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In this past presidential election, many Americans and much of the world were shocked by the seemingly impossible result of Donald Trump’s victory.  One of the major reasons that Mr. Trump was ultimately elected was his huge support among those who live in what have become known as “flyover states.”  This term largely refers to the states in the geographic middle of America, which most people only see from airline windows when flying on transcontinental flights, and, rarely, if ever, actually go to as a destination.

SSDI benefitsOne thing that cannot be denied is that many in these areas are struggling economically, and according to a recent news article from the Washington Post, many are turning to disability benefits for help.  Interestingly, this article is suggesting these people may be “just desperate” rather than disabled.  Another interesting point is that the White House is using the increase in numbers on the Social Security disability roles due in large part from these residents of flyover states as justification for cutting the program. However, the White House is blaming the Obama administration and strongly implying the increased number of disabled Americans receiving benefits is a result of those in the inner cities of America instead of rural America. Continue reading →

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There is no question it takes a considerable amount of time to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In fact, the wait can be over a year is some places. In some jurisdictions with an even greater backlog, the wait is approaching two years.

stopwatchBefore we discuss issues dealing with the SSDI’s Compassionate Allowances program, it may be helpful to first look at how the application and approval process works in a typical case.  The first thing that happens is a claimant will get a letter form their treating physician that says claimant is unable to perform work or otherwise engage in substantial gainful activity. Continue reading →

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There are over 11 million Americans on Social Security disability benefits programs in the U.S. at any given time.  For these people, this small amount of money they are given each month often means the difference between making ends meet and being in abject poverty.

taxesContrary to what some politicians like to claim when making stump speeches on the campaign trail, the vast majority of people receiving disability benefits are legitimately disabled and have been through a long and difficult process to qualify for their SSDI benefits. This is not to say that disability benefits fraud doesn’t exist, but the reality is that it occurs very rarely and accounts for a tiny fraction of the program’s budget.  It is just that this has become a convenient target for those who wish to gut the program. Continue reading →

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In a somewhat unusual case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a claimant found to be disabled in the 1970’s before entering the federal witness protection and relocation program.  In this case, claimant became disabled and was awarded Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in 1979 and then entered the witness protection program in 1981.

gunThe witness protection program is generally for people who testify in high-risk federal cases and then are placed in long-term hiding and even given different identities in some cases so they are not harmed by the people against whom they testified. In exchange for agreeing to move away, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) can approve payments to these witnesses, so they can afford to live in their new locations in the witness protection program. Continue reading →

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In a recent case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claimant had applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and his initial application was denied. He then applied for reconsideration of his application for Social Security benefits, and that was also denied. At that point, he applied for, and was granted, a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), and the ALJ also denied benefits.

armyAfter being denied for benefits, the claimant appealed to the Social Security Administration (SSA) review commission, and the commissioner agreed that the denial was not supported by adequate evidence and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine if claimant was entitled to benefits. However, claimant was not satisfied with a remand for further proceedings and instead argued to the U.S. District Court to not only overturn the ALJ’s denial, but to also make an affirmative finding that claimant is entitled to benefits. Continue reading →

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When we talk about Social Security disability benefits, we are generally talking about what is formally known as the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. This is a program whereby people who work have money taken out of their paychecks, along with their state, federal, and, sometimes, local income tax, and that money is put in a disability fund. In the event that they become disabled and apply for benefits, if they have paid enough money into the system, they can collect benefits, assuming they are found disabled.

coffee bookIn a recent case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, a claimant was denied for what is known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) runs this program, as they do with the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits program, but this program is not for people who have worked and earned credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. Continue reading →

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In a case from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the claimant filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits because she suffered from various physical and mental impairments.  This case deals with the issue of whether an administrative law judge (ALJ) can disregard a treating physician’s opinion.  An ALJ is a hearing officer at the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), which is the federal agency that oversees the disability benefits programs.

gavelUnder the relevant statute in the U.S. Code, the ALJ has the authority to find against the opinion of the treating physician, but in order to do so, that decision must be supported by sufficient evidence, and it must be clearly explained in the record why the treating doctor’s decision is being disregarded. Continue reading →

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By law, the Social Security Administration has to occasionally review the case of every person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance and/ or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. The process by which this happens is what is called a “continuing disability review.” The intention is to figure out who might no longer qualify as disabled, and therefore who no longer needs benefits.man standing

In general, it’s a lot harder to get benefits in the first place than it is to pass the process of a continuing disability review. That said, it’s wise to consult with an experienced Boston SSDI lawyer because there are a number of pitfalls that can arise throughout this process, and you don’t’ want to suddenly find yourself without much-needed benefits.

Continuing disability reviews are performed at various intervals depending on the underlying condition of the recipient, as well as his or her age.  Continue reading →

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Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is often anything but a smooth, quick process. The reality is that only about 30 percent of SSDI applications are approved on the first turn. Those cases often involve those who are the sickest and whose claims are very straightforward. If there is any question whatsoever about the viability of your claim, it’s likely you’ll be denied. That sets the stage for an appeals process, which in all truth, can take many months and possibly even years. man

The circumstances of every case will be different, but we generally encourage people to go ahead and pursue an SSDI appeal because their chances of prevailing in those later stages are much higher.

That said, of course, if you can avoid a denial in the first place, that’s the ideal situation. That’s why we stress the importance of hiring an SSDI attorney right from the beginning. That way, you are certain that your paperwork is properly filed, it’s completed on time, it has all the necessary information and it is delivered to the correct Social Security Administration agent for appropriate review. If there are circumstances that warrant an expedited process, your attorney can help facilitate that for you as well.  Continue reading →

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A woman recently wrote to an columnist who offers advice on Social Security matters, and lamented the fact that they were probably not eligible for SSDI benefits due to their retirement nest egg that was about $250,000. She noted she was 60 and had no choice but to quit her job due to an array of medical ailments. She was considering applying for SSDI, but assumed her husband’s income and their savings would disqualify her. cane

The columnist rightly noted the writer had fallen prey to the same misunderstanding that so many do when discussing Social Security Disability Insurance, which is to assume that it is a type of welfare program, and that therefore applicants have to meet certain income requirements.

“If Bill Gates became disabled tomorrow, he could file for Social Security disability benefits,” the columnist wrote, noting that even the billionaire wouldn’t be exempt under the current guidelines. It has to do with the SSDI is structured – and it does differ from Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is a type of welfare program.  Continue reading →