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Disability Law News - December 2011


Articles in this Issue

GAO Reviews SSI Kids Program
December 18, 2011
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has begun a preliminary review of the SSI Children’s program. In testimony before the Congressional Subcommittee on Human Resources and Committee on Ways and Means, the GAO stated that its work in this area is ongoing and offered no recommendations at this point. Read More

Abuse of Discretion Leads to Remand
December 18, 2011
Do you think Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) spend as much time complaining about advocates as we spend complaining about them? For a long time, it seemed that all we could do was complain but never get any relief from ALJs who seemed biased or prejudiced against our clients, or who abused their discretion during the hearing process. Read More

ALJ Finds No Marital Relationship, No Resource Barrier for SSI
December 18, 2011
Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits requires not only a finding of disability, but also compliance with detailed rules related to deeming of income and availability of resources below a certain level. Read More

ALJ Finds TONI "Inflated"
December 18, 2011
Buffalo Bruce Caulfield of Neighborhood Legal Services has scored a victory for a client with borderline intellectual functioning. The claimant had been tested on two separate occasions with a TONI (Test of non-Verbal Intelligence) IQ test, which is generally considered a screening test. Read More

Appeals Council Remands 2002 Cessation
December 18, 2011
E. Cynthia Richards of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York in Binghamton reminds us of what she calls the Legal Aid mantra - “Never Give Up.” In obtaining a remand from the Appeals Council, she notes that she did not give up and “the Universe finally turned our way.” Read More

Case Remanded for Consideration of Listing 12.05C
December 18, 2011
Jeffrey Nieznanski of the Bath office of LAW-NY recently won a remand from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara. His appeal involved the claim of a 48 year old woman who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded in the course of an examination for bariatric surgery. Read More

Court of Appeals Defines Representative's Role
December 18, 2011
In a recent EAJA (Equal Access to Justice Act) decision, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit admonished a federal magistrate for blaming the claimant’s representative for gaps in the record. Read More

District Court Defines ALJ's Role
December 18, 2011
In remanding a claim solely for the calculation of benefits, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Telesca of the Western District of New York admonished the ALJ for taking an adversarial role in the proceedings. Read More

Judge Remands Queens Claims to New ALJs
December 18, 2011
In the June 2011 edition of the Disability Law News, we reported on a class action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York alleging systemic bias on the part of five of the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) in the Queens ODAR (Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) office. Read More

I've Been Workin' On the Railroad
December 18, 2011
The Railroad Retirement Act is a federal law that provides retirement and disability annuities for qualified railroad employees, spouse annuities for their wives or husbands, and survivor benefits for the families of deceased employees who were insured under the Act. These benefit programs are administered by the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB). Read More

Calling All Medical Experts
December 18, 2011
We have heard horror stories of vocational experts (VEs) testifying by cell phone while driving across the New York State Thruway. How about medical experts (MEs) by phone? HALLEX I-2-5-42 states that live medical expert testimony in person, by video conference, or telephone conference are the preferred methods, although written interrogatories may be used. Read More

What Is...the Mental Status Exam?
December 18, 2011
The mental status exam (MSE) is the cornerstone in the evaluation of any patient presenting with a medical, neurologic or psychiatric disorder that affects thought, emotion or behavior. The exam is also important in assessing changes in thought processes caused by use of medication. Read More

Can You Keep A Secret?
December 18, 2011
It was reported in the Wall Street Journal on December 15, 2011, that ODAR is in the process of instituting a new policy that the identity of the ALJ assigned to each claimant's case will be secret until the time of the actual hearing. Read More

Web News - December 2011
December 18, 2011
SSA Launches Spanish Online Services; Confirming Delivery by Certified Mail; Social Security Benefits Data now Online; new Resource for ID Theft Introduced; Calculate Medicaid Eligibility Under Pickle Amendment. Read More

We're In the Money: SSA Pays COLA for 2012
December 18, 2011
The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2012, the first since 2009. Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 60 million Americans will increase by 3.6 percent. Read More

NOSSCR Position Open
December 18, 2011
The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has an opening for a staff attorney. Read More

Final Regs on Prehearing Decisions Issued
December 18, 2011
In the September 2010 edition of the Disability Law News, we reported on proposed regulations governing further review of prehearing decisions - including partially favorable decisions made based on prehearing case reviews or fully favorable attorney advisor decisions. The regulations have been finalized and were published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2011, with an effective date of November 21, 2011. Read More

New ADHD Guidelines Issued
December 18, 2011
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued updated guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Read More

Revised Congenital Disorders Listing Proposed
December 18, 2011
SSA has announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for evaluating congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems.The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2011. Read More

Travel Reimbursement Clarified
December 18, 2011
With the demise of “temporary remote” hearing sites (see the June 2011 edition of the Disability Law News), claimants and representatives now have to travel longer distances to hearing offices. Read More

End Note - December 2011
Take a Walk in the Park
December 18, 2011
Feeling stressed? Need a break? Who doesn’t at this time of year, especially if you are putting in long hours reading files or writing memos? Michael Posner, an emeritus profession at the University of Oregon, reminds us that our brains, like any muscle, get tired after working for sustained periods. Posner, who studies attention, says that this is particularly true if we are concentrating intensely. Read More

Bulletin Board
July 16, 2013
Astrue v. Capato; Barnhart v. Thomas; Genier v. Astrue Read More

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