Author Archives: Anselmo A. Alegria

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About Anselmo A. Alegria

Anselmo A. Alegria is a disability attorney & partner at Alegria & Barovick LLP in White Plains, New York.

EMAIL: aaa@alegriabarovicklaw.com

BIO: About Anselmo

PHONE: 914-761-1133

You Don’t Need To Be Over 50 To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Miscellaneous, Personal Injury, on .
You Don't Need To Be Over 50 To Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits | Anselmo A. Alegria

{Read in 3:30 minutes} While some Social Security Disability cases are harder than others to win, we find that it is often the toughest ones that are the most rewarding. We recently had such a case, in which we met a young man who was only is his mid 20s and yet badly in need of help. It is extremely difficult to show that a person this young qualifies for Social Security Insurance benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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Announcement: Alegria & Barovick LLP is Multilingual!
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Authored by , re: KNOWLEDGE NUGGETS, LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .
Announcement: Alegria & Barovick LLP is Multilingual! | Anselmo Alegria

Alegria & Barovick LLP is excited to announce that we are now able to make speakers of Creole and Spanish feel right at home from the moment they call us, as we have hired legal assistants who are fluent in both languages. Our clients can be confident that: (a) they will have all the details of their claims understood immediately, and (b) our assistants can explain how the Social Security/Disability process works in their own language.

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Non-Cash Assets Can Sink Your SSI Claim
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

The Social Security Administration has two different programs that are designed to be safety nets for people who are too sick or injured to work. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is only available to people who have a sufficient work history. Generally you need to work at least five out of the last 10 years and pay Social Security, disability insurance and taxes - and that applies to people who are over 31. The requirement is less for people aged 18-31. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): The other kind of disability benefits that someone can apply for is called Supplemental Security Income, which is available to people who don't have the work history to qualify for SSDI. An additional requirement for SSI is that the person applying for benefits pass a means test. When performing a means test for SSI, one of the touchstones the Social Security Administration looks for is the applicant’s assets. In general, the person applying for SSI - assuming they can meet the medical requirements for disabled status under Social Security's rules - can have no more than $2,000 in assets. That includes property, bank accounts and even jewelry. In general, however, there are a few exceptions to this rule: applicants are permitted to have one house, one primary vehicle, and other essentials.

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Social Security Disability Insurance Hearings: What Happens When The Applicant Himself Is A No-Show?
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Miscellaneous, Personal Injury, on .

Many people applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits have mental disabilities. Mental health problems can impair a person’s functioning, causing crippling anxiety and stress, which is often exacerbated by the inability to work or form social connections. They often become isolated, which worsens their anxiety and can result in an applicant becoming too nervous to appear at his or her own SSDI or SSI hearing. Generally, when a “no-show” occurs, the person’s claim is denied. That is why I was extremely gratified recently when a client was awarded SSI benefits despite his failure to appear for the hearing. This applicant had severe mental impairments, including schizophrenia, which caused him to be unable to work. These same problems also made him too anxious to attend his hearing. I moved forward with his case anyway, armed with a detailed legal brief which I prepared well ahead of time. The brief identified the client’s medical history, medical record and the areas where he met Social Security’s requirements. I presented all of his medical records to the judge, in addition to cross-examining Social Security’s independent psychiatrist, thus proving my client’s impaired condition. After a review of all the facts, the presiding judge approved the claim despite my client’s absence.

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The Real Story On Social Security Disability Fraud
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

I was disheartened to read a recent article in Forbes magazine concerning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) fraud. The piece by Richard Finger was extremely misleading and is likely to give an uninformed reader a very distorted picture of how the SSDI system actually works. The article reads like a propaganda piece written by someone who has no actual knowledge of the day-to-day functioning of the SSDI program - and who is simply trying to score some political points. Here are some of the most striking inaccuracies in the article:

  • FALSE STATEMENT: It is in the best interest of an SSDI lawyer to take every disability case to trial. 
This point flies in the face of reality. The way the SSDI system actually works, a lawyer only receives a contingency fee if his or her client is awarded benefits. If the client is denied benefits, the lawyer receives no compensation. So when Finger states that taking a case to trial is a win for the applicant’s attorney “no matter the verdict,” he is, intentionally, putting out misinformation. There is no trial. A Social Security Administration judge decides whether the claimant is disabled.
  • FALSE STATEMENT: SSDI judges approve disability benefits automatically.
Finger writes that some judges never refuse anyone SSDI benefits. This is a misleading statement, as the statistics show that on average only a little more than 50% of SSDI applicants that go before a judge are awarded any benefits. The reality is that some judges are more easily persuadable than others, but there certainly are not any judges who approve benefits for every applicant they encounter.

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Why The 60 Minutes Segment On Social Security Disability Insurance Was Biased And Misleading
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

As an attorney who represents Social Security Disability applicants on a daily basis, I was very disturbed by a recent 60 Minutes piece, which falsely portrayed the way the Social Security Disability (SSD) system works. The segment was misleading in several ways and failed to provide any sense of balance in its approach to the subject. Here are the issues that troubled me most about the segment:  

  • The show implied that the large increase in the number of claims is due to lax enforcement: The number of recipients of SSD benefits has steadily grown over the years, but the increase is not due to less stringent qualification standards. Americans, as a population, are getting older. Over the past several years, Baby Boomers have begun to hit retirement age in huge numbers. As Americans in this generation get older, they become more susceptible to injuries and illnesses that can cause them to become disabled and unable to work. In addition, the United States has been in a recession with very high unemployment rates since 2008. In this economic downturn, there are simply less job opportunities available for those with disabilities - they are often the last to get hired and the first to get laid off.

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Advocacy in More Ways Than One
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

A Social Security Disability Insurance hearing is not meant to be an adversarial process. In theory, the SSDI system is designed so that an individual can file an application and go through the entire process alone. The reality of the situation is something else entirely. It’s actually very important to have an experienced attorney by your side.

  • The entire process can be nerve-wracking: Answering questions before a judge is just one part of the hearing process. A claimant must first go through metal detectors and deal with security guards to gain entrance to the hearing building. Then once inside, he or she can expect to have interactions with attorneys and expert witnesses, including medical doctors and/or vocational professionals, as well as the presiding judge. For someone who is not used to such a formal atmosphere, the whole situation can be a lot to take in while remaining composed. Especially given how much is at stake. But an experienced attorney will prepare you for the setting beforehand. You will know exactly what to expect ahead of time and will be able to focus on the substance of your case.

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The Danger Of Working “Off The Books”
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

People in all walks of life are eventually offered the opportunity to work without paying taxes at some point. In addition to being illegal, many have found out that this tactic can come back to hurt them in the long run. Certain professions are more prone to paying “off the books” or “under the table” than others, including:

  • Home health aides
  • Waiters and waitresses
  • Janitorial workers
  • Mechanics
Individuals can easily conceal their income in the industries listed above; wages for these workers are so low that workers deem it necessary to avoid taxes in order to stay above water financially. And sometimes, it is not the worker who wants to work off the books. Some workers, who are grateful to have a job at all, feel it's necessary to work off the books because of pressure from their employers to do so.

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A Pair of Paperwork Powerhouses
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

A dedicated and capable support staff is the backbone of any great law office. At Alegria & Barovick LLP, we recognize the difference an excellent support staff make. While attorneys can handle the legal strategies employed, it is the support staff who keep things running smoothly and anticipate potential issues before they become real problems. In our practice, we handle a great deal of Social Security Disability cases and these often require reviewing a client’s medical records to figure out whether he or she has already received certain care, or needs further treatment.  However, medical records can be very difficult to obtain. Depending on how old the medical records may be, they may be archived off-site from a hospital or doctor's office, which makes them difficult to track down. And if the records are too recent, they may not have been properly catalogued yet. Our staff are experts at finding records - and often go through Herculean efforts to locate them, which can mean the difference between a client receiving needed benefits or not.   

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Social Security Disability Cases: Attorneys As Motivators
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

There are many workers eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) who, for various reasons, never proceed with all the steps necessary to receive their benefits. In addition to the physical suffering, being injured or disabled for a long time can take an emotional and financial toll on anyone, which is why it is important for people who are unable to work to consult with an attorney who handles Social Security cases. In our practice, we see clients everyday in these situations and part of our job is to help steer them back to a positive outlook about their futures as well as to make sure they receive all the financial benefits they are due. We recently had a client who had an SSDI case that was three and a half years old. She had never gone for medical treatment, which caused her case to be continually deferred due to a lack of evidence. Once we stepped in, we convinced her to see doctors and collect her medical records. We were soon able to gather enough evidence to have her found disabled by the Social Security Administration and she was awarded a substantial amount of money, going back three and a half years. It was a very good outcome. In many ways we acted not only as attorneys but also as coaches. In the years since her injury, this client had fallen into depression and had given up. We were able to persuade her that her case was worth fighting for and improve her overall quality of life.

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Why We Need To Protect Social Security Disability Insurance From Sequestration Cuts
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

Due to our nation’s current deficit problems and the sequestration debate occurring in Congress, there has been some discussion about reforming the country’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. SSDI is a federal benefit program that provides monthly payments to workers who have become significantly disabled before reaching their retirement age, and who now need government support to help them pay their bills. While there may have to be budget cuts, it is very important that we protect and strengthen SSDI because its beneficiaries are hard-working Americans who can no longer work, through no fault of their own, and many would have nowhere to turn without these benefits. The taxpayers receiving benefits have already paid into the program. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are taken out of a worker's paycheck along with the other state and federal taxes deducted. These FICA deductions specifically go towards paying for the Social Security program including SSDI. So when someone is injured and can no longer work, they are not asking for charity. In effect, throughout a worker's entire career, the deductions from his or her weekly paycheck were simply premiums funding this insurance policy.

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Don’t Suffer in Silence: How your medical record can make or break your claim
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

We are fortunate in this country that our government provides assistance to those members of society who are no longer able to work due to a disability. The federal government’s Social Security Disability program acts as a safety net for those individuals by providing:

  • Monthly stipends for the disabled person;
  • Monthly stipends for qualifying family members;
  • Medical coverage under Medicare.
Getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits is a long and complex process, rarely taking less than a year, and often more than 2 years.

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Social Security/Disability In The News
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Authored by , re: LAW RELATED ARTICLES, Personal Injury, on .

  • U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin says Social Security benefits are among those that should by denied to illegal immigrants, according this article from the Kansas City Star.
  • Most of us assume that because Social Security is a federal program, every state has Social Security coverage in place, and that the cost of one's benefits is deducted regularly from the paychecks of state residents.  However, if you live in Louisiana and are employed by the state, that assumption would be wrong.  According to Saturday's New Orleans Times-Picayne, Gov. Bobby Jindal is considering a plan that would give his state's workers the eqivalent of Social Security benefits.
  • Of course, not everyone supports Social Security benefits, even though American citizens have paid into the system, and depended on their benefits for decades.  Former GOP presidential candidate and current Gov. of Texas, Rick Perry, calls it nothing but a "Ponzi scheme" that should be eliminated, according to Saturday's West Virginia Gazette-Mail.
  • One way to insure your receipt of SSI benefits without interruption is to sign up for e-payments, so that even if you are away from home, you can obtain your benefits.

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