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Managing Social Security Reform, Without Affecting Disability Claims

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

According to the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, the Social Security reform movement is an awakening, so to speak, for the majority of Americans who are concerned about the budget priorities of the Republican Party. Donna Brazile said that the attempt by Republicans to cut the deficit by making Social Security budget cuts is hurtful to seniors and middle-class Americans depending on their disability benefits.

However, the budget dilemma cannot be ignored. Postponing decisions on Social Security while it is manageable may become harder to solve once the program is in jeopardy, according to the Daily News Pulse. It may be easier to collect taxes on more of high earners’ incomes while most of the baby boom generation is still working. The sooner the taxes go up on the rich, the more money will be brought in, according to some experts. What’s more, increasing taxes and lowering benefits for the affluent will be easier for the general public to accept.

The Democrats have recently suggested raising the retirement age. It seems that everything else goes up around us, including gas. Increasing the federal gasoline tax by 25 cents a gallon would generate $291 billion from 2012 to 2021. Increasing the retirement age from 62 and 66 to 64 and 70 may also generate money into the Social Security trust fund, which would mean savings of about $264 billion in benefits.

According to the National Stroke Association’s CEO James Baranski, individuals collecting disability claims in the world of Social Security face a lot of challenges. The process of applying for disability claims is difficult, cutting costs in the program could directly affect such claimants as stroke victims. Often, stroke victims are working with a deficit while trying to meet deadlines and fulfill all the application requirements.

SSA Office Increases Use of Video Teleconferencing Tools

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

According to FCW, the Social Security Administration is battling a backlog of disability hearings by utilizing video conferencing. The administration has tripled its use of video conferencing for adjudication hearings in recent years. The process allows the agency flexibility in managing its workload. According to a recent report, number of hearings for disability caseload increased from 23,000 in 2005 to 84,000 in 2009.

In 2010, the agency saw an even larger number of claims and hearings, especially due to a hurting economy and decreased employment opportunities for disabled workers. Likewise, the number of video teleconferencing hearings increased from about six percent to 18 percent.

Overall, the Social Security Administration has been satisfied by the use of teleconferencing services. The technology helps the program combat a nationwide backlog of cases. The SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review began using video hearings in 1999 for claims involving Social Security Disability Insurance. An Administrative Law Judge remains in their office, while claimants appear in a video conferencing room, typically in an SSA office. The full-room units are housed in fixed permanent locations serving SSA regions. If one office has a heavy workload, it can transfer some of its hearings to a remote video teleconferencing location.

Some offices use the equipment often. About 15 percent of the offices used video for 15 percent to 30 percent of the time, and 18 percent of offices used video for 30 percent to 50 percent of their time.
It is not required for an Administrative Law Judge to use the system and some judges still prefer an in-person, human connection with a claimant.

Is Work History Reason for Your Social Security Disability Denial?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

According to the Social Security Administration, about three in ten applicants for Social Security Disability Insurance are denied benefits for non-medical reasons. The most technical, non-medical reason for initial denial of a claim is lack of work history documentation needed for eligibility.

Your disability representative can help you avoid these paperwork errors by collecting work history data and detailing all of your previous responsibilities.
Work history is an important factor in SSDI applications, as it can make a difference in qualifying for disability based on the type of work you’ve done in your past and how it will affect eligibility for SSDI benefits. Most importantly, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to be eligible to apply for SSDI.

Recent SSA data in the Annual Statistical Report on SSDI showed that more than 700,000 technical denials were issued in 2008. The federally mandated insurance program that taxpayers and employers fund is used to provide monthly income to those who have experienced a severe disability and are unable to work for 12 months or longer, or those with a terminal condition. In 2008, 2.2 million applicants supplied information necessary to apply for SSDI. Out of those applicants, 700,000 received technical denials based on non-medical issues such as lack of documentation and insufficient work history details.
Work history documentation should include dates of employment, company details, but also all duties performed and work performed that you cannot do now, among other helpful details to help support your disability claim.

Social Security Trust and Disability Insurance Funds

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

According to the Congress FAQ, anyone born in 1929 or later needs to have worked for 10 years to be eligible for benefits through Social Security. In order to qualify, a person must have earned 40 credits. A worker earns one credit for every $1,120 in earnings, or up to a maximum of four credits per year. The Social Security Administration keeps track of credits and sends a yearly statement with an individual’s benefit qualifications and earnings. Additionally, the Social Security Trust Fund receives payroll taxes and splits them into two separate trust funds, one for the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and one for Disability Insurance funds.

Social Security Disability Insurance is available to all individuals who are unable to work due to total disability, due to injuries or medical reasons. The Administration determines if a disability applicant meets the requirements and definition of disabled. The eligibility process looks if a claimant is unable to work as he or she did before and unable to adjust to other lines of work due to a medical condition. The program is not for short-term disability but for those who may not be able to work anytime in the future.
The Administration also looks at the age of an applicant when he or she becomes disabled. If an individual becomes disabled before age 24, the Administration generally looks for six credits earned. There is a shifting scale for older workers who have become disabled.

A percentage of payroll taxes is deposited in the Disability Insurance trust fund, about one dollar of every seven brought in is stored away for disability insurance.