Thursday, December 30, 2010

SSA Notice of Awards

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) sends a Notice of Award (“Notice”) if a disability claim is approved. The Notice provides information such as the amount of the monthly and/or retroactive benefits. The Notices regularly contain errors, such as incorrect disability onset dates, and therefore they should be reviewed carefully.

One of my clients sent me a Notice that she received today. Despite the fact that the SSA knew that I was representing the claimant, had called me about the claimant several times, and had sent me a dozen pieces of correspondence concerning her claim, the Notice revealed that the SSA failed to withhold the attorney fee.

I immediately notified the claimant about the SSA error. The claimant was happy to learn about the Notice’s mistake before spending her award. There have been many other occasions where the SSA failed to send me Notices, which resulted in delaying informing the claimant that the attorney fee had not been deducted from their retroactive benefit check.

It seems the longer it takes the claimant to learn about such errors, the more they feel as if they “lost” benefits. It is in everyone’s best interest to rectify these discrepancies as soon as possible. I always advise claimants to let me know when they receive Notices for this and other reasons. For example, earlier this month I was able to get the SSA to correct the Notice’s disability onset date and issue three additional months of benefits before the benefits were processed, which avoided a protracted process had they already been processed.

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