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Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Social Security Administration Offices Close Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

SSA Office Closures

This week, the Social Security Administration announced widespread SSA office closures effective March 17, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 1,200 offices essentially shuttered across the country, many disabled or elderly beneficiaries have been left wondering what will happen to their benefits, case appeals, etc. 

During these uncertain times, Social Security Disability Advocates USA would like to reassure our current, past, and prospective clients that although we intend to comply with any and all mandates regarding non-essential business closures, our legal team will be available remotely to assist our most vulnerable population whenever possible. 

If you are in need of immediate assistance regarding social security, contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

How Long Will SSA Office Closures Last?

At this time, the Social Security Administration has not specified how long its offices will remain closed, citing safety concerns affecting older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions in addition to its employees. 

Updates regarding SSA office closures can be found here.

What if I Had An Appointment At My Local SSA Office?

If you had an appointment scheduled after March 17, 2020, contact your local SSA office. Although all offices are currently closed to the public, many are still staffed by SSA employees assisting patrons over the phone and online. If your local office is not accepting calls, you can call the national number listed above.

Which Social Security Services Can Be Completed Online?

The good news for those with canceled in-office appointments is that many services related to social security can be completed online at ssa.gov/onlineservices/. These services include:

  • Applying for benefits (retirement, disability, medicare)
  • Appealing a decision
  • Checking your application status
  • Estimating retirement benefits
  • Reviewing your earnings history & statements
  • Accessing your 1099
  • Setting up direct deposit
  • Viewing proof of your benefits

What Services Are Available to the Severely Disabled?

For those whose disabilities make it impossible to access services remotely, some SSA field offices will allow in-person assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. This service will only be available to those with dire circumstances, including:

  • Reinstatement of benefits due to extreme situations
  • Assistance for those who are blind, deaf, or otherwise significantly disabled
  • Those suffering from terminal illness
  • Those with critical needs for eligibility decisions regarding Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid

Those who require these crucial in-person services must call in advance. 

Will I Continue to Receive My Benefits?

In short, the more than 69-million people who receive benefits will continue to receive their monthly payments regardless of the SSA office closures. The COVID-19 pandemic has no bearing on payments at this time, whether you receive your benefits via mail or by direct deposit. 

The Social Security Administration does recommend that those receiving payments by mail set up direct deposit online, which allows payments to be received more quickly, efficiently, and securely. It also prevents any mail delivery delays that may occur within the United States Postal Service.

Should I Be Worried About Social Security Scams?

There have unfortunately been some reports of social security scams via threatening robocalls and infectious computer malware in the midst of the pandemic. The Better Business Bureau released an advisory letting Americans know which scams to watch for during this precarious time.

Keep in mind that the Social Security Administration will never send threatening letters or emails demanding immediate payment or personal information such as your social security number.

For more on the ultimate disability secrets and information about how to get the most monthly compensation for your disability, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

Where to Get Additional Help With Your SSDI Claim

We understand that SSA office closures come during a particularly troubling time for many, especially those who rely on government assistance to pay their bills and feed their families. If you need legal assistance with your disability claim, Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here to help. Call us at 602-952-3200 to speak with an experienced social security lawyer. You can also chat online with a live representative, or submit the details of your claim using our secure contact form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
401(k) and Social Security: What You Should Know

401(k) and Social Security: What You Should Know

401(k) and social security

Whether you’re looking forward to retirement in 30 years or it’s just around the corner, it’s important to understand the interaction between your 401(k) and your social security disability benefits. Social Security Disability Advocates USA shares everything you need to know, including information for those who are also receiving disability benefits.

Before we delve deeper, let’s take a look at the crucial differences between a 401k and social security benefits.

What Is a 401(k)?

A traditional 401(k) is a retirement savings fund often offered through an employer. Employees have the option of depositing a portion of their paycheck into their 401(k) account, and the employer may match the employee’s contribution up to a certain percentage. 401(k) earnings, employer contributions, and interest are not taxed as income, although once you make a withdrawal from your 401(k) account, that amount will be subject to taxation.

What Are the Age Requirements for 401(k) Funds?

Federal law requires all employers who offer 401(k) benefits to extend those benefits to any employee who is 21 years old or older and who has worked for the company for at least one year. 

You generally have full access to 401(k) funds once you have reached 59 ½ years old. It is also possible to make a withdrawal from your 401(k) before you have reached this age if you have demonstrated financial hardship such as disability or unemployment. If you wish to make a withdrawal from your 401(k) outside of these circumstances, however, you will be required to pay tax penalties on the amount withdrawn.

What Are Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Social security includes benefits received by those with disabilities, widows or widowers, and retirees. Social security retirement contributions are automatically deducted from employee paychecks in the form of Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes. These taxes are part of the pay-as-you-go structure of social security. 

In other words, your contributions to social security provide funding for current beneficiaries, while others’ future contributions allow you to collect your due benefits at retirement. You can begin collecting social security retirement benefits at 62 years old, although your monthly benefits will increase the longer you wait to retire, with benefits maxing out when you’re 70 years old.

Do 401(k) Contributions Reduce Social Security Benefits?

401(k) contributions do not reduce the amount of social security benefits you receive. This is because although 401(k) contributions are not subject to income tax at the time of your contributions, they are still subject to social security taxes. 

So although you’ll owe income taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, you won’t owe any additional social security taxes. Bottom line, it is possible to maximize your retirement savings by utilizing both a 401(k) and social security without being penalized.

Can I Collect Disability Benefits And Have a 401(k)?

You can still qualify for disability benefits while withdrawing money from your 401(k). You will also be able to withdraw funds from your private 401(k) early with no tax penalty, as long as you have already paid your social security taxes on those contributions and have a qualifying disability.

Can I Collect Disability Benefits and Social Security Retirement Benefits?

Unfortunately, beneficiaries cannot collect both social security disability benefits and retirement benefits simultaneously. However, you may be able to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to help bolster your disability benefits. 

It should be noted that the qualifying criteria for SSI can be stringent, including income restrictions that take 401(k) earnings into account. A social security benefits lawyer may be able to help you with the application or appeals process if your application was denied.

Need Help With 401(k) and Social Security?

Trying to plan for retirement is confusing enough as it is. If you’re also dealing with a life-changing disability that disrupts your ability to work, you may be wondering what you can do to ensure that you’ll still be able to support yourself in retirement. 

The Social Security Administration is notorious for complicated applications, lengthy wait times, denials, and confusing appeals processes. To get the benefits you deserve, you’ll want the assistance of a qualified social security benefits attorney. Contact us today by calling 602-952-3200, chatting with a representative online, or submitting the details of your case using our secure contact form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
Top 5 Adaptive Sports for Staying Active With a Disability

Top 5 Adaptive Sports for Staying Active With a Disability

adaptive sports and recreation

Studies have shown that regular exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, can boost mood and energy levels. But staying active when you have a cognitive or physical disability can sometimes be difficult. Adaptive sports and recreation activities aim to make it easier for those with different abilities to reap the physical and mental benefits of exercise.

Due to all of these benefits, it’s important for those of all ages and all ability levels to find an exercise routine that works for them. Additionally, it is just as important for them to always consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. Check out this list of the top five adaptive sports for staying active with a disability, brought to you by our team at Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

What Are Adaptive Sports and Recreation?

Adaptive sports are inclusively designed to match the abilities of different individuals. More specifically, existing sports and activities are modified in order to make them more accessible for people with different ability levels, both physical and mental.  

Adaptive sports include both competitive athletic events and purely recreational activities, meaning everyone—from professional athletes to workout novices—can enjoy the rewards of adaptive sports and recreation.

Swimming

Swimming is a great low-impact sport. It’s also extremely easy to modify and adapt for varying levels of mobility and endurance. Another major benefit of swimming as an adaptive sport? It requires little to no adaptive equipment. Swimming also builds endurance and provides heart-healthy aerobic exercise. Swimming can be done one-on-one or in group aqua fitness classes, which often offer built-in modifications.

Horseback Riding

Equine-assisted therapy, also called hippotherapy, has been recognized as an invaluable resource for those suffering from physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities for more than half a century.

Those with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy and movement or balance disorders have been shown to benefit significantly from this type of exercise. Horseback riding also boosts coordination, muscle tone, and often provides a sense of relaxation and confidence in riders.

Paddling

If you enjoy being on the water, paddling can be a very versatile adaptive sport. It includes canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and rowing. Many of these sports incorporate tandem riders, making it easier for those with disabilities to participate with their caretakers. Modifications to allow for adaptive grips or positioning are also easily accessible.

Cycling

Cycling offers many benefits—exercise, the opportunity to appreciate the outdoors, and even an alternative form of transportation. Handcycles, recumbent bikes, two-wheelers, and tandem bikes make it possible for people with all kinds of ability levels to cycle, either solo or in a group. 

Those with visual impairments, balance issues, and limb mobility impairments can all take part in cycling. Amputees can also enjoy cycling, often only requiring slight modifications to utilize these types of bikes.

Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball is a fun way to engage in competitive team sports and foster social bonds with others. In this adaptive sport, participants remain seated on the ground and use a shorter net and a smaller volleyball court. 

Aside from these modifications, no additional equipment is required, and players can get an excellent core and upper body workout. 

Have Questions About Your Social Security  Disability Benefits?

Through social security disability benefits, you may be able to offset the cost of adaptive equipment or membership fees to adaptive sports and recreation centers near you. For more on the ultimate disability secrets the Social Security Administration doesn’t want you to know about and how to get the most monthly compensation for your disability, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA. 

Wondering how to check on your SSDI application status? We’ve got you covered. You can reach us by phone at 602-952-3200, visit our office during regular business hours, submit the details of your case online, or chat with a live representative now. 

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
Age and Social Security: How the Two Interact

Age and Social Security: How the Two Interact

how age affects social security benefits
It’s important to know how age affects social security benefits. SSDA USA is here with a primer.

Millions of people receive social security retirement and disability benefits. However, not everyone receives an equal amount, and one critical factor in your benefits calculation will be your age. But how does age affect social security benefits? Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with the answers. 

How Age Affects Disability Benefits

The truth is that people of nearly any age can receive social security disability benefits. Even children under the age of 18 can receive disability benefits, so long as they suffer “marked and severe” functional limitations as a result of their disability.

Furthermore, if a child over age 18 but younger than age 22 becomes disabled, they may also be eligible for disability benefits. However, in evaluating their eligibility, they are treated as an adult rather than a child; i.e., the standard of whether they can work matters most, and the “marked and severe” functional limitation criteria is eliminated. Because they are considered an adult child by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the parents’ earnings records will be considered before granting the adult child social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Adults younger than their full retirement age may also be eligible for benefits. Generally speaking, the closer you are to full retirement age, the more favorable your case may be. For instance, if you are age 30, literate, have little formal education, and are unable to perform sedentary work, you may be denied benefits. Contrast this with a 50-year-old with the same characteristics, and they may be approved for benefits.

How Age Affects Retirement Benefits

Aside from disability benefits, there is the issue of retirement benefits. Note that SSDI benefits automatically transition into retirement benefits when a person reaches full retirement age. Additionally, the rigorous criteria associated with maintaining disability benefits are eliminated.

Regarding retirement benefits specifically, though, a person can claim benefits as early as age 62, and the benefits max out at age 70. Generally, a person’s retirement age is anywhere from age 65 to 67. Here is a specific chart detailing exact retirement ages:

Year of BirthFull Retirement Age (FRA)
1937 or earlier65
193865 and 2 months
193965 and 4 months
194065 and 6 months
194165 and 8 months
194265 and 10 months
1943–195466
195566 and 2 months
195666 and 4 months
195766 and 6 months
195866 and 8 months
195966 and 10 months
1960 or later67

Now, how does age affect retirement benefits? The earlier you claim, the lower your benefits amount will be. For example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you claim at age 62, your retirement benefits amount in each check is permanently reduced by 30%. The reason for this is so people claiming earlier don’t have an unfair advantage over those waiting to claim their benefits.

If you claim earlier, you’ll receive more checks over your lifetime, but each check will be worth less. Conversely, waiting until age 70 means fewer checks, but with a greater amount in each check. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide when you want to claim your retirement benefits.

Have Questions about How Age Affects Social Security Benefits?

If you have questions regarding how age affects social security benefits, contact an SSDA USA advocate right away for guidance. Our compassionate staff and attorneys work hard on your behalf to get you your benefits. Call us now for a free consultation at (602) 952-3200, or chat with us online via our contact form or our convenient LiveChat feature.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

New Threats to Watch: Social Security Scam Updates

New Threats to Watch: Social Security Scam Updates

social security fake documents scams
The new social security fake documents scams are underway. SSDA USA is here with helpful tips on how to keep an eye out.

Millions of people depend on social security benefits every day. It’s no surprise, then, that social security benefits are a hot target for scammers. There are many ways someone could scam a person into losing money, but social security beneficiaries, in particular, need to be mindful of a new, deceptive tactic. Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here to help you stay on the lookout.

How Do Scammers Operate?

Scammers contact victims through a variety of media, but there is one common thread among all scammers: They want to steal your information and money. It’s as simple as that. 

Typically, scammers may contact you saying they need you to verify some personal information, such as your phone number, credit card number, or even your social security number.

Additionally, some brazen scammers will threaten victims with arrest, suspension of social security number (which is a made up idea), cancellation of social security benefits, etc. The idea is to scare the victim into compliance. And such tactics often work.

Previously, many scammers operated by using robocalls, or recordings that instructed victims to give out identifying information. The calls included warnings claiming that the victim’s social security number was associated with criminal activity and needed to be validated to ensure a clean record. 

Now, however, scammers have stepped up their game and are employing new tactics to prey upon the innocent.

What Is the New Scam?

The new method is known as social security fake documents scams. That’s right. Scammers are now sending fake letters and emails to victims that appear to be from the Social Security Administration or from the Social Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG). 

Such documents may have copies of the official SSA logo and other markers that may mislead the victim to believe the document is legitimate. However, keep in mind that these documents may contain grammatical errors, and are therefore a sign of fraudulent undertakings.

Additionally, remember the following points so you can distinguish genuine SSA contact from scammers:

  • The SSA will never threaten you if you refuse to pay a fine/fee
  • The SSA will never inform you of a social security number suspension—such a phenomenon doesn’t exist
  • A social security worker will never ask for your social security number over the phone
  • Social security workers will never ask for debit card, credit card, or other payment information over the phone
  • Social security workers will never promise a benefits increase in exchange for cooperating with payment

What Should I Do?

If you believe you are the victim of a social security fake documents scam, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation.

  • If you believe a phone call is suspicious, HANG UP. Report the call to the genuine Social Security Administration number by calling 1 (800) 772-1213
  • Do NOT click on any links in suspicious social security emails
  • Never give away personal information in suspicious phone calls or emails
  • Contact your local law enforcement agency and report the suspicious activity

Concerned About Social Security Fake Documents Scams?

Contact the SSA directly if you are concerned about a social security scam. If you have questions about filing for or appealing a denial for social security disability benefits, then contact us. We know that social security benefits are crucial for many Americans, and it’s natural to be concerned that you’re receiving the correct amount. 

At Social Security Disability Advocates USA, we offer free consultations. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200, or chat with us online through our LiveChat feature or an online contact form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.