Social Security Disability &
  Special Needs Planning News from
 Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law,
 Partner at Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC  
In This Issue:
Social Security Issues New Ruling on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Social Security Employee in D.C. Accused of Taking Bribes for Favorable Decisions
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Sheri Abrams will be making a presentation on Social Security Disability Law to the staff of Langley Residential Support Services in Vienna, VA on May 8, 2014.  Langley Residential Support Services serve adults with intellectual disabilities, their families and our communities by providing quality, comprehensive residential and community support services that will enable these individuals to live valued, productive lives.


Sheri Abrams has been appointed to the Virginia Hospital Center's Legacy Planning Committee which will be meeting on May 6, 2014.  The Legacy Planning Committee was established in the Fall of 2010 to learn and explore more about how legacy giving can support the mission of  the Virginia Hospital Center.  The committee is made up of estate lawyers, wealth investment advisors, certified financial planners and certified public accountants. 



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Source: Reprinted from the April 2014  Newsletter of Sheri R. Abrams, Attorney at Law, Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC 



Issue: # 69

 April 2014

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Welcome to our monthly newsletter. 


These monthly newsletters are designed to provide useful information on Disability Law & Issues with a special emphasis on Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Special Needs Trusts & Planning.


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Social Security Issues New Ruling on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)


The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a new Ruling (SSR 14-1p) which provides guidance for decision makers in Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income claims (SSI) involving chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).  This ruling, effective April 3, 2014, replaces prior ruling SSR 99-2p.


A Social Security ruling is a decision by the SSA which is supposed to be followed by all disability adjudicators including Administrative Law Judges. However, a ruling does not have the same level of authority as statutes, regulations or case law.


The purpose of the new ruling is to clarify how Social Security develops evidence to establish that a claimant for disability benefits has a medically determinable impairment ("MDI") of CFS, and how CFS will be evaluated in claims for disability benefits and disability reviews. This new ruling takes into consideration the medical advances and the latest research on the diagnosis and treatment of CFS.


The ruling relies on the definition the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  The ruling states that CFS is characterized as "a syndrome that causes prolonged fatigue lasting 6 months or more, resulting in a substantial reduction in previous levels of occupational, educational, social or personal activities".


The new ruling gives priority to postexertional malaise, identifying it as potentially the most common secondary symptom. It also recognizes other possible symptoms, including respiratory difficulties, cardiovascular abnormalities, gastrointestinal discomfort, and urinary or bladder problems. The ruling also acknowledges a number of additional co-occurring conditions, including myofascial pain syndrome, temporomandibular join syndrome (TMJ), irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, Raynaud's phenomenon, migraines, chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, and Sjogren's syndrome. It also recognizes new allergies or sensitivities to food, odors, chemicals, medications, noise, vibrations, or touch, or loss of thermostatic stability as symptoms that a person with CFS may exhibit.


The new ruling, however, eliminates neurocognitive problems (e.g., difficulty comprehending and processing information), fainting, dizziness, and mental problems (e.g., depression, irritability, anxiety) from its initial list of possible CFS symptoms. It does retain self-reported impairments in short-term memory or concentration among the CDC diagnostic symptoms, with the caveat that these symptoms will not be considered medical signs or laboratory findings for purposes of establishing an MDI unless documented by mental status examination or psychological testing.


SSR 14-1p is available for review here


Social Security Employee in D.C. Accused of Taking Bribes for Favorable Decisions


After practicing in this area of law for over 20 years I thought I had heard and seen everything.  But then this.


A Social Security employee at a local office in Washington D.C. has been charged with asking for and receiving approximately $55,000 in bribes from claimants applying for Social Security Disability & SSI benefits.


The employee has been charged with receipt of a bribe by a public official and is expected to plead guilty.


The employee worked at the Anacostia Social Security office in Southeast D.C. 


According to Court papers, from January 2013 to May 2013, the employee convinced at least 13 claimants to pay him in order to qualify for Social Security Disability & SSI benefits or to obtain an increase in their benefit amount.


According to documents released by the Court, the Social Security employee told claimants that if they gave him a "tip," he would take care of them.


Allegedly, if the claimant agreed to pay the bribe the employee would access Social Security's computer and grant benefits or retroactively increase the benefit amount.  This money was then transferred directly to the claimant's bank account.


After confirming that the illegal benefits were in the claimant's bank account, the employee would then meet the claimant outside the Social Security office and receive his cash bribe. 


Over the five month period, the employee received  approximately $55,000 in these bribes.


What is going to happen to the claimants who paid these bribes in not known at this time.  However, they face criminal charges and loss of their Social Security Disability & SSI benefits.


Sheri Abrams' Book "Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits--What Every Virginia Resident Needs To Know To Win A Social Security Disability Case" Is Available

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For more information please click here to see our Press Release.  


Available for purchase at or you can download a free copy of the book at: 







Now Available For Nook & Kindle



"Don't Gamble With Your Social Security Disability Benefits--What Every Virginia Resident Needs To Know To Win A Social Security Disability Case" is now available for the Nook here,


and the Kindle here.




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We provide legal services in the areas of Social Security Disability Law, Elder Law, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Trust Administration, Powers of Attorney, Advance Medical Directives, Guardianships, Long Term Care Planning, Disability Planning, Medicaid Eligibility, Student Loan Discharge, Veterans Benefits and Special Needs Trusts.
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