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Posts Tagged ‘tulsa social security disability lawyer’

Helping the Disabled Return to Work Gets a Federal Boost

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Disabled workers face a rougher economy than other Americans when looking for work. Whether we are in tough times like now or the economy is booming, disabled workers hoping to return to work face discrimination and higher unemployment rates. They may have been disabled for years, which leads to a loss of job skills and certifications that are often necessary to keep pace with change. To combat these challenges that the disabled face, the Department of Labor just made a large investment of more than $21 million to help disability beneficiaries return to work.

Unfortunately, those federal funds will not be coming to Oklahoma, but they will go to benefit a number of other states – nine states that had received funding before and will be continuing, and then seven new ones.

The agencies within the Department of Labor that will be helping states administer the funds are the Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Both of these play important roles in helping disabled workers get the training and resources they need to transition back into the work force.

The list of services that the federal funds will help bolster in the states receiving the funds is extensive. Some of them include:

  • Vocational rehab services, mental health and development disability assistance, Medicaid support, and independent living centers and organizations in the community that also help disabled workers return to work

Along with Social Security’s Ticket to Work program, disability beneficiaries will have improved opportunities to start working again and earning more money than their benefits may be providing. Have you had any experience working with Social Security programs to transition back into work after suffering a disability? Our Tulsa SSI lawyers would like to hear your success stories.

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

State SSI Cuts in Rhode Island Have Dire Consequences

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) provides benefits to lower income, disabled Americans. Unlike other disability benefits (SSDI, for example), SSI does not base benefits on work history and payments made into the system. If you qualify for SSI benefits, you receive an amount that does not increase or decrease depending on how long you have worked before receiving benefits.

All states but six (Oklahoma is one of the states that does) provide supplemental SSI benefits in addition to the federal SSI benefits. As of January of this year, SSI benefits were $674 a month for individuals and $1,011 for a couple. For people living independently (this term covers most people living on their own), Oklahoma provides a modest increase in SSI benefits, adding $42 for an individual and $84 for a couple each month. Those applying for SSI benefits may wish to speak to a Tulsa SSI lawyer.

SSI beneficiaries in Rhode Island are going to court over their state’s decision to cut its extra SSI payments to beneficiaries. The added benefits in Rhode Island are substantial, so disabled beneficiaries may be put in a difficult situation if the benefits they have come to rely upon are suddenly drastically cut. The cuts are set to begin this week and reduce the added benefits from $538 a month to $332 (this is the amount that the state provides on top of the federal SSI benefits).

The cuts are already having an impact on disabled beneficiaries, as assisted living facilities are now closing their doors and having to evict some of their residents. The cuts amount to a reduction of almost $2,500 a year, which is a large portion of the income that disabled beneficiaries live off of. Many of them were just getting by as it was, so the disability benefits cuts have hit them hard. Rhode Island’s experience may be a good case study for what happens when disability reductions take place without a transition or without finding ways to improve the process in a way that harms the least number of people.

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

Man Claiming Glaucoma Manages and Owns Restaurants

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

From the fall of 2006 to the fall of 2009, a restaurant owner and manager on the East Coast took in about $300,000. Most of us agree would agree that that amount is enough to live off of, even if the government takes taxes out of that sum. But the 50-year-old-man wanted more, and he defrauded the government and other disability applicants out of nearly $60,000 in Social Security disability benefits.

The man made the $300,000 working as general manager at a restaurant and through selling his stake in another restaurant. His first wrongdoing was that he never informed the IRS of his profits over the three year period. The federal government should have received almost $72,000 in taxes from his profits.

While the man was managing and operating a restaurant, he was supposedly suffering from visual impairments and glaucoma. At least that is what he told the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) on two disability benefits applications dating back to 1998. The man’s lies enabled him to collect disability benefits from the SSA on his own behalf and for his two children through a separate program granting benefits to dependent children of disabled workers. The man netted nearly $60,000 in disability benefits through this fraud.

When we see cases like this, it is apparent that probably one of the more effective ways to improve Social Security’s solvency for all of its programs is by eliminating fraud and waste. The $60,000 that the man stole outright along with the taxes that he avoided that would have gone into funding Social Security could have provided years of benefits to many disabled Americans.

Through his attorney, the man claims to expect to make full restitution, but we will have to wait and see. Even in cases where the criminals do make restitution, the additional expenses from investigating and prosecuting the criminals usually result in a net loss. Catching the criminals earlier or implementing a system that prevents these crimes from occurring in the first place is where we need to be headed.

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

Cuts to Payroll Taxes May Hurt Social Security Beneficiaries

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

As part of his jobs plan, one suggestion that President Obama offered was to extend and expand payroll taxes. Many from both sides of the aisle immediately wondered what the effect would be for Social Security. Estimates currently predict that Social Security disability programs will run out of money around 2017 and that all Social Security programs will become insolvent by 2037. Cutting the taxes that fund these programs that are already facing severe shortages may worsen the problem.

Obama seeks a $175 billion one-year extension, and he requested halving the payroll tax for employees to 3.1 percent in 2012. Employers’ rate would be 3.1 percent on the first $5 million of their payrolls.

Will these cuts do more harm than good in the long term? The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found that the cuts would make a significant difference in the amount that middle class families could spend. Moody’s Analytics concluded that allowing the payroll cuts to expire would reduce gross domestic product next year and mean one million fewer jobs by the end of 2012.

Certainly the economy is still in need of a boost, but at what expense? If the payroll tax cuts expand, we will have to look elsewhere for how to make Social Security programs solvent again, and that is what worries Social Security beneficiaries. Without increased funding, the other way to improve a budget is to cut costs, which could mean things like stricter qualification standards, lower benefits and higher ages for retirement benefits. More information on how changes to Social Security affect disability applicants is available from a Tulsa Social Security disability law firm.

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