Last week, we received a phone call from a former client, who received a disturbing and erroneous letter from Social Security’s payment center in Baltimore. The letter said they were terminating her Social Security Disability benefits (“SSD”) benefits, and would be asking her for money back, because of her “significant earnings” over substantial gainful activity (“SGA”). The client’s application was approved in January 2022. Before securing her SSD benefits, we had to submit evidence showing the client was not working, and that her income was from a pension.
Even though our representation ends when a client’s application is approved, we still called the local office in Mineola, as well as the payment center who sent her the letter, on her behalf. As usual, neither Mineola nor the payment center would take any responsibility for the error. The Mineola office said the client would have to have her former employer complete a form, and the payment center said they would “send a note to a benefits authorizer to look into it.” The representative we spoke with at the payment center claimed she had no idea what to do. Worst of all, there was no urgency or remorse for our client’s situation from either the Mineola office or the payment center. Just imagine their urgency if their income were being terminated.
Today, we received a phone call from another former client who received a similar letter from Social Security. The letter stated that Social Security was terminating her benefits due to the fact that she was “working,” and said that she immediately had to repay $60,000. Again, when our client was approved, Social Security knew that she was receiving pay for unlimited sick days.
The client called her local district office in Jamaica, and was told that she would have to appeal the decision. Therefore, not only are her SSD benefits being terminated, but Social Security also wants her to pay them $60,000, and to file an appeal, even though she has not worked since she was approved. To make things even worse, the problem is wholly due to Social Security’s own error.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice. These letters indicate that Social Security has embarked on a program that terminates SSD benefits without due process. The program shakes down claimants who are lawfully receiving SSD benefits after administrative law judges already accepted the claimants’ receipt of passive income. No one at Social Security ever contacted either one of our clients to ask them if they were working. If they had, then they would have known that the clients were not working, and that they were receiving passive income, which does not affect their entitlement to SSD benefits.
We advised both clients to do two things. First, to contact their local offices again. Second, to contact their congressional representatives, and the media, about Social Security’s actions, how they were being treated, and that Social Security is taking absolutely no responsibility for their errors, and does not even care.
If you receive a letter like this, you should immediately contact your local Social Security office, as well as your congressperson or senator, and the media.Previous Next
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