May is National Stroke Awareness Month!

Posted May 3, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

In the month of May alone, approximately 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke, with many individuals unaware that they were even at risk. Less than a third will arrive in the emergency room within three hours, the optimal time period for better outcomes.

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, the abilities that are controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

You can use the acronym FAST to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke:

  • FACE – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • SPEECH – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • TIME – If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

If you have suffered a stroke that results in long-term or permanent impairments that make working no longer possible, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating, remembering details or how to do tasks, or communicating messages or issues to the proper staff. Or, if one side of your body was left paralyzed, you may have to drag your leg or foot, which impacts your mobility and your ability to stand in one position for prolonged timeframes. Or if you have inability to use an arm, you may find yourself unable to lift, carry, or grasp things as you normally would.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free evaluation of your claim!

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By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disablity Services, LLC®

Social Security Depletion Date Extended

Posted April 25, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

It’s time, again, for the annual Social Security Trustees’ Report.  The headline figures, as always, are the change in the dates at which the various trust funds are projected to be depleted.  Combining OASI (Old-Age and Survivors Insurance) and DI (Disability Insurance) together, the depletion date has been extended one year further out, from 2034 to 2035.  Taking the two programs separately, the old-age fund’s depletion date remains unchanged at 2034, a mere 15 years from now, but the disability fund’s depletion date was extended from 2032 to 2052.  When each of these funds are depleted, they will be able to pay out 77% and 91% of benefits, respectively, out of incoming tax revenues.

Why such a dramatic improvement in the status of the disability fund? The Trustees’ summary explains:

“The change in the reserve depletion year for DI is largely due to continuing favorable experience for DI applications and benefit awards. Disability applications have been declining steadily since 2010, and the total number of disabled-worker beneficiaries in current payment status has been falling since 2014. Relative to last year’s Trustees Report, disability incidence rates are lower in 2018. They also are assumed to rise more gradually from the current levels to reach ultimate levels at the end of 10 years that are slightly lower.”

What does this mean? In part, the prosperous economy has meant that more people with disabilities are finding employment and are able to stop claiming Social Security disability benefits, or never need to begin doing so in the first place.  This means that actual disability recipients are fewer in number than was forecast, and that they have changed the assumptions going forward as a result.  That’s great news — if that continues to be true in the long-term.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact use for a free evaluation of your claim!

View the full Trustee Report here:

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By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disablity Services, LLC®

Prototype Model Ending in Pennsylvania

Posted April 19, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The process of applying for federal disability assistance will change this week in Pennsylvania — and for many applicants, it will become longer and more complicated. Anyone applying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or both, will face an additional step in what already can be a lengthy process. The change is being criticized by disability advocates, attorneys and members of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., last week called the change “an attack on individuals with disabilities,” and said the extra step will make “obtaining disability benefits more complicated and more frustrating for Pennsylvanians.”

Currently, anyone applying for disability assistance whose initial application is denied can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The average wait from a hearing request until disposition of a claim is 524 days, roughly 17 months. Starting April 20, 2019, an applicant denied at this first stage must instead file an appeal in a process called reconsideration. If they are turned down a second time, then they can request a hearing.

Pennsylvania is one of 10 states that has not had reconsideration since 1999. The reconsideration process is being reinstated so that there is a uniform process for disability claimants across the country, said Daniel O’Connor, a regional spokesman for the Social Security Administration. Mr. O’Connor said this will also lead to earlier decisions for some applicants.

Nationally, about 13 percent of applicants are approved at the reconsideration stage, but for those who aren’t approved, it adds an average of 101 days to the process. It will also halt the process for some altogether, advocates say.

“Many claimants and representatives view reconsideration as a meaningless step, a rubber stamp, of the decision of the original denial,” advocate Lisa Ekman testified last year before a Congressional subcommittee on Social Security. “This procedural hurdle can cause many claimants to abandon their appeals despite the fact that they meet the statutory definition of disability,” testified Ms. Ekman, now director of government affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.

Existing applications are impacted by the change and are not grandfathered in to the prior process.

The change “will be very confusing and time consuming for people with disabilities,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, speaking at a press conference Wednesday at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. He encouraged Pennsylvanians impacted by the change to contact their members of Congress. “We will be very vigilant in following up on this particular issue,” he said.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free evaluation of your case!


By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disablity Services, LLC®