Posts in:June, 2021

President Biden Proposes Increasing Social Security Budget

Posted June 25, 2021 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget could give the Social Security Administration a $1.3 billion — or 9.7% — boost in funding. In total, the president is calling for $14.2 billion for the agency for fiscal year 2022.

The proposed increase comes as the Social Security Administration expects to pay more than $1.2 trillion in both Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits to more than 74 million beneficiaries in 2022.

If approved, the extra money could help the administration improve one key area — customer service — as it regroups from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money would allow the Social Security Administration to pursue a host of improvement efforts, Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul said in the agency’s budget overview.

Among the areas the administration would address include wait times and backlogs, community outreach to vulnerable populations, and technology upgrades, he said.

“The President’s budget will allow us to begin recovering from the coronavirus pandemic disruptions, building on the lessons we learned to become a stronger and more responsive agency,” Saul said.

One advocacy group — the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare — says that more money would be crucial to help improve the administration’s ability to serve current beneficiaries and benefit applicants.

“Our concern for a long while has been that customer service just hasn’t really kept up the way that it should,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

The group’s concerns about Social Security customer service date back to before the pandemic, according to Adcock.

Among the problems people face include long waits on the Social Security Administration’s 800 number, a backlog of disability insurance cases under review and the closure of many field offices.

While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues, the funding Biden is proposing could help alleviate those concerns.

The money could help reduce the hearings backlog, bringing the annual average processing time for a decision down to 270 days in fiscal year 2022 from 386 days in fiscal year 2020, according to the Social Security Administration’s estimates.

Read more here:

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®

Manipulative Limitations in a Disability Claim

Posted June 18, 2021 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Nearly every job requires full and complete use of the hands. Anyone who has “manipulative limitations” caused by injury or pain needs to be aware that this can be an important component of a disability claim. While more obvious in situations involving a condition such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a specific hand injury, this limitation can also be important even when it is not the major disabling condition.

Social Security law says that in order to do even unskilled, sedentary work a person must have good use of both hands and the fingers – this is called “bilateral manual dexterity” in the regulations. Any significant limitation in a person’s ability to handle, pick up and finger small objects is important in the disability decision. Many claimants have conditions that restrict the amount of lifting they can do. Anyone person who can lift and carry even 10 pounds for most of the day may still be found capable of sedentary work, under Social Security regulations. The addition of a manipulative limitation, particularly of the dominant hand, can be enough to tip the scale in favor of the claimant.

More general medical conditions such as arthritic impairments, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue may also include hand, arm, and/or shoulder pain. Often when Social Security is collecting information on these illnesses from a claimant, the entire focus is on lifting, standing and sitting limitations. Careful medical record development of limitations on use of the hands is very helpful in the decision-making process. Soliciting this information from treating medical sources can also be extremely important. These limitations may sometimes be viewed as a minor problem in the context of some larger disease process. As such, medical case records often do not specifically mention them.

When the right questions are asked of the medical provider, however, a clearer picture may emerge. Does the person have pain in the dominant hand? Does stiffness prevent full use of the hand, particularly for small motor tasks such as writing? Is the pain increased by repetitive use? Although someone may be able to lift five pounds, or use the painful hand for a task once or even five times, can this be done on a continuous, repetitive basis for an 8-hour work day, five days per week? What is the effect of such an activity level on the person’s ongoing condition?

Think of a manipulative limitation in combination with all other impairments. Often it can be overlooked, for example, when the presenting problem is psychiatric in nature. When a condition such as anxiety or depression is not severe enough on its own to qualify a person for benefits, the claim can be strengthened by considering manipulative and other physical limitations.

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®


June is PTSD Awareness Month

Posted June 11, 2021 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

This month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is raising awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health disorder that begins after a traumatic event, which may involve a real or perceived threat of injury or death. This can include: a natural disaster like an earthquake or tornado, military combat, physical or sexual assault or abuse, or other accidents. The VA estimates that about 8 million people in the United States currently suffer from PTSD.

PTSD used to be called “shell shock” or “battle fatigue” because it often affects war veterans. According to the National Center for PTSD, it’s estimated that about 15 percent of Vietnam War veterans and 12 percent of Gulf War veterans have PTSD.

But PTSD can happen to anyone at any age. It occurs as a response to chemical and neuronal changes in the brain after exposure to threatening events. Having PTSD doesn’t mean you’re flawed or weak.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into four groups: intrusion (flashbacks, unpleasant memories, nightmares, or distress), avoidance, arousal/reactivity (trouble concentrating, startle response, feeling on edge, irritability, or bouts of anger), and cognition/mood (negative thoughts, distorted feelings, trouble remembering the event, or reduced interest in activities). People with PTSD may also suffer from depression and/or panic attacks. There are also differences in how men and women tend to manifest symptoms – everyone is different.

People with PTSD tend to feel a heightened sense of danger. Their natural fight-or-flight response is altered, causing them to feel stressed or fearful, even when they’re safe. PTSD can disrupt your normal activities and your ability to function. Words, sounds, or situations that remind you of trauma can trigger your symptoms.

Treatment for PTSD may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may consider your PTSD under Listing 12.15. However, even if you do not meet the strict requirements of the listing, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your experience of PTSD prevents you from working full time. The SSA will consider how your PTSD, or any other mental impairments you may have, affect your ability to: understand, remember, or apply information; interact with others; concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; and adapt or manage oneself.

Read more about PTSD: ;

See SSA’s mental listings:

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®