Getting approved for Social Security in Boston is no easy process. It is also not a quick process. The first thing any prospective claimant must do is to file an initial application with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). Once this application has been submitted, it will likely be rejected without any real regard for whether claimant can work and whether claimant is genuinely disabled. Following this initial denial, claimants must file an appeal of their initial denial with SSA. This appeal will almost certainly be denied as well. We know this because any reversal at this stage would be a complete shock since the system is set up in such a way where no medical professionals are involved in making an appeal determination. At this point, claimants can apply for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) and wait at least one hearing for that hearing to occur. Congress has just passed a major spending bill with funds to address the backlog of claims and cut the wait down to something more reasonable.
New Omnibus Spending Bill Allocates More Money for Fixing Maligned SSDI and SSI
According to a recent news article from the Washington Post, the hotly-debated omnibus spending bill, which was approved by congress and signed by the president, contains funding allocations to cut the backlog of federal disability claims substantially. This is the same bill which President Donald J. Trump, signed, but then said he would never sign such a bill again.
This massive spending bill contained $1.3 trillion in allocations, and in this was $480 million in additional funds for SSA. While this is a significant amount of money, it should be noted the agency has a roughly $12 billion budget so it is not all that high a percentage increase in the total funding allocations. When we further break down the number, we see that $100 million is specifically being allocated to address the claims back log, which is at least a step in the right direction since as congress noted, there is an average wait time of more than 600 days for an ALJ hearing in the U.S. Fortunately, as our Boston disability attorneys can explain, the wait in our area is usually around one year so it is half of the national average. While this is certainly a good thing, waiting a full year or more is still way too long for any disabled claimant who desperately needs money to take care of themselves and their families.
Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Claims and Medicaid Issues
Another thing to keep in mind is being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in Boston will also allow claimants to receive federal Medicaid coverage to pay for medical expenses. This is critical since most people who are disabled and cannot engage in substantial gainful activity (work) are also uninsured. Most people get health care through their employer’s or the open marketplace in Massachusetts or through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, but this is becoming more difficult and more expensive given recent law changes by congress with an aim at health care reform repeal.
While Medicaid is certainly needed and helpful, a claimant who receives SSDI benefits is not immediately eligible to receive these medical benefits. The way the system operates is a disability claimant must be approved for Social Security disability benefits and then wait a year to receive Medicaid benefits. If claimants are forced to wait a year or two to receive a benefits determination, then they may be waiting up to three years to be covered by health insurance, which is a major problem since most people who are disabled and unable to work are in desperate need of major medical services they have no other means of affording without federal benefits.
Another thing to keep in mind is the wait is up to two years on average, not for an award of benefits, but a determination of whether benefits will be awarded at all. This means many people will go through the entire process to ultimately be told they did not qualify for SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The best thing a claimant can do to increase their chances of a successful outcome is to promptly seek a free initial consultation with an experienced SSDI lawyer in Boston, or in whatever jurisdiction they reside.
The spending bill is further needed by a concerning national trend to add additional hurdles for those who need federal benefits. In at least two states, there is a plan to make Medicaid recipients work for any benefits they receive. This is particularly troublesome since people with disabilities who receive federal Social Security disability benefits, and thus Medicaid benefits, must go through a multiple year process of proving they are unable to work. This is just one example of the many Catch-22 type situations we tend to see in the Social Security disability world. For example, if someone is receiving treatment and their condition improves, SSA may determine in a periodic review claimant is no longer disabled and terminate future benefits. While this may seem like a good thing overall, the catch is claimant will also lose Medicaid benefits and then get to the point where they can no longer work with this expensive and ongoing medical treatment. At this point, they will have to apply for benefits once again and be back in the same place they were when they first applied, and this is certainly not an example of progress.
Over 10,000 People Die Each Year While Waiting for SSDI and SSI Benefits
During testimony on this matter, one of the champions of obtaining more funding for SSDI and SSA benefits is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and this would not come as a surprise to many people. Mr. Sanders has noted during senate hearings in one year alone, over 10,000 people died while waiting for their SSI and SSDI applications to be approved. He stated he could hardly believe these numbers and noted it was completely unacceptable.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Spending bill addresses crushing backlog of federal disability claims, March 29, 2018, By Terrance McCoy, Washington Post
More Blog Entries:
Waiting on SSDI in Boston: How Our Attorneys Help Expedite Your Case, March 1, 2018, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog