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Archive for July, 2011

President Obama Warns that Disability Payments in Jeopardy

Monday, July 25th, 2011

The focus in Washington, DC of late has been on the budget showdown between Republicans and Democrats. With just weeks before Congress has to make a decision on whether to raise the country’s debt ceiling, many have been speculating what the worst case scenario means for people who depend on federal money. Disability beneficiaries, retirees, military pay, these are all examples of people who may feel the impact of the budget and deficit crisis.

President Obama recently remarked that he was not sure whether checks could go out on August 3rd if there has not been any progress. He said, “There may simply not be money in the coffers to do it.” In August, Treasury officials expect Social Security payments (including both retirement and disability benefits) to be around $49 billion. Other bills include salaries for military service members ($3 billion), salaries and benefits for federal employees ($14 billion) and unemployment benefits ($13 billion). For those interested in applying for disability benefits, a Tulsa Social Security disability lawyer can provide assistance.

If members of Congress do not raise the debt limit, the government will have to shut down many services, as it will have no choice but to cut costs in order to pay bills. The cuts would have to total around $1.5 trillion. Even if the two sides do not reach an agreement, Social Security payments would most likely still go out in August. There is enough money coming in from revenue to cover those expenses. If the impasse were to continue later than August, however, President Obama’s warning may ring true.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

Other Benefits May Cut the Amount of SSDI Payments

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

For people already receiving or interested in receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits, there are other disability benefits that may affect their SSDI benefits. Private resources, such as private insurance policies, do not affect SSDI benefits, but other types of public disability benefits may reduce SSDI benefits. A Tulsa Social Security disability attorney can help applicants learn how various disability benefits programs affect one another.

Some of the public disability benefits that might affect SSDI payments include the following: workers’ compensation benefits, state disability benefits and retirement benefits that the government pays due to disability. Benefits that do not affect an applicant’s SSDI benefits include: Veterans Administration benefits, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits, sick pay and injury settlement money.

The way the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) calculates whether benefits are excessive is to first add together SSDI and other, conflicting benefits. That total amount cannot exceed 80 percent of what an applicant made on average before becoming disabled. Any money that is over that 80 percent limit reduces the amount of SSDI benefits that a person receives.

The SSA uses several different calculations to arrive at an applicant’s average earnings before disability. The formula that the SSA uses depends on each applicant. Additionally, conflicting benefits from other sources often change levels. This too will impact the amount of SSDI that a person receives as well.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers

Disability Benefits for Children Can Also Help Families

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

In addition to its regular Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program for adults, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) also operates a children’s version of SSI. In 2009, 1.2 million lower income children received benefits through the program. Last year, that number rose slightly to 1.24 million. The SSA awards nearly $10.3 billion in SSI children’s benefits a year now. More information on the variety of disability benefits available from the SSA is available from a Tulsa Social Security disability lawyer.

Some members of Congress are targeting the rise in SSI benefits to disabled children, fearing that it has become a new type of welfare for low income families. One Massachusetts representative has spoken of school officials in low income, urban areas telling him that workers often urge families to label their children as disabled so that they can receive SSI benefits.

The SSA itself is hoping to improve the program. Its commissioner recently remarked that the children’s SSI program is “seriously flawed” and supported studies as to the program’s efficiency in delivering disability benefits to those truly in need. Investigative journalists have reported on children continuing to receive benefits even though they should no longer qualify, as well as teens who turn down work in order to continue to receive SSI benefits.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability attorneys

System May Already Label Disability Applicants as “Dead”

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

All disability benefits applicants face long waits and a complex application process when they attempt to receive benefits. Some have it even worse than others; the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) may already consider them “dead.” According to news sources, the SSA reports incorrectly each month that 1,200 Americans have died despite their actually being alive.

One 45-year-old Texas man had a particularly trying time dealing with the SSA after he hurt his spine while working on a dump truck in 1999. Beginning in 2003, he spent two years trying to obtain disability benefits. Then, in 2005, the SSA added him to their death list, even though he was not actually dead. Everything went back to zero, with the man having to get a lawyer and start from scratch. At the time, he had no clue what was going on. Not until years later, sometime between 2008 and 2010, did the SSA fix the mistake. He received his first disability benefits in 2010. Information on disability benefits eligibility is available from a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney.

The SSA’s “death master file” is publicly available and is a federal listing of deceased Americans. Its aim is to prevent benefits from being paid to those who are deceased. Other agencies and private companies also check the list to prevent fraud. A SSA spokesperson claims that one in every 200 entries in the file is incorrect due to typing errors. This results in the 1,200 errors each month regarding living people, which is in addition to the $40.3 million that the government paid out in disability benefits funds to deceased individuals in 2010.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers