Articles Posted in Social Security Administration (SSA)

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To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), applicants must be unable to perform any “substantial gainful activity” that pays $1,180 a month or $14,160 annually. This is roughly the income a minimum-wage American worker makes per year. Also, their condition must be expected to last at least a year or until death.

The analysis of the data from the Census Bureau by economist Ernie Tedeschi shows that the number of Americans ages 25-54 out of the workforce because of a disability has declined 7% since 2014. With 10.3 million people out of the workforce as of May 2018, this reverses an upward trend that had been in place for decades. This can possibly be explained by the growing economy over the last few years, which has allowed companies to hire more workers. University of Maryland economists Katharine G. Abraham and Melissa S. Kearney studied situations where individuals applying for disability benefits were assigned to judges who varied in their leniency. This allowed researchers to compare the outcome of similar applicants when they given or denied benefits. They found that for individuals whose cases for SSDI were questionable due to the acuteness of their condition, 28% of those people decided not to work who otherwise would have. This means that 28 out of 100 individuals decided not to work for fear of this interfering with their ability to successfully win disability benefits.

Robert VerBruggen, deputy managing editor of National Review, emphasized that the current SSDI program fails to accommodate disabled individuals who are still able to work in some capacity. He argued that reform to the program is “imperative.”  A long-term plan, he added, should include awarding temporary or partial benefits to those able to work, but limited in their abilities to do so. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan think tank devoted to reducing the deficit and debt, has published other potential options including subsidizing those with disabilities in their first few months back in the workforce.

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A major issue facing the Social Security program involves a lack of meaningful and current legislation to improve the programs changing and expanding needs.  In 1982, under the Reagan administration, Congress passed a bipartisan series of payroll tax increases in order to ensure funding . Since then, Congress has failed to pass significant changes to the Social Security program, with many lawmakers choosing to sidestep this controversial issue. As time has passed, this program has consistently faced a looming deficit.  The longer lawmakers wait to act, the more difficult it will be “to avoid cutting benefits on current and future retirees.”

Many people ask what is holding Congress back from taking this critical step of implementing reform to Social Security. The answer is relatively simple:  Democrats would like to raise or eliminate the maximum taxable earning cap for Social Security’s payroll tax, requiring wealthy Americans to pay more into the system. Republicans, on the other hand, would like to increase the full retirement age to between 68 to 70, which would save funds for this program in the long-run.

Bipartisanship in Congress is necessary in order for any action to be successful in making changes to the Social Security program. With a bill on this issue likely requiring 60 votes to pass the Senate—due to the filibuster—it is unlikely that any party will in the near future occupy enough seats to pass this legislation alone.

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Some people ask whether immigrants  can be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  First, authorized non-citizens may be eligible for SSI if they fit into one of these categories granted by the Department of Homeland Security:

  • On August 22, 1996, they were lawful residents of the US and were disabled or blind.
  • They were receiving SSI on August 22, 1996, and lawfully residing in the US.
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Today, fewer Americans are applying for disability benefits than in America’s recent history, with a growing economy and an increasing number of retirees leaving the program due to becoming eligible for Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare. In 2017, fewer than 1.5 million Americans applied for benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This may be due partially to additional lower-skilled jobs being available in a growing economy which those with modest disabilities sometimes can handle. Additionally, employers may be more willing to accommodate workers with disabilities. Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University, added that when the economy is doing well, “employers are more willing to look to other labor pools and be more accommodating.”

However, getting the disability benefits in the first place has become harder today.  The Social Security Administration hardened their standard for awarding benefits without any major announcement. Overall, the odds of a successful appeal fell from 69% in 2008 to 48% in 2015. Nicole Maestas, a Harvard economist, said that the Social Security Administration analyzed judges who approved disability claims at a higher rate than others and singled them out for special instruction. This action may have been taken as a result of critics in the media exposing some abuse and fraud in the system since 2011, as reported in the Wall Street Journal and 60 Minutes.

As a result, the administrative law judges handling disability cases have become more skeptical of claims and less easily persuaded to approve benefits. Richard Browdie, CEO of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, argues that the process has become “overly restrictive.” However, Torsten Slok, chief international economist of Deutsche Bank, argued that this data contradicts the “post-recession narrative of an out-of-control entitlement program.”  Whatever the reasons are for these trends, it is clear that fewer people are applying for disability benefits and among those, less are being approved.

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With the increased political debate about the future of Social Security in America, many people worry that they or their children will not receive the same benefits in the future.  A recent Gallup poll showed that 51% of pre-retirees aged 50-64, 49% of workers aged 30-49, and 33% of millennial aged 18-29 say they are concerned about their benefits. While many people consider there to be flaws in the American Social Security system, the proposition that this system is in serious danger of closing down, is not true. It is almost impossible that this program could go broke because it is funded by payroll taxes—which are incurred by the working population.

There are good reasons for people to be concerned about Social Security as for many people it is their only guaranteed retired income. This program impacts almost every older American: according to the Social Security Administration (SSA) , 97% of adults aged 60 to 89 currently receive or will receive Social Security. Generally most Americans do not mind paying the payroll taxes towards Social Security because they know this will benefit them when they are old aged and cannot work anymore.

It is important to also clarify how the Social Security system in America works in order to better understand this topic. It is considered a “pay-as-you-go” system, which means that payroll taxes for today’s workers’ pay for those receiving benefits today. When you retire, you depend on receiving your Social Security retirement benefits from the payroll taxes of those working currently. Thus, this does lead to a potential sustainability issue for this program, as the United States is increasingly becoming an older population and in turn, has a higher proportion of retirees.

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Losing a limb is an extremely traumatic situation for any person.  While many amputees do receive social security disability benefits, not all types of amputations qualify.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines certain criteria that an amputee must meet in order to qualify for disability benefits. For instance, if your amputation involves both hands, one or both legs above the ankle, one leg up to the hip level, one hand and one leg, or a pelvic amputation, you may qualify for benefits. The cause of the amputation does not matter.

If you suffer from any other type of amputation, you may or may not qualify for benefits. For instance, if you have suffered an amputation of your dominant hand which you use to perform most of your tasks, you may qualify for benefits. In such cases, SSA will specifically focus on whether your amputation or your disability makes it difficult for you to work and earn a sustainable income.

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Osteoarthritis is a condition characterized by extreme pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints. The condition can make it difficult for a person to stand or walk for long periods of time, and often impairs their ability to work and earn a living.

Osteoarthritis is the slow loss of cartilage from joints. The loss of the cartilage causes friction between bones, resulting in the formation of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis often causes severe pain in the knees, hips, spine and feet.

Early diagnosis of osteoarthritis can help patients who suffer from this condition implement better pain management strategies. Researchers at Warwick University recently announced that they have developed a blood test that can help in the early diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

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Social Security disability benefits payments are not permanent. Your payments will be reviewed periodically by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which could decide to stop benefits.

Disability benefits typically cease when one of the following two criteria are met.

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A person may be eligible for more than one federal benefit program.  Under the Social Security disability program however, your benefits may be impacted if you receive other types of government payments.

For instance, if you are currently eligible for and receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may find a reduction in Social Security disability benefits that are provided to you. A person may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits if he or she has suffered an on-the-job injury.  Workers’ compensation is paid out by federal or state agencies, insurance companies and employers. If you receive these types of benefits, there may be a reduction in the Social Security disability benefits that you receive.

In addition, if you are also eligible for and receiving other types of benefit payments, like civil service disability benefits, state government retirement benefits, local retirement benefits, or temporary state disability benefits, you may find that these sources of income also impact your Social Security disability benefits. Private disability payment payouts, such as those from a private pension, may not have any impact on your disability benefits.

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Simply stated, you should file a claim for disability benefits as quickly as possible.

It is important to keep in mind that the actual process of approving your claim may take many months because of either backlog at the Social Security Administration or other factors beyond your control.    Also remember that if your claim is denied – and many claims are denied every year- you may have to go through an equally lengthy appeals process before you get your claim approved.  If your initial appeal is denied, you may want to file another appeal.  Overall, this process may take up to two years.  During this time, your medical condition could worsen, causing you additional financial distress.  For that reason and for many others, it is important to get started on filing a claim as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, Social Security disability attorneys work with clients who have waited a very long before filing a claim for benefits.  In many cases, people do so because they believe that their condition will get better and that they will eventually be able to return to work and earn the same income as before.  It’s natural to feel that way, and optimism is good.  However, if things don’t work out as planned it is better to have the financial resources necessary for your living expenses.