Denial of SS benefits can be appealed
Question: I recently applied for Social Security disability and SSI benefits and received a letter stating that I'm not disabled and so ineligible for benefits. Can I appeal?
Answer: From Stacia Silva, Legal Aid managing attorney: Fill out and turn in a "Request for Reconsideration" form, available at any Social Security Administration office, within 60 calendar days of the mailing date of your SSA notice. It usually takes two to five months for the SSA office to process your appeal (but can take longer). When SSA makes a decision, they'll send another notice. If your reconsideration is denied, you can continue the appeals process by filling out a "Request for Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge" form available at SSA. Don't forget to turn in this form within 60 calendar days of the mailing date on the denial notice of your request for reconsideration.
Q: I owe $5,000 in taxes. I didn't file because I can't pay that! My friend says I should still file because the IRS might give me a break. Is that true?
A: From Glenn Ramel, Legal Aid consumer attorney: Regardless of whether you're able to pay your tax bill, you should file your return. The "break" you'll get from the IRS is you won't have to pay the failure-to-file penalty that could increase your tax bill by 25 percent or more; you'll also reap other procedural tax benefits that are too complex to explain here. A possible solution is to enter into an installment agreement with the IRS (though voluntary payments work just as well, and you'd be able to save money on setting up the installment agreement). For information, visit www.irs.gov.
Lastly, make sure to increase your withholding and/or make estimated payments this year; this will help you avoid the same problem next year. (To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.)
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.