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Archive for April, 2011

Dire Need Letter, A Possible Way To Speed Up Your SSDI Claim?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

According to PR Web, avoiding a government shutdown was a benefit to all Social Security Disability claimants across the country. It is a relief to know that the government business will proceed as normal, and that the Social Security Administration will not have disruptions in paying out monthly benefits or processing new disability applications.

The Social Security Administration already faced a backlog of new claims, disruptions or furloughs would have only extended what is already a long process. It is common for a disability claim to take up to three years to reach approval status. Administrative Law Judges review appeals and deal with long lines of claimants.

The wait to receive benefits is long, and it is extremely stressful if a claimant is at risk of losing shelter, food or healthcare. Most claimants are too ill to work and need to receive their disability benefits quick. In some very limited circumstances, the claimant or representative may get the Social Security Administration to expedite the application process by making a “Dire Need” request.

A dire need request can be made if the claimant suffers from a terminal illness, such as cancer, and the claimant’s doctor states that the claimant is not expected to live more than six months. A dire need request can also be made if the claimant is faced with immediate foreclosure, eviction, bankruptcy or cannot pay for life-saving prescription medications. However, the claimant must be able to prove the immediacy of such problems in order to convince the Social Security Administration to expedite the claim based on “Dire Need.”

Obama’s Proposal Taxes Rich, Saves Social Security

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

According the People’s World, President Obama is calling for a tax hike for the rich. The President’s plan appears to be in contrast with the Republican budget cut proposals. Today’s rollout included a framework that the President said would reduce the deficit and save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security $4 trillion by removing tax cuts for the rich.
Obama’s nationally televised speech emphasized that he would not renew Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, or 2 percent of Americans making $250,000 or more. The plan intends to protect the middle class and preserve and protect seniors who have worked hard all of their lives.
Republican Paul Ryan criticized the plan and said Obama’s proposal contradicts the GOP’s reform ideas on the table. The President said Ryan’s plan was not a budget deficit reduction but about extinguishing the long cherished social compact in America. Obama vowed to reject Ryan’s plan as long as he is president.
Obama noted that Social Security does not contribute to the nation’s deficit and that it had to be strengthened, not reduced in services. Obama again called on Ryan’s plan as a way of saying we cannot afford to keep promises to seniors, the poor and the sick, but we can afford to give millionaires and billionaires tax cuts.
Obama’s framework calls for a debt failsafe to kick in by 2014, which would trigger across the board spending reductions except for Social Security and programs benefiting the poor. About $1 trillion would come from tax increases to the rich while $3 trillion would come from various spending cuts.

President Obama Suggests Strengthening Social Security

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

According to Reuters, President Obama did not lay out a specific reform plan for Social Security in his speech on the deficit. The President did say he wants to strengthen the program for our future generations without putting current retirees at risk, or slashing the benefits.
Some experts say that strengthening the Social Security program can come from raising the retirement age. More people are living longer, thanks to advances in our every day lives, technology, and medicine. The President’s own Natinal Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform even suggested changing the retirement age for future Social Security applicants.
The commission said raising the retirement age is fair and a benefit to everyone seeking other Social Security benefits, such as disability. Longevity gains allow users to find gainful employment while the Social Security program has enough funds to continue paying out in the long term.
The Social Security program’s biggest problem is that its huge surplus will be depleted around 2035, absent any other changes. The program itself is not the cause of the nation’s deficit, but depleting the surplus could affect disabled Americans who have no ability to gain employment and rely on monthly disability benefits to pay for their bills and every day care. Even in 2035, Social Security would be able to fund 76 percent of benefits from current revenue, but more people apply for disability benefits each year, which places the program in a further uncertainty when it comes to its long-term survival.

Lawsuit Claims Judges Biased Against Disabled Applicants

Monday, April 18th, 2011

According to the New York Times, a lawsuit has been filed for eight plaintiffs who were denied Social Security disability benefits by a Queens office. The suit says that many New Yorkers were left in an inhospitable place to seek benefits and applicants were reduced to tears by harsh questioning the Queens administrative law judges. Disability lawyers had advised their clients to rent apartments or move elsewhere in order to seek appeals in different regions.
The Queens office had the 10th-highest rejection rate among 166 offices across the country. Federal judges have rejected many of the Queens rulings in recent years, citing legal errors, combative hearings and a brusque court tone.
The class action lawsuit filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn says that eight Queen judges are not just difficult, but also biased against poor and immigrant applicants, and have systematically denied benefits to the disabled by making both legal and factual errors. The judges are being accused of being heavy handed to some of the most vulnerable individuals. One Guyanese plaintiff says he has seizures and a muscular disease, while a 55-year-old woman with a long history of mental illness has never held a job, yet they have both been denied SSDI benefits. The five Queens judges named in the disability lawsuit are David Nisnewitz, Michael Cofresi, Seymour Fier, Marilyn Hoppenfeld and Hazel Strauss. Together, they have rejected 63% of cases heard in the fiscal year, compared to the national average of 36 percent.