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Philadelphia Social Security Disability Law Blog

Will budget concerns affect your disability benefits application?

Various media stories have questioned whether too many individuals are qualifying for Social Security disability insurance benefits. Critics of the program have alleged fraudulent claims with little or no evidence to support those claims.

The Trump Administration has stated that it will reform abuses in entitlement programs, including Medicare and those administered by the Social Security Administration. The director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, recently offered assurance, stating that President Trump's reforms would not affect the payments designated for current beneficiaries. Yet in that same press conference, Mulvaney mischaracterized the SSDI program as one of the most abused programs in the country.

Alzheimer's may qualify for expedited SSDI application processing

Although public awareness of Alzheimer's disease has improved, it is important to understand all of the potential resources available to the over 5 million Americans who have this progressive, terminal disease.

One important resource is the Social Security disability insurance program. SSDI benefits are available to workers with a qualifying work history and a disability that prevents them from working for a period of at least one year. Since early onset Alzheimer's also affects 30- and 40-year-olds, the progressive nature of this condition may result in disability well before retirement age.

How can an SSDI applicant minimize the administrative hassle?

Most Americans are aware of the Social Security Administration's services because they pay withholding taxes, typically deducted from their wages. In addition to retirement benefits, the SSA's services include disability benefits administered through two different programs: Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income.

The eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI vary, based in large part on whether an individual has a qualifying work history (in the case of SSDI or disability insurance benefits) or is need-based (in the case of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI). Yet one characteristic is common to both programs: Difficulties in navigating the application process.

When might anxiety disorder qualify for disability benefits?

Modern medicine hasn't completely decoded the mysteries of the human nervous system. Although serotonin, norepinephrine and other neurotransmitters may play a role, the cause for nervous system conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorders remains unknown. It is also unclear whether other factors may also be involved, such as genetics, biological processes, and life experiences. 

Yet the shortcomings of modern medicine should never justify underestimating the serious impact that anxiety disorder or other mental impairments may have on an individual's life, and in particular, his or her ability to work. Symptoms might include severe distraction, panic attacks, headaches, breathing difficulties, or other physical manifestations. Often, there is also an emotional component, such as fearful and irrational thoughts. The combined impact of these symptoms may truly present a long-term obstacle to an individual's ability to work.

Serious forms of anxiety disorder may constitute a disability

A disability does not always have to be physical in order to qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration's blue book lists many mental health conditions that are recognized as disabilities. The true test of SSDI eligibility is the degree to which a disability impairs an individual's ability to work.  It is not merely the diagnosis.

Unfortunately, many Americans wrongly assume that mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder or depression, are not as serious as physical disabilities. Individuals who have experienced less serious forms of anxiety might not understand that there are more serious and debilitating forms of the condition. Others might simply have a hard time acknowledging or understanding the severity of conditions with fewer, if any, visible symptoms.

An attorney can guide you in the disability application process

The Social Security Administration has made it simple to apply for disability benefits online. However, don't make the mistake of going through the process alone. Almost two-thirds of initial applications for Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income are denied. Wait times at all stages of the SSA's administrative process are lengthy and getting longer, as we've discussed in several recent blog posts. An experienced disability attorney can help you avoid these and other pitfalls in the application process.

There are many services that the attorneys at the Disability Benefits Law Center provide for our clients. We start the process with a free initial consultation, where we evaluate a client's claim, answer questions about the SSDI and SSI eligibility requirements, and provide an overview of what to expect.  For those who still need to apply, we will review their online application without cost or obligation.

Are Social Security disability applications a waiting game?

Although many changes might be coming with the new administration, President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he does not intend to reduce Social Security benefits. Yet that statement may not be as reassuring as it seems.

As a law firm that focuses on disability benefits, including Social Security disability insurance, we have observed an increasing gap between the growing number of SSDI beneficiaries and the resources of the Social Security Administration. That translates into longer wait times at all stages of the SSDI application process, from field office visits, to state agency decisons, to the scheduling of appeals hearings with judges.

Will you lose your SSDI benefits if your income changes?

As if the process of obtaining Social Security disability insurance benefits weren't hard enough, a recent story provides an important reminder that eligibility should never be taken for granted.

Specifically, a disabled woman who receives monthly Social Security disability payments claims that the Social Security Administration is seeking the small amount of money she received from a local fundraiser. The woman's posting on a fan page prompted a fundraiser for her to attend a Kansas City Royals ballgame. Since she could not afford to see a live game on her own, fans raised $3,700 for her to go. Now, she claims that the SSA has requested an offset in that amount from her monthly disability payments.

Electronic records may help disabled vets apply for SSDI benefits

The recent observance of Veterans Day is an important reminder of the contributions that our servicemen and women have made to our country. We owe our wounded veterans an immeasurable debt, and one way to express our appreciation is through the health services we offer to them.

Unfortunately, navigating the application process for either VA benefits or Social Security disability insurance benefits can be a complicated endeavor. In that regard, a new medical records sharing initiative may help to streamline the process.

Federal appeals court makes important disability determination

A woman seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration was recently forced to appeal her case to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Her efforts paid off, in part, as her claim has been remanded back to the SSA.

The woman is specifically seeking assistance under the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Her application cited a combination of disabilities that prevented her from working, including degenerative disc disease, obesity and asthma. However, the administrative law judge denied her request, concluding that she had failed to sufficiently demonstrate her inability to work.

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