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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13394
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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Can SS reduce your monthly benefit without an explanation?

Customer Question

Can SS reduce your monthly benefit without an explanation? I've called and gone to the local office and received two different explanations. One was possible fraud the other for lacking a birth certificate,, a request made by the SS dept in 2004
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Did they send you a letter telling you they were reducing?

What benefit are you receiving? And how much is it usually?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Recently changed auto deposit from saving acct to checking acct at same bank. 4 days later received letter stating 12/15 benefit would be reduced from $1449. to $812.50 minus medicare fee $707. No explanation but instructions on how to appeal. How do you appeal without an explanation? This is survivor benefit that has been in place since 12/04
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Called SS# ***** letter the rep thought their might be fraud involved. Looked to her as if some money was being sent overseas. The is for my mother and she asked if she had ever lived or travelled outside U.S. My mother has never traveled outside US and has never been issued a passport. She advised to go to local office and give them this info. She was following it up with an e-mail.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Local office could not verify this info but instead printed a ltr dated 11/16/04 requesting original birthcertificate of my mother.
They say lack of this document was the cause of benefit being reduced. This doesn't make sense to me, but we went back to the office with the birth certificate and now they say it could take 14 days ormore before we have any answers. My mother currently lives on SS benefit alone. I am concernd that this may take months to resolve and what can we do if they do not reinstate the original amount
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

You send notice of appeal to appeal it. Send it certified mail, r.r.r. so you have proof of the SSA's receipt. They may have told you to send an SSA-561 or HA-501. But yes, APPEAL and in that cover letter, specify that she wishes that her benefits CONTINUE pending the appeal.

Now, you indicate that it is your mom's SS business and not yours. This means, typically, that SSA will not work with you and you have no standing. But, if you get your mom to sign a SSA-1696, ASAP, and you fill it out and sign it also, you can be her appointed representative and SSA MUST work with you on her behalf.

Once she appeals (or you do it as her rep), at some point, if not corrected before then, it goes to ALJ hearing and the ALJ when he decides the "answer" will have to fully document with evidence and law, how he came to his decision. But I think this should resolve before then. As her rep, you can also ask for a complete copy of her SS file/folder on CD - and in there you should find all the chit chat behind the scenes that led to this horror show.

Even though you are appealing, you can also try your Congressman - explain that they have cut her benefit but NOT given her a reason, that you are appealing, but you wan't the details so you know what you are appealing OR you want it fixed right away. Can't hurt. But DON'T neglect to appeal timely, and with PROOF that you got it in on time.

Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions.

Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions. Be sure to start future posts with "To ***** Esq., ONLY" if you want me to specifically answer it.

Sincerely, ***** ***** Joy, Esq.

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Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 1 year ago.

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