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Stephanie O Joy, Esq
Stephanie O Joy, Esq, Soc. Sec. Attorney
Category: Social Security
Satisfied Customers: 13281
Experience:  19+ years legal exp. - 10+ years owning/operating her own SSD Law practice.
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My wife has been on SSI for about 6 years now, and, just

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My wife has been on SSI for about 6 years now, and, just recently, turned 62, leading to a letter from SS that they were dropping her from the SSI rolls and giving her her regular SS benefits starting in Sept of this year. I retired 3 years ago now, and problems seemed to have started about the same time she was granted SSI. On her application, I told them of a annuity I had that would not mature until I retired, and ther estimated amount the annuity held at that time. When I retired, I told them that the annuity had matured and would pay me $200.00/m starting about the same time my SS benefits would begin (Mar. 2013) When I first told them of my annuity when Ellen applied for SSI, they said we did not have to worry about it, as costs to make early withdrawls would be prohibitive. No effects on Ellen's SSI benefits occured during the last 3 years. When the paperwork to change Ellen over from SSI to SS benefits, S*** hit the fan. We were first told we owed a small fortune, overpayment for the almost full 6 years Ellen was on SSI. Informing SS that I told them of the annuity long ago, after 30-45 days, I received a notice that, yes, I properly reported the annuity, BUT, Ellen's SS records and my SS records were not properly cross referanced at the time in their computers (I became Ellen's guarden, conservitor, and all the rest (with the coarts blessings, and recorded on Ellen's SS records when assiugned
My wife, Ellen, suffered a major stroke nearly 6 years ago now, and we applied to Social Security for disability benefits, were denied, and she was approved for SSI benefits. When we applied, we gave them all required income information. Part of that information given was I had an annuity, set up long before I met and married Ellen, (now 15 years together) its estimated value at that time (between 32and 34,000.00) and the prohibitive costs ($9,500.00) to withdraw from the annuity until it matured before my retirement. Were told not to worry about the annuity, it would not effect Ellen's SSI benefits. About the same time, I was granted, by the courts, the guardenship and conservitor for Ellen, which was recorded in Ellen's SS records by the office when I received the paperwork from the courts.
3 years later, (and now almost 3 years ago now) I was forced to retire at 62, mostly due to providing the care Ellen required nearly 24/7. When I retired, my annuity became mature, paying $200.00/m until the annuity either ran out, or I passed on, the balance going to my estate. I informed SS of the annuity when I retired.
No effects were made on Ellen's SSI payments, now for the past 3 years, until Ellen turned 62 in August of this year. May of this year, we received a letter informing us that SS will drop Ellen from their SSI program and move her over to receive her regular SS benefits. We mailed the required paperwork in, including, now for the 3rd time, the information on my income including the annuity, and all hell broke loose.
We were first informed by SS in June of this year that we were overpaid the entire emount Ellen had received since she was on the SSI program (almost $38,000.00). Phone calls and visits to our local Caldwell, ID. SS office brought the amount owed down to $4,800) with an appoligy from the office that it was partly their mistake, they had not properly cross referanced Ellen's SSI and my SS records (as I was, on record, her conservitor.) She was approved for, and would begin to receive her regular SS benefits in September 2016 of $633.00/m minus $78 (now to be $585) until the $4,800 is repaid. A couple of weeks later, we received another letter stating that her SS benefits will be delayed until Oct. 2016, no reasoning given for decision.
We, today, Sept. 3rd, 16, received a letter from SS that Ellen is now back on the SSI program, and will only receive $182.00/m, and they will deduct $73.30 each month giving her the remaining $108.70 as her SSI benefit until the $4,800 is repaid.
To say the least, I am more than a little bit confused and just about totally flustrated. I can no longer call either of our 2 closest SS offices (Caldwell and Boise, ID) to make an appointment, now having to call their 800 number (45 minutes to 1-1/2 hour waiting to speak to a real person) to get an appointment to either office. To personally appear at one of their offices with out an appointment, another 45 minutes to 1-1/2 hour to speak to a person. I have attempted to contact a every local attorney who says they handle SS problems to represent us in this mess, after initial conceltation, told they do not handle such matters, getting refered to yet another attorney, same outcome.
Any help, hopefully, would be greatly appreciated. I feel I'm facing a very mean, nasty, hungry lion with nothing but a tooth pick to defend myself and my wife
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Social Security
Expert:  Stephanie O Joy, Esq replied 3 months ago.

Hi, my name is***** and I am here to assist you. I am a social security attorney in my private practice – that is ALL I do. Please let me know that my post here is coming through for you by typing a quick reply.

Please excuse the typos below - I had to use MS word because your post was lengthy, and for some reason it puts two words together at times when I cut and paste.

"My wife, Ellen, suffered a major stroke nearly 6 years ago now, and we appliedto Social Security for disability benefits, were denied, and she was approvedfor SSI benefits. ---------- That wouldtypicallymean that she did not work sufficiently in a tax paying capacity tohave bought Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits.

When we applied, wegave them all required income information. Part of that information given was Ihad an annuity, set up long before I met and married Ellen, (now 15 years together)its estimated value at that time (between 32and 34,000.00) and the prohibitivecosts ($9,500.00) to withdraw from the annuity until it matured before myretirement. Were told not to worry about the annuity, it would not effectEllen's SSI benefits. --------Unfortunately, cost prohibitive aspects to not negate the fact that it is anasset that you could legally invade to survive. If it were the kind that you had no legal ability to invade, it wouldnot be counted as her asset (hers because she is married to you), such ascertain pensions. So, double check yourSSI application to determine if you accurately reported it or not. If you did, you can at least say you reportedit and SSA screwed up, causing the overpayment and misinformation. Not that it will change the fact of theoverpayment (and SSA generally refuses to take financial responsibility when itmisinforms), but it could change the aspect of paying it back. Or find out for sure if it is the countabletype of retirement benefit or one of the few that are not.

About the same time,I was granted, by the courts, the guardenship and conservitor for Ellen, whichwas recorded in Ellen's SS records by the office when I received the paperworkfrom the courts. ------- OK, you wouldgenerally use an appointment of Representative to communicate with the SSA onher behalf. But either way, should not effect the SSI issue.

3 years later, (and now almost 3 years ago now) I was forced to retire at 62,mostly due to providing the care Ellen required nearly 24/7. -------- That is unfortunate. May have been better to hire someone.

When I retired, myannuity became mature, paying $200.00/m until the annuity either ran out, or Ipassed on, the balance going to my estate. I informed SS of the annuity when Iretired. -------- I thought you said youreported it when Ellen filed for SSI?

No effects were made on Ellen's SSI payments, now for the past 3 years, ------- OK. Again, this may be effected by whether Ellen actually reported theannuity in her actual SSI application.

until Ellen turned 62in August of this year. May of this year, we received a letter informing usthat SS will drop Ellen from their SSI program and move her over to receive herregular SS benefits. -------- Yes,whenever someone collected the federal welfare, once they become eligible totake other income such as social security, inheritance income, etc., thatincome now counts as “countable income” that can reduce or eliminateeligibility for the welfare (the SSI is welfare, it is not socialsecurity). So really, she had an autoapplication for social security, either on her own record or as a spouse, thatshe was eligible for.

We mailed the required paperwork in, including, now for the 3rd time, theinformation on my income including the annuity, and all hell broke loose.

We were first informed by SS in June of this year that we were overpaid theentire emount Ellen had received since she was on the SSI program (almost$38,000.00). Phone calls and visits to our local Caldwell, ID. SS officebrought the amount owed down to $4,800) with an appoligy from the office thatit was partly their mistake, they had not properly cross referanced Ellen's SSIand my SS records (as I was, on record, her conservitor.) ------- Again,you need to determine the kind of retirement benefit you had --- if the bulkdid not count by merely owning it (which sounds like they may have decided), itmay be that for the 3 years you were getting the $200/mo from it, put hercountable income over the SSI amount by some amount, creating an overpayment ofsome amount (not ALL the SSI) for 3 years… If it was 4800, divided by 36months, that would be about 133/mo. she was overpaid.

She was approved for, and would begin to receive her regular SS benefits inSeptember 2016 of $633.00/m minus $78 (now to be $585) until the $4,800 isrepaid. -------- OK. Know two that she can potentially ask thatthe overpayment be paid via a different payment plan, such as $25/mo. Show the hardship.

A couple of weeks later, we received another letter stating that her SSbenefits will be delayed until Oct. 2016, no reasoning given for decision. --------- Hmm. It may be that she is DUE a payment in Sept., but it is NOT payableuntil Oct., because we always have to live through the month to be owedit. We must survive it.

We, today, Sept. 3rd, 16, received a letter from SS that Ellen is now back onthe SSI program, and will only receive $182.00/m, and they will deduct $73.30each month giving her the remaining $108.70 as her SSI benefit until the $4,800is repaid. ------ You need to find outwhat happened to her social security. Ifthey keep it, that 4800 should be paid off rather quickly.

To say the least, I am more than a little bit confused and just about totallyflustrated. I can no longer call either of our 2 closest SS offices (Caldwelland Boise, ID) to make an appointment, now having to call their 800 number (45minutes to 1-1/2 hour waiting to speak to a real person) to get an appointmentto either office. --------- That isBS. That local office, as I understandit, is obligated to help you.

To personally appearat one of their offices with out an appointment, another 45 minutes to 1-1/2hour to speak to a person. I have attempted to contact a every local attorneywho says they handle SS problems to represent us in this mess, after initialconceltation, told they do not handle such matters, getting refered to yetanother attorney, same outcome. -------Yes, the usually only handle disability battles, not confusing numbers games. The first thing that needs to be done is findout their reasoning, which is often flawed, for the most recent change up. I’d celebrate the reduction to 4800, mostlikely, but then how it is paid back you need to determine.

Any help, hopefully, would be greatly appreciated. I feel I'm facing a verymean, nasty, hungry lion with nothing but a tooth pick to defend myself and mywife ------ So sorry, if you want tospeak, we can.

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