Skip navigation. Stanley Iola LLP

Posts Tagged ‘tulsa social security disability law firm’

Disability Benefits and Returning to Work – What is Legal?

Friday, September 30th, 2011

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 money they are taking in provided that they report their work to the SSA and they continue to suffer from a disability. The SSA counts as a trial work month any month in which you earn more than $720.

The trial work period ends after you have worked nine months over the course of a 60 month period. After the trial work period, you can still work and receive benefits for 36 months, but only if your earnings do not exceed $1,000. The SSA is aware that a disability may resurface, though, so if you happen to be unable to work due to your disability after you start transitioning back into work, you can begin receiving your disability benefits again. You do not have to reapply for benefits or await a decision while the SSA determines if your disability is continuing.

The SSA also offers other programs and assistance to disability beneficiaries like its Ticket to Work program. Disabilities should note, however, that the return to work information outlined above is also filled with exceptions and circumstance that may change these rules’ applicability to you. Assistance in applying for disability benefits and transitioning back into the workface is available from a Tulsa social security disability law firm.

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

Social Security Not So Much a Ponzi Scheme

Monday, September 26th, 2011

We have been hearing criticisms of Social Security as a Ponzi scheme as candidates gear up for the 2012 campaign for President, but the Ponzi scheme criticism is nothing new. To respond to the criticism, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) keeps a research article on its site, comparing what a Ponzi scheme is to how Social Security works.

The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi who came to notoriety in the 1920s, even though the scheme has been around long before Ponzi. Ponzi was issuing bonds that paid back an exorbitant 50% interest in 45 days, or 100% profit in 90 days. He would take his second round of investors’ money, use that to pay the money to the first round, and then repeat that process. This fraud only works, however, if the schemer can keep getting more and more money coming in.

Social Security benefits – whether retirement or disability benefits – have a least a superficial similarity in that new workers are providing the benefits for the newly retired or disabled. At the same time, though, many private pension systems employ this “pay-as-you-go” system.

With Social Security programs, we should expect there to be years of benefits and deficits with the change in the number of working Americans, though. When there is a large demographic like the Baby Boomers, we will have more people receiving benefits than paying into the system. On the other hand, with the regular population increases, we gradually have more workers paying into the system than those receiving benefits.

Additionally, the SSA can make adjustments to ensure the viability of benefits. These changes are likely coming over the next several years, whether in the form of tax increases or stricter criteria for benefits. A Ponzi scheme, on the other hand, promises huge returns with no goal of ever making the scheme viable.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the intended goals of the two. A Ponzi scheme has the potential to defraud everyone who invests in it. The criminal behind the scheme does not care what happens. Social Security aims for the opposite. It is meant to help retired and disabled Americans through difficult financial times. While it is not perfect, it is a lifeline to millions of Americans. More information on applying for disability benefits is available from a Tulsa Social Security disability law firm.

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

Is Improving Incentives to Return to Work the Best Reform?

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Critics hoping to reform Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) point to several statistics over the past several decades that they say demonstrate problems with the system:

  • The number of disability recipients has increased by 50 percent over the past decade
  • 40 years ago, about a fifth received benefits for mental illnesses or musculoskeletal problems; today more than half do (it became easier for patients with mental illnesses to receive disability benefits in the mid 1980s with changes in regulations)
  • Fewer workers – 35 percent in 1981 versus 22.6 percent last year – opt to work even if they have a disability, preferring to receive disability benefits instead

The work-related statistics are often the most troubling for people seeking to reform disability benefits. The incentive to return to work with today’s benefits, they claim, is simply too little. If you have any experience returning to work after receiving disability benefits, we welcome your thoughts below. Would more stringent regulations reduce those taking advantage of the disability system or would it just add another layer of bureaucracy and impede all applicants?

One possible reform might be to have more of a sliding scale for disabled workers who are increasingly able to work. As it stands, once workers start making more than about $1,000 a month, they lose all disability benefits. It is an all or nothing system, so for many disabled workers, working too much might backfire. If they end up earning beyond just $1,000 a month, they could lose their benefits.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability law firm