Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Laws Address Disability Discrimination

The Washington State Legislature passed seven new laws to address homelessness and affordable housing, Crosscut. reports. While all seven pieces of legislation are worth taking stock, two of the bills can significantly help people with disabilities; they could prevent permanently disabled citizens from finding themselves homeless.

Washington passed a new ban on source-of-income discrimination, according to the article. It is now illegal to deny a current, or a prospective, tenant housing due to said renter's reliance on Social Security and veterans benefits rental assistance, and Section 8 housing vouchers.

“That kind of discrimination has a disparate impact on people we know are already at a higher risk of housing discrimination — people of color, people with disabilities, single parent-headed households,” says Michele Thomas, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s director of policy and advocacy. “If someone goes out with a voucher and a landlord says, ‘I don’t want to rent to you’ because of stereotypes they have in their head, not only is it extremely unfair, it just makes our ability to use the for-profit rental market really inefficient.”

Two Bills for People Living With Disabilities

Previously, the state’s Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program gave rental assistance only to people with temporary disabilities, according to the article. If a person’s temporarily disabled status were upgraded to permanent, the recipient would lose their rental assistance. Now, a new bill, House Bill 2667 - 2017-18, expands HEN to include people with permanent disabilities, protecting such people from homelessness.

Thanks to another new bill, people with disabilities will have an easier time getting their hands on medical records when applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If an SSI or SSDI applicant wants to apply for benefits or appeal a denial, they must obtain a copy of medical records that prove their disability. Washington House Bill 1239 - 2017-18, waves a $26 fee for obtaining medical records; a cost that some low-income individuals could not cover.

“If we continue to make this level of progress in next session and the one after that, that’s how Washington is going to back out of our crisis and make sure everyone has a chance to live in safe and affordable homes,” says Thomas, who hopes that the passing of new laws is just the beginning of the effort to end the crisis.

SSDI and SSI Attorney

Finding affordable housing can be difficult in every state and it will be interesting to follow this story line to see if other states consider such legislation. If the SSA denied your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or you are applying for benefits for the first time, The Driscoll Law Corporation can help. Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll can help you or a loved one appeal the SSA’s decision and get the benefits you require. Please contact our office today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Phishing Warning from SSA Inspector General

SSA Benefits
If you are one of the more than 60 million Americans receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), there is a good chance that every penny matters. Those collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or any one of the programs offered by the SSA, often struggle to cover their expenses each month even with assistance. Many of the people collecting benefits are some of America’s most vulnerable; unfortunately, this fact has not been lost on fraudsters and individuals who would usurp the identity of another.

Interestingly, the SSA says that signing up for a ‘my Social Security’ account on the organization's website could actually protect people from identity theft. The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration warns that criminals use phone calls, emails, and other methods to obtain people’s personal information; identity thieves use the information to attempt to open a ‘my Social Security’ account and then redirect a beneficiaries direct deposit benefits to a bank account they can access.

“If you receive information from SSA indicating that you have opened a ‘my Social Security’ account, and you did not open an account, you should contact Social Security so that appropriate action may be taken, and the matter may be referred to the Office of the Inspector General. You can do so by visiting or calling a local SSA office or calling SSA’s toll-free customer service at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hearing-impaired individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.”

Internet Phishing Alert

One of the primary methods of obtaining people’s info is through a practice known as “phishing.” Fraudsters send emails meant to coax recipients into revealing sensitive information by clicking on a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment. The SSA offers valuable tips for protecting yourself against identity theft phishing, including:
  • Most emails from Social Security will come from a “.gov" email address. If an email address does not end in “.gov,” use caution before opening attachments or clicking on pictures or links in the email.
  • Good: https://www.ssa.gov/ Bad: https://www.socialsecurity.gov.gmx.de/ and https://www.socialsecurity.gov.bx.co.rx/setup
  • Do not respond to emails requesting personal information. Reputable businesses and public agencies will not ask you for personal information in an email.
  • For more information about "phishing," go to OnGuard Online.

The Inspector General recommends that you never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts; never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name; Never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person; and, always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information to open credit accounts or for other non-SSA-related purposes, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.

SSDI and SSI Attorney

If the SSA denied your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or you are applying for benefits for the first time, The Driscoll Law Corporation can help. Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll can help you or a loved one appeal the SSA’s decision and get the benefits you require. Please contact our office today.