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Orange County Social Security Disability Law Blog

Is SSDI out of control?

No, of course not. But that is not the message you may have received from some places. The theme from some is that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is growing at an alarming rate and it is because applications are approved for practically any medical condition and that some administrative law judges "rubber stamp" virtually every appeal.

Truth is, the only shocking element of the SSDI saga is the glacial speed with which Congress has reacted to the necessary funding adjustments the program needs. The most recent report from the trustees of the Social Security system detail that nothing new or unexpected has suddenly happened, no shocking demographic trends have recently come to light, and that the system still needs Congress to act quickly to prevent great hardship for SSDI beneficiaries.

What is the SSDI definition of disability?

The misinformation that is constantly presented about the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program can leave one baffled. How is it possible that individuals can demonstrate such difficulty in understanding some of the fundamentals concerning the program?

It is a permanent, long-term program designed to help those with severe medical conditions that prevent them from working. The definition of "disability" for SSDI is very strict. From the Social Security Administration's website, it is stated this way:

"A person is disabled under the Act if he or she cannot work due to a severe medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. The person's medical condition must prevent him or her from doing work that he or she did in the past, and it must prevent the person from adjusting to other work."

SSDI program plagued by misinformation

In yet another piece of misinformation masquerading as news, a story paints the caricature of the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program as system failing because of fraud.

Connecting numerous statements, some of which are questionable in their accuracy, this article attempts to create an impression that the SSDI trust fund is on the verge of insolvency because of the sudden increase in people using SSDI as a replacement for unemployment.

This is simply not true. The SSDI trust fund is likely to be insolvent by the end of next year because Congress designed it to run out of money in 2016. In 1994, the last year that any changes were made to the funding formula, Congress anticipated that the entire Social Security system would need updating and planned for it to occur in 2016. 

Struck down by rare disease, man hopes for SSDI

A common theme from many individuals who eventually obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) is that they never expected to need SSDI. Most individuals tend to have an overly optimistic outlook and tend to discount their chances of winding up in a position to need SSDI.

Of course, if you think like that, you are unlikely to see the point in buying private disability insurance, which tends to be rather expensive. And many people are too busy with the ordinary hustle and bustle of life to worry about the risk of being injured or contracting some illness that would leave them in need of SSDI benefits.

What information do your need for your SSDI application?

Applying for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program necessitates that you explain to the Social Security Administration (SSA) how you are disabled. You may feel that it is obvious that your medical problems are disabling, as you live with the symptoms every day.

The claims determination examiners for the SSA, however, lack that intimate understanding your medical condition, and require specific medical evidence documenting your disability before they can approve your SSDI claim.

How quickly can you obtain SSDI benefits?

For most American workers, there are few things more troubling than losing the ability to work and earn a living. Without a steady job and the income it provides, a long list of unpleasant situations unfold, from growing debt and bankruptcy, to the prospect of being evicted and or losing your home.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability program provides an important safety net for many of those workers. But the process for obtaining those benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program can be intimidating. The application is complex and requires detailed supporting documentation. 

Judges face heat from Congress to stop approving SSD applications

A letter put together by members of the House is calling for the removal of certain administrative law judges who review applications for social security disability benefits. Some members of Congress claim a group of judges is too lenient in their approval process. The letter accuses these judges of "rubber stamping" applications for approval that enter the social security appeals process, instead of completing a proper review.

The letter, written by a group of members of Congress and sent to the acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), also made allegations of mismanagement and abuse in both the initial social security disability determination process and the appeals process. Additional concerns included the use of "arbitrary production goals" in an attempt to "clear the backlog of cases instead of protecting American taxpayers," according to a recent report by The Washington Times.

Video games being developed to help depression, anxiety sufferers

Struggling with depression or anxiety is a daily reality for a great many Americans. There are around 40 million sufferers of anxiety disorders and around 15 million individuals with major depressive disorder here in the United States, according to estimates from the National Institutes of Health.

Medications and therapy are among some of the traditional treatments for such mental disorders. However, medical researchers have also been looking at some more unusual potential sources of help as possible supplements to traditional treatments.

The exhaustion of SSDI trust fund nears

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are funded in part by a trust fund and in part by the payroll tax withholding. As the numbers of the program's beneficiaries have grown, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been unable to replenish the trust fund. Because of this growth, the trust fund is expected to be exhausted in 2016.

This will force the SSA to make a 20 percent cut in benefit payments. Given the average SSDI payment is about $1,100, and a large number of beneficiaries count SSDI as a major portion of their monthly income, it is little surprise that a 20 percent reduction will cause much difficulty for those beneficiaries.

Social Security-more need, less help

Whether you have a question about some general element of your Social Security retirement or have developed a disability that makes working impossible and you need to submit an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, there are times when trying to call the Social Security Administration (SSA), or navigating their website simply cannot substitute for a face-to-face meeting with a real person.

Yet, with sad irony, as the numbers of Americans receiving retirement income from the SSA, and as those needing SSDI remains high, the SSA has been steadily cutting back on the availability of customer service for those Americans. 

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