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Saratoga SpringsNY12866
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Rodriguez & Associates

Rodriguez & Associates

Social Security Disability Backlog of Claims is growing:

The backlog of Social Security disability claims is growing. The Social Security Administration had made great strides on shortening the appeal time, but all those gains have been lost in the last year. Why is this happening? People in the Social Security Administration, or perhaps politicians, have decided that Social Security disability cases need to be more closely reviewed. There was a view that too many people who are not truly disabled were receiving benefits. To address this misperception, two things have changed: first, up until about a year ago, if someone had a very strong case of disability, instead of requiring the person to wait for a hearing with the judge, an attorney in the Social Security Administration was able to write a favorable decision, and therefore get benefits to the person a lot sooner. That program has all but been shut down. Second, the Social Security Administration began a much more intense examination of all of the decisions being issued by their judges. The Social Security Administration has more actively criticized judges decisions when the Social Security Administration believed that the judge did not have adequate support to find someone disabled. What this means is that the judges are spending even more time holding their hearings, and writing their decisions, to avoid criticism from the Social Security Administration. Up until fairly recently, when the case appeared relatively strong, the judges were able to move to a decision quite quickly. That has all changed. The result is that in Albany, where the hearings were held about one year after the appeal was filed, they now are being delayed for about 15 months after the appeal is requested. The timeframe seems to be growing, especially in light of an increase in the number of disability claims being filed.

What does this all mean for someone considering applying for disability? First, a person who wants to seek Social Security disability should not delay in starting the application, because from the time of the initial application until a judge hears the case, and makes a ruling, can now approach two years. Second, because of the long processing time, a person seeking disability has to do everything they can to obtain proper medical documentation to give themselves the best chance possible to win their claim.

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 15:01

Beware of false claims of debt collectors

Beware of false claims of debt collectors.

In this day and age, debt collectors continue to use illegal and immoral tactics to try to collect debts. They will claim that you will be arrested, they will claim that legal action will be taken against you if you don't immediately return their phone call, and they will make other false claims. They may even pose as court officers or other officials, as a threat to collect a debt. The state and federal government tries to shut down improper debt collectors, and they have done so, but it seems that every time one is shut down another one pops up. Very recently the state and federal government targeted two firms in Western New York, Vantage Point Services and Four-Star Resolution, accusing them of improper practices. When you add the improper practices to the fact that certain debts are "bought" improperly by some debt collectors, including debts that are no longer valid for various reasons, you should be extremely cautious and skeptical upon receiving any contact from a debt collector. Debt collectors have no power over you or your money. In New York State, for anybody to try to take money from you through a garnishment or other means, they have to start by filing a lawsuit and properly serving you with a summons.

If you are receiving multiple calls from debt collectors, it may be helpful to talk to an attorney about your rights and your options. And whatever you do, do not give out personal information to any stranger over the phone, and certainly not over the Internet.

Monday, 11 November 2013 15:35

Social Security Claims for same sex couples

Social Security Blog

November 7, 2013

 The Social Security Administration is now processing claims for same sex couples following a recent U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  The Social Security Administration is accepting claims for couples who live in states where gay marriage is legal, as well as states where civil unions and domestic partnerships are legal.  Currently, the Social Security Administration is processing and approving claims for spouses of retired workers if the couple is married and currently live in a state that recognizes same sex marriage, which includes New York State.

Source: NOSSCR Volume 35, Number 8, August 2013.

Monday, 11 November 2013 15:30

Inherited IRA's



November 7, 2013

 The U.S. Supreme Court is to resolve the issue of inherited IRA’s.  Two different Circuit Courts, the Fifth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit, have ruled different ways as to whether inherited IRA’s are exempt under the bankruptcy code.  The Seventh Circuit ruled that inherited IRA’s were not exempt, while the Fifth Circuit ruled they are exempt for non-spouse beneficiaries.

 The Supreme Court decision will have a far-reaching impact on inherited IRA’s.

Source: Consumer Bankruptcy News October 28, 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2.

Monday, 11 November 2013 15:27




November 7, 2013

 The Eighth Circuit has ruled that some equity needs to be shown in property in order to claim an exemption.  This issue most commonly arises when a motion is made to strip a judgment lien off a home using the Homestead exemption.  Some judges have ruled that equity needs to be shown to take the exemption.  In other words, if the mortgage is higher than the value of the home listed on the petition, there may be no ability to strip under 11 U.S.C. 522(f).  This is apparently the law within the Eighth Circuit.  In the Albany District, this rule does not take effect.  See: Goben v. Corydon State Bank Eighth Circuit, 9/23/13.

Source: Consumer Bankruptcy News October 28, 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2.

Thursday, 07 November 2013 20:34

Misunderstanding of Mental Illness

Reported in vol. 33, no. 10 criticizing an ALJ’s analysis and revealed an all too common misunderstanding of mental illness, “The very nature of bipolar disorder is that people with the disease experience fluctuations in their symptoms, so any single notation that a patient is feeling better or has had a ‘good day’ does not imply that the condition has been treated.”


cited: Scott v Astrue, 647 F.3d 734 (7th Cir. 2011)


Cited: Holder of Note & Mortgage Had Standing to Seek Relief

Consumer Bankruptcy News Dec 22, 2011 vol. 22, issue 4

The holder of a note and mortgage has standing to bring a motion to lift stay.  Capital One Bank received an assignment from Mortgage Electronic registration system (MERS) was able to overcome an objection to the lift stay motion by a chapter 7 trustee.  The court in essence determined that whether Capital One Bank would ultimately prevail in a state court foreclosure, is an issue for state court determination.  However in 11 usc 362(d) the MERS possession of the note and mortgage in the assignment is enough to establish standing for Capital One to pursue a lift stay motion.


In a case the district court found that an ALJ and fined the claimant not credible for failing to follow prescribe mental health treatment.  The court criticized the ALJ’s finding and rejected the medical complaints because mental illness is an unreported condition.  Cited Regennitter v Comm’r 166 F. 3d 1294, 1299-1300 (9th Cir. 1999), “it is a questionable practice to chastise one with a mental impairment for the exercise of poor judgment in seeking rehabilitation.”




Cited: August 2011 NOSSCR vol. 33 no. 8



Friday, 01 November 2013 15:07

Medical Bills and Bankruptcy



July 2, 2013

 Medical bills are a huge contributing factor in bankruptcy filings. reports that 1.7 million American households will likely file bankruptcy this year because of rising bills.  The CNBC article published Tuesday, June 25, 2013, reports rising medical bills, more than credit cards, mortgages, and other forms of debt cause people to file bankruptcy.  Additionally, having health insurance is not always a financial safeguard.  High deductibles of up to $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 could force some people to file bankruptcy, along with people without health insurance needing medical treatment.  It is also speculated that some consumers may skip prescription medications in an effort to save money.  However, foregoing prescription medication can trigger long-term and expensive medical problems down the road.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 18:00

Decision of ALJ Reversed Over Obesity Issue

In the case Williams v Astrue the Northern District of Indiana reversed the administrative law judges hearing where the plaintiff had morbid obesity as a severe impairment and the district court considered the other impairments that the claimant had.  The claimant also suffered from a combination of bilateral knee impairments.  The court essentially said you have to take a combination of impairments as a whole in order to assess disability determination.


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What's Being Said...

  • I am thankful and appreciate your professionalism and kindness through all our meetings. You took a horrible situation for me and made it a manageable one. I will always remember both you and your staff for all the help you extended to me.
    - Chapter 7 client, Sharon S.
  • Thank you for all your help with my financial situation. I am starting to finally feel some relief. I would highly recommend you to any future clients.
    - Lynn
  • A million thanks for everything. It must feel good to know how much you are helping people!
    - Claudia
  • Thank you for all of your words and understanding during my emotional tears throughout the roller coaster ride that wasn't letting me off. It was because of your hard work and dedication to my case that has finally stopped the roller coaster and has allowed me a fresh start. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
    – Mike and Deb
  • I want to express our sincere thanks to you for being an outstanding attorney and for representing us for the duration of our 5 year chapter 13 payment plan. We very much appreciated having you stand by us for such a long period and being there for us in our times of need. We were blessed to have the privilege of being acquainted with your law firm.
    -Chapter 13 clients Philip & Connie
  • We want to give you our heartfelt thanks for the good job you did for [our daughter]. We won not just because the facts were on our side-but mostly because the Judge appreciates that you are a perfect gentleman (not a heavy hitter).
    - Joan and Jim
  • Ms. Smith completed her client satisfaction questionnaire. She was very happy with your service and her interaction with your staff. I wanted to pass this along to remind you how much we, and the people you help, appreciate you and your office. Thank you.
    - A letter from the Legal Aid Society
  • I wanted to thank you for your very professional help. You made the process much less emotionally painful for both me and my husband. The bankruptcy was certainly the best option for us. We have come out the other side with a release of all the stress we were feeling. We are also getting back on our feet financially.
    - Dawn
  • Please accept my note to say thank you for saving my property, I appreciate everything your office has done for me.
    – Chapter 13 client, John B.

We are a debt relief agency proudly assisting persons file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. We serve clients in Fulton County, Montgomery County, Saratoga County, Warren, Washington, Albany, Rensselaer, Essex and Hamilton Counties