Articles Posted in Social Security Administration (SSA)

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Social Security Administration field offices across Georgia opened in April after a gap of more than 2 years.  If you are planning a visit to your nearest Social Security office, here is what you need to keep in mind.

Most Social Security offices are likely to be swamped in the first few weeks and months after the opening. The crush is likely to be even more severe in states like Georgia that have massive backlogs of Social Security claims. While most Social Security Administration activities were delayed as a result of the transition to online and phone services during the pandemic, the impact on claims filed under the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs has been especially severe.  The pipeline has been clogged and thousands of claims remain yet to be processed. That translates into large wait times at these offices.

Know that you will probably also have long wait times as you wait for appointments via phone.  Social Security Administration phone lines also have been clogged during the pandemic, and now that offices have opened, that problem is likely to become even worse, as thousands of potential beneficiaries call the agency’s hotline numbers. Applicants have been complaining about being placed on hold for several minutes with no contact with any officer.

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It’s finally confirmed. All field offices of the Social Security Administration, which have been closed for more than two years, will finally open on April 7.

Field offices of the Social Security Administration have been closed since March 17, 2020, after the first cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the US.  Since then, services have moved online, but online transactions have been far from smooth.  This has resulted in long wait times and delays in the processing of claims. The Social Security Administration has also offered the option of mail services during this time. However, for many, especially people in rural areas and those without access to technology and transportation, this transition has been a challenging one.  As a result, the number of claims that were filed during this time as well as the speed of processing, has dropped.

Now that it seems like the worst of the pandemic is behind us, the Social Security Administration is finally opening up its offices. You can now visit your local field office for help with your Social Security disability insurance payments, Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income benefits and other activities.  Make sure that you wear a mask to stay safe when you enter a field office.

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Even during the best of times, the Social Security Administration faced challenges in its processing timelines.  SSA has always had a backlog causing delays in the approval of claims and delivering of payments to beneficiaries. However, that situation has become markedly worse since the pandemic.

According to an investigation, backlogs have increased since the pandemic struck the United States. Agency offices had to be shut down as shelter -in -place restrictions were implemented, and work was curtailed. That meant that thousands of cases went into freeze mode as workers at the Social Security Administration tried to figure out how work could be done with restrictions in place.

In addition to this, applicants faced delays in obtaining the medical and other documentation required to support their claim. The success of any Social Security disability benefits claim depends heavily on the strength of the documentation that is submitted to support the claim. A typical claim will require vast amounts of medical documentation to support the disability and the person’s inability to work at a full – time job. Doctor summaries of the condition, results of X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and other diagnostic tests, lab results, and analyses of the impairments that make it difficult for the person to work – all of these are critically important pieces of evidence in a Social Security disability claim. During the pandemic, it became that much harder for applicants to obtain this evidence with medical offices shut down across Georgia.

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Navigating the complex labyrinth of health and disability programs that you may qualify for can be confusing. You may be eligible for more than one program that can help you pay for your medical needs and other expenses.

If you have suffered a disability that makes it difficult or impossible for you to go to work and earn a living, you may qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. If you qualify for disability benefits under this program, then you will receive a monthly check to meet your expenses. These benefits depend on the amount of taxes that you have previously paid into the Social Security system.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program, however, is completely different from the Supplemental Security Income program. This program provides benefits to people who are disabled and have a very limited income. In certain cases, individuals may qualify for benefits under both the Social Security Disability Insurance program as well as the Supplemental Security Income program. To understand what kind of benefits you should apply for, talk to a disability attorney.

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The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the financial health of the Social Security Administration may not be as bad as previously feared.

The Social Security Administration Chief Actuary recently testified at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, that the outlook for the agency is much more optimistic than was earlier believed. In April, the agency forecasted that there would be a 15 percent reduction in the earnings of the Social Security Administration as a result of deductions in payroll taxes and other earnings. Now, the agency believes that the actual reduction is likely to be much closer to 10%.

According to the Actuary, the effect on Social Security earnings is not likely to be as great, because of the number of deaths that have already occurred, and are expected to occur as a result of the pandemic. The current economic crisis has something in common with earlier recessions in that there is likely to be more unemployment, leading to lower earnings in the form of payroll taxes into the Social Security Administration. However, unlike other recessions, there are likely to be a large numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19, resulting in fewer benefit payouts for the agency.

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The coronavirus has devastated many individual’s health and economic security. There have been 36 million new claims for unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic. It is critical to address how this economic downturn has impacted Social Security’s finances. First, many Americans have lost jobs over the last few months, which has decreased the payroll tax revenues. The payroll tax is critical in funding Social Security; in 2018, the $885 billion of the $1 trillion collected for Social Security came from payroll taxes. The longer the recession lasts, the greater impact it will have.

Second, lower interest rates decrease the income in the Trust Fund, financial accounts in the U.S. Treasury. Lastly, a recession leads to a low inflation rate, which reduces salaries for all workers. This also decreases the Trust Fund’s tax revenues.

A likely impact of this financial situation is a reduced cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), annual increases in Social Security to compensate for inflation. The depletion date of Social Security funds is currently 2036. If the COVID-19 related unemployment rate increases, that date is expected to be brought forward to 2034. A slower recovery could move the depletion date back to 2032.

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The Social Security Administration is taking social distancing measures seriously, and making arrangements for hearings to be conducted via phone.

If you have an appointment for a hearing on your Social Security disability case, you may soon receive a call from the agency, rescheduling your appointment or scheduling a phone call instead.  This is being done to ensure that Georgian Social Security disability beneficiaries do not have to make unnecessarily risky trips to a physical hearing when a hearing can be conducted on the telephone.

For the time being, administrative law judges are conducting telephone hearings, and this will continue at least until the offices are opened.  If you are scheduled for a hearing, please note that the Social Security Administration will call from a private telephone number and not from the Social Security number.

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Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when there is a narrowing of the gaps in your spine, resulting in pressure on the spinal nerves. Symptoms can include pain, tingling sensations, and numbness in the extremities. Spinal stenosis and the symptoms that accompany it can be serious enough to severely impact a person’s ability to earn a sustainable income. For instance, problems with walking, standing for long periods of times, difficulties in lifting or carrying heavy objects are all some of the challenges that sufferers face daily.

Unfortunately, there is no complete cure for spinal stenosis. However, your physician may prescribe a schedule for the management of your symptoms. Painkillers are often prescribed. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-depressants and opioids to relieve severe pain. Symptoms may not be eased through the use of medication alone. Steroid injections are sometimes used to help relieve pain. However, there are complications associated with the regular use of steroid injections, including weakness in the muscles. Therefore, these are not generally prescribed more than a few times a year.

Physical therapy can help reduce the severity of muscular weakness as a result of the lack of exercise that follows the symptoms of spinal stenosis. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to treat the pain. There are surgical treatments that may be used for the treatment of cervical spinal stenosis including a laminectomy and laminoplasty.

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Unfortunately, scammers targeting your Social Security numbers are on the rise, according to a BeenVerified report. Last year, this fraud cost Americans $19 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Scammers are using new tactics to get hold of your personal information; in order to make sure your valuable information is not compromised, it is important to be prepared.

Here are some examples of notorious Social Security scams. Someone calls you and says “your Social Security number has been suspended.” This is a scam, because the Social Security Administration (SSA) says so. The SSA never suspends, revokes, blocks, or freezes Social Security numbers. The SSA also will never ask you to confirm your Social Security number over the phone.  Another common scam is when the caller says that “a federal case has been brought against your Social Security number.” Or, they may say that  a “legal procedure” will be taken if you don’t call back. This is also a scam, because the government never threatens anyone for crimes associated with their Social Security numbers. Lastly, the SSA will never ask you to send money to a dismiss a case against you. If someone requests money claiming to be the SSA, it’s a scam.

There are some important red flags to alert you to a scam. If it looks too good or too bad to be true, it’s probably a scam. In general, if your gut says that what being offered can’t possibly be right, breathe and consider whether it may be a scam. Also, if the caller is aggressive or makes threats of arrest or police involvement, it is probably a scam. Lastly, if the caller demands you act right now, it is likely a scam. In all these instances, hang up immediately and do not press any buttons or call back this number. You can then report this call to the SSA by dialing 800-772-1213.

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Several speech disorders, including stuttering, qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. However, not all speech disorders are treated alike when it comes to processing or approval of your claim. Stuttering is a speech disability that causes elongation, blocking or repetition of sounds, syllables or words. This can mean impaired speech that can often be humiliating for sufferers. Stuttering can impact a person’s ability to communicate his thoughts and feelings effectively.

As many as 3 million Americans suffer from stuttering. This problem commonly manifests itself between the age of 2 and 5. While many children overcome their stuttering through therapy, the stuttering continues into adulthood in about 25% of cases. Stuttering can severely impact your ability to perform your job well if it involves interpersonal contact or communication with others.

To recover disability benefits under the Social Security disability benefits program, your disability must meet the criteria set out by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in its Blue Book listing. Stuttering is not a separate listing, but that does not mean that it does not qualify for benefits. This is where your Residual Functional Capacity will come into consideration. The SSA will take into consideration the extent to which your speech disability or stuttering impacts your ability to work and earn a sustainable income. The agency will also consider if you can perform other jobs that can earn you an income before considering you eligible for benefits.

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