Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Role of the Social Security Benefits Advocate

The application process for SSI or SSDI benefits is almost always long, typically daunting, and can generally be overwhelming. Moreover, the Social Security Administration rejects many initial applications.

This can deter many potential applicants from applying for benefits or appealing a denial of benefits. However, having a knowledgeable attorney assist with the application and/or appeal enhances one’s chances of being approved for benefits.

It is commonly believed that attorneys charge a significant amount of money up front for their services, and even more on an hourly basis. This is not the case with a social security disability lawyer. Disability attorneys are only paid if their client’s application is approved, with the attorney taking the lesser of twenty-five percent of a client’s disability backpay or $6,000. Very little and sometimes no money is required up front by the client.

In addition to preparing your application, a disability lawyer will represent their client at hearings and appeals. In that scenario, not only can the lawyer deliver a well-organized and fact-based argument, but the lawyer will know the law and regulations controlling Social Security benefits and can use that knowledge to the client’s advantage.

Finally, sometimes it is believed that an applicant should only contact a social security benefits lawyer once their claim has been denied. That is not the case. While a denied applicant can—and should—hire a lawyer to help him or her with their appeal, prospective applicants should speak with a lawyer before submitting their initial application as well.

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California whose practice focuses on social security advocacy.

Contact Attorney Driscoll at 949-359-1370 or online for a free consultation.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Presidential Candidates Talk Social Security Benefits

In the midst of a presidential election year, Social Security has yet again proved to be a divisive topic. Since Social Security benefits provide and protect some of our society’s more vulnerable populations, it is important to know what some of the candidates’ current plans are for Social Security.

On Friday, Hillary Clinton promised not to cut Social Security benefits and one of her aides was quoted as stating Clinton planned to expand benefits.

Part of the context of Hillary’s statements on Friday involved a Twitter dialogue with Bernie Sanders’ campaign. The Sanders campaign reportedly asked Clinton to join Sanders in declaring a promise to never cut Social Security.

Despite Clinton’s and Sanders’ promise to expand and not cut Social Security, two progressive organizations—the Social Security Works and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee—still have not endorsed a particular Democratic candidate.

As for the Republicans, Marco Rubio was quoted last week in New Hampshire as wanting to save and preserve Social Security programs without disrupting them. Rubio asserted that his mother was a Social Security beneficiary, but he explained that Social Security must adapt to survive and will likely not look the same in the future.

Other Republican candidates have stated various means tests, increased retirement age requirements, and other policies that they claim are necessary to preserve Social Security for future generations. 

While it is obviously far too early to tell which candidate’s plans will constitute the future of Social Security, it is becoming increasingly clear that Social Security is an important social and fiscal issue in this presidential election.

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California whose practice focuses Social Security matters, including disability benefits.

Contact Stephanie today at 949-359-1370 for a free consultation.