Trump’s Employment Freeze Causes Wait Times to Grow
If you’re waiting for a social security disability claim settlement, then you know there are few things more frustrating than biding time until your hearing — especially when the benefits you will receive are essential to your day-to-day living. As of last spring, the average wait time for a hearing was just under a year and a half, which means more than a year has gone by since those employees were unable to work. This is a serious problem within the system.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon. With Trump’s federal hiring freeze, there’s a good chance that these wait times will only get longer. One way to alleviate long wait times would be to hire more judges who could hear these cases. However, with this freeze, that’s no longer an option.
Despite the federal hiring freeze, people will continue to have a need for social security disability. Even though this freeze is temporary – it should lift when Trump’s administration can work out a new budget that supposedly accounts for the best use of Americans’ tax dollars – that doesn’t mean that will be the end of this problem.
Cases will continue to pile up until the freeze is lifted, and when the freeze is lifted it could take ages for the court system to catch up. Sorting through the backlog is going to take time. And unfortunately, most people who are waiting for a hearing, can’t afford to wait.
If you need help navigating your social security disability claim, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney at Oxner + Permar. Our free consultation can help you take the next step in getting the benefits you deserve.
Donald Trump’s Stance on Social Security
There have been a lot of strong emotions regarding this year’s presidential election. Whether or not you’re happy about it, there’s no refuting the fact that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. So regardless of your personal politics, it’s a good idea to know how the president stands on issues that are relevant to your life. For instance, what exactly is Mr. Trump’s plan for Social Security?
Donald Trump’s plan at this point is basically two-fold:
- Create jobs to pay into Social Security.
- Eliminate the “waste” from Social Security.
He believes that in order to save the Social Security program, the economy needs to be reinvigorated first. He says, “the key to preserving social security is to have an economy that is robust and growing.” This is where creating jobs comes into play. The idea is that if there are more jobs, then more people will be paying into social security. If there is more money in social security, then more people can receive the benefits they need.
When Trump talks about eliminating waste from Social Security, this refers to eliminating fraudulent claims from the system. For instance, people who have passed away, but whose families are still collecting their social security benefits. If there are fewer people pulling money from the system, then there is more money to go around to those who need it.
During one of the Republican Primary debates, Trump had mentioned being okay with the idea of limits being placed on social security based on income. Therefore, billionaires, and those who make so much money they do not need social security benefits, would not be pulling money from the system. However, Trump has not mentioned this idea again since the Primary.
If you have any legal questions about your Social Security benefits, be sure to contact an experienced attorney who can help.
What to Expect When Attending a Social Security Disability Hearing
When dealing with a Social Security Disability hearing, many people aren’t actually sure what to expect out of the proceedings. You might be expecting the type of courtroom proceeding you see on television: big wood-paneled rooms, the judge sitting on an elevated platform, a jury, and an opposing lawyer. It’s an intimidating image to say the least.
In reality, a Social Security hearing is much more akin to a conference room meeting than an episode of Law and Order. Usually there are only a handful of people in the room. Other than yourself and your attorney there is also likely to be a court reporter—who is responsible for keeping a written transcript of the proceedings—and a judge. There may also be a vocational expert whose job is to be a resource for the judge. However, more often than not, they will be on speakerphone rather than in the hearing.
Compared to the courtroom you might see on TV, a social security hearing is likely going to feel very informal. The judge will likely ask you questions directly. They could be about anything ranging from your daily life to the nature of your injury to the type of work you were doing before the onset of your disability. There are very few limits to the kinds of questions the judge can ask you, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. You may be surprised about what kinds of evidence are allowed in a Social Security Disability hearing as the rules are very different than they are for other court proceedings.
The most important thing you can do when undergoing a Social Security Disability hearing is to find an experienced attorney who can help you through the process. The mish-mash of regulations surrounding a Social Security Disability hearing are complex and don’t follow a logical structure. Having an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process will ensure that you fully understand the proceedings. Don’t go into a hearing alone, make sure that you have an attorney who’s fighting for you and your rights.
Oxner + Permar’s experienced attorneys are passionate about fighting for their clients. Don’t go into a Social Security Disability hearing alone: go with an attorney who will fight for you and make sure that you are well informed every step of the way.
Is it Okay to Return to Work While You Are Waiting for Social Security Benefits?
Many of my Social Security disability clients express their desire to return to work while they are waiting for their hearing. This is understandable because hearing wait times can be very long, with many claimants forced to wait two years or more. Some clients want to work part-time out of dire financial need. Others feel a strong desire to get out of the house and re-discover a sense of purpose.
It’s not easy to know what to do—and I certain empathize with my clients’ reasons for wanting to return to work. But I always caution them: Such a decision can be perilous to a disability claim.
Why is this?
First, if you get a new job and earn more than $1,130 a month, you are engaging in what is known as “Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)”. If you earn more than the allotted SGA amount in any nine months of a 60-month period, this automatically disqualifies you from receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
For claimants who earns less than $1,130, the decision to get a job still can jeopardize the claim. In fact, if a judge has reason to believe that a claimant could be earning more than the SGA amount but is intentionally working less they can, and often will, use that as a basis for denying the claim. So is important to be careful and make informed decisions about employment.
All in all, the decision to return to work is a difficult one and varies from client to client. When clients come to me for guidance, they are confused and unsure how to move forward. I help them understand all that is at risk and all that they have to gain in the decision of whether or not to return to work. It is my job—and the job of my colleagues at Oxner + Permar—to help you feel knowledgeable and confident about all of the steps involved in your Social Security disability claim.