Category Archives: disability

Fair Housing Act and discrimination against the disabled

Recently on out disability forum a claimant asked, “I am a disabled veteran also receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I am currently in a wheelchair, and I have asked for several accommodations from my landlord. He has refused my requests. I understand that under the Fair Housing Act I may have the legal right to ask for some accommodations. What legal accommodations can I ask for due to my disability and can he refuse to make the accommodations?”

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Skin Conditions and SSDI benefits

Severe skin conditions are not only painful, but workers may also find it is difficult to perform full-time work with their condition. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is offered to claimants who have a mental or physical health condition which will last 12 continuous months and does not allow them to perform substantial gainful activity. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “If I have a chronic skin condition and cannot work can I receive SSDI benefits?”

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Concerns about SSA funding continue–especially for SSDI benefits

SSDI benefits exempt from many creditors, but funding hammered by high, chronic unemployment

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We’ve addressed this before, but with the debt-ceiling debate, US credit downgrade and endless political posturing, it’s probably a good time to once again discuss the financial health of Social Security overall and the SSDI and SSI programs in particular.

Experts warn of shortfalls in retirement and disability benefits

As we’ve written before, Social Security itself has been declared to be OK until about 2036; in other words, if nothing changes between now and then, the fund will be able to pay out only about 75 per cent of scheduled payments. Medicare is in slightly worse shape, but SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) will be busted sometime between 2015 to 2018.

SSDI could run dry as early as 2015

According to long Wall Street Journal piece on SSDI payments increasing in Puerto Rico (but also instructive for its good info on the SSDI national status), “The SSDI is set to soon become the first big federal benefit program to run out of cash—and one of the main reasons is U.S. states and territories have a large say in who qualifies for the federally funded program. Without changes, the Social Security retirement fund can survive intact through about 2040 and Medicare through 2029. The disability fund, however, will run dry in four to seven years without federal intervention, government auditors say.”

Applications have risen along with increased unemployment

According to an Aug. 22 account at Politico.com:

The Social Security disability fund is fast running out of money and may not be able to make payments starting in 2017, thanks in part to the bad economy driving claims up over the past decade, The Associated Press reported.

Applications for benefit claims have risen almost 50 percent in the past 10 years, as many people with disabilities are laid off and cannot find new jobs in the difficult job market. And, the AP added, the rush for benefits is causing a major backup for applicants currently waiting to get their cases decided.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the disability trust fund will be exhausted by 2017 unless Congress acts. If the fund’s balance falls to zero, it cannot pay out full benefits unless the law is altered. And it’s not the only benefit fund that’s nearly insolvent: In 2040, the CBO projects, Social Security’s retirement fund will also be out of cash.

So, the exact years are in question, but the timeframes are roughly equivalent.

One concern: the ‘multiplier effect’

And it’s not only the SSDI direct benefits that add to the bill. From the NYT’s piece, which gives a dollar figure of benefits in Puerto Rico as averaging a “modest” $1,064 a month:

But the program opens up access for recipients to other government programs, multiplying the ultimate cost to taxpayers.

Anyone who spends two years on SSDI qualifies for the Medicare health program, which usually is available only for those 65 years old and older. SSDI recipients tend to remain tethered to the program for years, and the government’s lifetime financial commitment averages $300,000 per person, estimates David Autor, an SSDI expert who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The system has profound problems,” Mr. Autor said.

SSDI’s financial woes pose a major test for the White House and Congress, which have been reluctant to tackle the budget-busting costs of entitlements.

Analysts who track the program say the only short-term way to save it without raising taxes would be to fold it into the fund that pays Social Security. That would likely force retirees to face benefit cuts two or three years sooner than they otherwise would have done, because SSDI costs would diminish retirement funds.

SS & SSDI fundings have been combined before

Various sources agree that Social Security (retirement) and SSDI (disability payments) were, in fact, temporarily combined in 1994, as a stopgap, emergency measure. What I’ve not understood, yet–although I do get it about the “multipliers–is how can payroll-funded benefits be such a problem?

In other words, if unemployment is the prime factor, i.e. joblessness strains the system via reduced payroll-tax contributions, then why doesn’t the system seem to care more about unemployment?

Weeding out beneficiaries who ‘sneak back to work’

SSI is not funded by payroll deductions but by the general revenue fund. In other words, a work history is not required to qualify. However, it is much more restrictive. According to the AP, a chronic problem–which we’ve reported about–is lack of review that would spot beneficiaries who have gotten work but kept taking benefits:

Today, about 13.6 million people receive disability benefits through Social Security or Supplemental Security Income. Social Security is for people with substantial work histories, and monthly disability payments average $927. Supplemental Security Income does not require a work history but it has strict limits on income and assets. Monthly SSI payments average $500.

As policymakers work to improve the disability system, they are faced with two major issues: Legitimate applicants often have to wait years to get benefits while many others get payments they don’t deserve.

Last year, Social Security detected $1.4 billion in overpayments to disability beneficiaries, mostly to people who got jobs and no longer qualified, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Delays can leave unpaid bills piled high

Another concern, according this piece at credit.com, is the delay and lag-time in receiving benefits. As mentioned, the influx of applicants from the unemployed adds to the delay. So what shape are beneficiaries in when they finally begin receiving payments?

For many recipients, Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are their financial lifeline. Their more immediate concern may not be what happens in Washington to save the program, but what happens today to the money they receive. I couldn’t find any statistics about how many SSDI and SSI recipients have past-due bills, but if our email is any indication, plenty of them are struggling and getting calls from creditors or debt collectors threatening to take the little income they do get each month. And because it takes so long to get approved for disability these days, applicants may find themselves already in the hole by the time they start receiving benefits.

Benefits not shielded from child support, taxes or student loans

However, there’s a bright spot in that few creditors can successfully come after these benefits. Again from credit.com: “For those who rely on these benefits, the good news is that they are generally protected from creditors and debt collectors. However there are exceptions in the case of past-due child support, past-due taxes, and federal student loans. “ ‘They can chase you (for student loans) to the grave,’ warns bankruptcy attorney Cathy Moran.”

Free evaluation available

Just remember, we can help connect you with a compatible, trained attorney who can help you with your case–if nothing else, it’s possible that an experienced attorney might be able to steer your case toward a more reasonable outcome.

Help is available whether you’re fighting denied or delayed benefits or whether creditors are threatening to attach benefits you’ve already received. Consider signing up for your free evaluation today.

SSA touts advantages of online disability application

The Social Security Administration reports in a Webinar filmed in October 2010 that “Last year SSA received almost half a million more disability applications than [in] the previous year. 70 % of those applications were filed online.”

Watch ‘Webinar’ for basics of online application

Click here to watch the Webinar; it’s about 40 minutes long, covering these topics:

  • Advantages of doing business with Social Security online;
  • Who can file online;
  • Getting started;
  • Applying for benefits;
  • Recent enhancements to online applications, and
  • What happens after you submit.

The SSA encourages those with the following qualifications to apply:

  • Individuals applying for Social Security benefits who are 18 or older;
  • Those with a mental or physical condition that
    1. has prevented work for at least 12 months, or
    2. is expected to prevent work for at least 12 months, or
    3. is expected to end in death
  • Residents of the U.S. or its territories/commonwealth.

Why apply online?

The SSA describes the ease of submitting an online application:

Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:

  • You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment
  • You can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer; and
  • You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.

What’s needed to do the application?

To the question, “What information should I gather before I get started?” the SSA says:

For the Disability Benefit Application, you should have:

  • Your Social Security number;
  • Direct deposit numbers (from a check, or ask your financial institution for the numbers) to have your monthly benefits deposited automatically;
  • Your W-2 Form from last year or, if you were self-employed, your federal income tax return (IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE);
  • An original or certified copy of your birth certificate and, if you were born in another country, we also need proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency;
  • Information about any workers’ compensation claim you have filed, including date of injury, claim number, and proof of any payments made to you; and
  • If you were in the military service, the original or certified copy of your military discharge papers (Form DD 214) for all periods of active duty.

For the Adult Disability Report, you should have:

  • The name, address, and phone number of someone who knows about your condition and can help with your claim;
  • Information about your illnesses, injuries, and conditions, including dates of treatment, and patient ID numbers; and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the medical providers who treated you;
  • Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them;
  • Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who requested the tests;
  • Medical records that you already have; and
  • Types of jobs and dates you worked for your last five jobs.

Other frequently asked questions

Here’s some other common questions and the answers from the SSA:

Do I have to finish all the questions in one session?

No. If you need more time, you can save the information you entered and then stop. We will give you separate numbers for the Disability Benefit Application and the Adult Disability Report that you can enter when you want to return to answer the rest of the questions.

What if I can’t answer everything?

Even if you are unable to answer all the questions on the Adult Disability Report, you may still submit it to us. We will help you get the missing information.

However, make sure you complete the Disability Benefit Application and select the “Sign Now” button to submit it.

What happens next?

We will ask you to print and sign a medical release form that allows us to get information from your doctors. If you do not have a printer, we will send a medical release for you to sign.

You also will print a cover sheet that you can use to send us the signed medical release and any medical records you already have in your possession.

We will contact you if we need more information about your claim.

Once we have all the information we need to make a decision about your disability claim, we will send you a letter.

Availability

The online forms are available to you seven days a week during the following hours (Eastern time):

Monday-Friday: 5 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Saturday: 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Holidays: 5 a.m. until 11 p.m.

How to get started

Follow these 4 easy steps to apply online

Step 1. Review the Adult Disability Checklist for details about what you will need before starting the online process.

Step 2. Fill out the online Disability Benefit Application to provide us with information regarding eligibility for payment.

Step 3. Fill out the online Adult Disability Report to provide us with medical and work history.

Step 4. Fill out, sign and mail or take the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration Get Adobe Reader to your local Social Security Office.

A Venous Malformation and Receiving Social Security Disability

Arteriovenous malformation in hereditary hemor...

Image by Pulmonary Pathology via Flickr

A venous malformation is a lesion (abnormality of tissue) that occurs as a result of dilated (enlarged, expanded) veins that have been abnormally formed. A venous malformation usually appears on your skin, but it can also develop in your organs, muscle or bone. These legions can even develop on your brain, but this is very rare.

A venous malformation is typically soft and dark blue. However, it can become hard if a blood clot develops. The size of a venous malformation can be anywhere from a pinhead-sized dot to a huge lesion several inches in diameter. A venous malformation may be one single lesion, or it may be one of many lesions.

The walls of the affected vein do not have the smooth muscle cells that are evidenced in a normal vein when a venous malformation is present. The exact cause of a venous malformation is not known. However, in families with multiple venous malformations, DNA studies have revealed mutated (defective) genes that are responsible for the communication between your cell lining and the smooth muscle cells in the walls of your vein.

A venous malformation is the most common kind of vascular anomaly. Somewhere around 1 to 4% of the population of the United States has a venous malformation. Men and women are affected equally by these lesions.

There are several signs and symptoms that you may experience with a venous malformation. These signs and symptoms vary according to the location of your venous malformation. Some of these are:

  • Difficulties with breathing
  • Problems with speaking
  • Painful swelling and enlargement of the affected area
  • Blood clots that cause a pulmonary embolus
  • Localized intravascular coagulation
  • Painful formation of blood clots
  • Skin that usually appears purple or blue
  • The formation of vein stones (phleboliths).

You or a loved one may be suffering from a venous malformation. A venous malformation and/or complications that have developed from it or other ailments that you have along with this disorder may have resulted in the disability of you or your loved one and be the reason why you are not able to work.

As a result of this disorder, you may need assistance. You may need financial help.

You or your loved one may be thinking about applying for the financial assistance that you need from the Social Security Administration by applying for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits because of the disability that has resulted from a venous malformation and/or complications that have been brought about by it or other ailments that you have along with this disorder. You may have already tried this option, and your claim was turned down by the Social Security Administration.

If you or your loved one has been considering reapplying or appealing the denial, here is an important fact that you really need to be aware of that you may not know. The fact of the matter is that people who are represented by a disability lawyer like the one you will find at disabilitycasereview.com are approved more often than people who do not have a disability attorney on their side.

Please do not hesitate or wait until tomorrow. This is something that may affect you or your loved one for the rest of your life. Contact the disability lawyer at disabilitycasereview.com, today.

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Thoracic Spondylosis and Receiving Social Security Disability

Osteoarthritis

Image via Wikipedia

Arthritis is a disease that involves inflammation of a joint. It is evidenced and usually accompanied by stiffness, swelling, pain, changes in structure and restriction of motion. Arthritis is not just one disorder. It is a complex disease that refers to over 100 separate conditions and can begin at any age of life.

The two types that are most prevalent are Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Other forms of arthritis include gouty arthritis, Still’s disease, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, septic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Osteoarthritis is marked by low-grade inflammation that leads to pain in your joints. This is due to abnormal wearing of the cartilage that covers and functions as a cushion inside of your joints.

Osteoarthritis is also characterized by the decrease or destruction of synovial fluid that lubricates those joints. You begin to experience pain upon weight bearing, including standing and walking as your bone surfaces become not as well protected by cartilage. Your ligaments may become more lax and regional muscles may atrophy as you have less movement due to the pain that you experience.

Spondylosis is a form of osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disorder of your spine. There are three forms of spondylosis. They are cervical spondylosis, lumbar spondylosis and thoracic spondylosis.

Thoracic spondylosis is characterized by a narrowed space between your vertebral bones in your mid and upper back. As this space grows narrower, your discs begin to bulge out of position. Your nerves in the affected area may become compressed, which results in pain.

There are several signs and symptoms that you may experience with thoracic spondylosis. Some of these are:

  • Extending and bending your body triggers pain
  • Pain and stiffness in the mid and upper parts of your back, especially in the morning after you get out of bed
  • Pain in your upper abdomen and chest
  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands, arms, feet or legs
  • Pain that may radiate (move) to your extremities
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of coordination.

You or a loved one may have thoracic spondylosis. Thoracic spondylosis and/or complications resulting from this condition or other disorders that you may have along with it may have resulted in you or your loved one’s disability and being unable to work.

If this is true, you may need assistance. You may need financial help.

You or your loved one may be intending to apply for the financial assistance that you need from the Social Security Administration by applying for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits because of the disability resulting from thoracic spondylosis and/or complications resulting from this condition or other disorders that you may have in addition to it. You may have already tried this option, and your claim was turned down by the Social Security Administration.

If you or your loved one is planning on reapplying or appealing the denial, here is an important fact to consider. The fact is that people who are represented by a disability lawyer like the one you will find at disabilitycasereview.com are approved more often than people who do not have a disability attorney standing with them.

Please do not delay. Contact the disability lawyer at disabilitycasereview.com, today.

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SOAR’s anecdotal successes may pave way for co-operation among state, federal programs

By Mike Hinshaw

Howard Long is a testament to the possibilities of the SOAR program, so named because it’s an acronym for SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery, a program administered with states and various agencies by the Social Security Administration to help reduce homelessness and provide SSI and SSDI benefits for qualified applicants. The homeless community is particularly difficult to enroll, assess and reliably contact, hence the outreach.

According to a Feb. 22 story at StarNewsOnline, “One year ago Howard Long, 50, was homeless, had no income, and was living outdoors. He had been to the emergency room at least twice and had been arrested for sleeping in public.

“Today Long rents an apartment, pays for groceries and utilities and has health insurance from Medicare.

“What changed Long’s life is an innovative program called SOAR, which last year helped get 31 chronically homeless people in New Hanover County into housing.”

Chronic homelessness

The story says it’s all part of a 10-year effort mounted in concert with United Way to reduce “chronic homelessness” in the Cape Fear region of North Carolina.

According to the local program director, Dan Ferrell, the benefits accrue way beyond the individuals who get help:

” ‘Communities like those in the Cape Fear region have become increasingly aware of the high costs of homelessness in terms of law enforcement, emergency room care and social services,’ Ferrell said. ‘SOAR is one of our major initiatives to reduce the costs of homelessness.’

“SOAR-acquired benefits bring taxes back to state and local communities.”

Local authorities say benefits outweigh the costs

The story says the 31 recipients will split nearly $270,000 this year and indirectly quotes Ferrell as indicating the benefits back to the community will “significantly exceed” the costs.

A specific benefit cited is that the beneficiaries’ lives improve enough to get out of the emergency-room cycle of using hospitals for health care. The thrust of the story is that addressing the essential cause of homelessness pays off better than the fragmented approach of an endless repetition of street sweeps, lockups, and a life of bouncing between temporary shelters and blowing in the wind.

Applying for benefits ‘very complicated, difficult and somewhat adversarial’

But without a concerted effort involving inter-agency cooperation–from federal to local communities–local authorities have few choices besides traditional responses. “Applying for the benefits is ‘very complicated, difficult and somewhat adversarial,’ [Michael] Hosick said. ‘Homeless people in particular can quickly get frustrated and give up.’ ”

Hosick is the local executive director for Triangle/Coastal Disability Advocates.

The case that Jack built–over 30 years

More insight–and another success story–comes from a program in Florida, the Bridgeway Center: “SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery) is a highly effective process that works within the system to assist disabled individuals in obtaining Social Security benefits.  SOAR has proven to be a successful addition to the array of strategies in the prevention and alleviation of homelessness.”

The example case that Bridgeway has on its site concerns the story of  Jack, “who had exhibited emotional and behavioral problems since childhood; anger, mood swings, inability to hold a job, and difficulties completing tasks of daily living.  Growing up, his mother would get so frustrated with him she threw him out of the home many times.”

The cycle would be repeated many times, for decades.

On one of these occasions he was introduced to alcohol and realized that it made the voices in his head go away.  Jack did not like being on the street so he would beg his mother to let him come back home.  When Jack was found wandering the streets extremely drunk at age 16 he was taken to a hospital and admitted under a Baker Act.  Jack stayed in the hospital until he was 18, then he was released to his mother, stabilized on medication.

This living arrangement lasted for around 6 months before again he was on the streets.  This pattern continued for six years, in and out of hospital, staying with his mother, becoming homeless and back to hospital, until his mother passed away.  Then Jack had no place to go; he truly was homeless.  He stopped taking his medication and began to use street drugs. At 25 he was arrested for possession of drugs, and then hospitalized again.

When he was released and admitted to a group home, his Bridgeway Center Case Manager, Donna Morgan took him to apply for Social Security Insurance. He was denied.  Ms. Morgan attempted to assist him in the appeal process but by that time Jack had left the group home. Ms. Morgan then had difficulty maintaining contact with Jack to complete the process. The Social Security Office would not provide her with information on Jack’s appointments schedule, doctor’s visits or paperwork requirements since she was not Jack’s representative. Jack was denied Social Security benefits three times in one year, without proper documentation, and with no one to stand up for him they would not consider his application.

For Jack? SOAR came through

Finally, Jack crossed paths with the system again, when Morgan ran across him, according to the Web site–and by that time, he was 30. However, this time “This time she used the SOAR strategies. Ms. Morgan became Jacks representative, completed the narrative and obtained reports from the many doctors Jack had seen over the years. After compiling all of the evidence as directed in the SOAR training, she submitted the documentation to the Social Security Office. Jack received full benefits within 3 months following application including benefits retroactive for the previous one and a half years.”

It takes a village, they say. In this case, the “village” is federal-state-city-local agency co-operation.

Brucellosis and Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

Swine brucellosis in wild pigs
Image via Wikipedia

Brucellosis is a serious infectious disease. It comes from one of four different species of bacteria that are a part of the genus Brucella.

Brucellosis can be local, which means that it affects only a certain area of your body. However, what makes brucellosis dangerous is that it can have serious widespread complications that affect different organ systems in your body. This includes your central nervous system.

Brucellosis is usually an acute (short-term) disease. However, it can become chronic (long-term) with long lasting complications.

Brucellosis is known by several other names. It is also called Maltese fever, Neapolitan fever, Mediterranean fever, undulant fever, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Bang’s disease, Cyprus fever, brucellemia, goat fever, brucelliasis, melitococcosis and rock fever.

Brucellosis affects hundreds of thousands of animals and people each year in Mediterranean countries and other areas of the world. Brucellosis is not common in the United States. There are about 100 to 200 cases that are reported each year.

Brucellosis is a disease that affects many different domestic and wild animals. There are at least six strains of bacteria that cause this disease in animals, but not all of these strains cause brucellosis in people. Brucellosis is spread from animals to people in three ways. They are:

  • Direct contact with infected animals through a cut or wound that you have
  • Eating raw dairy products that come from infected animals or eating undercooked or raw meat from an infected animal
  • Inhaling the brucella bacteria in the air.

The signs and symptoms of brucellosis may start anywhere from a matter of days to a few months after you have been infected with the brucella bacteria. There are several signs and symptoms that you may experience. Some of these are:

  • Muscle, back and joint pain
  • Weakness
  • An undulating fever (fever that rises and falls)
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sweats.

The signs and symptoms of brucellosis may go away for weeks or months and then come back. If you have chronic brucellosis, signs and symptoms include arthritis, fatigue, fevers and spondylitis (an inflammatory arthritis that affects your spine and joints that are close by).

You or a loved one may have or have had brucellosis. Brucellosis and/or complications that have been caused by this disease may be responsible for you or your loved one’s disability and being unable to work.

You may need assistance if this is true. You may need financial help.

You or your loved one may be thinking about applying for the financial assistance that you need from the Social Security Administration by applying for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits because of the disability caused by brucellosis and/or complications that have been caused by this disease. You or your loved one may have already tried this option and been denied by the Social Security Administration.

If you or your loved one is considering reapplying or appealing the denial, think about this. People who are represented by a disability attorney like the one you will find at Social Security Home are approved more often than people who do not have a disability lawyer fighting for them.

New report calls for incentives to retain disabled workers; June report explains SSDI, VDC differences and goals

By Mike Hinshaw
If you live in Connecticut, this may be of interest, from TheDay.com:

WHO: Linda, a 67-year-old grandmother of three, who became responsible for her daughter’s children after her daughter became too ill from HIV to care for them any longer.

AGENCY: Alliance for Living.

THEIR SITUATION: Linda had her daughter move back home to New London after she was diagnosed with HIV. Her daughter’s medications and health condition leave her with little energy, so like so many grandparents today, Linda is now raising her daughter’s children. The kids range in age from 8 to 15. They are living on their mother’s Social Security disability income supplemented by grandma’s Social Security. Their Christmas wish is for mom to be well again.

WHAT TO GIVE: Gift cards to grocery and department stores.

TO DONATE: Donations can be dropped off at the Alliance for Living, 154 Broad St., New London, 06320. For more information, call Cheryl at (860) 447-0884, ext. 229.

Joint report: Keep disabled workers, help SSDI system

According to a Nov. 27 article in The Washington Post, a joint report from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project and the Center for American Progress has concluded that “The government should create incentives for employers to retain disabled workers on their payrolls as a way of slowing unsustainable increases in the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits.”

According to this blog, the report will be released in a few days and will call for upfront action: “The report by the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project and the Center for American Progress, to be released on Dec. 3, urges adding a ‘front end’ of benefits to keep the disabled in their jobs and slow down the rapidly growing expense of the federal disability program, also known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

“Before workers could receive SSDI benefits, they would have to be approved for benefits from the private policy — benefits that would go toward rehabilitation services, partial income support and other related services.”

Troubling figures, revisited

We have reported on the increase in SSDI applicants, particularly the spike from 2008 to 2009, when demand jumped 21 per cent. The Post cites the new report as providing more troubling figures: “Between 1989 and 2009, the share of working-age adults receiving SSDI has doubled to 4.6 percent, and the cost of the program has more than tripled from $40 billion to $121 billion in the same time period, the report said.

“Strikingly, the enrollment increases have not coincided with an increase in disabilities; roughly 10 percent of adults have reported disabilities in both 1989 and 2009. Instead, the enrollment increases reflect ‘a rising rate of dependency and a declining rate of labor force participation among adults with disabilities,’ the report stated.”

As soon as we can get a copy of the report, we’ll discuss it and provide links.

Congressional Research Service report: SSDI versus Veterans Disability Compensation

A Nov. 23 post at a site for what its “About” page says is a global publishing and subscription provider for “research, compliance and management tools for attorneys, consultants, corporations and government agencies,” has a nice primer on June 2010 report from the Congressional Research Service that “sought to clarify why one group of individuals with disabilities may be eligible for benefits under the Veterans Disability Compensation program (VDC), but ineligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program under the Title II of the Social Security Act (SSDI).”

Here’s a link to the report itself: “Disability Benefits Available Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Veterans Disability Compensation (VDC) Programs.”

Two of ‘largest programs’ have important differences

According to the report summary, SSDI, administered by the Social Security Administration, and VDC, administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, “are two of the largest federal disability programs, but strongly differ along several dimensions, including the populations served, how each program defines a ‘disability,’ as well as varying eligibility requirements.”

The report summarizes three crucial differences:

First, SSDI is an insurance program that replaces a portion of earnings for an eligible worker whose illness or injury—while not necessarily caused by a work-related incident—results in an inability to work. SSDI is one of several federal programs funded through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll tax and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax to which all workers and employers in covered occupations (including military personnel) and self-employed individuals make contributions. On the other hand, VDC is not insurance, but is a compensation program in that payments are made to veterans who develop medical conditions that are related to their service in the military. VDC is non-contributory and neither veterans nor active military personnel pay into the program, which is funded through a mandatory appropriation as part of the VA annual budget.

Second, while the purpose of both SSDI and VDC is to provide income security, SSDI provides a financial “safety-net” to eligible civilian and military workers due to their inability to work as a result of long-term or terminal injury or illness. Conversely, VDC provides veterans with tax-free, cash benefits specifically for service-connected illnesses or injuries. The ability to work is not factored into VDC disability determinations, although additional compensation is available for veterans who are unemployable as the result of a service-connected condition(s).

Third, SSDI only compensates workers that are fully disabled, whereas VDC compensates veterans for both partial and fully disabling injuries and illnesses. The VA is further guided by a principle that views disability compensation as an obligation, owed to veterans, for injuries impacting employment that were incurred or aggravated by their service to the country. SSDI benefits are granted solely on medical and economic grounds and other noneconomic factors are not considered. Eligibility requirements generally tend to be more stringent for SSDI than [for] VDC, and most veterans will not likely meet the criteria for both programs.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Receiving Social Security Disability

NEW YORK - JULY 04: First base, dedicated to t...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig was a Hall of Fame baseball player for the New York Yankees, who died of this disease in 1941.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive, fatal neurological disease that attacks the neurons (nerve cells) that control voluntary muscles. The disease belongs to a group of illnesses known as motor neuron diseases. These diseases are evidenced by the gradual degeneration and death of motor neurons.

Motor neurons are nerve cells that are located in your brain, brainstem and spinal cord. They act as vital communication links and controlling units between the voluntary muscles of your body and your nervous system. Messages from motor neurons in your brain are transmitted to motor neurons in your spinal cord. From there the messages are sent to particular muscles.

With amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord degenerate or die. They stop sending messages to your muscles. No longer able to function, your muscles gradually weaken, waste away and twitch. In time, the ability of your brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost.

Somewhere around 20,000 people in the United States have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in America. Men have this disease more often than women. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis usually happens between the ages of 40 and 60, but those older and younger can get the disease.

The first affects of ALS on you are subtle. Some of these are:

§  Cramping, stiffness or twitching of your muscles

§  Nasal or slurred speech

§  Muscle weakness affecting an arm or a leg

§  Difficulty swallowing or chewing.

The parts of your body that are affected by early signs and symptoms depend on which muscles in your body are damaged first. The first symptoms you may notice involve your leg, hand or arm, or speech problems. Regardless of what part of your body is affected first, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to other parts of your body as the disease progresses.

Eventually, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis paralyzes the muscles that are needed to breathe. Most people die from respiratory failure. This usually happens within three to five years after the signs and symptoms begin. However, around 10% of people with ALS live for 10 years or more.

Has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis reached a point where you are unable to work? Is ALS the cause of your disability?

Have you applied for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and been denied? If you appeal the denial, keep this in mind.

You will need a proven disability lawyer like the one at Social Security Home to represent you in this process. This is true because people who have a trusted disability attorney are approved more often than those people who do not have a lawyer.