Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Winning disability after you were previously denied at a hearing

Being denied at a disability hearing is not necessarily the end of the road for a claim. Without a doubt, it can be difficult to endure since getting to a hearing in the first place can take 2-3 years (from the time of the application) and getting a decision from a judge can take months.

The further thought of having to start over with a new claim or wait on an answer from the next appeal (the appeals council) can be extremely discouraging. That said, people who are forced to go this route do win their claims. And this post highlights the importance of good representation.

If you get denied at a disability hearing, can you win later?





I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Social Security Disability and SSI are about severity, not diagnosis

Very often, individuals assume that a certain diagnosis of a medical impairment may possibly result in a certain decision, or that the diagnosis is really what a disability examiner or judge at a hearing is looking for. And there are somewhat rare situations in which a simple diagnosis is enough to decide a claim.

Usually, that's not the case, though. Most of the time, Social Security needs to determine the severity of a condition to see how it restricts the ability to work.

Conditions that get approved for disability





I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Congress has been screwing up Social Security for years

Quite a few years ago, I regularly blogged about how Congress deliberately withheld funding from the Social Security Administration. This was usually under the guise of saving the taxpayer, or moving into the electronic age (i.e. pushing online disability applications and somehow thinking that you reduce the workforce because of it). The outcome was that only 1 out of every three employees who quit or retired from Social Security would ever be replaced. This began in earnest in the 2000s.

Today, of course, it is harder to get answers to questions on retirement and disability issues and backlogs have not gotten better but worse. So, not a good approach.

This article from last year talks about further attempts by Congress, a collection of 535 nitwits, to screw things up via budget cuts (they never talk about cutting their own salaries or reducing their own staff).

Screwing up Social Security





I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Monday, April 16, 2018

Private disability insurance vs Social Security Disability

So, apparently the Government Accounting office was tasked with delving into whether or not the expansion of private disability insurance, obtained through employers, would result in savings to the Social Security Disability Program.

When I read things like this, I get a little suspicious. So someone in the govt has the idea that expanding employer-sponsored disability might result in savings to the Social Security Disability program? That sounds an awful lot like codespeak for the possibility of future SSD cuts.

A few factoids from the article:

1. SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, covers 96 percent of workers while employer sponsored disability insurance is available to only 33 percent of workers.

2. Private disability insurance tends to be more routinely offered to people who work only in certain jobs and industries (business management and finance, respectively, to use a couple examples).

3. Private disability insurance is sometimes time-limited, whereas Social Security Disability and SSI are subject to periodic review and an individual cannot be taken off their benefits unless the medical evidence indicates that they have medically improved and are no longer disabled.

There are huge differences between SSD and SSI and private disability insurance. And most of the fundamental differences revolve around the fact that PDI is profit-based. Nothing wrong with that, but that's not how citizens should be viewed...as relative costs to be figured and manipulated.

My own opinion is that I do not trust the U.S. Congress to expand anything that has an analogue in the Social Security system. That's because too many congressman and Senators over the years have shown a special interest in trying cut back Social Security Disability and SSI, and, really, set both programs off on a path toward eventual privatization.

For those who aren't aware of this, for quite some time SSA has only had the budget resources to replace out of all those SSA employees who quit or retire...only 1 out of 3. That sounds just a bit short of sabotage. So, with this and other things in mind, news like this GAO analysis just makes me think that someone in the legislative branch is pursuing some squirrely ideas.





I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Tuesday, May 23, 2017

White House planning cuts to Social Security Disability

Sadly, this is not "fakenews". It comes from the Trump Administration's Office of Management and Budget's director, Mick Mulvaney.

1. "The budget will call for a $72 billion cut over 10 years to the Social Security Disability Insurance. Mulvaney said this would inspire more people to get off disability and back to work."

2. "According to Bloomberg, the cuts to the food-stamp program in the budget would amount to $193 billion."

3. "The budget proposes an additional $610 billion cut to Medicaid, with $250 billion in savings to offset it. Based on Mulvaney's comments, it appears this is in addition to the $880 billion already cut (from medicaid) under the House's American Health Care Act healthcare bill.



Link to the article: Social Security Disability budget cuts.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Will your SSD or SSI benefits increase if your condition worsens?

Will your SSD or SSI benefits increase if your condition worsens? Every once in a while, this question comes up.

The answer is No, and that's because you get the max benefit you are entitled to when you are approved. For SSI, this is a set amount. For SSD, what you get is based on what you paid into the system through your years of work activity (your fica deductions from your paychecks).



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Is it easier to get disability if you are 50 or older?

Yes, the rules that govern most decisions are a little easier if you are at least 50 years old. However, individuals under 50 can also be approved provided their medical evidence satisfies the requirements of Social Security Disability and SSI. Regardless of whether a person is over 50 or under, the vast majority of all people who apply for disability will usually have to file appeals and ultimately be seen by a judge at a disability hearing.

#disabilityage50
Full page: Is it easier to get disability if you are 50 or older?



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







How Long Does A Disability Appeal Usually Take?

Most disability applications will receive a decision in under 90 days. If a person is denied and has to file a reconsideration appeal, that appeal will usually be faster, most often in under 60 days. This is largely because the reconsideration appeal is largely just a repeat of the application process.

To speed up and help the appeal, make sure the disability examiner knows about your most recent medical treatment, any new doctors you have, if your condition has gotten worse or if you have any new diagnoses. Also be sure to let them know if your contact information has changed. If you get scheduled for an exam, do not miss the appointment. If you get a letter asking you to respond by calling the examiner, do so quickly.

#howlongfordisabilityappeals
Full page: How Long Does A Disability Appeal Usually Take?



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog.

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







How does social security decide whether your can work or not?

As a former disability examiner, I can tell you that the process does not rely just on your medical records. Examiners try to categorize the type of work you have done in the past to see if you can return to it, and also to see if you have skills that would transfer to some other type of work. This is why it is very important to provide accurate and detailed descriptions of your past work.

#howdoessocialsecuritydecideifyoucannotwork
Full page: How does social security decide whether your can work or not?.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Monday, April 17, 2017

How important is Social Security?

How important is Social Security (and, by extension, Social Security Disability, since that is simply a person getting their Social Security early due to disability)?

This is how important:

"If Social Security income weren't available, the CBPP (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) estimates the senior poverty rate would be north of 40%!

Data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) appear to complement the CBPP's study. The SSA finds that 61% of retired workers rely on their monthly Social Security benefit to comprise at least half of their income.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Cutting Social Security tax...not a good idea.

Yes, as the article linked below states, if you cut payroll taxes (meaning that pesky fica deduction that comes out of a person's paycheck), then you cut the funding mechanism for Social Security and roughly half the country at retirement winds up with nothing, and nearly half of the rest winds up with much much less. The majority of Americans have less than $1000 on hand to deal with any kind of financial emergency, most don't have a defined retirement benefit, and half or more than half don't have a 401(k).

Social Security tax cuts.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







How many get awarded disability benefits?

According to a recent article, "In 2002, 44.6 percent of applications were approved. Since 2002, approval rates have declined, with rates hovering around 32 percent since 2014."

This, of course, illustrates why it is important to submit an application that fully documents one's medical treatment sources and accurately lists all employment and job descriptions. And, it highlights the need for competent representation at the disability hearing level.

#howmanygetdisability?



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Out of touch journalists think disability benefits are an easy path

This comes from a conservative rag, National Review, and it once again espouses the seriously screwed up mentality that when people fight to get their disability benefits, they are somehow choosing the easy road and taking a copout. I don't know where these people get their beliefs but they've obviously never had to see a friend or relative go through years of disability, pain, financial ruin, and waiting for additional years as their disability claim moved like a snail through the bureaucratic system.

Here's what National Review had to say:

"The core of the American disability crisis is represented in the hard cases, not the easy frauds. A man used to have no choice. He had to keep at it, to look for work where he could find it. Now we give him options — the painful grind or a simpler path, one that promises a degree of stability in troubled times. All too many are choosing that simpler path. Perhaps that’s a choice that shouldn’t be so easy to make."

These people are out of touch, have no empathy for others, and have screwed up values.

The National Review article.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







How many people are denied disability?

How many people are denied disability? The figures on this vary by state and by year. Historically, about 70 percent of applicants for SSD and SSI have been denied at the application level. In recent years, about 77 percent have been denied and 23 percent have been approved. Truly, for the last 3 decades, getting approved for disability has been fairly difficult...despite the fact that members of the U.S. Congress often claim the program is too easy, as well as costly.

This is what the Center for American Progress has to say:

"According to CAP, the center for American Progress, almost 80 percent of SSDI applicants are denied during the initial application and “thousands of applicants die” annually waiting to learn if they will receive assistance. Furthermore, CAP also found that disability recipients who are approved tend to skew older and had worked in physically demanding jobs before applying for benefits."



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Monday, March 27, 2017

Should Social Security (and Social Security Disability) Be Privatized?

No. This is one of the dumbest ideas imaginable. Why?

1. Stock market crash of 1987.
2. Stock market crash of 2000-2002.
3. Stock market crash of 2008-2009.


Why does this question resurface now and then? Think about who promotes it. Wall Street does, because they can skim from it, just like they did with the rise of 401(k)s which, compared to traditional retirements, are a disaster. Conservative politicians who don't even think Social Security should exist in the first place also are in favor of privatization.

Put simply: bad idea; stupid idea.



Here's the article: Dumb idea.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Eight thousand people died waiting for a disability hearing in 2016

People die waiting for a disability hearing (while Congress and the White House debate cutting it further)

I have to admit I am a bit surprised to read this article in the Washington Times, a conservative leaning paper. Very often, such papers facilitate attacks on the disability system. Here are some quotes from the article. “The situation is really bad for the claimants right now. . The bottom line is inadequate funding of Social Security,” said Lisa Ekman, director of governmental affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. It is an association of attorneys representing people with disabilities.

“Eight thousand people died during fiscal year 2016 who were waiting for a (disability) hearing,” Ekman said. “That’s 23 people a day, almost one an hour to get a hearing. . We see people who lose their homes. We see people who are evicted. We see people who can’t afford to pay for medications, who become very debilitated while they wait. It creates people who are homeless.”

"The problem: An overwhelming number of applications for disability - about 2.3 million in 2016, up from 1.7 million in 2002 but down from a peak in 2010 - flow into a system in which 77 percent of initial claims have, over the last decade, been denied. Moreover, the backlog of decisions on first-time claims is massive."

None of this is new, of course. What is new is that we have a new administration that seems very willing to join in on the attacks to the disability system.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Friday, March 24, 2017

Trump Administration taking clear aim at cutting Social Security Disability

If you thought Donald Trump wasn't planning to make an attack on Social Security Disability (remember: he promised never to touch Social Security and SSD is part of that), think again. And if you think this is "fake news", watch the video clip of Trump's budget director speaking.

This Post article quotes his own budget director. Three of the most salient excerpts are:

1. "Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney finally acknowledged on Sunday that Trump may in fact violate his campaign promises to protect the two programs — by taking aim at the Social Security program that helps the disabled.

2. "Mulvaney replied by pivoting to the specific issue of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a program administered by the Social Security Administration that aids disabled Americans. He complained about the program’s cost and indicated that the administration wants to alter it."

3. “Let me ask you a question, do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so,” he said, with a slight grin on his face. “It’s the fastest growing program. It was — it grew tremendously under President Obama. It’s a very wasteful program and we want to try and fix that.”

The truth? Here's the truth: "It is hardly an easy program to enroll in — the Social Security Administration rejects a majority of those who apply for disability payments. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that fewer than 400 of 1,000 initial applications for approval are accepted."

Not only that, of course; applying and appealing denials often takes years. During which time people go bankrupt. Lose their homes. A billionaire with his cabinet of billionaires wouldn't know much about that, of course.

Here's the article: Social Security Disability cuts.





I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Trump Admin plans cuts to program that helps with home heating

LIHEAP. It stands for "low income home energy assistance program". It's hard for me to believe that the new administration actually thinks its ok to cut this program. I mean, where are their brains? 6 Million people get heating assistance from LIHEAP which the Trump administration plans to cut.



Before I became a disability claims examiner, I was a case worker for two separate departments of social services. LIHEAP (oddly, pronounced lee-app) was a program that helped people who couldn't afford to pay their hearing bill (perhaps they had had a medical emergency, or some giant bill had come their way, or they had become unemployed due, or become disabled and unable to work) to pay that bill. It was a one-time assistance thing. So, a person only got help once during the winter. That's hardly a govt handout program. It was really just compassionate assistance and the sort of thing we should expect from our government and the, frankly, idiots we send to high office. It was a program that helped many people avoid freezing and most likely saved lives. And they want to cut this program.

"Among the many federal programs slated for elimination in Donald Trump's budget is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP), a Health and Human Services Department initiative that provides close to 6 million low-income households with help for their heating and cooling bills."

Here's the article: Trump cuts to LIHEAP.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Meals on Wheels cuts in one county = 32,000 fewer meals



Meals on Wheels budget cuts amount to 32,000 fewer meals in one county alone. Meals on Wheels, the national nonprofit that provides food for the homebound elderly.

"In Collin County, where the population of senior citizens has ballooned, Meals on Wheels will serve over 250,000 meals in 2017."

This is a good example of what happens when you have a cabinet composed almost entirely of multi-millionaires and billionaires. They have no connection to the needs of ordinary citizens and certainly not to the poor, disabled, and elderly.

Here's the article: Meals on wheels cuts.



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.







Congress wants to cut Social Security Disability



These Congress members referenced in this article want to cut Social Security Disability benefits. This is not surprising since I've been watching these types of attacks on the disability system since the early 2000s.

How are they attacking? Here's how: in the current system, if you prove you are disabled, the assumption is made that you may never work again at a substantial and gainful level. That's because to get disability in the first place you have to have very strong medical evidence. Its not an easy thing to win. Even so, your claim does get reviewed every few years to see if you have experienced medical improvement. If you have improved, you may be taken off benefits. That usually doesn't happen, of course, because most people who get awarded disability never improve that much. That's because they were legitimately found disabled in the first place

HOWEVER, these politicians have the notion that disability tends to be a "temporary thing" and that "people are being held back by being given disability".

WOW. Not surprised, of course. Their "fix" is that people should be given TIME-LIMITED BENEFITS. That's right. Benefits that last only a while before you have to APPLY ALL OVER AGAIN. Anyone who ever spent months or years trying to get benefits won know that everything these politicians are saying is totally out of touch with reality. Basically a lie.

Here's the article: Congress wants to cut Social Security Disability



I am a former disability examiner and I publish the website Social Security Disability Resource Center, or SSDRC for short. I also maintain a facebook page for SSDRC (Social Security Disability Blog).

Archives for this blog.

Neither this blog, nor the facebook page, nor my website are affiliated with the Social Security Administration.