The Social Security Disability system in the United States is very complicated. Whether you are a recently disabled father trying to provide for your family, a single mother who can no longer work because of an illness, or the parent of a child who needs extra help because of a challenging condition, obtaining benefits is not easy. The “system” involves a complex set of rules and requirements that make it very hard for the average person to successfully receive payments.

There is hope, however, and we appreciate you looking for help here. Our law firm provides unique benefits to clients just like you, which include:

  • A singular focus on representing the injured and disabled.
  • Having all important work performed by an experienced disability attorney.
  • A guarantee that you pay no fees unless you obtain social security disability benefits.
  • A proven track record of success in both routine and difficult cases.

Regardless of whether you are considering filing for benefits for the first time, or have been denied numerous times in the past, please call our office at (404) 255-9838. We will discuss your options free of charge, and help you make an informed decision about what to do next. We look forward to talking with you.

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The American Community Survey (ACS) estimated the overall rate of individuals with 1 or more disabilities in the United States population as 12.8% or approximately 41,000,000 people. The U.S. Census Bureau classifies somebody as having a disability if they respond “yes” to any of six questions which identify individuals with daily physical and mental limitations. The survey asked whether questions such as:  “does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs?” and if due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition, do you have difficulty “doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?”

Employment of those with disabilities varied widely based on the type of disability. Those with hearing disabilities are most likely to be employed (51.7%), followed by those with vision disabilities (43.5%), and is lowest for those with independent living (17%) and self-care (15.5%) disabilities. Overall, in 2016, only 36.2% of those with disabilities were employed.  Also, those with disabilities on average made about 2/3 of the median salary of individuals without disabilities, according to the Disability Compendium 2017 Annual Report. There is a $10,000 pay gap between those with and without disabilities in yearly earnings.

Statistically, if you have a disability, it is more likely that you will be living in poverty.   In 2016, among working-age people in the US, 26.6% people lived in poverty.  Of this number, 15.7% were disabled.  This shows a strong relationship between having a disability and living in poverty. Among the population of people with a disability, education is also a factor in whether one lives in poverty.  Individuals with a high school diploma are twenty percent more likely to live in poverty than disabled persons with a college degree.   For this reason, government benefits can be an essential safety net for persons with disabilities.

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For those who successfully apply and qualify for Social Security disability benefits, many people wonder how much they will receive each month in payments. There is not one simple answer to this question, as it depends on which disability benefits you are eligible for, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Also, another factor is how much money you earned and paid into the Social Security system. If you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may be eligible for SSI disability benefits if you are low income.  SSI benefits are $750 per month at the maximum level.  In America, 12 million people with disabilities receive either SSI or SSDI. In 2014, the average annual benefit for a disabled worker in Georgia was $14,028 or $1,169 per month. This was only slightly higher than the federal poverty threshold for a working-age single person of $12,316.

While certainly beneficial, it is difficult in Georgia to live solely off a disability payment. For example, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Georgia is $908, which would leave on average only $261 for other costs—making subsidized housing one of the only affordable options for most people.  For information on finding affordable subsidized apartments in Georgia, based on your desired zip code and number of rooms, click here. The average utility bill per month is $134.14 in Georgia.  Food costs in Georgia are higher than the national average. Disability recipients may also qualify for SNAP benefits (food stamps) which generally are about $187 a month for a single adult.  Also, public transportation is not nearly as extensive in Atlanta as in other cities, especially for those living in the suburbs or rural areas.  Many cannot afford transportation.

The Social Security Administration also has the ability to decide that you are unable to handle your benefit payments yourself. In this case, you will be assigned to an Social Security Representative Payee to handle your benefits for you, who are required to spend the money on basic living expenses before giving any money to you for other purposes. These payees are often family or friends, but when this is not available, the Social Security uses qualified organizations as payees. Any remaining funds from the payments are required to be put into a saving account for your future use.  It is your responsibility to talk with your payee about how your money is being spent.

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The United Nations (UN) completed a study of poverty in the United States in December 2017. This UN report included data from visits to Alabama, California, Georgia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

More than 5 million Americans live in “absolute poverty,” a term which refers to Americans living in third world conditions. According to the U.S. census, more than 40 million Americans live in poverty. Safehouse Outreach, an organization that assists people facing homelessness, reports an increase in the number of people underemployed over the last few years despite decreasing unemployment rates.  At least 40% of Safehouse Outreach’s clients are holding 2-3 jobs and still struggle to pay their rent. The UN report also showed that America has the highest child mortality and child poverty rate in the developed world.  Forty-six million Americans depend on food banks, which is 30% above the levels in 2007, according to Feeding America.  Many of the people living in poverty were either born into poverty or had become disadvantaged due to circumstances beyond their control — such as disability, divorce, illness, or old age.

In Georgia, over 1.6 million individuals are living in poverty.  The Center for American Progress, defines poverty as a family of four who earn less than $24,340 annually. Overall, this means that 16% of Georgians in 2016 were living in poverty.  However, 22.6% of Georgia’s children live in poverty, making Georgia rank 41st in America for poverty. Income inequality is also very high.  Income inequality is measured by the ratio of income going to the top 20% of households against the bottom 20% of households.  Georgia ranks 39th of all states in higher percentages of  income inequality.   In addition to poverty, Georgians are the most uninsured residents of any state, other than Texas.  The most recent healthcare data shows that 26.5% of Georgians under age 65 and also low income do not have health insurance.

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While there are ways to manage the physical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including the chronic pain, not as easy is the task of diagnosing and managing the mental conditions that are often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

According to one study that was published in Rheumatology and Therapy, as many as 30% of people who have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis go on to suffer from depression within five years after the diagnosis. A chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis means chronic pain, inconvenience, and that in turn, can prevent an individual from performing many of the activities that he or she used to perform earlier.

If you enjoyed an active life earlier, you may find it much more difficult to adjust to the limited mobility and movement brought on by rheumatoid arthritis.  Active people may find it difficult to get used to the fact that they may no longer be able to participate in sports or enjoy the kind of physical or recreational activities that they used to earlier. For obvious reasons, that lack of physical mobility leads to low self-esteem, irritability, and even depression.

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Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, announced his plans to require all Kentucky residents who receive Medicaid to meet work requirements.  Following that decision, the ACLU filed a constitutional law suit.  However, shortly after the Governor’s announcements, a federal judge struck the regulations down, stating that they were “arbitrary and capricious”.

This issue is very important to many Americans.  In April 2018, 67.3 million people  were covered by Medicaid—making it the single largest source of health coverage in the United States. Mandatory eligibility groups for Medicaid  include low-income families, qualified pregnant woman and children, and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In Georgia, the basic eligibility criteria for Medicaid requires you to be living in a low-income household. This varies based on the number of people in a household and whether the household includes medically needy parents and children under age 19. The 2018 chart breaking down the maximum income level to be eligible for Medicaid can be found here.     In addition to meeting the financial limits, applicants in Georgia must also meet one of the following descriptions in order to be eligible for Medicaid:

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POTS disease is a condition that is believed to affect as many as half a million Americans. People who suffer from this condition may experience an increase in the heart rate by as much as 30 or more heart beats per minute without any additional exertion. This increase in heart rate may or may not be accompanied by a change in blood pressure. Most sufferers tend to be women below the age of 35.

What makes this disease even more challenging to treat is that very often symptoms begin much before the disease is even diagnosed. Many of the symptoms that are associated with POTS disease are the kinds that are also associated with chronic fatigue, and other types of conditions. For instance, fatigue, excessive sweating, and shortness of breath are symptoms associated with POTS disease that are also linked to other conditions.  This can make a diagnosis even more challenging.

POTS disease is not necessarily a life-threatening condition. However, it can be life altering for sufferers. Symptoms associated with POTS disease can impact the person’s ability to lead a normal and productive life. These symptoms include lightheadedness, fainting spells, nausea, increased and accelerated heartbeat while standing, and lowered blood pressure while standing.

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Patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from an acceleration of their symptoms if they put on an excessive amount of weight or lose too many pounds.

According to new research, obesity and low weight both have an adverse impact on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers focused on obesity and its crippling effects on the already very painful symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Interestingly enough, they found that severe weight loss also worsened symptoms.

According to the researchers, very often, doctors may mistakenly attribute worsening of the symptoms to the actual arthritic condition, and not to the patient’s weight. The researchers are calling on doctors to look out for severe weight loss or weight gain when they treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

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POTS disease is a lesser-known disease that affects as many as 500,000 Americans. POTS disease and several other conditions are clustered under the blanket term dysautonomia, a group of disorders that result in a malfunctioning of the Autonomic Nervous System.  Lack of awareness of this condition means that the first time most patients learn of this disease is when they are diagnosed with it.

Here are some facts about POTS disease.

Dysautonomia is a group of disorders that result in a malfunctioning of the Autonomic Nervous System This is the system that is responsible for regulating and controlling several functions of the body, including heartbeat, blood pressure, bowel and bladder function, and dilation of pupils. A person who suffers from a malfunction in the autonomic nervous system may suffer from a malfunctioning or disruption in one or several of these body functions, which can result in a number of symptoms. Symptoms of the different forms of dysautonomia  can include dizziness, fainting, fluctuations in blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmia. In serious cases, symptoms can also result in death.

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The Congressional Budget Office projects that recent tax cut legislation and spending packages will increase the federal deficit by $139 billion, raising it to $804 billion in 2018.  In December Congress passed a 1.5 trillion tax-cut package and early in 2018 approved a $400 billion budget.   The CBO projects the US will return to a trillion dollar deficit by next year.  Last week Congress submitted a plan to make up the difference with cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  The above slides were obtained by the Congressional Budget Office.  You can find these slides and more on their website.

Last Tuesday, House Republicans released a budget plan that would make large cuts to Medicare.   The budget plan intends to privatize Medicare ; thereby hoping to eliminate $537 billion out of the program over the next decade.  Congress argues that privatization of Medicare will bring down costs.

Seniors eligible for Medicare would receive a voucher rather than a Medicare card.  The voucher would be used to purchase private health care plans.  Private plans could be more expensive – leaving seniors to either foot the extra bill or change to plans that provided less care or limited the available providers.  Either way, the cost-shifting is born by the seniors.

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New techniques in the treatment of schizophrenia center on a very unlikely technology- virtual reality.  Studies into the use of virtual reality treatment for the treatment of schizophrenia are yielding promising results.

According to clinical psychologists, who are currently experimenting with the use of virtual reality to treat different forms of psychosis like schizophrenia, this is a very safe method to use in patients who suffer from psychosis. Patients do not report worsening of symptoms, like hallucinations and delusions, and there is no adverse data, like an increase in hospital admission numbers, associated with the use of virtual reality therapy.

Doctors have been using virtual reality techniques on patients, especially those who have suffered from the condition for a long time.  In one study, patients engaged in cognitive training in which they were required to make their way through a seascape, avoiding dangers, like sharks in the water. The researchers found that patients who underwent such treatment actually showed higher overall cognitive scores compared to patients who received typical treatment at a facility.