Disabled Workers Roll the Dice with Judge Assignments

Posted December 27, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Sick and injured workers face a brutal game of chance when they apply for Social Security disability benefits: their odds hinge as much on the judge they are assigned as on the facts of their case.

American workers give 6 percent of their paychecks to the Social Security Administration just in case they lose their jobs to injury or illness. But, in the end, it’s a government judge, not a doctor, who will decide whether a condition is serious enough to warrant benefits.

Allowed wide discretion with little oversight, judges may come to wildly different decisions.

It’s a consequential game of roulette, and it can take years for the wheel to stop spinning. Draw one judge and you’re all but guaranteed access to life-saving benefits. Draw another and you may have little chance at all.

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

Full article: https://www.postandcourier.com/health/disabled-workers-in-sc-roll-the-dice-when-drawing-judges/article_a27bee44-1517-11ea-8dbf-e7c8b74a8206.html

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Representatives Introduce Know Your Social Security Act

Posted December 20, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Earlier this month, House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (D-CT), Ways and Means Committee Member Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Finance Committee Member Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) introduced the Know Your Social Security Act.

The legislation will clarify the requirement for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to mail an annual Social Security Statement to all workers ages 25 and older with covered earnings, who are not receiving Social Security benefits. Since Fiscal Year 2011 SSA has failed to mail annual Statements to these Americans, citing limited operating budgets, even though in 1989 and 1990 Congress enacted requirements for SSA to provide a Statement annually.

“Social Security is our nation’s foundation to a solid retirement. Americans who contribute to Social Security should receive an update every year so they know what benefits they are earning and can plan for their retirements. No matter what happens in the stock market, Social Security will always be there for them,” said Larson. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral legislation alongside Ranking Member Wyden, Senator Cassidy and Congressman Buchanan.”

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

https://larson.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/larson-buchanan-wyden-cassidy-introduce-know-your-social-security-act

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Trump Administration Proposes Rule Change That Could Cut Off Disabled Recipients

Posted December 13, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Trump administration is proposing changes to Social Security that could terminate disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly older people and children.

The new rule would change aspects of disability reviews — the methods by which the Social Security Administration determines whether a person continues to qualify for benefits. Few recipients are aware of the proposal, which is open for public comment through January.

Merely getting benefits in the first place is an extraordinarily difficult task, often taking years and requiring applicants to compile reams of documents, then state and restate their cases in front of hearing officers, adjudicators, and judges.

Those already receiving disability benefits are subject to continuing disability reviews, or CDRs, which determine whether they are still deserving of compensation for an injury, illness, or other incapacitating problem as their lives progress.

Not everyone gets reviewed within the same time frame. For example, a person with a grave illness such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is placed in a category called “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” and is subject to review every five to seven years. A low-birth-weight baby, on the other hand, may be categorized as “Medical Improvement Expected,” and would be reviewed every six to 18 months, because growth and change are anticipated. The third category is “Medical Improvement Possible.”

The proposed rule change would create a fourth category: “Medical Improvement Likely,” which would mandate disability reviews every two years, creating an additional 2.6 million reviews over the first 10-year period. An estimated 4.4 million beneficiaries would be included in that designation, many of them children and so-called “Step 5 recipients”, individuals who are typically 50-65 years of age, in poor health, and without much education or many job skills.

The inclusion of Step 5 people in the “Medical Improvement Likely” category appears to make little sense, advocates for recipients say. Medical conditions generally deteriorate as already unhealthy people age, and no evidence exists that such beneficiaries are “likely” to improve.

Compelling Step 5 recipients to be reviewed every two years shows “a hostility toward the basic Social Security Act, which takes a holistic view of the individual,” said Jonathan Stein, a former Community Legal Services attorney. He said he believes the ultimate aim of the rule is to review Step 5 recipients so often that they ultimately lose their benefits because of the difficulties complying with the review process.

View the proposed rule and comment here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/18/2019-24700/rules-regarding-the-frequency-and-notice-of-continuing-disability-reviews

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

Source: https://www.inquirer.com/news/social-security-ssi-ssdi-trump-administration-disability-20191212.html

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®