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Call to speak to us now: 714-450-6689
Free consultations. Se Habla Español
Call to speak to us now
714-450-6689
Free consultations. Se Habla Español

Orange County Disability Law Blog

SSD fraud highlights recipient's vulnerability

Disability insurance is an important part of the Social Security System. As mentioned previously, only those who have worked and contributed to the system receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, when they demonstrate a qualifying disability. They are hardworking, honest people who rely on these federal benefits to get by, which is why it might come as a shock to Anaheim residents that perhaps, the biggest con in Social Security Disability has left hundreds of people in the lurch.

A lawyer down in coal country partnered up with a Social Security Administrative judge to milk the system of approximately $550 million. In a county where people were vulnerable and lost jobs due to various work accidents and were getting by on disability payments, the fraudulent lawyer heavily advertised his services and track record of helping clients. What they did not know was that he was making illegal payments to the judge to rubber stamp his claims. When the fraud came to light, the Social Security Administration suspended SSD benefits to around 1,700 recipient, throwing their lives in turmoil.

SSD and SSI: what do these terms mean?

The Social Security Administration oversees two programs that provide benefits on the basis of disability-- Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security income. However, requirement criteria between the two must be understood to ensure that California residents are applying in the program they can qualify in.

Supplemental Security Income program, like its SSD counterpart, provides benefits to elderly, blind or disabled persons. The source of these benefits differs though. SSD benefits are given through the disability trust fund, which is based on a person's earnings. SSI on the other hand, is funded by the federal government through tax revenues. Additionally, states often pay a supplemental benefit to people receiving federal SSI benefits.

SSA backlog affecting SSD service provision

Understanding eligibility for Social Security benefits is a complicated process and individuals often need help understanding the process. The first place they turn to for assistance is often the Social Security Administration itself, but when turning to them, one must be prepared for a long wait. Anaheim residents may be dismayed to hear that the SSA is short staffed not only on the customer service line, but also leaves people waiting daily for long periods outside field offices. Budget cuts have left people waiting for a hearing on disability insurance claims for over 600 days.

The Social Security Administration (SSA), through its various programs, touches the lives of millions of lives across the country yearly. In 2017 alone, SSA paid $990 million in benefits to 67 million disabled workers and retired ones, survivors and recipients of Supplemental Security Income. It interacts with the public through its field offices and customer care services, but budget cuts have reduced resources, affecting the administration's ability to provide effective services in a timely manner.

SSI eligibility changes

Numbers are very important for Social Security benefits. From the age of an Anaheim resident to the time one has worked, every number has significance and it could be the difference between receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or not qualifying. A bunch of these numbers are set to change in 2018, and understanding these changes is essential to ensuring one's application is not rejected on a technicality.

Social Security Disability benefits are tied to the inflation rate. The cost of living adjustment kicks in when inflation rises. In 2018, this amount is 2.0 percent, which means that the average monthly benefit for disabled workers increased to $1,197 in 2018, from $1,173 in 2017. Eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits revolves around the number of quarters worked -- 40 quarters. However, one can also qualify if they earn a certain amount of money annually, regardless of how long they have worked. In 2017, that amount was $1,300, and in 2018, that amount is $1,320.

Are you worried you have post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that affects numerous California workers without them even realizing it. If you suffer from this condition, it could cause an inability to work due to intense anxiety, fear and stress.

It's important for those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome to recognize it immediately, so they can receive appropriate treatment. Those who receive a post-traumatic stress diagnosis -- and who cannot work because of it -- may also be able to receive Social Security disability benefits to help pay for their living costs.

How does one receive SSD benefits for neck pain?

Anaheim medical conditions are expensive to treat and neck pain is no different. According to some reports, spine problems treatment account for more than 9 percent of medical costs, amounting to around 86 million annually. When it comes to individual costs, it can vary from situation to situation, depending on the severity of the condition. Generally, California residents suffering from this condition can expect to spend around $3,500 annually on therapy and treatment.

The Blue Book, the Social Security Administration's guide to medical listing, does not specifically address neck pain. It falls under disorders of the spine, and if someone can demonstrate that their condition falls under cervical spine condition, then the SSA may not consider the limitations the conditions creates. It may result in an automatic approval for Social Security Disability benefits.

Eligibility criteria for SSI

Though many California residents confuse the two federal programs offered by the Social Security Administration with one another, there are important differences in eligibility criteria between the two that should be kept in mind. While both include benefits for disability, Supplemental Security Income benefits are also available to other individuals.

Anyone who is over the age of 65, is blind or is disabled, can become eligible for SSI, if they have limited income and resources and are American citizens or fall within a permitted category of aliens. However, there are additional residency requirements that must also be met, such as not being absent from the country for a full calendar month or for 30 consecutive days or more, and is a resident of the 50 states of America, the District of Columbia or the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition to residency, the person should not be confined to any institution and give the SSA permission to collect information about them, in addition to filing an application.

Don't let memory loss make you lose out on SSD benefits

It is an unfortunate reality that many California residents, like their counterparts, associate an injury or disability with something they can see. If it is not visible, then either it doesn't exist or it is not serious. But those people who are struggling daily with mental conditions know the reality of their situation and the very real limitations that their invisible conditions create.

While it is possible to receive Social Security Disability benefits for mental conditions, even those people assessing the claim may have the same perceptions. This means a claim might be denied even if the applicant feels their documentation and proof is complete. Proving a diagnosis without an x-ray or CT scan may be difficult, and it is beneficial to have competent people by one's side providing guidance on how to best prove one's condition.

Can I receive SSD benefits for memory loss?

It is natural for California residents to forget things sometimes. After all, hectic schedules make things slip from the mind all the time. Additionally, it can even be a sign of natural aging or, unfortunately, something more traumatic, such as a brain injury, emotional trauma, inflammation of the brain or stress. Regardless of the cause, it can be categorized as short-term, immediate or long-term.

When someone does not remember events that took place recently, such as minutes or even seconds ago, this can be classified as short-term memory loss. Although they cannot recall things that just took place, someone suffering from this condition may be able to clearly remember events that took place in their childhood. Sufferers of long-term memory loss, on the other hand, may be able to clearly remember where they placed their keys a few minutes ago but may not remember what happened a number of years ago.

The relationship between returning to work and SSD benefits

A previous post here focused on the misconceptions surrounding Social Security Disability benefits for mental illnesses and other conditions that are difficult to prove, such as back pain and anxiety. As mentioned previously, one of the issues is that people believe SSD recipients are discouraged from working once they begin receiving benefits, but this is not the case. In fact, the Social Security Administration builds incentives into the benefits, encouraging people to return to the workforce without losing SSD benefits for a specific time period.

California residents may not know that the SSA provides for a trial workperiod. During this nine-month period, the recipient is testing their ability to work while still receiving full benefits, despite the amount of their income. During this period, the recipient must continue to report their work and must have the initial disability.

The Law Offices Of Martin Taller

2300 E. Katella Ave. Suite 440
Anaheim, CA 92806

Toll Free: 800-304-4404
Phone: 714-450-6689
Fax: 714-385-8123
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