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Archive for December, 2012

Social Security To Expand Fast-Track Claims

To ease the burden of being stricken with a debilitating condition, the Social Security Administration placed an additional 35 Compassionate Allowances conditions in effect, bringing the total number of conditions in the expedited disability process to 200. Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that meet the Social Security standards for serious illness disability benefits.

Benefits Decision Milestone

These conditions include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, early-onset Lou Gehrig’s disease and a number of rare disorders that affect children. Since the Compassionate Allowances program was started 200,000 people have received expedited benefits. The fast-track program ensures that those with the most serious cases receive their benefit decisions within 10-15 days now instead of taking months or years. The program is also designed to ease the workload of an agency that has been swamped by disability claims since the economic recession a few years ago. Disability claims are up by more than 20 percent from 2008. High demand during the down economy has made it difficult for Social Security to reduce disability claims backlogs and wait times for decisions. About 3.2 million people have applied for disability benefits this year, up from 2.6 million in 2008, the agency said.

The Compassionate Allowances program was started in 2008, about a year after the agency did an internal review of how it handled initial applications from people with a handful of serious or rare conditions. By definition, these conditions are so severe that Social Security does not need to extensively develop the applicant’s history to make a decision.  As a result, Social Security shortened this part of the application process for people who have a condition on the list.

Social Security has held seven public hearings and worked with experts to develop the list of Compassionate Allowances conditions.  The hearings also have helped the agency identify ways to improve the disability process for applicants with Compassionate Allowances conditions. For more information on the Compassionate Allowances initiative, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

 

Social Security To Help Persons Living With HIV

On December 1, 2012 the U.S. Social Security Administration, the United States President, government leaders, agencies, and other organizations around the world raised awareness and honored the millions of people who are living everyday with HIV/AIDS. Those who have been diagnosed and suffering from the disease are often left unable to work and wonder if they are eligible for Social Security Benefits.

Securing The Process

If you suffer from HIV/AIDS, you may qualify for disability benefits. For those seeking benefits, your condition must be serious enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or have terminal prognosis.

Disability benefits are available under two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Social Security disability insurance is available to those who have paid taxes as an employee or income earner. If you have little work history or no resources, you may be eligible for SSI. You may qualify for one or both of these programs.

Seeking treatment and attending the day-to-day appointments can become costly and overwhelming. Many patients of HIV/AIDS will need benefits assistance as soon as possible. A disability attorney can review your medical documentation and help prepare your claim. While the Social Security Administration works to process applications quickly, an experienced attorney can help guide the appropriate documentation process and complete filing to prevent delays.

Benefits are sometimes paid immediately for up to six months before a final decision is made if you are not working, you meet SSI rules about income and resources, and your doctor or other medical source certifies that your HIV infection is severe enough to meet medical eligibility rules. Providing information up-front and completing proper filing can ensure a timely receipt of benefits.

 

Disability Protection Before Retirement

Statistics by the Social Security Administration show that one in four Americans will suffer a disabling injury before retirement. Considering the impact that short- or long-term disability will have on a large part of the American workforce, disability benefits and Social Security insurance are gaining significant importance.

Disability By The Stats

According to the Bureau of Labor about 56.7 million Americans live with a disability, which accounts for almost 20% of the population. And a further 38.3 million of Americans are severely disabled, which is approximately 13% of the general population. Among the five most common disabilities are arthritis and rheumatism, back pain, heart trouble, respiratory problems and mental disorders. In terms of employment, disabilities can have devastating effects on the professional lives of individuals. The National Safety Council estimates that the average cost of a non-fatal disability is around $70,200 dollars. Moreover, the Council of Disability Awareness reports that 350,000 bankruptcies each year can be attributed to unexpected injuries, illnesses or accidents.

In 2011, 15% of disabled people were unemployed compared to only 8.7% of the non-disabled population. This means that the employment-population ratio for people with a disability that depend on supplemental security income is higher. Among the jobs with the highest likelihood for causing disabilities are fire protection, farming, nursing and police protection. Physically demanding jobs are more likely to cause temporary or permanent disabilities, especially regarding rheumatism or back problems.

Disability insurance can offer workers compensation for their inability to actively participate in the workforce. Disability is a subject you may read about in the newspaper, but not think of as something that might actually happen to you. But your chances of becoming disabled are probably greater than you may realize.

 

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