Posts in:July, 2020

Attack on Social Security Included in Coronavirus Relief Bill

Posted July 31, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

LA TIMES: Social Security advocates who breathed a sigh of relief when Senate Republicans rejected President Trump’s demand to place a payroll cut in the latest coronavirus relief bill may have exhaled too soon. The version of the bill unveiled Monday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell incorporates a provision even more menacing for Social Security. This is the so-called TRUST Act, which was crafted by Sen. Mitt Romney and has been bubbling along in Capitol Hill corridors since last year.

The TRUST Act is a device to tamper with Social Security behind closed doors and in a way that would allow senators and members of Congress to wreak havoc on the program without leaving fingerprints. It is now a provision of the larger HEALS Act — the Senate GOP’s opening bid on coronavirus relief. So it is now time to give it a close look.

We’ll start by pointing out that Social Security advocates are universally opposed to the measure, which they see as an expression of longtime conservative hostility to the program.

The TRUST Act — the acronym stands portentously for “Time to Rescue United States’ Trusts” — would work by ginning up a sense of near-term emergency about the finances of Social Security, Medicare and the federal highway trust fund. The crisis is largely imaginary, for the Social Security trust fund, by far the biggest of the reserves with $2.9 trillion today, is not in danger of exhaustion for at least 15 years. Nevertheless, the TRUST Act would require the Treasury to issue a report on the status of the funds within 45 days of the measure’s passage.

Congress would then appoint bipartisan committees mandated to “draft legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves each trust fund program,” as Romney has described the process. Whatever proposals these panels produced would be fast-tracked in Congress and not subject to amendment.

Romney has stated that his model for the TRUST Act is the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission empaneled by Barack Obama in 2010. That commission, which was headed by former Sen. Alan K. Simpson and Erskine Bowles, an ex-investment banker claiming Democratic Party cred from a stint as President Clinton’s chief of staff, was a mess. Its goal was to produce some putatively bipartisan recommendations for deficit reduction, but it was unable to come up with any that could garner a majority vote, so it never actually produced any recommendations.

Since the TRUST panels’ deliberations will be offered to Congress on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, the process rather serves what the GOP refers to as the need to gut Social Security “behind closed doors,” to quote an unwittingly revealing line uttered last year by Sen. Joni Ernst.

One would think that if fiscal changes in Social Security are favorable for the broad public — say by raising payroll taxes on wealthier Americans who currently get a break on them — they don’t have to be crafted behind closed doors or outsourced to a committee that absolves most senators and representatives of responsibility. However, if they involve cutting benefits, a step that would harm the majority of retirees and rank-and-file workers, then it pays to do the work in secret.

It should not, therefore, come as any surprise that the biggest fans of the TRUST Act are water-carriers for richer Americans. They include the Committee for a Responsible Budget, which was supported for years by the late hedge fund billionaire Pete Peterson, by both Simpson and Bowles, and by the Koch-financed organization Americans for Prosperity.

One shouldn’t be fooled by these TRUST Act advocates’ assertions that Social Security needs to be “fixed.” Democrats on Capitol Hill should keep their wits about them, and “fix” the TRUST Act before it goes any further.

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Can I Receive VA Benefits and Social Security Disability at the Same Time?

Posted July 24, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you are anticipating or are already receiving disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), then you may also be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI is administered by the SSA to provide monthly benefits for disabled workers. To receive SSDI, you must have worked enough and paid taxes into the SSA to earn sufficient credits for coverage. In general, that means you must have worked the equivalent of five years of the last 10 years prior to the start of your disability, but that can vary depending on age. While VA disability is only available to military veterans who suffer from a service-related disability, SSDI is available to any worker who suffers from any disability that meets the requirements under the SSA’s guidelines. So, if you have a service-related disability and other medical conditions, you can combine those together to gain approval for SSDI. Unlike VA disability, to get SSDI you must be fully disabled. There are no partial disability benefits under the SSA’s guidelines.

The Differences: To receive SSDI you can combine chronic health conditions, injuries, and military-related conditions to prove your disability to receive benefits. The VA will give a disability rating for each condition or injury, such as 10 percent. For SSDI, you must show that you are completely disabled and unable to work to earn a substantial gainful income. For SSDI benefits, you must be unable to work for at least a year or have a condition that is expected to result in your death. With VA disability, you can receive benefits based on the severity or the disability rating that you receive.

While you can apply for VA disability because of a service-related disability at any time, you need to apply for SSDI as quickly as possible. Because it is based on credits earned from working, waiting too long to apply can result in your loss of benefits. You can, however, apply for VA disability and SSDI at the same time. These claims are processed using a different approach through different government agencies, so be aware that different information will need to be supplied for each claim.

Expedited Claims: If you are a veteran who has been approved for VA disability with a 100 percent P&T disability rating, or if you were wounded in the line of duty after October 2001, you can have your SSDI claim expedited in effort to get faster approval for monthly SSDI benefits. The additional monthly benefits from SSDI can significantly impact your financial situation and help you with your regular living costs. By supplementing your VA disability with SSDI, you can have a major impact on your family’s finances.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®


Chronic Pain as a Basis for a Disability Claim

Posted July 17, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

When people are asked what stops them from working, one of the most common reasons they point to is pain. As anyone who has experienced it knows, acute and/or chronic pain can take over every facet of your life, hindering physical ability, interfering with concentration and stamina, and causing fatigue. Many people with conditions as diverse as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, fibromylagia, migraines, and spinal impairments are in this situation.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claimants, documenting and proving the severity and impact of pain is often the most critical element in winning their case. As common as pain may be as a symptom, it cannot be objectively measured. It can be very difficult to convince Social Security that you are disabled on this basis alone. However, Social Security has a rule ( which sets standards that decision-makers must follow when a claimant tells them that pain is a factor in disability.

In determining credibility, the adjudicator must consider the entire case record, including the objective medical evidence, the claimant’s own statements about symptoms, statements and other information provided by treating or examining physicians or psychologists and other persons about the symptoms and how they affect the individual, and any other relevant evidence in the case record. An individual’s statements about the intensity and persistence of pain or other symptoms or about the effect the symptoms have on his or her ability to work may not be disregarded solely because they are not substantiated by objective medical evidence.

The rule cautions that before any complaints of pain can be considered there must be an underlying condition – medical signs and laboratory findings establishing that the person has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment” – which could be expected to cause some degree of pain. Chronic pain of unknown origin cannot be the basis for a disability finding. The next step is showing that the pain interferes with your activity so much that it would prevent you from engaging in full-time work on a regular and continuous basis.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®