Social Security report shows Social Security, Medicare reforms should be put in place

In the 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of Social Security to Congress released on Wednesday, June 22, the trustees overseeing both Social Security and Medicare said more comprehensive reforms should be put in place to avoid cutting health care and retirement benefits to American citizens. In a statement released the same date, Unites States Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Joseph “Jack” Lew said, “Social Security and Medicare remain secure in the medium-term. Nevertheless, future solvency challenges for both programs remain.”

Financing for Medicare took a toll in 2015 due to tax revenue cuts and an increase in spending for inpatient hospital services. The good news, though, is the disability fund, which was predicted in 2015 to run out by the end of this year, is projected to last until 2023.

In line with the challenges ahead, President Obama and other Democrats, such as former Secretary of State and now presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2016 U.S. presidential election Hillary Clinton and former U.S. Senator from Vermont and former presidential candidate Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, have called for making adjustments to the allocation of the benefits, with an increase for the neediest recipients and with the wealthiest workers footing the highest taxes.

The process of applying for and obtaining Social Security disability benefits is frequently long drawn-out and complex, so it is essential to get the legal help of our experienced Indianapolis disability attorneys at the Hankey Law Office. Call our offices today at (800) 520-3633.


Bill incentivizing disabled people to return to work filed

U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-AR) has introduced H.R. 5409, or “The Social Security Disability Insurance Return to Work Act,” which seeks to modernize disability classifications under the SSDI program and incentivize workers who are considering a return to the labor force.

Hill said that the proposed legislation is expected to bring positive developments to the current SSDI program, noting, “These reforms to SSDI would help keep the program solvent and its benefits available to those who need them. The goal is to develop effective and innovative projects that will incentivize and assist people that want to get off of the rolls and back to work.” Senators Tom Cotton and Mike Lee filed similar legislation the same day Hill introduced his bill.

If your Social Security disability benefits have been indefinitely delayed, seek legal help from the attorneys at The Hankey Law Office. We help clients in Indianapolis and other areas of Indiana to address Social Security concerns and receive the compensation they need. Call our offices at (317) 634-8565 or (800) 520-3633 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team.


Judge accused of making offensive descriptions during hearings

John Pleuss, an administrative law judge in charge of deciding Social Security disability claims, was accused of making offensive physical descriptions of claimants.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Pleuss made crude descriptions of the people who came to his court for federal disability assistance in his notes. He described one person as a “very black, African-looking woman (actually a gorilla-like appearance).” Another description that Pleuss made of a claimant was “young, white, female; long brown hair; attractive; looks innocent.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed people who worked in Pleuss’ office in Madison to confirm that the notes were indeed written by Pleuss.

The notes were first covered by a conservative website called Wisconsin Watchdog. Association of Administrative Law Judges President Marilyn Zahm said Pleuss’ notes were “shorthand descriptions” that he used to familiarize himself with a case. She said the descriptions were taken out of context.

If you were recently disabled, you deserve a fair, unbiased hearing to receive Social Security disability benefits. The Indianapolis Social Security disability attorneys at The Hankey Law Office can help you file for a claim. Call our office at (317) 634-8565 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team.


Social Security disability fund to deplete by 2034

Social Security’s trust fund will be completely depleted by 2034 if Congress does not take action, the Social Security Board of Trustees’ 2016 Annual Report to Congress revealed on Wednesday, June 22.

At present, if you receive $2,000 a month in Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Disability Insurance program will only be able to pay you $1,580 per month in 2034. When it comes to Medicare, the trustees predict that the trust fund for Part A, which arranges financial assistance for hospital expenses for senior citizens, will completely run out by 2028. The depletion date is still 11 years later than was projected before Congress approved the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Costs for both Social Security and Medicare are expected to grow more quickly than the economy for the next 20 years and remain at relatively high levels after.

If you are in need of Social Security disability benefits, hire the legal representation of an attorney at The Hankey Law Office in Indianapolis. Especially if you find it difficult to file for a Social Security disability claim or you need to appeal your claim after a rejection, call our offices today at (800) 520-3633.


Muncie woman gets three years for stealing children’s disability benefits

Fifty-five-year-old Muncie, Indiana resident Kimberly Harper received a three year prison sentence for stealing almost $200,000 in Social Security disability benefits. The benefits belonged to her children, but instead of providing her kids with housing and food, Harper spent the money selfishly.

According to United States Attorney Josh Minkler, Harper did not provide proper care for her children and left them under the care of her parents for years, disregarding them for almost 20 years. Instead of caring for them, Minkler said, “she stole from them, including her son who was born with a severe mental disability.” Court documents showed that Harper stopped caring for her four children – including one who suffers from a severe form of autism – when they were toddlers in the 1990’s, but she continued raking in money from food stamps, public housing, and disability services.

With years of committed and personalized dedication to a number of Social Security disability cases, the attorneys at the Hankey Law Office in Indianapolis can help you handle your benefits. Our experience filing and appealing Social Security disability claims is unmatched. Call our offices today at (800) 520-3633 to learn more about our services.


Obama wants to increase Social Security benefits

A report from The Huffington Post released on Wednesday, June 1 details how President Obama has given his support for expanding Social Security benefits, provided that the budget of other components of the program won’t have to be reduced.

In a speech in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama made it clear that he expresses support for the increase of Social Security benefits via additional taxes, noting, “It’s time we finally made Social Security more generous and increased its benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations can get the dignified retirement that they’ve earned. And we can start paying for it by asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute a little bit more.”

Washington, D.C.-based Center for Global Policy Solutions president and chief executive officer, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, welcomed this development, saying, “We applaud President Obama’s proposal to strengthen Social Security given that our nation is facing a retirement crisis with 38 million working-age households (45% of the U.S. workforce) without retirement savings of any kind and a paltry median account balance of $40,000 for those with retirement accounts in 2010.”

The attorneys at The Hankey Law Office are committed to providing compassionate and competent legal services to disabled workers seeking to file for Social Security benefits. Call our Indianapolis office today at (800) 520-3633 to discuss  your application process.


Long waits for those appealing for disability benefits

Social Security Administration (SSA) deputy commissioner for disability and adjudication review, Theresa Gruber, claims that the number of people who were denied Social Security disability benefits and are waiting for the agency to re-hear their cases has officially risen to 1.1 million. The SSA officially admitted that the situation can now be classified as a “crisis.”

Gruber said that people who file for Social Security disability benefits must often wait at least 525 days – at least a year and a half – before Social Security judges can decide on their case. Some of these people fail to qualify for health insurance in the meantime, causing them to “experience significant worsening in their conditions.” Gruber said others passed away while waiting for SSA to decide on their Social Security disability benefit request or appeal. The backlog has risen because over the years more and more people began applying for disability benefits, but the SSA does not have sufficient resources to hire more judges. The agency is currently short around 400 judges.

If you have a disability that is preventing you from working, you can file for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, the application process can be tedious, complicated, and tiresome. The attorneys at The Hankey Law Office in Indianapolis can help your process move more smoothly. Learn more about our services by calling our offices at (800) 520-3633.


Donald Trump wants status quo on federal disability program

The $150 billion Social Security Disability Insurance program would have gone bankrupt at the start of the year had Congress not decided to give it an emergency monetary infusion. Most Americans agree that the system needs some sort of improvement, but businessman and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump does not think so.

Instead, Trump is advocating for the status quo when it comes to entitlement benefits such as the federal disability program, which provides income to 11 million Americans. Republicans at the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, have tried to block the reallocation of funds from the main Social Security trust fund to the disability program, arguing that doing so would weaken the trust fund.

Social Security disability benefits can be delayed indefinitely, even if an applicant has filed the proper documentation for his or her claim. The attorneys at the Hankey Law Office in Indianapolis are prepared to help when you run into problems with your Social Security benefits. Call our offices at (317) 634-8565 or (800) 520-3633 to learn more about our services.


Taxation and Social Security Benefits

If you are currently receiving Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits every month, you are likely to also get a Form SSA-1099 from the federal government. This document tells you the total amount of your benefits you are receiving. However, it doesn’t tell you important information regarding taxes: how much of your total benefits are taxable, what is the tax rate, or if your benefits are taxable at all.

If you would like to determine how much tax you will have to pay on your benefits, use the IRS Free File to e-file your tax return (that is, if your annual income is not more than $62,000). This software will determine the taxable components of your benefits for you.

On the other hand, if you want to compute manually, add half of your Social Security benefits with all other income (including tax-exempt interest) and compare it to the base amounts that are excluded from the tax; anything over the base amount may be subject to tax.

If you ever have questions that need to be answered in regards to your social security disability benefits, the expert lawyers of our legal firm are available for consultation. Contact our attorneys at the Hankey Law Office in Indianapolis by calling our offices today at (317) 634-8565 if you need legal assistance when it comes to filing for or appealing Social Security disability benefits.


7th Circuit Court of Appeals reverses ALJ ruling denying Social Security disability benefits

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of an Administrative Law Judge that Social Security disability benefits claimant Debbie Stage was not eligible for said benefits because she can still work despite her handicap.

Stage is claiming that ever since she slipped two discs while performing work-related duties at a factory in 1985, she had been experiencing debilitating back and hip pain, which caused her to be unable to work starting in 2009.

However, the claims judge said that Stage can perform a minimum amount of work, which specifically entails standing and walking for six hours a day, which is a job description of someone who works as a small-parts assembler, a production assembler, or an electronics worker. The district court affirmed the decision.

This decision was opposed by the appeals court. In Debbie A. Stage v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Judge David Hamilton said that the disorders affecting the claimant show that she cannot perform work, noting, “It strains credulity to find that a claimant who needed a hip replacement and had to sit while showering and shopping for groceries was capable of standing for six hours a day in the workplace.”

 


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