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Gordon Gates specializes in Social Security disability law, and he handles claims at every level of the Social Security disability claim process. He assists clients with initial applications for disability benefits, with appeals of denied claims, and with hearings by an administrative law judge.

Gordon has successfully appealed unfavorable administrative law judge decisions the Social Security Appeals Council and to U.S. District Court (District of Maine) to have those claims remanded for new hearings.

Gordon attended Maine Maritime Academy and Tulane University Law School. At Tulane, he served as Senior Articles Editor of the Tulane Law Review and graduated magna cum laude. He was admitted to practice law in Maine in 1991. Since 2005, he has concentrated his law practice on Social Security disability and SSI cases.

Gordon is the publisher of Social Security Disability Lawyer, a nationally-read legal blog. He presented at the Fall 2010 conference of National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) on the topic of Writing Hearing Briefs for the ALJ.

When a concurrent Title II and Title XVI case is awarded, the claim goes to the local Field Office for a determination of SSI benefits. This process takes some time, because the claim specialist at the field office needs to make an appointment to call the claimant to document the claimant’s income and assets to determine financial eligibility (SSI is a need-based program). Then the claim gets sent to the Payment Center, where Title II benefits are calculated, and then the SSI benefits offset the Title II benefits. Therefore, concurrent cases typically take several weeks longer to get paid than straight Title II-only disability claims. This is frustrating, because the SSI claimants are the ones who often need to money the most.

The monthly Title II disability benefit (PIA) is usually greater than the monthly Title XVI SSI amount. And while the SSI benefits begin to accrue on the filing date of the claim, the disability benefit is not paid until after the 5-month waiting period after the onset date. To evaluate these payment issues, you need to compare the filing date with the onset date, and know that the eligibility date for Title II is 5 full calendar months after the onset date.

Continue Reading Title II Offset When a Representative Fee is Involved

When one of my clients is awarded disability benefits, I like to write a short letter to the local Social Security field office, asking them to quickly process the disability claim. I want the local office to send the claim promptly to the Social Security Payment Center for payment.

When the person  awarded Social Security

The Social Security Processing Centers calculate and pay a claimant’s disability benefits, once a favorable decision or determination has been made.

The SSA has posted on its site the telephone numbers for the various processing centers. These numbers are for attorney and non-attorney Representatives to call, rather than individual disability claimants.

Disability cases are broken

A client with long-haul COVID symptoms was recently awarded Social Security disability benefits at the initial stage of review. That was great news. But when Social Security allows a disability claim at the initial or reconsideration level of review, they don’t tell you why; they just pay the disability benefits.

I wanted to know

I’m not the person I used to be.

Social Security disability applicants sometimes tell me this when I meet with them to discuss their claims. At the hearing, I will ask them to explain to the judge why they are a different person today than when they were able to work. It is usually compelling

When I see that a Social Security disability case has been closed, I review the ALJ decision online long before the paper copy arrives in the mail. For unfavorable decisions, of course you are looking at the reasoning of the decision, and for flaws that would support an appeal to the Appeals Council.

But it

Social Security requires a medically determinable physical or mental impairment as the basis for a finding of disability. The “medically determinable” language is part of the definition of disability in the Social Security Act itself. See 42 U.S.C. 423(d)(1)(A).

The impairment(s) must result from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically