Trump’s Budget Proposal Includes Cuts to Social Security

Posted February 14, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

President Donald Trump has publicly vowed to protect Social Security. Yet advocates for the program fear that his just released budget proposal would hit individuals hard when it comes to disability benefits, as it includes cuts to the tune of $71 billion, according to one congressional estimate.

“This budget is a non-starter,” said Congressman John Larson, D-Conn., who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee. “His proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, food-assistance programs and more will only hurt those who are already struggling,” Larson said. “The president should live up to his promise, instead of breaking it.”

Earlier this month, the president affirmed his commitment to the program during his State of the Union speech. “We will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always,” Trump said. However, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, an advocacy organization, said the budget suggests otherwise. That’s because the spending plan includes a proposal to add an additional layer of reviews for individuals who receive disability payments. The continuing reviews evaluate whether individuals are able to go back to work.

“They’re going to try to do more to move people off the rolls,” said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare.

The Social Security Administration has stricter standards for qualifying for disability benefits than private plans or other government agencies. A worker is considered disabled for eligibility purposes if they have a severe medical condition that continues for at least a year or could result in death. Of those who start receiving benefits at age 55, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 8 women die within five years of their disabilities, according to the Social Security Administration. Consequently, Trump’s efforts to reduce the number of people on disability might not be realistic, Adcock said. “The vast majority of them are in no position to go back to work, given the severity of their disabilities,” Adcock said.

This isn’t the first time Trump has gone after disability benefits. Similar proposals have appeared in all three of his previous budgets, Adcock said. But this year, the plans are more concrete. The Social Security Administration gave a preview of the new scrutiny in a proposed a rule in November.

Social Security Works, another advocacy organization, has also voiced concerns about the proposed change. “I think they see disability benefits as low-hanging fruit,” said Social Security Works president Nancy Altman. “They think they can convince the American public that these are not people who need benefits.”

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


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By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

“Blending” Disability Payments is Possible

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

Many people who are applying for or receiving Socials Security Disability benefits wonder if there are any other forms of assistance that they can receive at the same time. Disability payments from private sources, such as private pensions or insurance benefits, will not affect your Social Security disability benefits. Workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits, however, may reduce what you receive from Social Security. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. These benefits may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers, or by insurance companies on behalf of employers.

Public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefits are those paid from a federal, state or local government for disabling medical conditions that are not job-related. Examples of these are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability.  A few states, including New York and California, offer temporary disability benefits alongside their unemployment insurance programs. You can receive state disability insurance payments at the same time as SSDI, but your SSDI may be “offset” by these short-term disability payments.

Veterans Administration benefits don’t affect your Social Security disability benefits.

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®


Doctors May Hesitate to Document Treatment “Failure”

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

Patients seek out doctors to provide treatment and cures, and physicians practice medicine hoping to successfully diagnose and treat people with illnesses. Contrary to those goals, however, the Social Security law requires patients and their doctors to prove that they are not doing well.

For patients, the need for financial assistance through Social Security thrusts legal and insurance issues into the doctor’s examination rooms. It asks that the doctor-patient relationship conform to bureaucratic standards. Doctors would rather be focused on signs that their treatment plan is providing relief, rather than proving disability and failure of treatment.

Many treating providers “chart for strength,” documenting each small improvement that a patient makes. This can be devastating to a Social Security claim if the chart does not also document continuing limitations. Unfortunately, this forces both the treating provider and the patient to focus on the negative aspects of the illness.  Social Security largely relies on documented functional impairments, along with its Listing of Impairment.

If the claimant cannot work then the doctor needs to document that opinion. If the doctor feels the patient can work, or is malingering, this must be explained to the patient so that the focus can switch to treatment and the return to work. Eliminating financial stress by obtaining benefits can often allow patients to redirect their energies to recovery. Anxiety about bills and finances can sometimes exacerbate illnesses.

These benefit programs provide minimal cash assistance and more importantly, access to the health care system though Medicare and Medicaid. This continued medical care may provide opportunity for recovery and eventual return to work.

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®