Social Security Disability Fund Could Run Out in 2016

Posted on: January 12, 2016 by in Social Security
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 Los Angeles Social Security Attorney

Most of us in the United States already are aware that the Social Security Administration is a part of the federal government and that it pays monthly retirement benefits to millions of older, retired workers. What you may not realize, however, is that the Social Security Administration also issues monthly benefit checks to disabled children and to disabled adults who are less than 62 years of age. Social Security Disability Insurance pays cash benefits to people under the retirement age who meet the Social Security Administration’s complicated definition of disability.

Frankly speaking, the Social Security disability benefit payments barely amount to enough to keep most disabled beneficiaries from falling below the poverty line. Nevertheless, unless Congress acts decisively and swiftly, more than eleven million disabled persons in this nation may face a severe and sudden reduction of their disability insurance benefits by the final quarter of 2016, when the Social Security Administration will be able to pay only eighty-one percent of the disability benefits that those recipients are entitled to by federal law. Why the projected benefit reduction? Because the Social Security disability trust fund is running out of money. It’s just that simple. It’s a funding problem that may very rapidly become a funding crisis. And it’s not as if Congress hasn’t seen this crunch coming – for years.

Once a year, the trustees of the several Social Security trust funds publish a detailed report on the current and projected financial stability and status of those trust funds. In their 2015 report released on July 22, the trustees of the Social Security funds, who include three cabinet secretaries, said that the Social Security disability trust fund will – in effect – run dry in the final quarter of 2016 without fast and decisive congressional action. For now, if you need to qualify for Social Security disability benefits in the Los Angeles area or if you’ve been denied benefits and you need help to appeal that denial, you should arrange to speak about your situation with an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney.

SOCIAL SECURITY FUNDING A LONG-TERM PROBLEM

The Social Security funding problem is a long-term result of the way the Social Security disability trust fund has been financed. Nearly sixty million people in the United States receive Social Security benefits, including forty-two million retired workers and their dependents, eleven million disabled workers, and six million survivors of deceased workers. The Social Security Act of 1935 established three types of benefits: retirement benefits, survivors’ benefits, and disability benefits, but the funding for each type of Social Security benefit has always been maintained separately. Congress has established a formula for distributing into the three funds the FICA contributions from employees and employers. The reason there’s now a shortfall in the disability fund is because of a rising number of persons receiving disability benefits. As the nation’s overall population has aged in recent decades, many more people are become disabled and are now unable to work. The aging of the baby boomers, along with the rising numbers of women in the workforce, account for most of the increases in recent decades in the number of Social Security disability benefit recipients.

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MORE CONFLICT IS EXPECTED

The problem will not be easy to fix. Not only is there currently no codified legal mechanism for transferring resources from the other two Social Security funds into the disability fund, but the impending October deadline creates an opportunity for more even conflict between President Obama and the Republican leaders in Congress. The Obama Administration wants to replenish the disability trust fund by transferring a portion of the payroll tax revenues from Social Security’s retirement trust fund to the disability fund. Republicans, however, are aggressively insisting on more substantial, systemic reforms. The Republican plan combines lower monthly payment amounts with more stringent eligibility criteria, new efforts to fight disability fraud, and new programs to help the partially and temporarily disabled return productively to the workforce.

In their 2015 report, the trustees of the Social Security funds say that the financial pressure on the disability program is “but the first manifestation of larger financial imbalances facing Social Security as a whole, as well as Medicare.” The trustees also say that the reserves of Social Security’s combined retirement and disability trust funds will be depleted in the mid-2030s. At that time, the trustees believe, retirement and disability benefits will have to be reduced by twenty-five percent – unless the system is comprehensively reformed at some point during the next two decades.

Although the two funds are often considered together, the Social Security trust fund for retirees and the fund for disabled workers are distinct legal entities that operate autonomously and independently of one another. Social Security administrators may not shift any resources from one fund to the other unless Congress directly orders them to make such a reallocation. The last time Congress had to boost the disability trust fund with a reallocation of resources was in the mid -1990s, but money has historically moved in the other direction as well.

A POSITIVE AND PRACTICAL IMPACT

Disability insurance is a core part of the overall Social Security system. The average recipient of disability benefits earned just over $42,000 annually before becoming disabled. The average monthly benefit, however, is only $1,017. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew, who is currently the manager of the trust funds, has said the funding transfers suggested by the Obama Administration are “a common sense solution to improve the solvency” of the imperiled disability fund. However, Republican Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said that “reshuffling” money is not going to be the final solution to the serious financial difficulties facing the various Social Security programs in 2016 and the years to come.

Despite its overwhelmingly positive and practical impact on millions of disabled workers lives, many of us still understand very little about how Social Security Disability Insurance – SSDI – actually works. To become eligible for Social Security disability benefit payments, a disabled applicant must establish and submit a detailed and precise work history listing all of the jobs he or she has held over the last fifteen years. If you apply for disability benefits, you’ll also need to provide detailed records of your work hours, pay rates, and a description of the basic tasks you performed and skills that were required. In fact, the more information that you can provide, the more likely you are to be successful when you seek to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Upon receiving your application, work history, and medical information, the Social Security Administration then employs a “credit” system that determines your precise benefit eligibility. In 2014, for example, a worker earned one credit for every $1,220 of wages or self-employment income up to a maximum of four credits per year. Most disability applicants need from twenty to forty credits (or between five and ten years of full employment) to become eligible for payments, with at least twenty credits earned in the ten years immediately prior to the onset of the disability. The total number of credits needed goes up with age, so that workers ages 31 to 42 need at least twenty credits; those ages 43 to 62 need one extra credit for each year of age; those age 62 and older require forty credits. Almost eighty percent of disability benefit recipients are age 45 or older.

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A COMPLICATED LEGAL PROCEDURE

The Social Security Administration will consider you “disabled” only if you have a medical problem that keeps you from performing “substantial gainful activity.” Substantial gainful activity can be paid employment, volunteering, or even attending school. Your medical problem must also be serious enough that it has lasted or will endure for at least a year. Obtaining benefits is a complicated legal procedure, so it’s a good idea to let an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney explain the details of applying for disability benefits and guide you through the process from start to finish. An attorney can also help you avoid the common mistakes and misunderstandings that result in delays, and if you are denied disability benefits for any reason, a disability attorney can represent you and advocate on your behalf in hearings and appeals, and if necessary, in federal court. It can take some time – and patience – until you receive your first benefit payment, so if you need disability benefits it is absolutely vital to get started as soon as possible.

Congress still has abundant time to address Social Security’s short-term and long-term problems without being compelled to reduce anyone’s disability benefits. But the longer Congress waits to act, the harder it becomes to address Social Security’s funding issues without having to take drastic measures. For now, Social Security Disability Insurance is a lifesaver for millions of disabled workers in the United States. And right now, the Social Security Disability Insurance system is solvent, so if you are disabled in Los Angeles County or anywhere in southern California, the time to apply for Social Security disability benefits is now. To learn more about disability benefits, comment below or reach out to us on our social media channels, we’d love to hear from you. If you need legal help regarding Social Security Disability Insurance, speak with experienced Los Angeles Social Security Disability today.

Do you Qualify for Social Security Disability for PTSD?

Posted on: December 9, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorneyPost traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a condition that emerges when a person has been exposed to a dangerous, violent, or terrifying situation. Persons, who have been involved in natural disasters, like floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes, or have been involved in certain types of serious accidents, plane crashes, train accidents, horrific dog bites, or other animal attacks are all likely to suffer from symptoms of PTSD.

Symptoms include anxiety, nightmares, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, loss of weight, inability to participate in social activities, alienation, flashbacks, temper outbursts and other symptoms that can severely impair a person’s life and his quality of living. If you suffer from PTSD, get in touch with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney to learn how you can qualify for benefits.

You may be able to qualify under the Social Security Administration’s listing for anxiety-related disorders. However, you must be able to establish that you suffer from severe anxiety, and that this makes it difficult for you to live a normal life. Merely suffering from frequent nightmares, or feeling depressed, may not be sufficient.

You may also qualify for a medical-vocational allowance which means that your claim is approved because the agency finds that your condition makes it difficult for you to work and earn a living. It is important that your symptoms of PTSD be severe, and you frequently suffer from anxiety, concentration problems, memory problems, and other issues that affect your ability to work and be productive.

It’s important to establish the severity of your condition, and for this, you must be able to provide strong medical records. Discuss what type of medical evidence you need to establish your claim for post traumatic stress disorder by discussing your case with Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney. Schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney today, and discuss whether you are eligible for benefits for PTSD.

How to Recover Disability Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Posted on: December 7, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorneyRheumatoid arthritis is a condition that is marked by chronic inflammation in the joints. The joints may become inflamed, and the person may suffer from immobility in the affected areas. The joints that are most likely to be affected, including the fingers, feet, wrists and ankles. This is a progressive condition, which means that symptoms only get worse with time.

As symptoms worsen, the person may find it very difficult to grasp things, get dressed, perform any kind of manual work, stand for a long time, or perform any other kind of normal activities. Persons who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis may find that their symptoms become very crippling and disabling, and many people find that they are not able to perform any kind of work within ten years of a diagnosis.

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, speak with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney to learn how you can file a claim for benefits.

The Social Security Administration will require that you have a history of suffering from constant and severe pain. You must also suffer from other symptoms that include swelling of joints at the hip, shoulder, elbow, hand, and wrist. The symptoms must be present for at least three months. You must also be able to provide clinical testing results that will establish the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, including test results that prove the existence of antinuclear antibodies, and Rheumatoid factor.

Don’t be discouraged if you do not meet these criteria. You can still qualify for disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. That means that you can qualify for benefits if the symptoms are so severe that they prevent you from performing any kind of work and earning a living.

For help understanding whether you qualify for disability benefits for rheumatoid arthritis, speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney.

Recovering Social Security Disability Benefits for a Bipolar Disorder

Posted on: December 4, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorneyBipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is also known as manic depression. The condition is characterized by extreme mood swings. In order for you to recover disability benefits for bipolar disorder, your mood swings must meet the definitions that have been listed out in the Blue Book of impairments. Merely suffering from mood swings will not make you eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Remember, that when a person is in his manic phase, he may be very impulsive, may quit his job, may spend excessively, and sleep little. However, during a depressive phase, the same person may hardly get out of bed, and may not want to participate in anything. During a depressive phase, the person will not go to work. Obviously, all of these impairments make it difficult for a person to continue to hold a job.

The Social Security Administration has a Blue Book in which it does include bipolar disorder as one of the conditions that make the listing for benefits. If your symptoms meet the impairment criteria that are listed in the Bluebook, you may be eligible for benefits.

If however, your symptoms do not meet the criteria that are listed in the Social Security Administration’s lasting of impairments, don’t lose hope. There may be other ways to qualify for benefits. Get in touch with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney, and learn how you can recover benefits for your bipolar disorder. Remember, the agency will require that the condition have lasted at least two years, and that you have received medical treatment for your condition.

To learn more about how to file a claim for disability benefits when you suffer from bipolar disorder speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney.

Can I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits If I’m Not a US Citizen?

Posted on: December 2, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability attorneyIf you are a non-citizen of the United States, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you are disabled, and do not have the ability to work, and sustain an income. However, you must meet all of the qualification criteria that citizens have to meet before they qualify for benefits. That means that your disability must meet the definition of disability as defined by the Social Security Administration. To understand how the Social Security Administration defines disability, discuss your case with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer.

Besides, you must also have paid sufficient enough taxes into the Social Security system for you to qualify for disability benefits. If you are a permanent resident of the United States, you may continue to be eligible for benefits if you meet these conditions.

However, if you’re neither a permanent resident, nor a citizen of the country, that doesn’t automatically mean that you do not qualify for benefits. Discuss your eligibility with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer. There are certain other criteria that could possibly apply to you, and you could be eligible if you meet these criteria.

For instance, if you are not a citizen and not a permanent resident, but have contributed sufficient taxes into the Social Security system, you may still qualify for benefits. Not all foreigners in the country are automatically eligible for benefits, however. For instance, if you are a foreign student, you may not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Discuss your eligibility with a Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney.

Also remember that the country of origin may also be a factor in whether you qualify for disability benefits. Persons from certain countries may live in the country legally, but may not qualify for Social Security benefits.

Qualifying for Social Security Benefits When You Suffer from Lupus

Posted on: November 30, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorneyPersons, who suffer from Lupus, may suffer damage to different parts or organs of the body, and symptoms may continue for several years. The condition is caused by impairment in the immune system that creates antibodies that actually attack and damage the body’s own healthy tissue.

Persons, who suffer from Lupus, may suffer from pain, and inflammation in various parts of the body. Symptoms may flare and subside. There may be periods of exacerbated symptoms, and periods where you feel much better. That, by itself, makes it difficult for you to recover disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance Program. The Social Security Disability Insurance program will require a claimant to prove that the condition has lasted for 12 months, or is expected to last 12 months in order to be eligible for disability benefits.

In order for you to recover disability benefits, you must meet certain conditions. Your condition must have resulted in damage to at least two organs or two body systems. It must result in symptoms that make it difficult for you to work, including chronic muscular, tiredness, fatigue, fever, or weight loss. Discuss these conditions in depth with a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney.

If you are unable to prove that the damage has affected at least two organs or body systems, you must be able to prove that the condition restricts your ability to perform routine daily activities, or continue to maintain your social life or function independently.

Symptoms of lupus may worsen over time, and as such, you may find that you do not qualify for benefits during the initial stages. Even if your application is denied, however, do not lose hope. You can file an appeal, and in many cases, claims for Lupus are approved at the appeals stage. Speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits attorney for help filing a claim for Lupus.

Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits When You Live Out Of the Country

Posted on: November 27, 2015 by in Social Security
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Social Security disability benefits attorney in Los AngelesThe Social Security Administration will consider you to be outside the United States, when you are not residing in any of the 50 states, the US Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, or American Samoa.

If you have lived outside of the country for at least 30 days consecutively, you are officially considered to be living outside the country, and will continue to remain so, until you return to the country and stay within the country for at least 30 consecutive days.

If you are a US citizen and are living outside of the United States, you may receive your Social Security disability benefits as long as you meet the eligibility criteria for benefits. If you are a citizen of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom, you are eligible for benefits, no matter how long you have remained outside the United States.

Remember, however, that there are certain countries to which the United States Social Security Administration will not send your disability benefits payments. If you are currently in Cuba or North Korea, and are a citizen, your payments will be withheld, and you will receive your payment only when you then travel to a country where the agency can send payments to you. Besides, the agency will also not deliver payments to persons living in Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and several other countries.

To understand more about how to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, speak to a Social Security disability benefits attorney in Los Angeles. For help understanding how your stay overseas will affect the benefits you receive, schedule a consultation with a Social Security disability benefits attorney in Los Angeles.

Can You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits If You Are Not on Medication?

Posted on: November 25, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyerThe Social Security Administration has its own parameters to determine whether you are disabled, and are eligible for disability benefits. If you are currently impaired, but are not on any medication, you may find it more challenging to get approval for disability benefits. For help filing a claim, speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer.

This does not mean that it is not possible for you to get benefits if you’re not on medication. There are some conditions that may leave you impaired or disabled, but may not involve a heavy use of medication. For instance, a person who suffers from blindness or deafness may not be on plenty of medication, but the impairment may be disabling enough to affect his ability to earn income. He may qualify for benefits.

Many disabilities and impairments, in fact, do not even require a regular schedule of medications. In fact, many conditions do not even require regular doctor visits.

Some persons, who suffer from these kinds of impairments, worry that they may not be able to qualify for benefits, because they do not have significant medical documentation of their treatment. When you’re not taking medications or are not making frequent doctor visits, your medical dossier may seem light. However, it is possible for you to get disability benefits even in a situation like this.

Remember however, that the Social Security Administration may require you to undergo a consultative medical exam. This is a medical exam that is performed by doctors, who are contracted by the Social Security Administration, and is meant to determine the extent of your disability. A consultative medical exam is typically ordered when there isn’t enough medical documentation of a person’s condition.

To learn whether your condition makes you eligible for disability benefits, speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer.

Tips for Filing for Disability Benefits after Suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted on: November 23, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyerIf you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, and have suffered impairment in your ability to work, it is important for you to ascertain your chances for a claim under the Social Security disability benefits program.

The Social Security Disability Insurance program is designed to provide benefits for people who are incapable of earning a sustainable income because of their impairment. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, and are disabled and unable to work, speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer for help filing a claim.

Unfortunately, many claims are initially denied. In fact, the vast majority of disability benefits claims are denied at the initial stage. If your claim for benefits for TBI has been denied, don’t give up. Some persons simply give up hope, and either don’t bother filing an appeal, or file a new claim all over again- both of these are not the appropriate things to do in your situation.

Remember, the Social Security Administration will require substantial proof of your medical condition, and specifically your impairment in order to approve your claim. If the agency finds that it does not have access to all of your medical records, then you may not have a favorable outcome. Provide all necessary medical evidence including medical records, doctor reports and other types of evidence.

For help filing an appeal, talk to a Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer. File your appeal immediately. The claim must be filed within a period of 60 days for your appeal to be valid.

Remember, that you may believe that you are disabled or impaired, but the Social Security Administration will consider only its own definition of disability. Speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer for help filing a claim for benefits. Remember, many persons who suffer from TBI are able to successfully recover benefits after an appeal.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits for Schizophrenia?

Posted on: November 20, 2015 by in Social Security
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Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyerIf your loved one suffers from schizophrenia, he may be eligible for a claim for disability benefits. Remember however, that merely a diagnosis of schizophrenia may not be sufficient to claim benefits. For help, speak to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer.

You must meet all the conditions that the Social Security Administration has set for claims. That means that the schizophrenia must have lasted for at least 12 months, or must be expected to last for at least 12 months. You must also be able to prove that the condition effectively impairs your ability to perform functional work and earn a living.

This is where the challenge lies. It may be easy for you to prove that is your schizophrenia makes it difficult for you to function effectively, but it’s not as easy to prove that it impairs your ability to work to the extent that you cannot earn a living. That means that you must be able to show that your schizophrenia results in symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, catatonic behavior, social withdrawal, and illogical thinking.

However, although there are challenges associated with your claim, your claim is not hopeless. Even if you do not meet the criteria for benefits under the Social Security listing, you may be able to qualify by claiming that the condition affects your ability to hold down a job. For instance, your symptoms may not be so severe that they cause you to be completely out of tune with reality, but they may make it difficult for you to perform a job, and earn an income. Your schizophrenia may not cause you to suffer hallucinations every day, but it could make it challenging for you to interact with others, which could affect your ability to perform your job.

For help filing a claim for disability benefits for schizophrenia, talk to a Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer.