Ward Harper, Attorney at Law

Ward Harper, Attorney at Law (Phone: 801-272-7900 or 1-800-765-2141) (website: www.wardharper.com )

Monday, January 20, 2014

Update on case results for 2013

Our final tally for the year 2013 was 88 wins and one loss, with three cases still on appeal at the Appeals Council.  The final totals for 2012 were 110 wins and three loses.  We were victorious on two appeals and one case, from December 2012, is still on appeal at the Appeals Council.  We still have one case prior to 2012 on appeal, which is in federal court.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Will SSDI benefits be reduced in the future?

There was another story in the Deseret News on November 26, 2012 stating that disability insurance benefits (SSDI) were expected to be reduced in 2016 because the "pot of money the SSA uses to cover disability insurance is projected to run dry in 2016."  This is very misleading.  The disability trust fund is not like a bank account or a well that can run dry.  It is an accounting term.  Social Security takes in so much money in FICA taxes every year and pays out so much.  The supervisors of the fund give an allocation each year to retirement and one to disability and change those allocations all the time.  All they have to do is switch an accounting number from retirement to disability and there is no shortage.  But more importantly, the amount that is allocated for Social Security is determined by Congress.  If the fund is negative, money must be taken out of the general funds of the government to pay for the benefits.  Nothing runs dry, but the deficit is increased.

Of course, in the long run, changes should be made to make the money taken in balance the benefits paid.  The retirement age might be increased.  FICA taxes might be increased.   The ceiling on how much of wages can be taxed might be increased.   Disability laws may be made tougher.  These sorts of decisions are all part of the negotiations now going on about how to decrease the budget deficit in the future.  People on disability are barely scraping by.  The solution will not be to cut benefits accross the board.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Update on our numbers

It has been awhile since I updated our wins and losses.  We will get the site updated soon, but here are the totals.  2010:  100 wins, 1 loss, with one case on appeal in Federal Court.  2011: 131 wins, no losses, with 5 cases on appeal at the Appeals Council.  2012 so far:  91 wins, 1 loss, with 5 cases on appeal at the Appeals Council.  We are still winning over 99%.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Secret Judge Policy

Social Security recently announced a policy that they will not let you know which judge is assigned to your case prior to the day of the hearing.  A hearing before a judge is the third stage in the process, after you have been denied on the initial claim and on reconsideration.  All judges are different, so it helps to know the judge!!  That is why you should have a local attorney.  And because of my experience, I can usually tell who the judge will be, even though they will not tell you.

Listing of Impairments

To determine whether you are eligible for Social Security or SSI disability benefts, Social Security goes through a five-step disability evaluation process.  The listing of impairments is the third step in the process.  If you meet the criteria of one of these listings, you will be found disabled without considering your age, education or work experience.  Not all physical or mental conditions are common enough to appear, but you can find a list of them here.  Call our office today to find out more about Social Security disability benefits.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2011 Report--Still 99% Success Rate

This is a review of my Social Security disability and SSI cases for the year 2011.  We won 131 cases last year and lost none.  We have six more cases on appeal with the Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration after unfavorable decisions by administrative law judges, increasing the total number of cases there awaiting decision to eight.  We have no current appeals in Federal Court.  So, our record remains at over 99% since I started keeping track of these statistics over 11 years ago.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Long Term Disability Insurance Benefits

These are benefits you may have obtained through your employer.  It is basically a contract between you and the insurance company.  You (or your employer) pay premiums, and you are entitled to benefits if you become "disabled" (the standards may not be the same as Social Security).  If you want to know your rights, you need to go to the contract.  It's provisions will almost always be included in an employee manual.  The law regarding these benefits is governmed by a federal statute called ERISA.  You need an experienced attorney to deal with these matters.  We can give you a referral to such an attorney and assist him in providing information about your Social Security case. DO NOT believe that the insurance case worker is most concerned about you, and DO NOT accept a referral to one of their advocates for your Social Security case.  The advocate may be more concerned about his relationship to the insurance company than about you.