Posts in:July, 2019

Social Security Benefits for Immigrants

Posted July 26, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Legal immigrants in the United States are eligible for Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance just as any native-born citizen of the United States would be. Immigrants can collect Social Security benefits if they meet the requirements for work credits or qualify with earnings they made abroad. In order to be eligible to collect Social Security, you must first apply for a Social Security number. Once you have a Social Security number, you can begin the process of earning the required amount of work credits to be eligible for benefits.

If you are a legal immigrant who has not earned enough work credits in the United States, you can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits with the credits you have earned in your native country, if your native country is one of the 26 countries with which the United States has made Social Security agreements. These agreements are called totalization agreements.

If you are a legal immigrant who meets the criteria to collect disability established by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can collect disability income if you are a worker and you become disabled. In order to collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI), however, you must be a citizen of the United States who has limited financial resources and who is disabled, age 65 or older, or who has children who are disabled. If you are not a citizen of the United States and want to collect SSI, you must be considered a qualified alien.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

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By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

ALJ Union Accuses Social Security of Bad Faith Bargaining

Posted July 19, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The president of a union representing the administrative law judges (ALJs) who adjudicate disability claims has accused the Social Security Administration of bargaining in bad faith. The accusation follows news that federal mediators declared the agency and union to be at impasse in negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ) President Melissa McIntosh said her union has filed an internal grievance with the agency over its negotiating practices as they discuss a new contract. She said she believes management is focused on standardizing contracts with disparate bargaining units, rather than on improving efficiency for taxpayers.

“I think what’s most obvious would be their aggressive posture in mandating contracts that are the same for all bargaining units at SSA,” McIntosh said. “You have a bargaining unit that’s made exclusively of judges, and then there’s [the American Federation of Government Employees], which is a bargaining unit of 45,000 employees with diverse positions, and then there’s a [National Treasury Employees Union] bargaining unit. It’s not bargaining in good faith to say, all three times, that we want the contracts to look the same.”

AALJ and Social Security have been negotiating provisions of a new collective bargaining agreement since March, culminating in two weeks of mediation by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service last month. At the end of those two weeks, FMCS Commissioner Randall Mayhew declared the parties to be at an impasse.

The agency’s “last best offer” to the union, which was reviewed by Government Executive, includes several proposals that have become standard in the Trump administration, including shifting telework policies to be entirely at the discretion of the agency and a drastic reduction in the amount of official time the union can use. In this case, SSA proposed a 90% cut to official time, from an annual bank of 22,000 hours in the current contract to only 2,000 hours.

“We simply cannot function as a union and meet our statutory requirements [to represent employees] on only 2,000 hours,” McIntosh said. “And they’ve done the same thing to try to aggressively eliminate official time for AFGE and NTEU.”

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.


By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

How Does Age Affect a Disability Claim?

Posted July 12, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers several factors to establish an individual’s entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, and age is one of those criteria. If you are 50 years old or older when applying for Social Security disability, it may be easier for you to get approved for disability benefits than it is for a younger person. This is because the SSA knows it can be harder for an older person to learn a new job skill or to make the transition into a new work place. The SSA refers to this as making a “vocational adjustment.”

To account for the difficulty older claimants may have making vocational adjustments, the SSA has something called the “grid rules” it uses to decide some disability claims. The grid rules are one way you can get approved for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. Social Security generally uses the grid rules only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the recent past.

These grid rules use the following factors to determine whether an applicant is disabled:

  • applicant’s age
  • applicant’s education level
  • the skill level of the applicant’s past work
  • whether the applicant learned any skills that can be used in a different job, and
  • the applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

For the purposes of the grids, the SSA divides applicants into the following age groups:

  • younger individuals (18 through 49)
  • closely approaching advanced age (50 to 54)
  • advanced age (55 and over), and
  • closely approaching retirement age (60 and over).

The older you are, the less likely you are to have transferable skills into other occupations. For example, if an individual is 55 or older and is limited even to light work, or less than a full range of medium work, they may be approved for disability even if they have a high school education and their prior work was unskilled or their skills are not transferable. This is because Social Security expects a worker to take on very little vocational adjustment at this age.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

See the Grids here:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®