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February 2011 Archives

SSA considers adding heart disease to Compassionate Allowances

In recent months, the Social Security Administration has received an influx of negative public opinion and outrage because of the continually increasing average application wait times. For most Social Security Disability applicants, finding ways to make ends meet while unemployed and waiting for SSD benefits is challenging. But for those who are afflicted with a serious disease or disability, waiting for months or years may actually be impossible.

Student loan discharge for the disabled, part two

Last week, we began a discussion of the federal program that enables disabled student loan borrowers to discharge their loans. However, many who attempt to take advantage of the program find themselves dealing with a complicated process with unclear standards for approval and mystery denials. Many, including the federal student aid ombudsman, have recommended that the Department of Education do away with its review process and contract the decisions out to the Social Security Administration, which has a more solid disability review process in place. However, Education executives have resisted such change.

Student loan discharge for the disabled, part one

When someone becomes disabled, their entire life changes. They are often unable to work, which in turn can lead to severe financial shortfalls. Programs like Social Security Disability help to bridge the financial gap, but the monthly stipends paid through SSD are usually a fraction of a recipient's former income. Any additional financial obligations such as student loan payments can be difficult, if not impossible, to pay, and may push the recipient into deep debt or bankruptcy.

Social Security program begins to post deficits

Since the Social Security program was overhauled in the 1980s, it has been, by every account, a success. However, in recent years, a weak economy has caused the program to slip, and in 2010 it posted its first deficit since that overhaul. In 2011, it is projected that Social Security will collect $45 billion less in payroll taxes than it pays out for various benefit programs including Social Security Disability and retirement programs. According to new projections, the program will continue to deficit until it is completely tapped in out in 2037.

Advocates seek to dispel claims of misconduct in SSI program

Recently, we wrote several blog posts on a series of Boston Globe articles which discussed some of the claimed failings of the Supplemental Security Income program that gives a monthly stipend to disabled children and their families. Those Boston Globe articles ultimately gave rise to a congressional investigation into SSI. Now, legislators are pledging to examine the claims of a disproportionate rise in the number of children receiving SSI for mental disorders and the allegations that parents are unnecessarily medicating their children just to be eligible for SSI.

A tough job market is more difficult for the disabled

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to make accommodations for disabled workers. However, according to civil rights and Social Security Disability (SSD) attorneys, that does not always happen, especially in a tough job market when hundreds of qualified applicants are submitting applications for a single open position. As unemployed and disabled workers burn through savings and face dwindling options for making ends meet, there has been an exponential increase in SSD applications and appeals in California and throughout the country.

SSI fraud highlights importance of updating paperwork

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has made several programs available to both parents and children for the purpose of protecting families with children who suffer from physical and mental disabilities. For parents, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits may be granted to help pay for the medical and other costs associated with caring for a child with a disability. In addition, such children may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in recognition of the potential for decreased work hours and wages for a parent who has taken time off to care for a disabled child.

Mental illness may lead to loss of wealth

Despite the increasing awareness and acceptance of mental illnesses as genuinely disabling conditions, diseases such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders and schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder are still widely misunderstood. Even when family, friends, and employers are sensitive to a disorder, mental illnesses have many consequences, including a major loss in income and wealth if sufferers are forced to leave the work force early.

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