John's blog

Returning to Work and its Effect on Disability Benefits

Submitted by John on

You are currently a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance. There is an improvement in your medical condition that will allow you to go back to your pre-disability occupation. However, you are concerned about whether the improvement is real and whether you can consistently handle the pressures of being back at work. There is a provision in Social Security Disability administration to help you handle this transition phase.

How Veterans Benefits Affect Disability Benefits

Submitted by John on

Social Security benefits can apply to many people, especially for individuals who have served their country, such as veterans. When you are seeking Social Security Disability, it is important to understand how veteran benefits can affect specific types of disability benefits, as well as your eligibility to receive these compensations.

Does Gender Play a Role in Approval for Disability Benefits?

Submitted by John on

The Social Security Administration (SSA), like every other government agency, adheres to a strict non-discrimination policy. Hence, gender does not play a role in the official review and approval process for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Disability claims are reviewed based on medical documentation present in the application. While personal information, like age, sex and marital status are essential pieces of data required for application for SSD benefits, these factors are not a part of the determination of eligibility to receive benefits. Rather, eligibility is based on whether the extent of physical, mental and emotional impairment the applicant suffers warrants disability benefits under the SSA’s eligibility guidelines.

Additionally, work credits are a big part of eligibility for Social Security, including retirement and disability benefits. In order to be the primary beneficiary in either of these categories, an individual must have earned wages and contributed to the Social Security Disability funds over the course of their employment.

When reviewing aggregate data or statistics for disability beneficiaries, it may appear to the untrained eye that gender does play a part in approval of disability benefits. After all, the most current figures published (2010 totals) show that men receive disability and retirement benefits more often than do women and that women are more likely to receive survivor benefits than men.

The 2010 data for all Social Security benefits breaks down as follows. Figures are based on percentages of total beneficiaries by sex.

Adult Male Beneficiaries

Receiving Disability Benefits - 20%

Receiving Retirement Benefits - 80%

Total Percentage of Adult Males Receiving Benefits - 44%

Adult Female Beneficiaries

Receiving Disability Benefits - 14%

Receiving Retirement Benefits - 61%

Receiving Survivor Benefits as Widows and Mothers of Workers Deceased Before the Age of Retirement or the Approval of Disability Benefits - 16%

Receiving Survivor Benefits as Spouses of Retired or Disabled Workers - 9%

Total Percentage of Adult Females Receiving Benefits - 56%

While gender does not play a part in the approval for disability benefits, it is a factor in societal norms. After all, in decades past, women were significantly less likely to work outside of the home as wage earners. This means they were less likely to contribute to the disability funds, making them more often ineligible to receive benefits as the primary beneficiary for Social Security Insurance and SSD benefits. Instead, they usually received survivor benefits when their spouse or child died.

Societal norms also drive the figures associated with male beneficiaries, as men are less likely to stop working when partially disabled, and less likely to file for disability or survivor benefits in general. Men also made up the primary group within the workforce for many decades, which is why 80 percent of males receiving Social Security benefits are retired workers.

If you only review the data on adult male and female beneficiaries receiving Social Security benefits in particular categories, it may at first appear there is a significant difference between the sexes. However, when you look at total beneficiaries by sex, the difference between males and females is much smaller, with males making up 56% and females accounting for 44% of the total beneficiaries receiving Social Security.

The percentages of male and female disabled workers approved for disability benefits by the SSA also shows there is no significant difference between the sexes, with men receiving SSD benefits at 20% and women at 14%. The distinction again is due to societal norms. More men were wage earners prior to becoming disabled. Fewer women were among the workforce prior to becoming disabled. Disability benefits are based on previous earnings as a worker who contributed to the SSD fund prior to disability. In essence, a higher percentage of men contributed to the fund and therefore qualify for SSD benefits.

Are Disability Benefits Subject to Child Support Payments?

Submitted by John on

The children of disabled workers generally receive an auxiliary benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security Disability (SSD) benefit payments are intended to provide financial support for the entire family, including the children living with them. Some disabled workers may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as well as other types of support, like Medicaid and Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and food stamps, among others.

Applying for SSD with Scleroderma

Submitted by John on

June is Scleroderma Awareness Month, making it an excellent time to discuss in greater detail the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits with a diagnosis of Scleroderma.

Scleroderma is a chronic, auto-immune disease that primarily affects the skin but can affect the organs and other tissues of the body as well. Anyone who lives with this condition can attest to its disabling nature. Although the Social Security Administration has reviewed Scleroderma – especially in its more systemic forms – for inclusion in the Compassionate Allowance program for disability benefits, it has not been approved for expedited processing under the CAL guidelines.

The CAL program encompasses more than 150 conditions that are clearly disabling, including terminal illnesses. Applicants who seek SSD benefits with a diagnosis included in the CAL program are not subject to the same rigorous review procedures and lengthy delays as are many applicants. The program is intended to get benefit payments started for individuals who are clearly disabled more quickly and without procedural red tape.

The standard SSA review procedures for disability benefits apply regardless of how severe the affects of your Scleroderma may be. Even if you have one of the more systemic forms of the condition in which multiple organs are involved, you will still be required to proceed through the standard steps for applying for SSD benefits. In other words, your initial application for benefits may take three or more months to be reviewed and you may be denied benefits at this stage.

If you are denied benefits, you may go through a second review by the Disability Determination Services office. You may also need to file for an appeal, if you’re denied a second time. The whole process can take a number of months. Because the review procedures of the DDS are quite involved, the more detailed your application is, the less likely you are to see delays in approval of benefits.

The more thorough you’re able to make your application for SSD the better. Your file should contain substantiating medical documentation proving diagnosis and showing the affects of the condition and the treatments for it.

Because Scleroderma is a progressive disease and affects each patient differently, every application for disability benefits filed with a diagnosis of Scleroderma will be unique. Your application must contain thorough documentation of how your specific case of Scleroderma affects you.

Every doctor involved in diagnosing, treating and reviewing your Scleroderma should compose a statement for your case file. Your application should also include extensive medical record. Test results, lab work, imaging scans, medications prescribed and all other medical records should be present in your file in order to expedite the review and approval of your claim.

In order to shorten the wait for disability benefits and prevent the need for additional reviews, your application should be painstakingly detailed. Seeking legal assistance in putting together your initial application can make the process less cumbersome and help ensure you receive the benefits to which you may be entitled.