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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Landlord's Refusal to Pay for Bathtub for Disabled Tenant Proves Costly

What are the rights of the disabled when asking a landlord to make "reasonable modifications"?

It is widely understood that, under Federal, state and local law, it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. When it comes to housing, for example, landlords can be required to provide accommodations for the disabled  to help make an apartment or home more accessible to those with physical or mental impairments. For those who refuse, the penalties can be substantial, as one New York landlord recently discovered.

Read more . . .

Monday, May 23, 2016

Improving Your Chances of Being Approved for SSDI Benefits

What can you do to reduce the chances of an SSDI denial?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a benefit provided by the government to those that are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to an impairment or illness. That is, make more than a certain amount of income in a month. These cash benefits are not provided automatically, and those seeking them must undergo a rigorous application process and prove that they meet certain requirements. But, not everyone meets these requirements. In fact, most claims for SSDI are denied.

Read more . . .

Monday, May 16, 2016

Need Social Security Disability Benefits? Get in Line

Why are the wait times so long for obtaining disability benefits?

Nothing is for certain, or so it's been said, and anyone can become disabled at any time and not be able to work. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration provides disability benefits to those who have a medical condition that is expected to last at least a year or result in death. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the system is plagued by a backlog of cases that cause significant delays for those who have applied for disability benefits. There have been cases where some individuals have died before their cases were even heard; and others who are suffering with debilitating physical and mental disabilities are often forced to wait in agony.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Applying for SSI or SSDI

How does one apply for the government benefits of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

If you are disabled and unable to work you may feel hopeless, but there are a number of government-administered benefits offered to help those in your situation. Two of these, the SSI and SSDI programs, provide cash benefits to those in need. SSI is a program for those who are low income and disabled, while SSDI provides benefits to those who are disabled with a relevant work history. If your situation fits into either of the above categories, you may be entitled to monthly benefits. In this article, we will cover the basics of the Read more . . .

Thursday, February 18, 2016

FAQ: Understanding Recent Changes to Social Security Claiming Strategies

What changes were made by Congress to Social Security "files and suspend" claims?

In 2015, Congress voted to make some sweeping changes to Social Security laws – primarily those impacting retiring Baby Boomers and their portfolios. The following answers some general questions about the changes.

What are the two major areas impacted by the new legislation?

Under the new Social Security laws, two concepts known as “file and suspend” and “restricted application” will be eliminated as of May 1, 2016. These are known as “claiming strategies,” and are alternatives for retirees who do not wish to fully engage their benefits immediately upon reaching the age of eligibility.

What is “file and suspend?”

File and suspend is a claiming strategy in which one claimant files for full benefits at age 66, but opts to suspend the receipt of the first payment until some point thereafter – accruing retirement credits in the meantime. The option was popular with married couples, as it allowed one spouse to receive heightened monthly benefits while the other’s benefits lingered in suspension. Once the suspended benefits entered distribution, the second spouse would be eligible for a higher monthly payment.

What is a restricted application?

A restricted application is one in which a spouse files for full benefits at age 66, but opts only to receive spousal benefits only – thereby allowing the filer’s personal benefits to grow until age 70.

Are these options totally eliminated?

Anyone having already elected the “file and suspend” claiming strategy is safe, as the rules do not go into effect until May 1, 2016. At that time, file and suspend claims will no longer be an allowed; however, anyone who has reached full retirement age (66) by May 1 may still elect this option, provided the application is submitted by April 29, 2016.

With regard to restricted applications, claimants born on or before January 1, 1954 will still be eligible to elect this option, whereas all others will be prohibited as of May 1, 2016.

If you have questions or need assistance with filing for social security benefits, you should consult with a qualified attorney.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Congress Considers Proposal to Raise Social Security Benefits

What are the proposed changes concerning Social Security benefits being considered by federal lawmakers?

Social Security benefits are a vital component of the retirement portfolio of millions of Americans. Accordingly, a Congressman from Florida recently requested a memo from the Congressional Research Service in order to determine whether America’s seniors are receiving adequate and fair benefits given the current economy and the amount they have paid in over the years. More specifically, the memo looked at the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) used in calculating benefits to evaluate whether it reflected an accurate financial picture in light of what it truly costs America’s seniors to live in today’s economy.

Historically, retirement benefits have been calculated using a figure known as the Consumer Price Index – Clerical Worker’s (CPI-W) as opposed to a separate figure known as the Consumer Price Index – Elderly (CPI-E). According to the research memo, seniors would reap greater benefits if the CPI-E were included in the calculation of the Social Security COLA as opposed to the CPI-W. This prompted the introduction of the “Seniors Deserve a Raise Act.”

The Act, which will be formally presented once Congress reconvenes, requests a 0.2% increase in benefits per recipient – a figure which more adequately reflects the actual costs of living for America’s seniors. Overall, the act requests $388 billion in additional funding for retirement benefit recipients, and, according to sponsor Congressman Grayson (FL), “protects the purchasing power of seniors’ earned benefits against inflation. The CPI-E does this while the CPI-W does not.”

The changes do not take into account the funding and payment issues affecting Social Security Disability, however. Over the past several years, more and more Americans have experienced debilitating accidents and injuries, requiring additional funds from the heavily burdened system. Hopefully, Congress will continue to consider options for increasing funding for both programs, ensuring that retirement and disability benefits will be available to all who are eligible.

If you are concerned about your Social Security benefits, please do not hesitate to contact the knowledgeable attorneys  at Seelig Law Offices, LLC today. Serving the greater New York City metropolitan area, we can be reached at: 212-766-0600.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Effect of Divorce on Claims for Social Security Retirement Benefits

Can my ex-spouse benefit from my social security retirement?

Social Security retirement benefits are a vital component of the retirement picture for many Americans.  Did you know that your ex-spouse may be able to benefit from the Social Security benefits you collect even after a divorce?  There a several ways in which a divorced spouse can still receive retirement benefits based on his or her ex-spouse’s financial portfolio, provided the eligibility requirements are met. As always, if you are facing this issue and are not sure where to turn, be sure to contact a competent New York City Social Security attorney right away. 

Collecting retirement benefits from former spouse

As a threshold consideration, the amount of benefits available to a former spouse will depend on the working spouse’s employment and income records. Naturally, the more paid in by the spouse, the higher the available monthly payments that may be available to the ex. Under current Social Security guidelines – which are subject to change on a yearly basis – the following requirements must be met in order for an ex-spouse to collect from the other: 
• The marriage must have lasted ten years or longer;
• The spouse seeking to collect must remain unmarried;
• The spouse seeking to collect is aged 62 or older;
• The spouse seeking to collect is not entitled to his or her own retirement benefits in an amount equal to or greater the amount available through the ex-spouse; and
• The payor spouse is actually entitled to benefits.
Remarriage will generally negate any opportunity to collect benefits from a former spouse. However, if the remarriage ends through death, divorce, or annulment, he or she may still be able to access retirement benefits from the former spouse, assuming the above-listed requirements are met. 

If you are facing a difficult disability or retirement benefits issue in New York and would like to speak to a reputable attorney, please contact the disability and social security attorneys at Seelig Law Offices by dialing (212)766-0600 today! 

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