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Author Topic: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?  (Read 4044 times)

SteelSpine

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Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« on: May 19, 2017, 09:13:31 AM »
Hey all,

I had my hearing in front of an ALJ in June of last year (2016).  I had a pretty long wait before my decision arrived - it finally came in the mail four and a half months later, in late October (2016).  Another four months ticked by before my first monthly payment was deposited in my checking account (early February 2017).  We're now in May - next week will mark seven months since I received my Fully Favorable Decision - and I still haven't received my back pay.

All through the long wait for my ALJ hearing date, the wait for my decision, the wait for my first monthly payment and now the wait for my back pay, I had never once called the 800 number or my local Social Security office.  My reasons for not calling are many - I have serious social anxiety and hate talking on the phone, I wasn't sure which number was best to call, I've read here (and other places) that calling doesn't help much, and I was worried that calling and inquiring might "pull my case out of the queue" and cause the wait to be longer.  Having said that, I finally broke down yesterday and called the 800 number (while sweating profusely and feeling like my chest was gonna cave in).  I didn't get anywhere.  The representative I talked to said it's "at the processing center", and that they were probably checking to see if I was eligible for SSI during the years I claimed (I wasn't eligible - my wife makes too much money, which is why I didn't apply for SSI).  I asked if there was anything I could do, like writing a letter to tell them I didn't want or qualify for SSI, and the rep told me that it probably wouldn't do much good since they were already in the process of checking the back years over.  I asked if there was some sort of a timeline; could I hope to see something in 30 days?  60?  90?, and I was told there wasn't any set timeline that she could give me, nor could she guess as to how much longer it will be.

My lawyer hasn't been very helpful.  I sent them an email via their "contact us" page last week, and haven't heard back.  When I called them last month, they said they hadn't been paid yet and they didn't know why there was a hold up, and they didn't think they would get any better results than I would by calling myself.

I probably could have claimed a "dire need" a month or two ago - I had shutoff notices for all of my utilities and was a bit behind on the rent until I borrowed money from a few family members recently - but I don't think I'd qualify as such now since I owe money to family members rather than utility companies, and I'd rather not step in front of other people who may need the money more than I do anyway.  I'm still pretty far behind on my gas bill, but it's not nearly as bad as it was before my monthly payments started.

My question is:  is there anything more I can do?  I've read that requesting a "manager to manager" phone call doesn't result in any more information nowadays..  is there another number I can call other than the 800 number, or someone I should ask to speak with?  Is there some particular turn of phrase I should use or request I could make when calling?  Is there something I could tell my lawyer to do, or someone I should ask them to call?  He and his secretary have been pretty "hands-off"  during this entire process, but it can't hurt to ask them to do something. 

Thanks for any answers or help you all can offer me!  This site has been a godsend over the past year or two.  I don't post or talk much, but the answers I've found and stories I've read have been absolutely critical in helping me navigate (and survive) this process.  :-)

SFVLance

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2017, 09:32:19 AM »
I suggest contacting your local congressperson's office for assistance.

After they get a signed form from you saying they can get the involved, go over your dire need in addition to the payment center delay, and they should be able to help.

Good luck!
Los Angeles, CA

Short Version: Filed in June 2012 at age 46; major depression + general anxiety. Denied all the way through. Fed district court remanded, 2nd hearing delayed twice (11 months total delay). Bench approval at remand hearing in March 2017. Took six months to receive most of back pay.

TraceyJuliet

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2017, 09:36:25 AM »
Oh my goodness this can't be a coincidence. I've just been scouring the internet for back pay issues. I received my fully favorable letter December 23, 2016. I have YET to receive my back pay. My disability checks started 2/22/2017. I called my attorney last week and made the inquiry. She made the call for me. When she called me back she said it had been held up (shocker) because there was supposed to be an assigned payee - I have Bipolar 1 and they thought a designated person had to be a part of my payout. My attorney got it straightened out and said the representative said it would be processed deposited in one week. It hasn't (shocker). I swear I'm better of forgetting about it. There is no rhythm or reason to the time tables. It's the government.

Nice to have you aboard.
I survived the 80's, drug rehab, twins, and divorce. None of those things were as stressful as the disability process.

Lit Love

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2017, 10:02:52 AM »
The 800 # is not the best place place to call.  Try your local office.  They do process SSI calculations.  If you do have a SSI application pending, you can pull it.  The customer service person might be wrong though.  It can be lengthy to get backpay with a large amount, but they should be able to how much longer.  If not, your best bet is contacting your local Congressperson or Senator's office.  Usually, they'll have a website which includes how they can help with release forms, etc.

Just Me

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2017, 03:47:08 PM »
If you were required to have a Representative Payee, you wouldn't be receiving your monthly benefits. You would have to have a Rep Payee for all of the money from SSA. Sometimes I wonder what purpose the 800# serves. Besides giving out inaccurate info most of the time.  I know they occasionally get things right. But for the most part they seem to make things worse.
Nerve damage in upper and lower extremities. Degenerative Disc Disease, RA.

Hope the size of a mustard seed can produce Faith that can move mountains.

TraceyJuliet

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2017, 08:18:44 PM »
If you were required to have a Representative Payee, you wouldn't be receiving your monthly benefits. You would have to have a Rep Payee for all of the money from SSA. Sometimes I wonder what purpose the 800# serves. Besides giving out inaccurate info most of the time.  I know they occasionally get things right. But for the most part they seem to make things worse.

Thanks JM. Many flaws in the system  :Main17:
I survived the 80's, drug rehab, twins, and divorce. None of those things were as stressful as the disability process.

SteelSpine

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2017, 06:08:00 AM »
Thank you very much for the advice, SFVLance and Lit Love!  I'm going to try calling my local office later today.  Hopefully they can provide me with more information.  When I googled the number to my County Office last week, the 800 number was displayed - so I called it, mistakingly believing that my call would be forwarded to whichever office was closest to my home.  I wish I would have dug a little deeper to find the correct number..  I was shocked at how basic and uninformed the information they gave me was.  The representative I spoke to was very kind and understanding, but she didn't give me any information at all - just advised me to "hang in there".  Fingers crossed that I can find out a bit more when I call later today.  If I find out anything new, I'll be sure to come back and update.

If I don't get any answers from the local office, I'm going to try calling my lawyer again.  Perhaps I'll catch his assistant on a good day and she'll be more helpful this time.  If nothing comes of that call, I'll send a message to my congressman.  Do you guys think I should send him an email via his website, or send a typed letter to his office instead?  Would it be best to tell my story in the letter, or try to keep it brief?  Even better: does anyone have a copy of a letter they sent to their representative (edited to remove personal details) that they wouldn't mind sharing on the site?  I'd imagine it would be quite helpful in drafting my own letter, not to mention others who may have the same issue in the future.

---

Just Me:  I couldn't agree more about the 800 number not really doing much good (other than confusing people).  From what I've been reading, it seems almost like the only function of the 800 number is to deflect people away from taking up case managers' time and give quick, easy answers to quick, easy questions.  It's almost as if they serve the same function as Step One of a Tech Support call:  "is your monitor turned on?  Is your computer plugged in?".  Lol.

---

TraceyJuliet:  Maybe you should give a call to your lawyer again today?  A day or two delay is one thing - a week sounds like maybe they lost you in the shuffle again.  Either way, hang in there!  It sounds like things are finally moving along for you.  Shouldn't be too long now!  :-)



SFVLance

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2017, 08:47:11 AM »
Do you guys think I should send him an email via his website, or send a typed letter to his office instead?  Would it be best to tell my story in the letter, or try to keep it brief?  Even better: does anyone have a copy of a letter they sent to their representative (edited to remove personal details) that they wouldn't mind sharing on the site? 

Take a look on your Congressperson's or Senator's website; they may have the contact-by-website screen there, or have a form you can download and either fax or email to them after completion.

Mine was a fax form. If I were in your position, I would just respond to the question 'how may we help you' with [FOR EXAMPLE]: "SSDI approved 10/16,  but have not received backpay after more than 6 months. Also dire need as utilities suspension notices have been received and are attached".

I would then give them a few days, then call the office to make sure it was seen and assigned to someone.

Los Angeles, CA

Short Version: Filed in June 2012 at age 46; major depression + general anxiety. Denied all the way through. Fed district court remanded, 2nd hearing delayed twice (11 months total delay). Bench approval at remand hearing in March 2017. Took six months to receive most of back pay.

SteelSpine

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2017, 04:06:08 AM »
Quick update on my situation:

I sent a quick message to my local congressman on Tuesday, explaining the situation and asking him for his assistance.  If I don't hear back from his office by this coming Tuesday, I'm going to give a call.  The situation has changed a bit since I contacted him earlier this week, but hopefully he can still lend me a hand in speeding things up..

I called my lawyers office on Tuesday.  The conversation went about the same as I expected:  his legal assistant said there's nothing more they can do, and the best thing I can do is call the local office.  She also told me (for the second time) that they hadn't been paid yet.  (More on that below)..  I'm so glad I won my appeal, but it certainly had very little to do with them.  Hands-down the least helpful "help" I've ever had.

In addition to my anxiety, the weather here has been awful which has caused my back and leg pain to intensify all week - so I didn't call my local SS office until yesterday morning.  My experience with the local Social Security rep was the exact opposite of the experience I had with the 800 number and my lawyer's office: he was patient, kind, and VERY helpful.  He went through my records and couldn't figure out what the holdup was, so he called the processing center and found out that for some reason the payment hadn't yet been "released".  He said as of now, it has finally been released for payment - but it still needs two more signatures and it will take up to 60 more days for me to receive my back pay.  That will bring me to 9 months of waiting since receiving my decision (and 13 months of waiting since my ALJ hearing), but at least I have a firm date to look forward to.  He said he didn't think writing a letter would do much good, since the wheels are already turning - but if I have shut-off notices for my utilities or an eviction notice I could bring it to my local office and they'll release enough funds to cover my unpaid bills.  The only thing I'm currently behind on is my gas bill, so I will bring the bill down next week and see what happens.  Also: the SS representative I spoke with told me my lawyer had been paid all the way back in DECEMBER.  His secretary told me in February and again earlier this week that they still hadn't been paid.  Pretty crappy thing to do to a client who has only called your office three times - but I guess that's what I get for not being a squeaky wheel.

Moral of the story:  if it's been 60 or 90 days and you haven't received your back pay, CALL YOUR LOCAL OFFICE!  I have no clue why they didn't release my funds until I called yesterday, but I think my wait would have been much shorter if I had listened to the nagging voice in the back of my mind and called sooner. Live and learn, I guess.

SteelSpine

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2017, 12:54:40 PM »
I can't edit my post (since I don't have the requisite 50 posts needed to do so), so this is more of an add-on to what I posted this morning:  Have any of you guys or gals who have been here for a while or have worked for SSA ever heard of a similar situation to what I outlined above?  I keep obsessing about it this morning, and it just seems so wrong to me that I'm looking at another 2 month wait after waiting 7 months already.  Especially since it would appear that the reason the wait has been so long is because of a mistake somewhere along the line on SSA's part.  I prepared myself for a 6-7 month wait for my back pay when I received my decision back in October because I've read a handful of posts from other members that had to wait that long due to their backpay being of an amount that requires 3 signatures (like mine) - which is one of the biggest reasons I waited to long to call anyone - but it seems like 9 months is a bit excessive.  Especially given the fact that my lawyer was paid 5 months ago. 

There are plenty of people in more dire straits than I am at the moment, and I'm sure there are people who have waited longer, but man do I feel like pulling my hair out over this.  I know short of claiming Dire Need there isn't much recourse for me, and I don't think my situation qualifies as such because I'm only seriously behind on my gas bill at the moment..  but it just feels wrong that I should have to wait even longer than I already have due to an "unforced error". 

Sorry for the long, whiny post.   I just felt the need to vent for a minute.  You all know how it is - frustration is the name of the game.  If you made it this far without skipping to the next post, thanks for listening.  :-)

Lit Love

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2017, 01:13:57 PM »
You can request intervention from a politician if your local office didn't rectify yo h r problem to your satisfaction.  It might speed things up, it might not. 

Maymay72

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2017, 02:56:30 PM »
Hello everyone, I'm so glad I came across this site! I understand now that I'm not the only one struggling with ssdi. I was approved in August 2016. I requested a hearing after being denied twice with the help of an attorney. The judge reviewed file and approved me without  a hearing.

I was injured on my job in September 2013 back injury, at L5 S1, I lifted a patient, I'm an LPN and twisted at the same time which herniated my discuss severely, and caused pinched nerves. Neurosurgeon wanted to do a fusion, but realized I had DDD, and arthritis in my spine.

Anyway, I went through the worker's compensation  ordeal, eventually settled my case for a lump sum payment of a minute amount. I tried to handle my pain and return to full duties well that was wrong decision!  The neurosurgeon told me I will never be able to stand, sit, long...I decided to apply for ssdi then.

Well to make a long story short. I have not received a payment from ssdi. They claim they didn't have my settlement papers, and didn't want to overpay me! I got my award letter at that time. I was told to bring them in. The next day I took them to the local office, I was told to give them 30 days! Well after 30 days, no payment or information. I called and was told it was processing another month went by no payment or information was told it's processing.

In January I contacted my Congressman's office, they were told by ssdi I failed to turn in settlement papers. I took them to the local office again! Another month went by so in March I called the local office, got hold to a manager and explained to her my situation. She looked at my file and told me to come to the office immediately. I went in ask for her, and she apologized, and told me my settlement papers were never sent to the processing center. She copied the papers herself and told me she was going to do a manager to manager call.

Two weeks later no changes had been made to my ssa account. I was concerned, so I called well when she faxed the papers all of them didn't go through. I had to bring copies in again. My attorney was also calling, and sent in my papers. Well the manager at the local office had someone put in my settlement numbers into the file, and the processing center emailed them and told them they had no jurisdiction, and they had to remove the numbers. Well as of the 12th of last month the processing center has had my paperwork. The Congressman's office contacted me on the 12th of this month, and told me that ssdi had contacted them and gave them an update on my case, and that the manager at the module was working on expediting my case, and it should be completed in two weeks. My ssa account still says my payments are suspended, and I'm only enrolled in Medicare.  

Paragraph breaks added by newdawn to make reading easier.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2017, 09:05:33 PM by newdawn »
May May

SteelSpine

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2017, 12:54:27 PM »
Decided to dig up this post rather than create a new one, since it has all of the details of my long wait for back pay.

Update concerning my situation:  After waiting 2 weeks and not hearing anything from any of the three congressional offices I contacted via their online forms, I decided to have my wife fax a written letter (and release form) to Albio Sires (my local House Representative)'s office last Monday. When Thursday came and I still hadn't received a call or an email, I decided to pick up the phone.  One of Rep. Sires' staff members answered, and I proceeded to tell her my story.  She didn't seem to want details, just asked if I could email her whatever paperwork I had and she would email me a release form to fill out and send back.  I asked if they had received the paperwork I faxed, and she said they had not - so I called my wife and asked where she sent it.  Apparently my wife accidentally sent my original letter and release to Rep. Sires' Washington office, which is why I hadn't heard back from them.  Also, the release form they had on their website wasn't the one they use - the one online specifically lists the SSA, while the one I was sent via email allows for communication with "any and all federal agencies".

I emailed a copy of my Fully Favorable Decision letter and my Award Letter on Friday, and scanned/emailed the new Release Form very early on Monday morning (my wife wasn't at her office to print it for me until late on Friday).  Rep. Sires' staff member emailed me back and said she was going to email a request for information to the SSA, and she will let me know as soon as she has any information for me.

I'm disappointed that Rep. Sires office is emailing someone at the SSA to find out what's going on - I would think they would get better results by personally calling the relative parties on the phone - but they know better than I do, so I'm going to just keep my fingers crossed and see what happens.  I also received a letter via "snail mail" from Senator Cory Booker's office yesterday offering to provide me with help (along with a release form to fill out and fax back), so If Rep. Sires' office doesn't get anywhere with their inquiry I'm going to reach out to Senator Booker's office.  I was thinking about sending in the release form to his office now, but I don't want to upset Albio Sires' staff since they are already on the case.

As soon as I find something out I'll come back and post.  Thank again for the advice, all!

Paul3597

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2017, 11:25:45 AM »
Hey SteelSpine,

Did you try the office I sent you? They really worked wonders for me. I know that they can only contact the Field Office of SSA - from what I understand almost no one is allowed to call the payment center.

However when I spoke to someone at the field office for SSA the guy was real nice and told me (to the workers) a Congressional Inquiry means nothing to them - it only means something to the management. And really that's all that matters, if management at a field office wants to get something done, they can. And a push from a Senators office I truly personally believes does help even more so than a Congressman, I believe a Senator has a little more weight.

And I am not talking about what I have read on this awesome forum but I experienced personally.

And as far as the My SSA account website is concerned, mine still hasn't updated even though I have received all my back pay for myself and my daughter and I have received my Award Letter. It still shows that I have not received any one time deposits nor was I aware that any deposits were coming in until I checked my bank account the Wednesday after the Friday my Lawyers were paid.

If you need any of the info from the office or the person who helped me PM me and I will send it along- but you will need to fill out an information release form from the Senators office which you can find on his website.

Hope the info helps you or anyone else.
Paul :-)
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it

Lit Love

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Re: Long wait for back pay: is there anything I can do?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2017, 12:03:39 PM »
Decided to dig up this post rather than create a new one, since it has all of the details of my long wait for back pay.

Update concerning my situation:  After waiting 2 weeks and not hearing anything from any of the three congressional offices I contacted via their online forms, I decided to have my wife fax a written letter (and release form) to Albio Sires (my local House Representative)'s office last Monday. When Thursday came and I still hadn't received a call or an email, I decided to pick up the phone.  One of Rep. Sires' staff members answered, and I proceeded to tell her my story.  She didn't seem to want details, just asked if I could email her whatever paperwork I had and she would email me a release form to fill out and send back.  I asked if they had received the paperwork I faxed, and she said they had not - so I called my wife and asked where she sent it.  Apparently my wife accidentally sent my original letter and release to Rep. Sires' Washington office, which is why I hadn't heard back from them.  Also, the release form they had on their website wasn't the one they use - the one online specifically lists the SSA, while the one I was sent via email allows for communication with "any and all federal agencies".

I emailed a copy of my Fully Favorable Decision letter and my Award Letter on Friday, and scanned/emailed the new Release Form very early on Monday morning (my wife wasn't at her office to print it for me until late on Friday).  Rep. Sires' staff member emailed me back and said she was going to email a request for information to the SSA, and she will let me know as soon as she has any information for me.

I'm disappointed that Rep. Sires office is emailing someone at the SSA to find out what's going on - I would think they would get better results by personally calling the relative parties on the phone - but they know better than I do, so I'm going to just keep my fingers crossed and see what happens.  I also received a letter via "snail mail" from Senator Cory Booker's office yesterday offering to provide me with help (along with a release form to fill out and fax back), so If Rep. Sires' office doesn't get anywhere with their inquiry I'm going to reach out to Senator Booker's office.  I was thinking about sending in the release form to his office now, but I don't want to upset Albio Sires' staff since they are already on the case.

As soon as I find something out I'll come back and post.  Thank again for the advice, all!

I don't understand asking multiple political representatives to get involved at the same time.  Choose the most appropriate office and give them a chance to help you.

 

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