administers the program, but money from the U.S. Treasury, not your Social Security taxes, pays for it. SSI payments in 2021 max out for an individual at $794 More...

Average Wait Times for Social Security Hearings ()

[Many of you have requested a reprint and update of the time involved before SSA hearings are scheduled.] A large problem with Social Security disability claims is the delay in getting SSA to decide cases. After the initial application and reconsideration, these delays have historically led to undermining some of the program’s purposes. Some delays had previously averaged 1.5 to 2 years or more. Waiting for your SSA hearing causes hardship, financial insecurity, reduced access to healthcare, and emotional turmoil. MMA has always pushed to reduce this delay by urging the hiring of more ALJ’s and staff, and avoiding undue legal burdens in obtaining benefits. More...

The MMA Law Firm: Our Staff and Our Attorneys Are Our Biggest Assets ()

We at Margolius, Margolius and Associates are proud of our attorneys and staff. Our highly experienced attorneys are Rigel Ariza, Michelle DeBaltzo, Emily Gilbert, Markus Lyytinen, Michelle McFarland, Paul Newendorp, Jennifer Hanselman Regas, and, of course, Marcia and Andrew Margolius. Our staff and case workers are also highly valuable. They are Valarie, Valerie, Lisa, Angela, Sue, Denise, Tamika, MaryAnn, Sara, Nancy, Donna C. and Donna J. And our receptionist, Debbie, is the valuable conduit for all communications. We value them all. We have lead attorneys on your case but use a team approach. This team approach includes you, and we value your inut and insight. More...

Disability Decision Data and Percentage Chance of Winning in SSA Disability Claims ()

This chart shows the chances of success at the five major disability levels: initial, reconsideration, ALJ hearing, Appeals Council, and Federal Court. This represents general chances of winning, and is not divided into regions or law firm representation. Source: 1) Initial and Reconsideration Data: SSA State Agency Operations Report; 2) Administrative Law Judge and Appeals Council data: SSA Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) and Office of Analytics, Review, and Oversight (OARO); 3) Federal Court data: SSA Office More...

Litigation and Social Media ()

Many of our litigation clients get confronted with inquiries about social media in the litigation process. Our modern society encompasses use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other media without much thought. A quick picture, a comment, an invitation or a joke are generally considered harmless but one misstep can be seized upon by a savvy defense lawyer, and ruin your claim. For example, you post a picture of yourself at a bar on the night you were harassed, or you joke about suing your employer in a Facebook post. Even if this was a joke, or you are celebrating your husband’s birthday, or just enjoying More...

Biden Fires Social Security Boss, a Trump Appointee, who Refused to Resign ()

President Joe Biden on July 9, 2021 fired the head of the Social Security Administration after the official, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, refused to resign. The White House said the Social Security commissioner, Andrew Saul, “undermined and politicized” the agency’s benefits, among other things that warranted his firing. Saul’s deputy, David Black, who was also appointed by Trump, resigned on Friday at the White House’s request. “Since taking office, Commissioner Saul has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency’s telework policy that was utilized by up to 25 percent of the agency’s workforce, not repaired SSA’s relationships with More...

A message to Our Valuable Clients ()

Our law firm has been relying on telephone and internet during the pandemic as a vital means of communication between client and attorney. We now have access to in-person meetings although many of you have voiced that telephone, zoom or skype communications are preferable. Our goal is to insure that we have clear, comfortable and convenient communications, and to give you choice. Let us know works best for you and your schedule. We are happy to accommodate in any way possible. Please note our phone calls typically show our office number (216-621-2034). Sometimes, when working from home or over the weekend, our calls may appear More...

Long Term Disability Insurance Company Pushes for “Independent” Medical Exam ()

When individuals receive notice that their disability claim is suddenly being reviewed, and/or are being requested to attend an independent medical exam, confusion and fear sometimes occurs. While it is something you should not ignore, it does not mean that the claim will be denied or that your benefits will be disrupted. An independent medical examination can be an opportunity for you to provide important, relevant information to the LTD provider. This right to a medical exam emanates from a provision in the insurance policy with the insurance company. Bear in mind that the idea that this is an “independent” examination is a misnomer. It More...

News in the Pandemic Era ()

Update May 2020 : Disability hearings continue to move forward albeit differently and at an unusual pace. Social Security hearings are being held by telephone and are usually limited to mornings. The Judges are managing these hearings well and have actually been relatively quick in getting out decisions. Litigation is still moving forward despite a moratorium on trials. Pretrial proceedings are continuing by telephone, some depositions are proceeding by video and document production is unaffected. Long term disability claims have been subjected to slow downs due to difficulties in obtaining medical records and possible staffing issues with LTD carriers. Contact us by phone (216-621-2034) or Email More...

Employment Law Issues in the Wake of the Covid Crisis ()

The big and difficult issue involves employees returning to a workplace but only with safe work conditions. Pressures exist on both sides of the equation, with employers seeking a return of employees and increased productivity, and employees needing jobs, under safe conditions. Unemployment claims, as an aside, are moving along at a snail’s pace. Headlines range from “Corporate America seeks legal protection for when coronavirus lockdowns lift” to “What to do if you’re worried about returning to work as coronavirus lockdowns are lifted” New legislation has already touched upon immunities and employer protections but employee rights are still evolving. Opt out provisions for small businesses More...

Social Security Administration during the Covid Crisis ()

As stated in our last newsletter, Social Security is proceeding with its disability claims by telephone rather than in person. While hardly perfect, we have found this transition to be beneficial to our clientele. The alternative is more delay, on top of the 18 months it typically takes a claimant to get a hearing. We oppose all forms of delay although we note other attorneys prefer in person hearings at all costs. Some estimate these in person attorneys can’t occur for 6-12 more months. SSA has moved towards some telework but slowly. The process has made the Social Security Administration more available to claimants, and More...

Ohio House and Senate Fast-tracking Legislation on Employment Discrimination Changes and Lawsuit Immunity for Essential Worker ()

Discrimination Law House Bill 352 is being considered by the business-dominated Ohio legislature concerning employment discrimination changes. This affects only state law and procedures. Included within its provisions is the prerequisite that all claims be filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, with a later opportunity to go to court with a right to sue letter. This mirrors federal EEOC claims. The bill eliminates individual liability, even for discriminating supervisors or owners (except for retaliation claims). It decreases the statute of limitations for discrimination claims from six years to two years, following conclusion of any investigation by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and it reforms More...

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