Open Enrollment For Medicare ends December 7, 2014

If you are eligible for Medicare, make sure to choose your plan before December 7, 2014 when the open enrollment period ends.  If you are already enrolled, you may change your health care plan and your prescription drug coverage.  For additional information please check the following websites:


Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us at Sims & Stakenborg wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

Mystery Judge Policy to End

You may remember that the Social Security Administration instituted a policy of not not releasing the identity of the Adminstrative Law Judges (ALJ) assigned to hear each case.  We have recently learned that this policy will end.  The Social Security Administration indicates that beginning on April 20, 2013, the name of the ALJ will be disclosed at the time that the Notice of Hearing is sent.  In most cases, these notices are sent 30-60 days prior to the actual hearing date.  This is good news for claimants.  Each ALJ handles his/her hearings  in their own way.  Attorneys and representatives will again be able to prepare their clients and the case for the ALJ who will be hearing the claim.

Benefits for Social Security Recipients to Increase by 1.7% in 2013

The Social Security Administration has announced that there will be a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries in 2013.  This is less than the 3.6 percent COLA increase for 2012.  The COLA is determined by comparing the change in the Consumer Price Index.

As a result of the COLA, the average monthly benefit for disabled workers in 2013 will be $1132/month.   For a disabled worker, spouse,and one or more children, the average monthly benefit will be $1919 ($32/month more than in 2012).   The maximum benefit payable will be $2533, up $20 from 2012.

The maximum benefits for an individual receiving Supplemental Security Income in 2013 will be $710 compared to $698 in 2012.  As always, SSI payments may be adjusted due to assets and/or income.

Make Sure to Vote!!

One of the most important rights we have in this country, is the right to vote.  Please make sure to vote tomorrow – every vote counts!

Marion County Health Department/Heart of Florida Contact Information

As we have previously discussed, the Heart of Florida will begin providing primary care services in Marion County, Florida beginning on October 1, 2012.  For information on primary care services provided by the Heart of Florida please contact 352-732-6599.  For services which continue to be provided by the Marion County Health Department, please contact 352-629-0137.

If you have questions regarding a social security disability claim, please feel free to give us a call for a free consultation at 352-629-0480.

Will Congressional Investigation Result in fewer Social Security Disability Awards?

Concerns over the Social Security disability trust fund running out of money by 2016 has spurred investigations into the program according to a recent Associated Press article.  People receiving benefits from Social Security Disability have increased 23% over the past five years.  This is most likely due to the influx of “baby boomers” as well as the bad economy which often hurts those with disabilities even more than the general population.  Congressional investigators who have reviewed approximately 300 social security cases have concluded that decisions to award benefits did not properly consider the evidence that was contradictory or insufficient.  Most likely these findings will result in more stringent review of the medical evidence and, in my opinion, will likely result in the denial of more claims.

If you would like to review the entire article please visit:

If you have any questions regarding a Social Security Disability claim please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 352-629-4080.


Remembering 9/11 Our Heroes and Their Families

We at Sims & Stakenborg would like to take a moment to remember the heroes of 9/11 and their families.  We will never forget.

Anxiety – It Can Not Only Harm You, It Can Kill You!!

article by Oregon Hunter, MD

Anxiety, we all have it, because we are human beings, just trying to make it in our difficult lives. Some of us have an easier time of dealing with it, but those who haven’t developed this ability can really suffer.
It is the most common psychiatric diagnosis, sometimes short lived, sometimes a lifelong problem. This disorder may be expressed as a phobia (heights, spiders), or social phobia. A chronic form is PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder.
Brain circuits are found to be hyperresponsive, such as the amygdala. Brain neurotransmitter chemicals are out of balance, and this has resulted in the development of medications that can be used to bring this chemical disorder back under control.
Untreated anxiety literally wears the body down. It has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. (

Fortunately, there are many good medications for the treatment of anxiety. Treatment of unchecked anxiety will help an individual to lead a productive life and should not be associated with any negative stigma. It would be no different than treating other diseases, such as diabetes or seizures.
Other treatments include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral modification, mediation, prayer, yoga, and exercise.
If you have questions about a Social Security Disability Claim please feel free to contact us 352-629-0480 or visit our website at


On June 27, 2012 the Drug Enforcement Agency raided several clinics in Florida as part of a state-wide crackdown on “pill mills.”  Clinics in Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Pensacola and Jacksonville were all raided.  Gainesville Health and Wellness on Newberry Road was one of the clinics targeted in the raid.  If you have been receiving treatment from this clinic for  a chronic pain condition, please seek alternate care as soon as possible.   Many of these medications may cause withdrawal symptoms.  For additional information on this story please click on the link below:

If you have questions regarding a social security disability issue please feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 352-629-0480 or visit our website at