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Archive for February, 2012

Can Disability Benefits Be Garnished By Creditors?

disabilityThose who receive disability benefits know how hard the process of obtaining benefits can be. The reliance on benefits for one’s livelihood is huge for those who receive benefits, which is why any threat to the assistance income is stressful. Unfortunately, there are some instances in which Social Security benefits may be at risk for seizure or garnishment.

Downside of Debts

While the average creditor cannot garnish government assistance income for debt collection purposes, there are some exceptions. Credit card companies, medical providers and mortgage and car lenders cannot go after Social Security benefits when attempting to collect on a debt, but the government itself can.

Unpaid taxes and back due child support payments are two instances in which government assistance checks can be garnished for payment collection. Both the IRS and local court systems take this type of debt collection very seriously and may be able to seize a portion of one’s benefits check in order to satisfy payment. Once these funds are garnished for payment, a beneficiary will have to pursue legal avenues for getting the order reversed and is not likely to be eligible to recover the garnished funds.



Disability Benefits Help For Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease has brought much attention and a sense of urgency in recent years. As researchers scramble to find a cure or treatment for the devastating disease, many others are working to bridge the gap of services available in the mean time. A new federal plan aims to help the fight against Alzheimer’s by implementing a few key ideas.

Changes Ahead

The government’s plan is to make $50 million available for state of the art Alzheimer’s research. These funds will help boost research efforts in finding and developing a way to combat the disease. An additional $80 million for Alzheimer’s research also is planned for 2013, as part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act of January 2011 that called for an aggressive and coordinated national Alzheimer’s disease plan.

The Social Security Administration added the diagnosis of the early-onset of the disease to its Compassionate Allowances program, which is a list of pre-approved conditions that qualify for faster application processing. The fast-track evaluation for Social Security Disability benefits will be able to expedite disability claim processing for those suffering with the disease.



Weighing Doctor’s Opinion In Benefits Decision

disability benefitsThere are many factors that go into the decision process of Social Security Disability claims. While the process is riddled with documentation requirements and waiting periods, many applicants are informed about what all goes into the final decision. Besides extensive work history verification and income requirement needs, one of the biggest factors if the medical diagnosis and report from the doctor.

A Weighty Issue

It seems natural to assume that a doctor’s opinion would hold a lot of weight in the decision over whether an applicant meets medical condition guidelines necessary for disability insurance. However, disability claim applications are also being weighed heavily by one time medical record and single case reviewers, an issue that has sparked much debate among applicants.

A treating doctor’s opinion is supposed to be given more weight than the one-time application examiner or medical records reviewer. Because neither of these individuals knows the case history or current medical status of an applicant, it is questioned as to whether they can adequately judge the necessity of the claim. A recent decision handed down by a Federal Administrative Law Judge rejected the treating doctor’s opinion, leaving one claim applicant denied for benefits.

Luckily for the applicant, the judge’s decision was reversed. By law a judge must provide evidence to support his decision to reject a treating doctor’s opinion if the claim is to be denied according to regulation. Since the judge failed to provide adequate evidence of the denial, the ruling was overturned.




Disability Benefit Cuts Cause Harm

disability programWhile cuts to important Social Security funds such as disability insurance are sure to put a strain on the financial wellbeing of recipients, farther reaching effects are being recognized. There have been numerous reports that disability groups are being scorned and stigmatized as a result of big cuts to funding.Now labeled as “abusers of the system” and “scroungers” many of the nations legitimately disabled are reporting serious allegations of abuse and scrutiny.

Protecting Those In Need

The Social Security Disability program was designed to help those who are unable to make a living due to a physical or mental impairment. These benefits help support millions of citizens who cannot work and are medically impaired. While the majority of beneficiaries are truly disabled individuals, the recent economic pressures have encouraged illegitimate applicants into trying to secure benefits. When reports of system abuse spread the government tightens their reins, leaving unfair consequences for many.

The focus these days is on fairness for the taxpayers and finding a way to support the disabled without reaching deeper into the pockets of American’s. However, as efforts are aimed at protecting the system it is reported that 41 percent of disabled individuals report some form of increased scrutiny and even abuse as a result of the system’s problems.  Blaming pressure on the system and lack of observational evidence to support the diagnosis of some individuals many have turned a blind eye to the problems experienced by the disabled, claiming limited capacity for change and the need to focus on one problem at a time.





New Jersey Man Charged With Disability Fraud

disability fraudAs times get tougher so do the measures people go through to make ends meet. While fraud and cheating the system have always been concerns for Social Security programs, there has been more attention in recent years over people illegally receiving disability benefits.

Guilty As Charged

A Cranford, New Jersey man was charged last week of illegitimately collecting more than $22,000 in disability insurance benefits. After claiming he could not perform work related duties and filing for disability, further investigation revealed the man had been working as a horse trainer during the time he was receiving Social Security benefits. The man failed to provide accurate information and lied on his application, leading to a charge of insurance fraud, theft by deception and perjury.

With such strict qualification standards, how is it that people are slipping through the cracks? Unfortunately, the Social Security administration is backlogged with benefits applications. With so many applicants and limited staff there have been occasions in which someone is incorrectly approved for benefits. Luckily, these cases are not that common and almost definitely result in corrective and punitive action.



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