You Know What I Mean

July 14, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: July 14, 2016

plain-language blogWe want our friends, family, and even business partners to know exactly what we’re saying when we say it.

As a government agency that takes pride in serving our customers, we want you to understand our answers to your questions the first time, too.

At Social Security, we understand that clear and effective communication means more than just promptly taking a customer’s phone call or directing them to a helpful website. We want to provide useful information in a clear and easy-to-understand way, in writing, on the web, and over the phone. June was National Effective Communications Month, but at Social Security, we’re at the forefront of clear, concise communications all year round.

Our efforts to communicate clearly with the American public earned us high ratings in customer satisfaction and usability. We scored an “A” on the 2014 Federal Plain Language Report Card from the Center for Plain Language. This grade means we’re exceeding the standards of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires federal agencies to communicate clearly with the public. We’re the only federal agency to earn this honor for two consecutive years!

Not only is our website easy to navigate and understand, our publications and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) are easy to read and understand, as well. You can browse through our collection of publications at to learn about Social Security, about our programs, and about what they mean to you and your family. Many publications are available in up to 17 languages, and they’re written in plain language. If you prefer a printed copy of a publication, you can call us at 410-965-2039, and we’ll mail a copy to you.

You can visit our FAQs and publications for accurate information at your convenience. Nothing is more important to us than meeting the needs of those we serve. We thank you, our customers, for your valuable feedback and vote of confidence!

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. tony

    The ALJs does the same thing during the CDR and overturned many of the DDS adjudicators’ terminations. The lazy freeloaders can collect for life based on the Social Security disability lazy freeloader system.

  2. tony

    The SSA is too stupid when it comes to attorney and non-attorney representatives. After their clients sign up with them, they get their clients to have their doctors to fill out Medical Source Statement(MSS) and Residual Function Capacity(RFC). They use it to achieve the 97% to 100% success rate for the lazy freeloaders.


    Under 20 CFR 404.1527(e) and 416.927(e), some issues are not medical issues regarding the nature and severity of an individual’s impairment(s) but are administrative findings that are dispositive of a case; i.e., that would direct the determination or decision of disability. The following are examples of such issues:

    Whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or is equivalent in severity to the requirements of any impairment(s) in the listings;
    1. What an individual’s RFC is;
    2. Whether an individual’s RFC prevents him or her from doing past relevant work;
    3. How the vocational factors of age, education, and work experience apply; and
    4. Whether an individual is “disabled” under the Act.
    The regulations provide that the final responsibility for deciding issues such as these is reserved to the Commissioner.

    Medical and psychological consultants in the State agencies are adjudicators at the initial and reconsideration determination levels (except in disability hearings–see 20 CFR 404.914 ff. and 416.1414 ff.). As such, they do not express opinions; they make findings of fact that become part of the determination. However, 20 CFR 404.1527(f) and 416.927(f) provide that, at the administrative law judge and Appeals Council levels of the administrative review process, medical and psychological consultant findings about the nature and severity of an individual’s impairment(s), including any RFC assessments, become opinion evidence. Adjudicators at these levels, including administrative law judges and the Appeals Council, must consider these opinions as expert opinion evidence of nonexamining physicians and psychologists and must address the opinions in their decisions. In addition, under 20 CFR 404.1526 and 416.926, adjudicators at the administrative law judge and Appeals Council levels must consider and address State agency medical or psychological consultant findings regarding equivalence to a listed impairment.

    Explanation of the Consideration Given to a Treating Source’s Opinion

    Treating source opinions on issues reserved to the Commissioner will never be given controlling weight. However, the notice of the determination or decision must explain the consideration given to the treating source’s opinion(s).

    One Congressman said that he doesn’t want the ALJs to express their opinion in the decision. The DDS has denied them twice and that is a finding of fact and not an opinion. Why were the ALJs approving so many claimants after they have been denied twice by the DDS?

    The Social Security disability system was designed for lazy freeloaders to get approved.

  3. cathello

    We go into a crazey office in Phoenix and a lady by the name of Coolombs that just walks in and does not work there comes and forces persons on the street and does not act like an agency rep. Please have her removed and get someone to help me as we are starving and not receiving our full benefit
    due now and pay back due now to travel with.

  4. SMR

    Common sense seems to be gone. Having no cost of living increase for three of the last eight years has been a hardship. Now, insurance companies are suing the administration for renigging on their Risk Corridor payments so higher premiums are shifting back to people’s premiums in 2017. Everything is going up and yet there is no inflation? Sorry but his is just wrong.

  5. Miles N.

    Thank you for the information on benefit dates.

  6. Tony W.

    Social security is important to the elderly to servive it is also important on family death with children to help support. And to help the disable . If they wasn’t disability SS we wouldn’t be able to live so it is very important to people to have this.The only thing is they don’t give cost of living every year and that makes it hard on people SS doesn’t stretch that far you live in poverty the rest of your lifestyle.

  7. Kristin L.

    I finally was approved for SSD four years and a day after the surgery that left me disabled. SS would not accept or independently request my medical records. How could I been fairly reviewed for coverage before that proof was received? While not in the file with SS I was turned down all the way to the ALJ stage. When I questioned this I was told it would be discarded if I sent it and they would request it if necessary – however it never was – I just got denials and delays and was told several times my case would be a slam dunk if only I was over 50. I just turned 48 the day before approved.

    The ALJ ridiculed me after the first hearing immediately after he went off record. Said “Ms. X – you are a very young lady and you have many many productive working years ahead of you regardless of surgeries you’ve had oh, and your “condition”.

    He clearly was discriminating against me due to my age.

    One time I was called from I believe Louisiana and the guy said he just got my file that day – it was a Friday. He said how is your depression? I didn’t file for depression, but have that. He said you haven’t filled your script so u had to have run out 10 days ago so u must be better. I’m so happy for you! I hope your job hunt picks up because I can clearly see you are getting better. He was in a hurry – Fri afternoon – tried to explain this process has bankrupted me and I couldn’t afford the prescription. He tried to just ignore that. I let him know I was represented by Allsup bc my disability ins from work was through Cigna and he needed to include them in the conversation.

    They did every thing possible to get me to give up Inc. Forcing me into bankruptsy. I couldn’t quit my claim bc I seriously can’t work and have crap left for quality of life. I lost everything including my credit which will impact me for years to come and my 401k savings is depleted.

    I’m still shocked at my treatment and I was afraid to complain in case the ALJ could possibly get me back. He was on a serious power trip and has no business in this job. He tried to confuse his own doctor after refusing to sopeona mine – the SS Doctor had to be at least 80 based on his graduation date. The ALaN tried to get him to completely reverse what he had just said and agree with the ALan. He tried to close my case at least three times bf my attorney could spit out a reason why it shouldn’t be. By myself, without lawyer, I’d be dead.

    I shouldn’t have to pay for a attorney and it’s a crap shoot with them as they only want percentage of settlement – but is only going to put so many hours into it.

    I feel judge had not read my case before court, neither had the SS contracted doctor.

    What could have taken so long for a decision when it was obvious I was being shoved through system w/o a fair and through – or ANY – REVIEW.

    THE ALan said he didn’t believe a word my doctor wrote in my support. He was supposed to give his opinion more weight than the SS contracted judge.

    If I ever have to go back through this ALJ – believe me he will deny me.

    I worked pensioable jobs for 28 years and earned three degrees at night school. Why would I have wasted all my child’s childhood getting a degree that I didn’t get much extra money for compared to the 10 years of night school I endured.

    People do become disabled. Nobody is thrilled about. It. But I shouldn’t have lost my entire retirement savings in the process along with my credit reputation. I’ve gone HUNGRY, LOST HEALTH INS TWICE DUE TO NOT ENOUGH MONEY FOR THE $575 PREMIUMS even though GEICO my employer denied me disability benefits that would have prevented that and my first face to face with anyone from SS was at the hearing where I was having am anxiety attack bc my life was being decided and I had no options left. My fiance left me after failed surgery bc I can’t get out and do things – completely alone and was treated terrible.

    I offered several times to go to Dr of their choice as my disability is obvious but nope, not gonna make this easy.

    I paid into this system for 28 years but yet ppl who never paid a dime receive checks. Somethings seriously wrong with the work flow as useless tasks are automated but pretended to be made by ppl.

    I would appreciate a response to my experience and assurNce the ALJ does not tough my file again.

    • tony

      It seem like the SSA approves lazy freeloaders if they appeal enough times.

      The DDS denied their claim and the ALJ knows the person is not disabled, but approves them anyways.

      These people were approved four years ago when the ALJs were giving away free disability checks to anyone just to reduce the backlog. But that back fire on them ALJs because the people they approved were telling others to appeal creating more backlogs.

      • tony

        Allsup claims a 97% success rate. It is similar to the West Virginia Attorney who claim 100% success rate.

        How can the SSA allow Allsup to represent claimants through false advertisement? What is the SSA doing to protect claimants?

        If they got a 97% success rate, then the SSA probably needs to look into them also.

        • tony

          Has the SSA ever barred an attorney or non-attorney Representative from representing a claimant? Is there a list of people who can’t represent claimants?

          • John O.

            Yes, there is such a list.

  8. Retiree

    A 2% COLA raise is two pennies for every dollar you now get. If you get $800 than it means you’ll be getting a raise of $16.00. Whoopee!

    • Sampa

      Try $4.21 maybe.

  9. Brett K.

    Tax gold and silver coins and bullion and use proceedings to fund SS .. Investors buy them to protect from “imaginary” economic fears which is not true.

  10. Elizabeth E.

    This is my personal opinion. We were not expected to still be here to collect our money. Looking at the comments, they concern people in their 80’s and 90’s. That used to be rare, but now it’s pretty common. I worked until I was 75, still paying into SS and Medicare, but the official retirement age was 65, therefore that last 10 yrs of deductions went somewhere else. It did not affect my benefits. We are the fastest growing segment of the population, but our concerns are the least considered. Even the old public officials pay no attention, because with their pension will prevent them from ever being in our shoes. This is the first time I have ever made a public comment, so it may be a little choppy. And I will not be surprised if I do not see this in the comments

    • John O.

      Working past your retirement age can effect your benefits, the 10 years did not just disappear somewhere.

Comments are closed.