Articles Posted in Social Security Administration (SSA)

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Your spouse’s income or earnings could have a bearing on your disability benefits depending on the Social Security program under which you are receiving benefits. The Social Security runs two programs for people with disabilities – the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

To qualify for SSDI payments, you must have paid into the program during your time in the workforce. The SSI program, on the other hand, is a needs-based program. Under this program, you qualify for benefits if you belong to a low-income group and are unable to work. In fact, you do not need to be disabled to qualify for benefits.  Seniors above the age of 65 may also qualify for SSI benefits if they belong to a low- income category.

If your spouse is earning, it will have no bearing on your eligibility for benefits under the SSDI program. These benefits are reserved for those who have paid into the program, and as long as you have paid sufficiently into the program and meet other criteria, your spouse’s benefits will not impact your case. On the other hand, SSI may reduce the amount of benefits that you are eligible to recover if your spouse is earning above a certain level. If your spouse earns more than or has assets equal to or more than $3,000, you may not qualify for benefits under this program.

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When a person starts receiving Social Security benefits, members of his/her family may also begin receiving supplementary benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. If the worker is eligible for Social Security benefits – meaning that he/she has paid taxes into the Social Security program – then the spouse and children may become eligible for dependent benefits. A disabled child who became disabled before the age of 22 may also be eligible for dependents’ benefits. Even a divorced spouse or parents may be eligible for disability benefits as part of the program.

The family member is eligible for up to 50% of the benefits that you are receiving.  This can apply to each family member who is eligible for the dependents’ benefits. However, the agency will impose an upper limit on the benefits that your family receives. Typically, the benefits that your entire family receives will not exceed 180% of your benefits amount. If you have several family members who qualify, then the benefits that your family members receive will be reduced accordingly. This will not impact the benefits that you are eligible for. However, if a family member of a disabled worker is are also receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, then they may not qualify for benefits under the SSDI program.

If you have questions about a family member’s eligibility for disability benefits, contact this law firm.

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New tax reform laws that were announced last year have some unexpected good news for Social Security disability beneficiaries. They expand the advantages of holding an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life) account for beneficiaries and also extend credits on some accounts. An ABLE account can help a person with disabilities manage their finances better. It helps them save money for expenses that are related to their disability, including housing, education, health, transportation, and assistive aids.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 helps persons who own ABLE accounts by allowing them to have more money in their account. Earlier, annual deposits into this account were limited to $15,000 per person. Now, however, under the new laws, individuals will be able to deposit all or part of their income into their ABLE account. This will be a significant help to account holders with disabilities.

The new laws allow for funds from a 509 to be rolled over into the ABLE account. Also, starting from this year, ABLE account holders may also be eligible for a Savers Credit, and up to $2,000 of the person’s deposits may be eligible for these credits.

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In many cases, persons who apply for and receive Social Security benefits may also be eligible for and receive other forms of benefits payments. These can include pension payments and Worker’s Compensation benefits. Your recovery of these other benefits could impact the amount of Social Security disability benefits for which you are eligible.

Your Social Security disability benefits can be reduced if you receive benefits under the Worker’s Compensation program or retirement pension programs. For example, if you qualify for and are receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits, then the law places limits on the amount of the payment that you can receive. You may not be eligible to recover more than 80% of your disability benefits payments in Worker’s Compensation earnings. You may be required to pay the Social Security Administration (SSA) back any extra payments that you may have recovered while receiving benefits under other programs.

Typically, your pensions will not be affected by your Social Security Disability Benefits payments. If the pension payments that you made during your work tenure were exempt from Social Security taxes, then your disability benefits payments can be affected. However, this happens only in rare cases because most pension programs will attract Social Security taxes. If you are on a Long Term Disability plan funded by your employer, then you will have your Social Security Disability Benefits payments reduced or offset as a result of this.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists vision loss in its Blue Book of disabilities that are eligible for disability benefits. Persons who suffer from blindness, however, may have special rules that apply to them due to the severely limiting and restrictive nature of their disability. For instance, a person who suffers from even partial blindness may be eligible for disability benefits. The agency defines vision loss as vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the better eye, or involving a field of vision of 20 degrees or less, even after using corrective lenses.

However, you may qualify of benefits even if your blindness doesn’t meet these criteria. If your blindness or vision problems make it difficult to work or earn an income, we urge you to discuss your rights to disability benefits with an attorney. The SSA also has a higher income threshold for persons with blindness. If you suffer from vision loss, the monthly earnings limit that applies to you in 2018 is $1,970–which is higher than the limit for non-blind workers.

If you suffer from an eye disease or condition like cataracts, retinopathy, glaucoma or another disease that limits your vision significantly, talk to an attorney about your rights to a claim. Remember, however, that the SSA will not approve of your claim if you have good vision in at least one eye.

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In the last month, I have received two very threatening calls on my cell phone from a person purporting to represent the Social Security Agency.  The caller threatens me with criminal prosecution if I do not hang up and call another number.  Admittedly, I did not not call the number because I do not want to engage with fraudsters.  Even before these calls, SSA had sent out an alert about fraudulent calls.  In the last few months, there have been many reported spoofed calls from people claiming to be Social Security Administration (SSA) employees. In these calls, the number on your caller ID may show up as the actual Social Security toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. The scammers on the phone are not actually calling from the SSA, but are spoofing the number to try to make the call look real.

However, there are some warning signs that can alert you to a spoofed call. The SSA will never offer to increase your benefits in exchange for information. The SSA will also never threaten to cut off your benefits if you do not give them the information they are asking for. If a call sounds suspicious, you should hang up on the call immediately. You should also report the call by calling 1-800-269-0271 or by clicking here. If you are in doubt whether a call is actually from the SSA, hang up and call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213. By calling this number, you are guaranteed of reaching an actual SSA employee — or if you  are put on hold for 45 minutes then you know you have reached the Social Security Administration!

If you have any questions about filing a Social Security disability claim, contact this law firm.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines your name as a combination of your first and last names. The agency does not consider middle names or suffixes. Typically, the agency will consider your legal name to be as it appears on your US birth certificate. If you were born in a foreign country, then the name provided on your immigration documents will be used on your Social Security card.

Sometimes, situations do arise that require a person to change his or her name. For example, a person may get married or divorced. Whenever there is a change in name for any reason, you must inform the SSA. There is no online provision for changing the name on your Social Security card. You must provide legal identity documents which can include your driver’s license, state-issued non-driver identification card, or a US passport. If these documents are not available for any reason, you may provide your employee, student, health insurance, or US military cards.

You must also prove documents as evidence of your legal name change. These documents may include your marriage certificate, divorce decree, Certificate of Naturalization with your new name, or a court order accepting the name change. Remember that these must all be original documents, not photocopies or notarized documents. File your application form, take a print of it and mail it to the Social Security office with the documents. Once all documents have been verified, the agency will mail you your new card with the new name.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not require you to schedule an appointment to file for disability benefits or to appeal a disability case. However, an appointment can help save time on the processing of your claim. To cancel or reschedule an appointment, you can contact the SSA by calling 1-800-772-1213. Their hours of operation are weekdays between 7 am-7 pm. There is no online scheduling available for the agency.

You can also reschedule or cancel your appointment by contacting your local Social Security office. The Atlanta Region alone serves more than 13 million Social security beneficiaries. The agency maintains 243 Social Security offices across the Atlanta region. Find an office close to you and their hours by clicking here.

Remember that if you have missed your Social Security appointment for any reason, you will have to contact the agency again to reschedule a new appointment. The agency will not get in touch with you to reschedule. Failure to contact the agency or reschedule a new appointment could mean that you miss out on months of disability payments. If you are eligible for retroactive benefits payments, then you stand to lose a substantial amount of these payments if you miss your appointment with the Social Security office.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently added Megalencephaly-Capillary Malformation Syndrome to the list of disorders and conditions included in its Compassionate Allowances program. This program allows expedited approval of disability benefits claims.

Megalencephaly is a condition that is characterized by overgrowth of tissues in the body and abnormalities of the tiny blood vessels in the skin. A person who suffers from this condition will have an unusually large head. He may also suffer severe brain abnormality and have excessive brain fluid. There may also be abnormalities in brain development, which can lead to cognitive and learning difficulties as well as a general intellectual disability.

The condition is also associated with speech and language delays, poor muscle tone, and difficulties in swallowing. In some cases, the excessive growth can be seen in other parts of the body, and sufferers may have a limb that is excessively sized compared to the other one, or oversized fingers or toes. The condition is caused by genetic mutations. There is no complete cure for this condition, and management may involve a number of approaches, including neurology, cardiology, ophthalmology, and physiotherapy.

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Fibrolamellarcancer, a rare type of liver cancer, was added to the Compassionate Allowances program in August 2018. This program by the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines a list of conditions and diseases that warrant an accelerated processing of claims.

The Compassionate Allowances program currently includes 233 conditions, including five new conditions added in August 2018. Fibrolamellaris one of the rarest types of cancers, and it is believed that less than 1,000 patients are diagnosed with fibrolamellar cancer every year. Adults and young adults may be at a much higher risk of a diagnosis. However, there have been some diagnoses amongst those up to 74 years old.

What makes this type of cancer especially dangerous is that it often occurs in people who have no prior history of liver disease, making it harder to diagnose. Also, many of the symptoms with this cancer are similar to other diseases, making a diagnosis especially challenging. This, unfortunately, frequently leads to diagnoses of cancer when it is already in an advanced state. Early symptoms of the condition may include shoulder pain, back pain, abdominal pain, weight loss, and jaundice. Currently, the only treatment option available for this type of carcinoma is liver resection surgery. Even this may be effective only before the spread of cancer.