Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Black Billionaire Vows To Pay Off Student Loans For Morehouse College Class of 2019

Rich Graduation Speaker at Morehouse College vows to pay off Student Loans for entire 2019 Class, EXCEPT for women, and those who worked their way through college. The Liberal Social Justice Warriors in the Democratic Party will find it hard to challenge the All American Spirit in that gesture. Morehouse College is an all male college. There were no women in the Class of 2019.

 The average Student Loan Debt for Class Of 2019 estimated to be between $35,000 and $45,000.

Robert Frederick Smith is an African-American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. A former chemical engineer and investment banker, he is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners. In 2018, Smith was ranked by Forbes as the 163rd richest person in America. This 8th Generation African American, Robert F. Smith, is from Denver, CO. His family has been in America for 8 Generations. They lived through and worked through America’s Slavery Period and overcame. Slavery and Segregation slowed them down, but did not stop them from overcoming the Democratic Liberal Political Practices.

He is not a Fresh Of The Boat (FOB) Silicon Valley Instant Millionaire from some Muslim Country with a good Colonial Education System.

 Robert F. Smith was giving the commencement address to the graduating class of Morehouse College when he made a surprise announcement: He would be paying off the student loans of the roughly 400 graduates.
It was just the latest substantial gesture from Mr. Smith, the richest black man in America, who until just a few years ago was practically unknown.
  Mr. Smith grew up in a mostly black, middle-class neighborhood in Denver. Both of his parents had Ph.D.s in education, and he was ambitious from an early age. He applied for an internship at Bell Labs in high school, but was told he was too young. Mr. Smith called every Monday for five months and finally got the position.
 He went to college at Cornell, studying chemical engineering, then took a job at Kraft General Foods. He got a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia, then worked at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, advising companies including Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
■ Mr. Smith has a passion for music. In 2016, he was named chairman of the board of Carnegie Hall, the nation’s most prestigious concert stage. He bought and restored a storied resort, Lincoln Hills, outside Denver, where black jazz musicians like Duke Ellington once played. And he has founded programs to support music education and minority entrepreneurship in Austin, Tex., where he lives, and Chicago, where Vista has an office.

Here’s what you need to know about him:
■ Mr. Smith has amassed a fortune that Forbes estimates to be worth $5 billion by founding Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm that focuses on buying and selling software firms.
■ Vista has about $46 billion in assets under management, according to Forbes. The company is privately held and does not publicly report its results, but it is believed to be one of the best-performing firms in the country, with annualized returns of more than 20 percent since its founding.

Mr. Smith has a flamboyant side as well. He favors three-piece suits, owns one of Elton John’s old pianos and hired John Legend and Seal — and a youth orchestra — to perform at his wedding on the Amalfi Coast. He named two of his sons, Hendrix and Legend, after Jimi Hendrix and Mr. Legend. He is married to Hope Dworaczyk, an actress and former Playboy model. (See FOOTNOTE)

 Though he shunned the spotlight for many years, he has recently embraced a more public role, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and making major charitable contributions. Cornell renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after Mr. Smith, and he has made major gifts to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and other cultural institutions. In January, Mr. Smith donated $1.5 million to Morehouse to fund student scholarships and a new park on campus.


Tim Cook tells grads, “We failed you”!
 Robert F. Smith says, “I declare you Debt Free”!
Robert F Smith, a Billionaire, vowed to pay off the Student Loan Debt for the 400 Morehouse graduates in the Class Of 2019.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook, a Billionaire told Tulane University grads, “My Generation failed you on Climate Change”!

Hope Dworaczyk 2009.jpg
Hope Dworaczyk at the Playboy Mansion in May 2009
Playboy centerfold appearance
April 2009
Preceded byJennifer Pershing
Succeeded byCrystal McCahill
Playboy Playmate of the Year
Preceded byIda Ljungqvist
Succeeded byClaire Sinclair
Personal details
BornNovember 21, 1984 (age 34)
Port Lavaca, Texas, U.S.[1]
MeasurementsBust: 34C[1]
Waist: 23
Hips: 35
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Weight126 lb (57 kg)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Big Win At Supreme Court For Social Security Practicioners

Since 1956, the Social Security Administration(SSA) has made disability benefits available to people whose long-term medical conditions make completing their jobs impossible.
Lawyers who want to maximize their earning capacity don’t do Social Security law. They would be crazy to do Social Security law.
Recognizing that many Social Security disability claimants are in poor financial health, the federal government devised a payment scheme whereby lawyers receive a portion of their client's judgment if they win and nothing if they don't.
Since 1956, the Social Security Administration has made disability benefits available to people whose long-term medical conditions make completing their jobs impossible.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year created a uniform method for allocating fees across judicial jurisdictions, ensuring attorneys will have access to higher fees regardless of where they practice.
Considering that just 22% of workers receive disability benefits on the first try, the attorneys who help these workers often don't see payment for years, if ever.
Without attorneys, disability benefit applicants can get lost in the confusing maze of the claim process. They must first take their case before an administrative law judge(ALJ), and if the judge rejects the claim or makes a mistake — which attorneys say is fairly common — they then must go to federal court to dispute the decision.
In some Federal Circuits, judges interpreted separate limits the Social Security Act placed on fees for legal work before the SSA and the federal court as a single limit, capping the overall fees at an amount equivalent to 25% of the client's benefit award.
As an example, Lawyers in the Third Circuit, were not affected by the fee cap that plagued disability attorneys in the Fourth, Fifth and Eleventh circuits before the recent Supreme Court decision.
In those circuits, judges interpreted separate limits the Social Security Act placed on fees for legal work before the SSA and the federal court as a single limit, capping the overall fees at an amount equivalent to 25% of the client's benefit award.
In other circuits, like the Third, judges allowed attorneys to collect an amount equivalent to 25% of the client's benefit award for court-level work. For agency-level work, attorneys could collect either $6,000 or an amount equivalent to 25% of the benefit award, whichever is less. Fees could come from both the benefit award and the federal government, which offers a pool of money to disability attorneys under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
The ruling's main impact could be to encourage Social Security attorneys who already practice in federal court to continue doing so, rather than abandon cases at the appeal stage because the money isn't good.
In the past, Social Security claimants' probability of successfully going up against the SSA varied depending on where they were. Now, claimants should have an easier time across the country.

Friday, February 1, 2019

SocialSecurity Defrauds Another Widow(er)


7:20 PM (0 minutes ago)

to L.

Social Security Defrauds Yet Another Widow(er) -This Could Be You!

A bunch of American dollars in denominations of 100 dollars notes rolled up and held together with a simple rubber band with two stack of american dollars in denominations of 100 dollars isolated on a white background.Getty
Social Security just defrauded Seattle-based William Shimeall of tens of thousands of dollars in widower benefits based on a decision by Social Security's Administrative Law Judge Glenn G. Myers.
Bill's story is instructive. It teaches us a lesson we all should already know - You can't trust anything the Social Security staff tells you. Nor can you rely on them to keep you from doing something that can only lower, potentially dramatically, your future benefits.
It also teaches us a new lesson. Social Security's self-appointed "judges" aren't, apparently, sworn to uphold justice. Instead, they appear sworn to uphold Social Security's patently fraudulent decisions no matter the size of the swindle.
Here are the facts. Judge for yourself.
Bill Shimeall turned full retirement age on August 3, 2015. Around that time much was written, including by me and my co-authors in our book, Get What's Yours - the Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security, about the file and suspend option which let eligible disabled children and spouses collect child and spousal benefits without forcing the primary earner to file before age 70 and accept permanently reduced benefits.

Some high-earning spouses were also able to use this mechanism to collect spousal benefits while waiting to collect their own highest retirement benefit. People in the Obama Administration decided, with no hearings or actual evidence, that this was, on balance, a boondoggle for the rich. So in November 2015, the Democrats in the House let House Republicans rewrite the law and hide the changes inside the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
I saw a draft of the bill on a Sunday. The vote was scheduled for later that week. The next morning I posted a Forbes column pointing out that the new Social Security provisions would mean benefit cuts in six months for lots of people. Within a few hours of the appearance of the column, there were two highly complex amendments passed by Congress that included grandfathering clauses, some of which still pertain to millions of people, by the way.


In any case, the new law with its complex amendments went into effect in November 2017. Then Social Security's headquarters sent misleading instructions to staff all around the country about the new  provisions. Through December, January and February of 2016, I kept getting emails from people saying they had read my columns, which said X, but that Social Security staff were saying not X. I started writing these mistakes up on a weekly basis hoping someone at Social Security was monitoring my columns and would fix things. Sure enough, in February 2016, senior staff at Social Security set up a conference call with me. During the call, I explained what the new law actually said and how it differed from what had been stated in the instructions. Within hours of the call, new instructions were issued. But the damage had been done. People continued to be misadvised by Social Security staff for months all over the country.
Bill appears to have been one of them. He went into his local Lynnwood Social Security office, located near Seattle, Washington, in early April 2016 to discuss filing and suspending his retirement benefit so his ailing wife could start collecting a spousal benefit while waiting for her disability benefit to be approved. Bill was under the impression that by going into the office and calling Social Security before the April 29, 2016 deadline he would be viewed as having met the deadline and be given more time to complete the paperwork. April 29th was the deadline for people who were grandfathered to file and suspend and have others collect benefits on their work records. We can still file and suspend. What we can't do, if we filed and suspended after April 29, 2016, is let others collect benefits on our records while our own retirement benefit is in suspension.
Bill spoke with several different people at the Lynwood Office that day and in the ensuing weeks. Each told him something different. In any case, in early May, Bill, thinking he was grandfathered because he had gone into the Lynwood Office to discuss filing and suspending before April 29th, proceeded to file and suspend.
Thereafter, Bill had lots of confusing back and fourths with the folks at the Lynwood office to find out why his wife's spousal benefits hadn't started. But by October, his wife had been granted disability benefits, so he stopped worrying about getting her spousal benefits.
In June 2017, Bill's wife died. Bill then applied for his widower's benefit believing a) he would receive his full widower's benefit of $944 a month and b) that he could wait until 70 to collect his own age-70 retirement benefit. Instead of receiving the $944, Bill was awarded $18 per month in widower's benefits. Why? Because he had filed for his retirement benefit back in May 2016. It didn't matter that his benefit was in suspension. Nor did it matter that his filing for and suspending his retirement benefit could never have helped his wife get spousal benefits under the new law.
No, Bill had filed for his retirement benefit, so Social Security treated him as if he were actually collecting his retirement benefit and since his retirement benefit exceeded his widowers benefit he was to receive the difference, if positive, between his widower and retirement benefit. I.e., he was to receive zero. The fact that Social Security decided he was owed $18 per month was another mistake.
Bill appealed the decision saying he had been mislead by Social Security when he filed and suspended. He hadn't been told that doing so could wipe out his potential widower benefit. Given his wife's physical condition, potentially losing his widower's benefit was a real possibility. But no one at the Lynnwood office told him this in either April or May. Indeed, in early May, before filing, he contacted a top Seattle financial planner, Julie Price, who warned him that he might endanger his potential widower benefit if he filed and suspended and that he should come see her. Bill didn't want to spend the money on outside advice, so went with what the Lynnwood staff were saying and weren't saying.
What the staff should have told Bill was, It's past the April 29, 2016 deadline. You and your wife have absolutely NOTHING to gain by your filing and suspending and potentially some $40,000 to LOSE in widowers benefits if she passes in the near term.
But the staff didn't tell Bill any of this. Instead they sat back and helped him shoot himself in the head by filing and suspending, whose sole impact, they knew or should have known, would only serve to eliminate his widower's benefit were his wife to die before he reached 70.
"Judge" Myers looked at the evidence and decided that Bill had, in fact, been warned about a possible widower's benefit issue by, get this, Julie Price and should have followed Julie's advice, not what the Lynnwood staff Social Security were and weren't saying. I.e., Bill, according to the "judge," should have followed the advice not of the Social Security professionals, but of a financial advisor whom Bill didn't know.
Based on Bill's "mistake" in relying on Social Security, he, not Social Security was at fault and he must suffer the consequences. This was the 'judge's" ruling.
The injustice here is staggering. Just think about this. Due to the Lynnwood's office's clear mistake (It should have refused to process Bill's request unless he signed a paper stating that filing could only hurt him financially.), the Judge Myers not only defrauded Bill. He also defrauded Bill's wife. She worked her entire life, paid Social Security taxes her entire life, only to have those taxes be confiscated by incompetent bureaucrats and a judge who seems not to understand the requirements of the word justice.
Bill is not alone in being defrauded by the Social Security system. Social Security's Inspector General's Report of (https://oig.ssa.gov/sites/default/files/audit/full/pdf/A-09-18-50559.pdf) of February 14, 2018 documents the routine failure of Social Security staff to provide proper guidance to actual, let alone near-term prospective widow(er)s).
I wrote about this report last year. And I wrote about the problem of Social Security's defrauding widow(er)s back in 2015 based on a courageous Social Security whistle blower's inside account. Social Security has the ability to go back and determine how much money they stole from people by letting them make filing decisions or making those filing decisions for them when such decisions could only work to their detriment. Once that determination is made, Social Security should provide restitution of such stolen benefits to participants or their survivors.
But back to Bill and "Judge" Myers. Any decent Social Security judge would conclude that if the staff assists someone in filing a claim that can only lower their benefits in the future and can never raise them, under any circumstance, that the staff has clearly made an error, to put it mildly. In this case, the judge should withdrawal the filing even if it's beyond the 12-month withdraw deadline, of which Bill was also not informed.
Judge Myers, it's time to reverse your decision and stand up for the millions of widows and widowers who have been terribly defrauded by Social Security staff, either knowingly or accidentally, over the years via staff-assisted or unilateral staff decisions that served only to financially injure actual or prospective widow(er)s.
Follow me @kotlikoff To safely raise your living standard and assess your investment risk, check out MaxiFi and my company. Pls pose Social Security questions at Ask Larry.
I am a professor of economics at Boston University, a Fellow of the American Academy, a Research Associate of the NBER, and President of Economic Security Planning, Inc. -- a company that markets personal financial planning tools at maxifi.com, maximizemysocialsecurity.com,...

After Reconsidering The Reconsideration Step, SSA Added It Again To The 5-Step Process

Changes in Social Security disability application process affect Louisianans

 Administration has recently implemented changes to their Social Security Disability Income application process, including the reinstatement of the reconsideration step in the claim application process in five states, with Louisiana among them.
The SSA removed the reconsideration step from the claim application process in ten states in 1999, and is adding it back now as part of an effort to save money. Some filing for disability may benefit from reconsideration, but others will see longer delays in claim processing.
“What people basically need to know is that starting January 1, Louisiana applicants see a new step in the process of filing for SSDI,” said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of Operations Strategy and Planning with Allsup, an organization that helps claim applicants navigate the process.
Reconsideration takes places after an initial application has been denied, which happens in two out of every three claims. For the 13 percent of people who get accepted after reconsideration, this step saves them time and saves the government money. The other 87 percent of applicants will continue to the appeal process, so reconsideration effectively adds three to six months processing time to their claim,” Stein said.
Part of FICA taxes workers pay each year funds SSDI benefits, as sort of a long term insurance program for workers who become injured beyond their ability to continue working.
“There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the program,” Stein said. “People think it’s easy to get on and the government just gives away money, but it’s actually a very stringent program. It’s only open to people who have paid in through their taxes and have been injured in a serious and long term way. So, most of our clients are people who have been dealt some of the worst hands anyone can be dealt, from a medical standpoint.”
After a worker is injured and files a claim with the SSA, an initial determination is made after four to six months, with about 34 percent of claims approved on average. For nearly twenty years, Louisiana claimants moved from an initial rejection into an appeal process, held before a judge, with wait times that currently average around 450 days. Rejected claims filed after January 1 will now move into the reconsideration phase prior to an appeal process.
“Back in the late 90s, the SSA looked at the reality that only 13 percent of applications were accepted following reconsideration and decided to see if they could save money, or speed things up, by eliminating that step,” Stein said. “The Trump Administration now says it has research indicating it could result in a net savings to keep reconsideration.”
SSDI appeal hearings are expensive, requiring judges, vocational and medical experts and travel budgets.
“The Trump Administration says that 13 percent less appeal hearings could save money,” Stein said. “For the people who see their application granted during reconsideration, this will also save time. The vast majority of people will see additional time and paperwork as part of their SSDI claim process.”
There has been some controversy surrounding the introduction of the SSA’s new policy. During a congressional meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee last summer, several members objected to the reinstatement of the reconciliation process, and acting SSA commissioner Nancy Berryhill signed a letter along with eleven members of Congress arguing that “there is little evidence to show that reconsideration is a meaningful step in the disability appeals process.”
Despite some resistance to recent changes, the Trump Administration has nominated a new commissioner to head the agency – Andrew Saul and plans to move forward.
“They have a roll out schedule in place and we can expect to see more changes in April and October, and well as early next year. These changes can make an already complex situation more confusing, and we just encourage people to hire someone knowledgeable to try and shorten what will already be a long time without income after an injury,” Stein said.
28th January 2019 
By Meghan Holmes
Contributing Writer
The Social Security

Friday, January 11, 2019

Who Is Robert W. Patterson and Why Do Homosexuals Hate Him?

Robert W. Patterson, a right-wing commentator turned acting associate commissioner at the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of Strategic and Digital Communications, once railed against married women, homosexuality, and condoms, according to a series of clips gathered by liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.
 In a 2011 since-removed Washington Examiner op-ed, Media Matters reports, Patterson wrote that the government “has facilitated the movement of mothers out of the home economy and into the market economy, undermining the family as an economic unit, marriage as a lifelong partnership, and the well-being of children.”
He has also reportedly worked for two anti-gay organizations, criticized the American Psychiatric Association for not listing homosexuality as a mental disorder, and advocated for conversion therapy, a practice that has been resoundingly debunked. Media Matters also cites a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, which summarized a piece Patterson co-wrote for the conservative journal Family in America. The piece, the Inquirer notes, summarizes recent family-related studies—and covers one study which claims that condom use deprives women of the “remarkable” chemicals in semen. The study also claims that “semen-exposed women” performed better on cognitive tasks.

(Washington, DC, Jan 11, 2019) — The following is a statement from Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works, in reaction to a Media Matters exposé on the outrageous misogyny and homophobia of Robert W. Patterson, who Donald Trump appointed as an Associate Commissioner at the Social Security Administration:
“American workers earn their Social Security benefits with every paycheck. It is the responsibility of the federal government to competently and fairly administer those benefits.
Donald Trump has made a mockery of that responsibility by appointing a horrific bigot and crackpot, who seriously believes that condoms rob women of “remarkable chemicals” in semen, to a key leadership position at the Social Security Administration. Robert W. Patterson must resign immediately. ”

Part of the Trump administration’s numerous vacancies, the president claims, are by design. Trump has frequently decried the numerous White House staffing positions as government waste, saying in an October interview with Forbes that his administration “[doesn’t] need as many people.”
I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don’t need them. I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary. They have hundreds of thousands of people,” Trump told Forbes.
Experts, however, say that simply not staffing his administration doesn’t work the way Trump claims.
“There is a legitimate case to be made for de-layering government, for reducing the number of political employees, but you have to do that intentionally,” Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, told the Guardian. “Failing to nominate people in a reasonably quick fashion isn’t the same as intentionally deciding, saying that you want to remove certain jobs from government so that you can make it more streamlined. The latter would be, I think, welcomed.”
Many of the vacant positions, NPR noted in October, are temporarily filled by career civil servants, who experts said may be more tentative and risk-averse than political appointees.
These civil servants, Stier explained to NPR, are “the proverbial substitute teacher; everyone knows you’re not around for the long term. Whatever decisions you make aren’t going to necessarily stick. You’re not likely to take the long-term view or handle the most difficult issues.”
Furthermore, these interim employees’ tenures are now surpassing their legal limits. NPR reported in November that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives presidential administrations 300 days to fill political appointments, in order to prevent administrations from simply circumventing the Senate confirmation process by appointing someone to an acting role indefinitely. Trump’s administration has blown past the 300-day mark, meaning that decisions made by an employee in an acting capacity could be subject to a court challenge as being improperly made.

Well, I offer no apology for what I am posting, for this is truly how I feel. This is my opinion, not a debate. If you disagree, or find my position offensive, I'm perfectly fine with that.
 I have lived through several United States Presidents prior to our current President Trump. In my lifetime, I have never seen nor heard of a President scrutinized over every word he speaks, humiliated by the public to the point of disgrace, slandered, ridiculed, insulted, lied to/about, threatened with death, had his wife and our First Lady disrespected, & his minor child insulted, threatened & harassed.
I am ashamed and saddened by the ruthless, meanspirited, hateful, cruel, biased people who display themselves as having no civic pride, morals, ethics, decency or respect for our country's traditions and values. My elders and teachers taught me many yrs ago to respect our President, whether I voted for them or not. All the news stations & reporters who feel they have the right to perpetuate blatent lies and fabricate "facts" for a "good story" are dividing our country beyond belief. Many only report the negative "news" and never the accomplishments of our President. If people do not research everything put out by the MSM, they are left to believe all the hate mongering news. This is leading to so much intolerance that I feel we are nearing the brink of a civil war! No other President that took the oath of office, has been on the news 24/7, scrutinized for their every word, facial expression, decision, handshake, what he eats... NO, he is not perfect, far from it! No President or person is, including you and I!!!!! Yes, he makes stupid comments and doesn't use the flowery language of a "professional politician". However, I believe he truly loves the United States of America and works tirelessly to make things better for us all. He is very different than what we've become accustomed to, thank goodness. The people who would rather see our country fail than help him do his job need to stop. I was always taught "If you can't be part of the solution then at least don't be part of the problem". I personally want our President Donald Trump, as I did his predecessors, to succeed. To hope for failure is INSANE. United we stand; divided we fall.

No Cap On Amount Of Fees Social Security Attorneys May Charge Clients

Opinion analysis: Social Security cap on attorney’s fees applies separately to successful representation before a court

According to a unanimous opinion released today, Social Security law does not impose an aggregate cap of 25 percent on attorney’s fees for successful representation of a Social Security disability claimant before both the Social Security Administration and a court. Instead, a 25 percent cap applies separately to representation before the court. This is a win for attorney Richard Culbertson, who represented a disability claimant both before the Social Security Administration and in court. He may now collect separate attorney’s fees for his successful representation before the court.
The case turned on the meaning of “such representation” in 42 U.S.C. § 406(b), which provides in relevant part:
Whenever a court renders a judgment favorable to a claimant under [Title II of the Social Security Act] who was represented before the court by an attorney, the court may determine and allow as part of its judgment a reasonable fee for such representation, not in excess of 25 percent of the total of the past-due benefits to which the claimant is entitled by reason of such judgment.
The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, first applied a plain-meaning approach. The court quoted the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English for the definition of “such”: “[o]f the kind or degree already described or implied,” and declared that “the only form of representation ‘already described’ in § 406(b) is ‘represent[ation] before the court by an attorney.’” Based on this statutory language, the court announced that “the 25% cap applies only to fees for representation before the court, not the agency.”

Although the court began its analysis by quoting an earlier opinion: “We begi[n] with the language of the statute itself, and that is also where the inquiry should end, for the statute’s language is plain,” the court did not end the inquiry with the dictionary definition of “such.” Instead, it also considered other provisions of the statute and found that the structure of the statute and its other provisions were consistent with its interpretation of the statute.
The court noted that two different provisions, 42 U.S.C. § 406(a) and 42 U.S.C. § 406(b), address different stages of representation and calculate fees differently. Section 406(b) applies to court representation and imposes a flat 25 percent cap on fees for court representation. Section 406(a) applies to representation before the agency and provides two methods for determining fees for agency representation. One method, Section 406(a)(2), applies to fee agreements and caps fees at the lesser of 25 percent of past-due benefits or $6,000. The second method, Section 406(a)(1), applies when there is no fee agreement and authorizes the agency to set any fee, including a fee that exceeds 25 percent of past-due benefits, as long as the fee is “reasonable.”
The Supreme Court concluded that it would make little sense to apply the Section 406(b) court-stage cap to agency-stage Section 406(a) fees or the aggregate of Sections 406(a) and 406(b) fees. First, because many claimants never litigate in court, it would be incongruous to impose a 25 percent cap on agency fees based on a statutory provision regulating representation before a court. Second, applying the 406(b) cap to agency representation without a fee agreement would impose a limitation that Congress did not include in the relevant statutory provision. According to the court, “[i]f Congress had wanted these fees to be capped at 25%, it presumably would have said so directly in subsection (a), instead of providing for a ‘reasonable fee’ in that subsection [§ 406(a)(1)] and adding a 25% cap in § 406(b) without even referencing subsection (a).”
The court then turned to amicus Amy Weil’s argument that, when the statute is read as a whole, it is evident that Congress intended to place a cumulative 25 percent cap on attorney’s fees. The court acknowledged that Weil was correct in noting that the Social Security Administration only withholds a single pool of 25 percent of past-due benefits from which to pay fees for both agency and court representation. The court, however, noted that the single pool was the result of agency policy and the statute itself authorizes two pools of money for direct payment of fees. More importantly, according to the court, “the amount of past-due benefits that the agency can withhold for direct payment does not delimit the amount of fees that can be approved for representation before the agency or the court.” Until 1968, the Social Security Act allowed fees for successful representation before the agency but did not provide for direct payment from past-due benefits. In addition, under current “§§ 406(a)(1) and (4), the agency can award a ‘reasonable fee’ that exceeds the 25% of past-due benefits it can withhold for direct payment.”
The outcome is not surprising in light of the clear text of the statute and the fact that neither party defended the judgment below. Although Weil “ably discharged her assigned responsibilities” as amicus, and “despite the force of [her] arguments,” the court ruled against her as it does in 75 percent of cases with court-appointed amici curiae.

Click for vote alignment by ideology.