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Orange County Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSDI funding problems larger than disability review issue

Sometimes there are easy solutions. Sometimes there are only difficult solutions. And sometimes there are no solutions at all. Congress is finding itself in a conundrum. It has broadened the eligibility requires for programs like Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) to the point where the number of beneficiaries has grown by about 8 million people since 1980. The vast majority of this growth was expected and not a surprise, as women entered the workforce, and the baby boom generation aged.

However, this expansion by Congress came with a responsibility. Congress would have to increase funding of the program to make it commensurate with the increasing number of beneficiaries. This has been difficult, as many members of Congress have been reticent to vote for tax increases that would be necessary to achieve this proper balancing of the SSDI's books.

Diabetes can be disabling

When we think of disability, many may not think of a disease like diabetes. It seems so manageable, as insulin shots or pumps allow many with diabetes to function as if they do not have a debilitating medical condition. But like many diseases, diabetes can vary greatly, from mild to severe. Those with severe diabetes may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of cases of obesity and diabetes, leading to the term "diabesity" to describe the combination. Obesity frequently leads to Type 2 diabetes, and medication and insulin had been the main tools for controlling the diabetes in these patients.

The more things change…

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have real problems with their funding of the program. The actuaries for the SSA have explained in numerous reports to Congressional oversight committees the nuances of the problem. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty following these nuances.

They hear that the Social Security trust fund for the retirement program is running out of money, or that the SSDI program will be "bankrupt" or "insolvent" by 2016, and they equate that with the SSA being unable to pay any benefit. This is wrong. 

The disability path not taken

A significant problem for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is that it is a one-way trip for most beneficiaries. Once a disabled worker is accepted into the program as meeting the statutory definition as disabled, few ever migrate back to the workforce. And this is not surprising, because the program is structured as a permanent disability program, with a demanding set of requirements that need to be met before a worker is found disabled.

Such a system, however, creates inexorable growth. The SSDI program has grown significantly over the decades as more medical impairments are recognized as disabling conditions and demographics have created a larger pool of potential beneficiaries.

What is the definition of the word reform?

Whenever the topic of Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and the word "reform" is brought up, it can be read as a code word for "cuts." For many beneficiaries, it is a program provides benefits only slightly above the poverty, yet it is made out by critics to be a program that is so extravagant that it needs to be "cut" and reduced in size.

The president's budget is the latest means of attack, where a new reform has been proposed that would stop someone from receiving unemployment benefits and SSDI. This reform appears to be based on the false premise that a disabled worker could not be eligible to receive benefits from both programs.

Representative payee fraud difficult to detect

There are few problems within the Social Security Administration (SSA) that are more repugnant than that involving those who use fraud to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from disabled persons who suffer from mental impairments.

A case from 2012, out of Philadelphia, was one of the more horrific situations, where four mentally disable individuals were held in dirty basement by a woman who acted as their "representative payee," collecting and spending their benefit checks while she kept them locked in the basement described as a "dungeon."

Disabled veterans SSDI claims to receive faster review

Many veterans make a significant sacrifice during their service. They risk their life and limb while serving their country, and when they return, it is right and fitting that we provide support for those who have been injured in that service. From obvious physical injuries, like lost limbs from IEDs and gunshot wounds, to the less obvious, but equally debilitating psychological impairments, they are left unable to return to their prior jobs or obtain new ones.

Too often, upon returning, they would receive a disability rating from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). One would think this would allow them to easily apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. This, however, is not the case. 

SSDI is not being inundated with unemployed workers

After the collapse of the financial markets caused by the reckless use of mortgage-backed securities and the concomitant collapse of the real estate markets, workers on California were severely affected. From the loss of value in their homes to the loss of their jobs, the great recession left many California workers in desperate financial positions.

Many, after a job loss, were forced to use unemployment insurance as they looked for new jobs. Against this backdrop, the Social Security Administration saw increases in applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This increase has been ongoing over the last few decades, but some critics of the SSDI program used these two occurrences as an excuse to attack SSDI.

Poor customer service from the SSA?

If you have become disabled and you believe you may qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may think it would be a good idea to visit their office and obtain some help and advice on filing out the application.

You may have heard or read that the SSDI application is somewhat long and involved, and that it would be helpful to sit down with a live person, so you can ask questions and seek clarification when you are unsure about a topic.

Some SSDI beneficiaries may recover and return to work

When a worker in California suffers a disabling illness or injury, they often wind up applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to help pay their rent and buy their groceries. The SSDI program pays benefits to those with severe physical and mental conditions that leave them out of work for at least a year and make returning to work unlikely, if not impossible.

However, some recipients of SSDI may experience an improvement in their health, and new research suggests that it may be the SSDI program that helps them to recover and eventually return to the workforce.

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