Monthly Archives: September 2011

Disability Benefits and Returning to Work – What is Legal?

As many of the fraud cases that we have looked at demonstrate, people often get in trouble while working and receiving disability benefits at the same time. These people we have discussed are knowingly breaking the law, though. We have seen cases of disability beneficiaries running a construction company, working for a plumbing business and even competing in bodybuilding contests all receiving benefits for supposedly being disabled and unable to work. For those receiving disability benefits who would like to know what their obligations are should they begin working, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) does provide guidance. The SSA does support people returning to work if they are able to, and it has regulations in place that help ease this transition. For instance, beneficiaries get a trial work period of at least nine months. During this trial period, beneficiaries can continue to receive their full benefits regardless of how much…
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Executive Behind Compassionate Allowances Wins Service Award

As evidence that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has made steps in the right direction to help disabled workers get benefits decision quicker, an SSA executive received an illustrious award from the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that evaluates government agencies and promotes government service. Diane Braunstein received the 2011 Citizen Services Medal about two weeks ago at a ceremony recognizing exceptional government employees. Braunstein received the award for her involvement with one of the better changes to come to disability benefits in recent memory – the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program. This program created a list of medical afflictions for which applicants progress through the disability benefits process at a faster than normal rate. The program recognizes that people suffering from severe afflictions on the list cannot afford to wait the months or years it sometimes takes to begin receiving disability benefits. The commissioner of the SSA commented…
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Woman Steals Daughter-in-Law’s Identity for Nine Years

Given the troubles that legitimately disabled Americans often have when applying for disability benefits, it sometimes comes as a shock to see the ease with which fraudsters are able to obtain Social Security disability benefits. For nine years, Alabama woman Jennifer Owens used her daughter-in-law’s identity to obtain disability benefits that went straight to Owens. Owens’s son married in 2001 and divorced in 2010. In 2002, Owens used her daughter-in-law’s name and Social Security number to apply for disability benefits. Owens also specified on the application form that the benefits should go directly to her. Owens managed to obtain a comprehensive psychological report regarding her daughter-in-law. This medical evaluation involved Owens and another adult female who claimed to be Owens’s daughter-in-law meeting with a clinical psychologist. The psychologist suspected that the alleged daughter-in-law may have been faking symptoms. Nevertheless, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) approved the disability application, and Owens…
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Disability Benefits – Comparing SSI and SSDI

People often confuse the two main Social Security programs that provide benefits to disabled Americans – Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The requirements for each program are different, and, in some instances, workers may be able to receive benefits under both SSDI and SSI. Your total assets and whether you are currently working are important factors that play a role in determining whether you will be able to apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. The disability determination is the same for both SSI and SSDI benefits, which is why many applicants apply for both at the same time. For SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) looks at the amount you are working and earning (“substantial gainful activity” is the phrase the SSA uses). You earn more SSDI benefits the more you have worked in the past. Without much work history, you may not be…
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