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Disability Law News - July 2017


Articles in this Issue

Tax Refunds Exempt from Collection for Old Social Security Debts
July 27, 2017
In a policy change that will affect tens of thousands of Social Security recipients, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pledged to stop collecting old overpayments from federal tax refunds. Several lawsuits, including ones in Maryland and the District of Columbia, highlighted the unfairness of SSA’s practice of collecting old overpayments, some arising from payments to deceased parents. Read More

Young SSI Recipients Need Better Transition Supports
July 27, 2017
The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in May 2017 recommending how the Social Security Administration (SSA) could strengthen its efforts to encourage employment for transition-age youth. GAO-17-495 SSI. Read More

Is A DOT Replacement in the Works?
July 27, 2017
The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), SSA’s bible for vocational issues, has long been overdue for an update. Some years ago, SSA appeared ready to launch O*NET to replace the outdated DOT. Read More

Disability Benefits Important to Less Educated Workers
July 27, 2017
A new paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) summarizes four major reasons why less-educated workers are more likely to collect Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits. Read More

Defending Disability Programs
July 27, 2017
Disability programs continue to be under attack, whether in the press, the President’s proposed budget, or in Congress. But excellent defenses are available. Read More

How Accommodating Are Employers?
July 27, 2017
Confronting testimony by vocational witnesses at disability hearings can be one of the most challenging aspects of our jobs. A vocational witness might testify, for example, about potential jobs a hypothetical claimant could perform that include accommodations an employer may or may not be willing to offer. Read More

Surveillance System Monitor Debunked
July 27, 2017
A new study finds surveillance-system monitor jobs no longer exist in national economy as described in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. Dan Wolstein of Kincaid Vocational and Rehabilitation Services conducted a recent labor market survey to assess the responsibilities and skills of Surveillance-System Monitors (SSM) as they exist in the current labor market. Read More

SSR 91-3p Rescinded
July 27, 2017
When Congress enacted the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) way back in 1990, it amended the standard used to determine disability for disabled widows' [widowers' and surviving divorced spouses'] benefits payable in months after December 1990. Read More

When Is Life Insurance Exempt?
July 27, 2017
Sometimes winning a disability claim is only half the battle. What happens when your newly minted disabled client comes back to you with an SSI denial based on ownership of a life insurance policy? Read More

OIG Issues Overpayment Reports
July 27, 2017
The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has issued yet another report criticizing SSA’s failure to make timely decisions in medical cessation cases. Read More

N.D.N.Y. Remand for Consideration of Migraines
July 27, 2017
Attorney Michael Telfer of Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, and Anthony Baer formerly of LASNY, enjoyed a recent victory in U.S. District Court. In Dodson v. Berryhill, 2017 WL 2838167 (N.D.N.Y. June 30, 2017), Judge Lawrence Kahn found Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Arthur Patane ignored substantial evidence in determining the claimant’s migraines to be non-severe and committed legal error in demanding objective evidence for Dodson’s migraines. Read More

Opinions Concerning Absenteeism Should Be Considered
July 27, 2017
In a recent decision, N.D.N.Y. Magistrate Judge Peebles examined regulations 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d)(1), (2) and §§ 416.927(d)(1), (2), which note that whether a claimant is disabled or not, including the determination of vocational factors, is a decision reserved for the Commissioner. Consideration of medical sources opinions as to vocational factors, however, is allowable. Read More

Region 2 HOD & HOC ALJ List Available
July 27, 2017
Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge Aaron Morgan recently met with advocates from the New York City area. According to advocates in attendance, ALJ Morgan assured the audience that ODAR (Office of Adjudication and Review) staff has had training on the new rules requiring representatives to submit evidence five business days before hearing dates. Read More

Remand Decision Expeditied in Child's Case
July 27, 2017
Michael Hampden of Legal Services for Children in New York City recently won a significant remand for his client. In Estrella o/b/o v. Berryhill, 2017 WL 2693722 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2017), the District Court agreed an ALJ error can amount to lack of substantial evidence. Read More

SSA FY 2016 "Waterfall" Chart Released
July 27, 2017
As part of its budget justification document, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Workload Data Disability Appeals. Read More

Lawsuit Challenges Student Loan Offsets
July 27, 2017
Many Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients are eligible for federal student loan debt forgiveness due to disability. Read More

SSA Studies No-Show Rates
July 27, 2017
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has concluded - sort-of - that high rates of claimants not showing up for hearings or seeking postponements is related to lack of representation. Read More

How Many SSM Jobs Are Part-time?
July 27, 2017
Attorney Ellen Heidrick of the Bath office of LawNY scored a major victory in her cross-examination of a vocational witness at a recent hearing. The vocational witness testified there are 153,000 surveillance system monitor jobs nationally. Read More

New Rules Generate New AC Notices
July 27, 2017
As reported in the January 2017 edition of this newsletter, SSA’s “program uniformity” regulations mandate, among other things, submission of evidence five days prior to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. Read More

Appeals Council Fax Changed
July 27, 2017
The Appeals Council has apparently disconnected its fax number (703-605-7101). But the alternative numbers seems to be working (703-605-7151 or 703-605-8021). Make sure you use these numbers when faxing to the AC. Read More

ABA Issues New Email Guidance
July 27, 2017
Back in 1999, the American Bar Association issued formal Opinion 99-413 permitting lawyers to use email to communicate with clients. Much has changed in the world of technology since then, particularly security issues. Read More

Web News - July 2017
July 27, 2017
SSA's Redbook Available; Access to Scholarly Articles; Stop the Hate Website Debuts; ABA Launches Vet Website Read More

End Note - July 2017
A Virtual Cure for Pain?
July 27, 2017
Can traveling virtually through Iceland’s waterfalls or meditating on an idyllic coastline ease pain? Yes, according to Brennan Spiegel, a researcher at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Read More

Bulletin Board
October 31, 2017
Astrue v. Capato; Shalala v. Schaefer; Lesterhuis v. Colvin; Talavera v. Astrue Read More

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