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A New Requirement to Have a Social Security Disability Hearing?

It appears that Social Security Administration keeps adding to the burdens of claimants that are seeking Social Security Disability benefits.  Now, it appears that a Social Security disability claimant may be required to show a photo ID to have a hearing.  If problems occur it is just one more reason it is important to have an attorney with you to help sort things out.

During my 18 years of representing individuals before the Social Security Administration, I have recently started seeing disability hearing notices that say you must have photo ID, but in my experience clients are never really challenged about this at their hearings in Texas.  I routinely have clients that have no ID and I tell them not to worry about – and it has never been a problem.

But earlier this month, I was representing a homeless woman in Denver, Colorado in her Social Security disability case.  She shows up about three minutes after the hearing was to start and explains that she had been trying all morning to get a photo ID.  She had a photocopy of her old state ID and a receipt from that morning from a state office regarding her renewal ID.  The security officer had to check this out, call a supervisor, they ran some sort of check and finally a supervisor from the Department of Homeland Security had to come and talk to my client.  While we waited, the start time for her hearing kept getting farther behind, the client was not allowed to go into the attorney conference room with me to talk about her case.  Eventually, I was able to work it so we could talk in the hall where they could see her, but we could talk confidentially.   Ended up my homeless 100 pound woman client is not a terrorist – and we were allowed to have a hearing albeit rather late.

This new “requirement” to have a Social Security disability hearing seems like just another new barrier to persons seeking Social Security disability benefits.  Isn’t the Social Security Administration already verifying the identity of individuals when they originally apply for Social Security Disability?  I think so.  When you apply for disability benefits the Social Security Administration will already require documents that prove your identity and from their own data base have ways of establishing who is applying for benefits.

If you applied for Social Security Disability and hired an attorney to represent you, you already have severe medical problems and medical expenses, plus you are no longer working and likely have no income, the last thing a Social Security Disability claimant needs to be worrying about is having to spend the day at the license office and coming up with money to get an updated photo ID.

To my knowledge there is not a single case, where someone fraudulently appeared at a Social Security disability hearing claiming to be someone they were not.  It would be even more difficult for someone to apply for benefits pretending to be someone they are not, appear as that person at a hearing, and then actually get benefits.  If this type of thing were actually happening, we would know about it.  Opponents for the Social Security Disability system would be screaming to the high heavens about this type of fraud.  We don’t hear about it because it is not happening.  The requirement that a claimant for Social Security Disability be required to show a photo ID at his or her hearing is just another burden on those that need the help of the Social Security Administration and should be stopped!

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Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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