Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

65 Pineville Road, Suite 2
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎


Monthly Archives: May 2013

Lost your disability case? Now what?

So, you lost your Social Security Disability claim.  Now what?

Many people choose to attend their Social Security Disability hearing without representation.  Some win. Some lose.  What are your options if an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issues an Unfavorable Decision (“UFD”)?

First off, you should consider your appeal options.  You can appeal a UFD to the Appeals Council.  You only have sixty days from the date of the UFD to appeal.  If you miss the deadline to appeal you must show good cause why your appeal is late.  The Appeals Council has the authority to reverse the ALJ’s decision, remand it for a new hearing, or keep it the same.  If you do not appeal the UFD, it become final and it is extremely difficult to change the decision later.

You can also decide to file a new claim for benefits.  This is usually not recommended because you are essentially giving up all of your past due benefits, which can be a substantial amount of money and insurance.  However, sometimes this is the best option for the claimant.  Your situation will determine whether you should file a new claim.

If you represented yourself before an ALJ and received a UFD, you should make an appointment to speak with an experienced disability attorney to discuss your options.

English Requirement

Recently, I spoke to a group of immigrants regarding obtaining citizenship.  The question that kept being asked dealt with the English proficiency requirement.  The audience was concerned about elderly immigrants who never received any type of education.  The audience wondered how such a person would ever pass the English Proficiency Exam and obtain citizenship.

If all the other requirements are met for citizenship, the person applying for citizenship must then pass an English Proficiency Test and Civic Test.  These test prevent many from applying for citizenship.  They think they are too old or uneducated to learn English.  Many of these people are not aware that if someone has been a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) for 20 years and is 50 years (20/50) or has been an LPR for 15 years and is 55 years old (15/55) then the English proficiency requirement can be waived.

Although the English proficiency requirement can be waived, the Civics test will still have to be taken.  There is a Medical Disability Exception to the civics exam.  Your doctor will need to fill out a form explaining how your medical disability prevents you from taking the civics exam.  If the person applying for citizenship is 65 years old or older and has been a LPR for at least 20 years (65/20) special consideration will be given for the civics test.

If you are a Legal Permanent Resident and wish to obtain citizenship, please contact an immigration attorney to review the requirements for citizenship.

Something to do in Mobile, Alabama

If you enjoy good music, you might want to check out the Mobile Symphony Orchestra.  MSO is presenting the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB).  If you have ever been to New Orleans you probably know about the PHJB.  If you don’t know about PHJB, now would be a good time to get to know them.  They are performing Saturday, May 11, 2013 – Sunday, May 12, 2013.  Please visit MSO’s website for more information.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

I’ve had a handful of people ask me questions about renewing their green cards.  After reviewing everything I asked the person “have you ever thought about becoming an American citizen?”  I was surprised to hear that many did not know they could become a citizen.

The requirements for a green card holder to become a citizen are listed here.  The last requirement, good moral character, has tripped up many applying for citizenship.

The definition of good moral character is broad and the catch-all “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (CIMT) has caught many immigrants off guard when applying for citizenship.  As stated in the regulations, a CIMT can bar citizenship.

To determine whether a CIMT has been committed, the state criminal statute where the crime was committed has to be examined.   Different states might have different requirements for a crime, although they are named the same. A thorough review of the statute is required.

Because the issue of CIMT can cause so much trouble, it is best to sit down with an attorney and discuss your legal history.  Write down every arrest, conviction, or any run in with the authorities you have had, when it happened, where it happened, and the outcome.  This will allow the attorney to research and determine whether you have a chance of gaining citizenship.

Good luck!