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Ask Lane Your Own Question
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 9696
Experience:  Law Degree, specialization in Tax Law and Corporate Law, CFP and MBA, Providing Financial, Social Security & Tax advice since 1986
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My wife, a holder of a permanent green card. married to me

Customer Question

My wife, a holder of a permanent green card. married to me (US citizen) for more than 10 years was denied benefits for 20 years. She was eligible in Jan. 1993. She was repeatedly told she was not eligible because she was not a citizen. We finally found a social worker who said she was and has been eligible for all these years. She was hospitalized in 2007 for a heart attack and we spent all of our savings on doctors and hospital bills. I have a letterfrom Social Security dated 1995 saying she is ineligible when, in fact she WAS eligible! What can we do to recoup our lost benefits? Robert W. Tom/ Pepita G. Tom; 24292 Via Santa Clara; Mission Viejo, CA 92692; Telephone(###) ###-####
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Lane replied 5 months ago.
Hi,...You are completely correct....The Social Security system functions on a fundamentally simple principle: As you work in the country, you pay Social Security taxes, which in turn earns you social security “credits”.You can earn maximum up to 4 “credits” in a year....As you know Green Card Holders, just as othert tax residents such as US citizdens, need 40 “credits” (equivalent to 10 years of work or 40 quarters) to be eligible for Social Security Benefits....New Immigrants and Green Card Holders sometimes confuse Social Security Benefits with Medicare. They are not interrelated....They are two separate bodies governed by the Federal government. When you enjoy the Social Security Benefits, you get a certain amount of cash in your hand depending upon your benefit....Whereas Medicare provides health insurance for immigrants and green card holders who are 65 years and older....(I wanted to lay the foundation, because you mentioned health care costs. I'm guessing, however, based on the information you provided, that you know the difference)....Honestly your VERY best bet for getting a retroactive lump sum is to work with a Social Security attorney licensed in California. Getting THESE kinds of benefits are exactlly what "social security" attorneys do, (their "bread and butter.")...There IS a process for appealing through the social security system; Generally, there are four levels of appeal. They are:• Reconsideration;• Hearing by an administrative law judge;• Review by the Appeals Council; and• Federal Court review....But given the time frames allowed for doing it this way, hiring an attorney (social security attorneys almost exclusively work on contingency - meaning that they are paid from your settlement, not up front) and going directly to the appropriate federal district court (California Central District Court, Santa Ana) is likely your most expedient and likely successful path....Here's a list of Social Security Lawyers servicing your area.
Expert:  Lane replied 5 months ago.
You could go this on your own - but again, using an attorney (given all that may be gained here) is likely the best was not to get simply bogged down in the system, or simply get another denial from the front lines....Please let me know if you have any questions at all....If this HAS helped, and you DON’T have other questions … I'd appreciate a positive rating (using the faces or stars on your screen, and then clicking “submit”)…I receive no crediting at all unless you rate in this way....Thank you!Lane……I hold a law degree (JD, Juris Doctorate), with concentration in Tax Law, Estate law & Corporate law, an MBA, with specialization in finance & tax, as well as CFP® and CRPS designations. - I’ve been providing financial, Social Security/Medicare, estate, corporate, both for-profit and non-profit, and tax advice, on three continents, since 1986