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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.

New evidence for Social Security claims must be submitted 5 business days ahead of the hearing. See 20 CFR 404.935(a) and HALLEX I-2-5-13. With a typical weekend, that’s 7 days ahead of the hearing. Holidays, which are of course not business days, must be accounted for as well. So beware the 3-day holiday weekend.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is the amount of money that one can earn and still qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The amount is adjusted each year for inflation, as shown by this table. In 2023, the amount is $1,470. For 2024, the SGA amount goes up to $1,550.

The SGA amount is important

Social Security has published a proposed rule that shortens the lookback period for past relevant work (PRW) from the current 15 years to a 5 year period. The proposed rule would recognize that claimants often do not remember the details of a job held 15 years ago. Further, that past job has limited relevance to

NOSSCR developed a “Hearing Format Election Statement,” which is an excellent one-page, fillable form that contains all four types of hearing modalities (in-person, VTC from the hearing office, telephone, and online video) and allows for a simple way to notify the hearing office of how the claimant wants to appear at their hearing.

Using NOSSCR’s

Social security has published a proposed rule which would reduce the period for past relevant work (PRW) from 15 to 5 years. The proposal is the result of a great deal of research by Social Security, and it presents a practical improvement to the disability adjudication process.

The proposed rule is currently in the comment

One of the quirky things about disability claims at the initial and reconsideration levels is that Social Security does not send you a letter when you are awarded disability benefits. A denial letter is quickly sent if a claim is denied, but not so with claims that are allowed. A letter is sent