Tag Archives: Supplemental Security Income

How do I know when it’s time to quit work and apply for SSDI?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was in a car accident about two years ago. I was paralyzed from the waist down. I have continued to work, but over the last several months my income has been declining as I take more and more time off. I continue to have severe pain which requires me to take pain medication. I also have difficulty staying focused. I am wondering if it’s better to go ahead and quit work and file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or if I should try to continue to work part-time?”

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Retirement Benefits and SSDI what do I need to know?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I am about to be 65 years old. I have been on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for several years. I am curious what happens when I reach retirement? Do I get my retirement benefits? Do I get less? What happens to my disability benefits?”

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Dog bite injuries and SSDI benefits?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I was mauled by three dogs about a month ago. I suffered severe injuries, and I am unlikely to work again for at least 12 months. I have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog, but I was wondering if I might also qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)? I plan to eventually return to work but need help with income replacement until that happens.”

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Will a disability lawyer work for free?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I have filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and I was recently denied benefits. I have been told I might want to hire a disability lawyer. I have no money for legal help. I am wondering whether a disability lawyer will work for free, and if not, how much would I have to pay to hire one?”

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Cystic fibrosis can my son get SSI benefits?

Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “My child has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. We have very little money and I am afraid we will not be able to afford the necessary medical care to properly care for him. What are our options? Are there any federally funded programs that can help subsidize my son’s medical care?”

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Denied SSI benefits for severe back injury?

Recently on our disability forum a user wrote, “I have a severe back condition, and I cannot perform any work. I have medical information to support my disability. I applied for SSDI benefits and was denied because the SSA said I did not have enough work credits to qualify and I was not insured. I then applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but I was told my resource and income limit was too high. Can you explain this denial to me? Is there a way I can qualify if I appeal the denial? Continue reading

High Blood Pressure and receiving Social Security Disability

Main complications of persistent high blood pr...

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The Social Security Administration provides two disability programs- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To qualify for either program based on a disability, you will need to prove you have a disabling mental or physical health condition which is so severe you will be unable to perform “substantial activity” for at least 12 continuous months.

So can you get SSDI or SSI disability benefits for high blood pressure. Hypertension is listed as a specific impairment listing under section 4.03 of the SSA Listing of Impairments (SSA Bluebook), titled Hypertensive Cardiovascular disease.

The Social Security Administration will evaluate your high blood pressure as it related to other chronic conditions such as coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure. You may also receive disability if you can prove that the hypertensive condition has caused severe damage to your kidneys, eyes or brain.

Keep in mind the SSA is less concerned with your specific diagnosis and more concerned about whether or not you have the functional capacity to perform substantial activity or work.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, refers to the pressure of the blood as it is pumped through the arteries or vessels, which carry the blood from an individual’s heart to the organs and tissues of the body.

Blood pressure is rated as normal below 120/80 and pre-hypertensive from 120/80 to 139/89. If an individual’s blood pressure is 140/90 or above, they are said to have “high blood pressure”.

So what do these numbers actually mean? The top number is called the systolic blood pressure and refers to the pressure of the arteries as the heart contracts and pushes the blood through arteries. The lower number or diastolic pressure refers to the pressure of the arteries after the contraction.

Approximately one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. This means that over 73 million Americans are at risk for cardiac disease, renal disease, eye injury, and hardening of the arteries. Given the prevalence of high blood pressure, it has been labeled as a national public health problem.

Scientists have studied high blood pressure for years and attempted to determine whether creating an eating plan could help reduce it. At the conclusion of their studies, they determined there was such a plan, and they termed it the DASH Diet eating plan. Scientific studies confirmed by following the DASH Diet and combining it with other changes such as daily physical exercise, participants could lower, prevent, or control their blood pressure.

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If you’re contemplating either a SSI or SSDI claim, you simply must read this

03-31-2011

By Mike Hinshaw

A recent post at Digital Journal underscores the importance of retaining a trained, experienced attorney if you’re fighting for disability claims, regardless of whether it involves an SSI item or an SSDI claim:

At this moment, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is faced with the largest case backlog in history, due to the struggling economy and the corresponding rise in claims, which makes it more important than ever to handle your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim with careful attention to detail, according to Disability Group, Inc., a leading national firm of SSDI attorney representation.

Because there are so many Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases that need to be reviewed by the SSA, applicants now have the opportunity to influence how quickly claims are reviewed, and increase the likelihood of claims getting approved, in two critically important steps.

“So many people make the mistake of not doing two simple things,” says Patrick Ryan, Director of Operations for Disability Group, Inc. “There are two to-dos of applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, which any firm will tell any client.”

The Two To-Dos of Applying for Social Security Disability

    1. Securing Medical Records

When a disability claim is first handled, either at the initial level (when there has been no decision yet) or at the reconsideration level (after a social security disability denial), it is processed by a disability examiner at Disability Determination Services.

But the disability examiner at DDS is not always successful in obtaining all the necessary medical records. In fact, it is not unusual for disability examiners to make decisions on claims even if not all of the medical evidence is in the file. This will happen if a disability examiner simply has no success in getting the records from a particular doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.

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    2. Respond to ALL Social Security Disability letters and notices promptly

A social security disability case can easily run into trouble if an official notice goes unanswered, especially if it requires some type of response with time constraints. In some cases, this means the difference between a denied claim and an awarded claim.

In all instances, a claimant for benefits based on disability should respond promptly to notices sent by either the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) (the office of hearings and appeals), DDS (disability determination services), or the Social Security Field Office or District Office, where the claimant originally applied for benefits).

Surprisingly, a very large percentage of disability claimants do not respond to notices from these offices. Failure to respond causes delays and puts your social security disability claim in jeopardy. Always respond promptly to letters and notices sent by any office connected to the Social Security Administration. “It is easy to respond quickly to notifications from the OHA and the DDS when you have representation helping you through each step of your claim,” says Patrick Ryan, Director of Operations at Disability Group, Inc.

Agreed–that sounds like very good advice.

It’s also good to read the whole article, if you’ve got time. We realize you may not have the inclination. But, if nothing else, it shows the importance of retaining a trained, experienced attorney. This stuff can be overwhelming.

For a return to basics, here’s a post from February:

What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI disability?

Social Security is responsible for two major programs that provide benefits based on disability:  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on prior work under Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Under SSI, payments are made on the basis of financial need.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons.  To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes.  Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible.  The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues.  SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible.  The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.  See Understanding Supplemental Security Income for an explanation of SSI benefit payment rates.

God bless–we understand that anybody reading this information may be in serious trouble. All we’re doing is trying to help.

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.

Arachnoiditis and Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

Your arachnoid is one of the membranes that protect and surround the nerves of your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord. Your arachnoid lining is one of the three linings that surround your spinal cord and brain.

Arachnoiditis is neuropathic disease that is characterized by inflammation of your arachnoid. It is a chronic (long-term) disorder that is a devastating affliction of intractable pain. This is pain that is not relieved by ordinary nursing, medical or surgical measures. It is often persistent and chronic pain that can be psychogenic (originating in your mind) in nature.

Arachnoiditis is also marked by neurological deficits (coming from or pertaining to your nervous system). It is a disease that can be disabling.

There are several different forms of arachnoiditis. These include adhesive arachnoiditis, spinal arachnoiditis, proliferative granulomatous arachnoiditis and cysticercotic arachnoiditis.

Arachnoiditis can affect anyone in any age group, but it occurs most often in adults who are between the ages of 40 and 60. This disease affects men and women equally. Arachnoiditis is not a common disease, but it is growing worldwide because of an increasing number of immunocompromised people including intravenous drug abusers, diabetics, people with AIDS, alcoholics and chemotherapy and transplantation patients.

There are three primary causes of arachnoiditis. They are:

  • Infection-induced arachnoiditis – This is when arachnoiditis is caused by certain infections that affect your spine like fungal and viral tuberculosis or meningitis.
  • Chemically-induced arachnoiditis – This is arachnoiditis that is thought to be brought about by some of the dyes that are used in myelograms.
  • Trauma/surgery-induced arachnoiditis – This is arachnoiditis that is a rare complication of spinal surgery.

There are many different possible signs and symptoms that may be an indication of arachnoiditis. Some of these include:

  • Severe stinging, burning pain
  • Paralysis
  • Spasms, muscle cramps and uncontrollable muscle twitching
  • Weakness, nausea and vomiting
  • Visual disturbances or vision loss
  • Headache or severe headache
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs
  • Bowel, bladder and/or sexual dysfunction
  • Bizarre sensations like water trickling down your leg or insects crawling on your skin.

If arachnoiditis progresses, your signs and symptoms may become more severe and permanent.

You or a loved one may have arachnoiditis. Arachnoiditis and/or complications that have been caused by this disease may have resulted in your disability and inability to work.

Because of this, 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 caused by arachnoiditis and/or complications that have been caused by this disease. You or your loved one may have already done this and been denied by the Social Security Administration.

If you or your loved one has considered 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.