Monthly Archives: January 2014

Disabled veterans SSDI claims to receive faster review

Many veterans make a significant sacrifice during their service. They risk their life and limb while serving their country, and when they return, it is right and fitting that we provide support for those who have been injured in that service. From obvious physical injuries, like lost limbs from IEDs and gunshot wounds, to the less obvious, but equally debilitating psychological impairments, they are left unable to return to their prior jobs or obtain new ones.

Too often, upon returning, they would receive a disability rating from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). One would think this would allow them to easily apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. This, however, is not the case.

One problem is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) backlog in claims processing. The rising number of applications for SSDI has meant a nearly constant backlog for the last decade or more, and while SSA has been able to reduce it at time, it is still averages more than three months in most parts of the country.

If you need to appeal a denial, the time can increase to a year or more. With this as a backdrop, the SSA has announced new plans to move veterans’ claims to the high-priority list that receives an expedited review.

Of course, this does not lower the eligibility requirements for veterans, meaning it is just as important as ever to obtain assistance when assembling your SSDI application. The change will mean your claim will be looked a more quickly, but it will still be denied if it is missing documentation or other necessary information.

Some SSDI beneficiaries may recover and return to work

When a worker suffers a disabling illness or injury, they often wind up applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to help pay their rent and buy their groceries. The SSDI program pays benefits to those with severe physical and mental conditions that leave them out of work for at least a year and make returning to work unlikely, if not impossible.

However, some recipients of SSDI may experience an improvement in their health, and new research suggests that it may be the SSDI program that helps them to recover and eventually return to the workforce.

The research looked at a large number of SSDI beneficiaries who lost their benefits when Congress changed the eligibly requirements. The study found that some of those who quickly received their benefits, had a greater likelihood of being able to return to work and earn more than they would have been about to earn under the SSDI program’s income limits.

There has been much discussion on how to limit the size of the SSDI program. Helping disabled workers return to work would assist with that goal, but the report suggests there are limits.

It found that workers with drug or substance abuse problems had a better chance of returning to work than those with chronic health conditions. Individuals with heart disease did not see an improvement in their rate of returning to work, which is unsurprising.

Chronic diseases, like heart, lung or liver ailments often do not improve, even with access to health care, and disabled workers suffering from these conditions are unlikely to see their health improve sufficiently to allow them to return to work

More Americans receiving government assistance

According to the Census Bureau report, analyzing data from the fourth quarter of 2011, 49.2 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives “food stamps Medicaid or other programs.” There was a slight uptick in households with the elderly receiving Social Security and Medicare, but the largest increases went to the poor.

With the very weak job market, many people misinterpret the data that shows increases to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the last few years as meaning the unemployed are applying to SSDI after their unemployment benefits are exhausted and using it as an extended unemployment insurance program.

The only cases where that could happen would involve someone who had suffered a physical or mental impairment and been out of work for 12 months or more. And this may happen, for instance, where an individual has worked in a manual labor trade, like health-care aid or landscaper, and injured their back by years of heavy lifting.

Because they do not have training for sedentary work, with their injury, they will be unlikely to find any work. Their injury will leave them disabled and would allow them to obtain SSDI benefits. Of course, they would need to apply for SSDI and have their application approved.

With many office workers out of work, those with less training and experience have little chance of obtaining employment in a less strenuous line of work.

A new program designed to help SSI children

A challenge for any government benefit program is to control costs. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a case in point. The program offers financial support for low-income individuals who are blind or disabled.

Children are eligible for the SSI benefits and it can provide an essential supplement for parents and caregivers who often face many difficult struggles while coping with the costs of doctors and hospital visits, prescription drugs and other healthcare equipment.

From an administrative point of view, these programs can see ever increasing expenses due to beneficiaries being added to the program when they are young (children can be eligible for SSI from birth), and spending their entire life receiving benefits. And allegations of fraud are always being raised as the costs for the programs increase.

One way to help children on SSI become capable of no longer needing the program is to provide them with the education and job training that enables them to obtain work as adults.

A new demonstration initiative, PROMISE (Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income), was announced by the Department of Education, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services and will take place in 11 states.

The program will attempt to coordinate services for children on SSI and improve their education, training and eventual job prospects.

If successful, these demonstration projects could be rolled out in all the states and help children nationwide. It would also provide a benefit to the Social Security Administration by slowing the growth and the expense of the program.

What do you mean a paralyzed arm is not severe?

A 2-year-old may be many things, but disingenuous is generally not one of them. Aside from not really understanding the concept, they are typically the opposite, saying aloud what many people may think, but would never utter. So, with all the allegations of fraud within government disability programs like Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental security income (SSI), one would not suspect that a 2-year-old would present a questionable case for benefits.

In Philadelphia, a 2-year-old girl suffered damage to the nerves of her arm during birth. A condition known as Klumpke’s palsy, it results from an injury to the shoulder of a child, often by being wrenched during birth. It causes paralysis in the arm and is usually permanent.

She is an otherwise a happy, active child, but she is beginning to become frustrated with her disability. She should seemingly qualify for a disability program like SSI, as her parents earn less than the federal poverty guidelines for a family of three, in spite of her mother working two jobs as a health care aid.

Their application for SSI has been denied three times and they are now appealing the decision to a federal court. While reports often surface regarding fraud and abuse with disability programs like SSI, a professor of disability policy from Brandeis University noted that “SSI rules are byzantine and too strict,” and that families that should be able to obtain benefits from SSI are denied.

It is always unfortunate when people with genuine disabilities and needs are denied benefits because the system has been made so complex by efforts to prevent fraud.