Posted with her permission, below is a testimonial from a client whom I assisted in reversing a Medicare Part B penalty and saving her thousands of dollars.
“I first want to say that this account is being told with the help of my fiancée, Brian. He has been my biggest supporter and has spearheaded the research, documentation, Internet search, etc. needed to accomplish our goals.
In 1985, I was broadsided by a tractor-trailer that ran a red light. I suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and was in a coma for three months. After I came out of my coma, I had to start all over. Learning to walk, talk, etc. I have never fully recovered and still suffer residual effects. I have been on Social Security Disability since the accident and do not expect to ever return to the work force. After struggling with life for about 21 years, I decided I would check into seeing what might be out there for further rehabilitation. I ended up under the care of Dr. Ann Hakkila. During this time, she noticed that I was paying for her services out of my own pocket. She then told me that I should be eligible for Medicare Part B. I looked into it and found that I was. But was told I was going to be assessed a penalty.
This started a six and one half year struggle to have the unjustified penalty dropped. I was told that the penalty was being assessed because I had signed a card, in 1987, refusing Medicare Part B coverage. And according to law, I was to be charged a 10% increase, in monthly premiums, for each full twelve months since the refusal. When I stared receiving Part B coverage, 7/1/2007, I was paying a standard premium fee of $93.50 plus a surcharge of $177.70. Monthly total of $271.20. If this were to continue until I reached age 65, when the penalty would be dropped, I would pay $41,581.80 in penalties.
I requested a copy of the card be sent to me. And was totally stonewalled trying to get SSA to produce it. My financial advisor suggested that I write to my local political representatives. I did so first contacting my congressman Dave Camp. I received a copy soon after doing so. It had taken from September 2006 to September 2011 and getting our local congressman involved to get a copy. When I got it, the first thing I said was that the signature was not mine. Now during the time between requesting the card and getting it, we had filed several requests for relief. All were denied. We were even told that the penalty could not be waived because it was a legislative issue. In addition, it would take an act of congress to do so. Later we found that this was not a true statement. Lucky we would not take no for an answer. Also, by the time we received the card we had filed all the required requests and were at the step of requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge with SSA. We were not getting any response from SSA and contacted our local senator Debbie Stabinow. She was able to light a fire under SSA and we were scheduled for a hearing. Prior to the hearing I requested Edward C. Cook, PhD if he would review the medical evaluation documentation I had saved from 1988. Together with this and records kept by Dr. Hakkila he was able to produce an evaluation report showing that I did not have the capacity to enter into any agreement or contracts with any individual or government entities.
From almost the beginning of this ordeal, we had contacted more lawyers than I can remember asking for representation. Every one of them turned us down and many said we did not stand a chance. Luckily, with the paper work sent for the hearing a list of where to find representation was included. We called Raymond A Harris. We quickly met and he decided to take our case. We were so excited that after so many years we were finally going to be able to tell our side. It has always been my contention that :
#1 I did not have the capacity to make any decision such as I was being asked to do.
#2 The signature on the card was too smooth to be mine due to the tremor I have had since the accident.
#3 Up until 2006 I did not know any thing about Medicare Part B. Proof of that is I carried my own health insurance at a higher cost than if I were on Medicare Part B.
The day of the hearing comes and Mr. Harris was called into the courtroom to talk to the judge, with out us, before the hearing starts. During this meeting, the judge informed Mr. Harris that this case is not within his jurisdiction and that it needs to be heard by an Administrative Law Judge with Medicare. We were stunned, that after this many years this went unnoticed by any one with SSA. A few months later, we were able to get a new hearing. With all the evidence we had compiled and Mr. Harris’s expertise we were finally able to get a favorable decision from the judge. This included that administrative error had occurred, refund all penalties paid and to stop all penalties now and in the future.
I feel SSA misplaced documents, misrepresented the law and stalled our pursuit of justice every step of the way. It is our strong opinion that Mr. Harris’s assistance was crucial to our success. The key here was to prove that there was an administrative error committed by SSA. Mr. Harris was able to utilize all the evidence we had compiled to do just that. We would never had been able to so on our own.
This has been a long and extremely emotional journey to have experienced. Although I would not want to go through it again, I feel I have learned that never giving up when you know you have done nothing wrong will win over in the end.