Archive for the ‘Social Security Disability’ Category

SSA Adds 25 Compassionate Allowance Conditions

Applying for disability benefits is a lengthy process, with an average wait time anywhere from three to five months before you even hear back on your claim. Unfortunately, if you have a severe medical condition, you may not have time to wait to get approval and start getting disability income. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that there are certain conditions that clearly qualify applicants for benefits. The SSA also realizes that people with those conditions really need to get benefits right away.  To streamline the application and allow for fast-tracked approval of these claims, the SSA has developed a list of Compassionate Allowance Conditions.  The SSA has maintained the Compassionate Allowances List for a long time, but has recently announced that some new conditions have been added to this list.

If you are disabled and you cannot work due to your health problems, disability lawyers at Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Office will help you to determine if your condition qualifies as a Compassionate Allowance Condition. An attorney can also assist in applying for benefits with any covered condition or in appealing benefits denials.

Compassionate Allowance Conditions Added to the List

Compassionate Allowance Conditions are medical problems that can be conclusively diagnosed with medical testing, rather than conditions that require subjective judgment.  Conditions must cause severe impairment that makes work impossible and must be long-term or likely to end in death.

There were 200 illnesses and impairments that were listed as Compassionate Allowances Conditions prior to the recent SSA update.  The SSA has added 25 new conditions, including digestive disorders, neurological conditions, immune conditions and cancer. The new Compassionate Allowances Conditions include:

  • Angiosarcoma
  • Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
  • Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
  • Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
  • Esthesioneuroblastoma
  • Giant Axonal Neuropathy
  • Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  • Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
  • Joubert Syndrome
  • Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
  • Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
  • Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
  • Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
  • Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  • Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
  • Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  • Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  • Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
  • Revesz Syndrome
  • Seckel Syndrome
  • Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
  • Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
  • Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
  • X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
  • X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

Patients suffering from these medical problems can submit proof from a qualified treating physician. The application review will be expedited and it should be possible to begin receiving benefits within days or weeks, rather than waiting for months or even years to get approval of your disability claim.

Having your condition listed as a Compassionate Allowance Condition not only makes the process of applying easier but it also virtually ensures you will be approved. With more than 50 percent of standard disability claims denied, this is another major advantage to those who are seriously ill.

Almost 200,000 people nationwide have already taken advantage of the expedited Social Security Disability process made possible by the Compassionate Allowance List.  The new additions will make it possible for more disabled individuals to have their claims approved in a timely manner without the stress and uncertainty of a normal disability application. Once approved for benefits, you can receive monthly income and may also get medical coverage through Medicaid if you are receiving Supplemental Security Income.

Disability lawyers at Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Office can help with your SSD claim. Call 877-583-0700 or visit today to schedule your consultation.

Collecting Disability Benefits and Unemployment Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to provide income to people who are so disabled they are unable to work.  To encourage a return to employment, however, SSDI has a ticket-to-work program and a trial work period that makes it possible to work full time and still receive benefits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that as of 2013, a person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could earn as much as $1,040 per month while still collecting benefits, which means you could potentially have a job to supplement your SSD income.

Because it is possible to work while on disability, it is also possible under certain circumstances to collect unemployment benefits at the same time as you receive disability income from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Disability lawyers can help individuals who are on SSD to understand their eligibility for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and can help the disabled to ensure they are maximizing the benefits they are receiving.

Unfortunately, in the recent disagreement regarding the extension of unemployment benefits, lawmakers are again coming after the Social Security Disability system and, as the Los Angeles Times describes, are being asked to pay for an extension to unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Proposals Aim to Cut SSD Benefits to Pay for Unemployment

The longstanding position of the Social Security Administration has been that a person is able to receive both disability income and unemployment benefits. Since only seven percent of disability beneficiaries collect more than $2,000 per month in payments and since the average monthly unemployment income is just $1,200, many families depend upon having access to both support systems to make ends meet after someone who is disabled losses a job.

Now, however, a proposal endorsed by Senate Democrats could prevent the disabled from collecting benefits from both SSDI and unemployment. This “disability unemployment offset” would save around $100 million each year. This is not the first time such a proposal has been made either. In President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget, the disability offset was also included and called a “smart reform… [to] root out wasteful spending.”

Most advocates for the disabled, however, recognize that this change could have a significant adverse impact. The chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions indicated that the change to the SSD and unemployment rules would mean “worsening the economic security of workers with disabilities and their families at a time when the economy continues to struggle.”

It is also important to remember that both SSDI and unemployment income are earned benefits. You can qualify for SSDI income only if you have worked for a sufficient period of time and have earned enough work credits to become eligible. Even when you meet these basic criteria, you also must show you are significantly and severely disabled and thus truly unable to support yourself. Unemployment income is also earned through working for a long enough period of time.

Since these programs are both paid into by workers, they should be there to protect those who become disabled and who lose the jobs that they try to hold to supplement their disability income. Workers who are eligible for both SSDI and unemployment should apply for and obtain both benefits while still allowed by law and should make their feelings clear to lawmakers about having the disabled pay for the unemployment extension.

Contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices, serving clients in Oklahoma and Nationwide. Call today at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Suggested SSD Reforms Based on Misunderstandings

The Social Security Disability (SSD) system is currently providing benefits to an estimated 8.9 million people and there are concerns about the long-term financial viability of the system as a result of the high number of disabled individuals. These concerns have led to many proposed reforms, including some suggestions made in a recent congress blog post on The Hill called: How broken is the Social Security Disability Insurance program?

The suggestions made in the blog published on The Hill included making it harder to qualify for SSD benefits; conducting periodic disability reviews to make sure benefits recipients really are still disabled; more carefully overseeing administrative law judges who make SSD eligibility decisions; and creating incentives for employers to hire the disabled.

SSD lawyers in Oklahoma know that many of these reform proposals could have a serious adverse impact on people who are truly disabled. The reform proposals related to tougher eligibility are largely unnecessary and could cause many legitimate applicants to be denied the benefits that they need. However, proposals to encourage employers to hire those who are disabled but who can still do some work could be helpful both to relieving financial pressure on the SSD program and to giving opportunities to those who are severely impacted by medical conditions but who still really want to have a job.

Considering SSD Reform Proposals

Proposals to make eligibility standards tighter are largely based on the premise that people are taking advantage of the SSD program when they aren’t really disabled. The basis for making this argument largely stems from the fact that there are so many more people who are disabled than there were in the past.

The reality, however, is that it is still really hard for anyone to qualify for SSD benefits, and it would be difficult and perhaps almost impossible to game the system. To be eligible for benefits, the disabled individual must have a severe medical condition and exhibit certain symptoms as outlined by the SSA. The medical condition must be demonstrated by detailed medical records and affirmed by a qualified, experienced specialist physician.  Even with a lot of evidence and with clear medical proof of disability, more than half of all applicants are denied.

Not only is the application process already difficult, but there is also an easy explanation for the growth of the SSD program. As the Los Angeles Times recently explained, research into the rise in the number of SSD recipients shows that there are two factors in play that have resulted in more people getting benefits. The first is that older people are more likely to be disabled and there are a lot more older people in the U.S. now that the baby boomers are aging. The second explanation is that there are many more women in the workforce nowadays and thus more women who could be eligible for SSD benefits upon becoming disabled.

When these two factors explain why so many people are disabled, it becomes clear that there really is no reason to make it harder for people who are very sick to try to get SSD benefits. However, providing employers with incentives to find ways that the disabled can work could be a very positive step for those receiving SSD benefits who hope to do some type of job but who are having a hard time finding one with a debilitating medical condition in a troubled economy.

If you are disabled and need help getting benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Oklahoma can help. Contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Social Security Disability Overpayments Can Cost You

For most individuals who are disabled and who cannot work, their primary worry is whether they will be approved for Social Security disability benefits through either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSD lawyers in Oklahoma know that well over half of all applicants who apply for disability benefits have their applications denied and are  thus not able to receive the money they need from the Social Security Administration.

Once you are approved for benefits, however, your problems with the SSA aren’t necessarily at an end.  Some individuals are finding out that they have received overpayments or more benefits than they are entitled to receive. If this happens to you, it isn’t just free money that you can take advantage of to pay your bills or save a little cash.  When the SSA overpays you, the system may come back and try to recollect the money, which means you can get hit with a big bill. Unfortunately, many people who receive this extra cash from the SSD system aren’t even aware they are receiving overpayments and thus may have spent the money and may face great difficulties when the SSA comes to try to take it back.

Social Security Overpayments are a Major Problem

According to CNN, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that overpayments made to disabled individuals by the SSA total more than $1.3 billion in just the past two years alone. There are myriad reasons for these extra payments, including critical failures within the administration process of the disability benefits programs.

In some cases, for example, the SSA will continue sending out payments to people who have already returned to work and are no longer eligible for benefits because the system doesn’t realize the benefits should have ended. In other situations, a disabled person will begin to earn too much income and should have benefits cut or stopped but doesn’t.

If this happens to you and you realize there is a problem, calling the SSA and letting them know of this issue may not be enough to protect yourself and solve your problem. In at least one case reported by CNN, the recipient of SSD benefits contacted the Social Security Administration to let them know that the benefits should no longer be coming. The SSA gave this individual incorrect information, saying that the payments that were being sent out were intended to make up for underpayments over the course of the past year. The SSA insisted it wasn’t a mistake, but then later tried to recover thousands in back pay that had been sent out and that the recipient no longer had.

The sums of money that are involved are not small either, as one disability rights advocate said that some recipients of overpayments were getting notices indicating they owed as much as $40,000 or more to the SSA. This can be a huge amount of money to come up with, especially if you aren’t working and if the money is spent because you didn’t realize it was the result of an error.

Because of the serious problems caused by overpayment, it is important to know what benefits you are entitled to and make sure you receive the appropriate amount of disability income. Your attorney can help you to determine what your benefits check should be.

If you are disabled and need help getting benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Oklahoma can help. Contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Pushing Back to Correct Falsehoods About the Social Security Disability System

The Social Security Disability system (SSD) has become a prime target for lawmakers concerned with lowering government expenditures, and many media outlets have jumped on the bandwagon and begun to bash the disability system.  The TV show 60 Minutes is one of the latest major media outlets to run stories about problems with “fraud” and abuse of the SSD benefits program, and the recent 60 Minutes expose followed on the heels of a PBS This American Life documentary that made similar points about too many people receiving benefits.

Now, however, come critics of these “exposes” have begun to push back against the falsehoods that the media is promulgating. Any disability claim lawyer in Oklahoma knows that it would be very difficult, or even impossible, to abuse the disability system. As our attorneys recently pointed out, the criticisms against the system are based on a fundamental lack of understanding, and perhaps the most dangerous misapprehension of all is that it is easy for people to get benefits who don’t deserve them.

Getting Benefits Isn’t Easy

The Center for Economic Policy and Research has strongly refuted claims made by 60 Minutes and arguments made in the piece on This American Life that unqualified applicants are signing up for disability benefits as a substitute for welfare or because they simply cannot get a job.

The CEPR, for example, explained that almost 75 percent of applicants for SSD benefits are turned down when they initially submit a benefits application, and that 60 percent continue to have claims denied even after they have appealed.

A program with a 75 percent denial rate is clearly not one that is overly easy for applicants to get into. To the contrary, many people who apply for benefits have legitimate disabilities but are denied anyway because of the SSA’s strict and limited definition of disabled and stringent requirements regarding the types of evidence that must be provided to qualify for benefits.

Data on the outcome of denied applicants also shows that people aren’t just substituting SSD income for having a job, as many of the people who were denied benefits still are unable to work. The data on these denied candidates came from a University of Michigan study in which researchers identified a group of “marginal” applicants whose characteristics meant that they might be either approved or denied for SSD benefits depending upon which disability hearing officer made the decision.

A total of 23 percent of all applicants fit within this marginal group. Of those who were turned down, just 28 percent of the applicants were working two years after their claims had been denied, and just 16 percent of the applicants turned down were working four years after their denial. Among those who were working, their earnings averaged between 25 and 50 percent of what their incomes had been in the years prior to disability.

If this data was broadened and these outcomes applied to all benefits recipients, this means that just seven percent of all new applicants for SSD benefits would be working two years after applying if the disability benefits program was not in existence.

Clearly, this data shows that people who apply for benefits do so because they cannot work. A benefits denial can be devastating to people counting on SSD benefits for their income, and applicants for benefits should strongly consider speaking with an attorney to decrease the chances of denial.

If you are disabled and need help getting benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Oklahoma can help. Contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Expedite Social Security Disability Payments for the Terminally Ill

Social security disability benefits are supposed to provide income for those who are sick or injured and who are unable to work as a result of their severe medical condition. Anyone who meets the SSA’s criteria to be considered disabled and who has worked for a sufficiently long period of time to earn work credits should qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, although it may be necessary to get help from a Social Security Disability lawyer in Oklahoma in order to successfully complete the application or to receive benefits on appeal.  Those eligible include individuals with terminal illnesses.

Unfortunately, many people who are diagnosed with a terminal illness have, by definition, a short time to live. This, in many cases, results in the sick individuals being unable to take advantage of the Social Security Disability system. The reason that many terminally ill patients are unable to get the benefits they need and earned is that the SSDI benefits rules mandate a five-month waiting period before benefits can begin. A bill currently before committee seeks to change this requirement for the terminally ill.

Bill Aims to Help The Terminally Ill Get SSDI Benefits

The SSA website specifies the reason behind the five-month waiting period. The waiting period “ensures that during the early months of disability, we do not pay benefits to persons who do not have long-term disabilities.” While this reasoning is legitimate justification for a delay in many cases since the SSDI program is supposed to be restricted to the long-term disabled, it presents a problem when the patient who is seeking benefits is terminally ill.

The requirement to receive benefits is that the medical condition causing the impairment or disability has or will last a year or more OR is expected to end in death. For those whose condition is going to be fatal, they may not have a year to live and may not even have five months to live. The waiting period, therefore, essentially results in the sick patient getting no benefits or not getting the benefits necessary in a few of the good months they have left before their illness progresses.

To help the terminally ill to avoid this and get the income they need sooner from the SSA, Senator John Barrasso sponsored S. 1311: Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act of 2013 . The Bill is currently in committee but if it passes, it would apply to patients who have had two or more medical professionals from separate practice groups affirm that their illness is terminal.

Once a patient had proven he or she is suffering from a terminal illness, the individual could receive one half of the Social Security Disability benefits that he is entitled to within the first month following the diagnosis.  During the second month, the disabled individual could receive three-quarters of benefits and during the third and subsequent months, the individual could receive full benefits.  If the patient survives for longer than a year, the benefits paid during what would have otherwise been the five-month waiting period would be deducted from the money received in subsequent months.

The bill would go a long way towards making sure those who are the sickest are able to get the benefits they need.

If you are disabled and need help getting benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Oklahoma can help. Contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Federal Lawmakers Critical of Social Security Disability System, but is the Criticism Deserved?

Our Tulsa social security disability lawyers know that the Social Security disability system has come under public scrutiny in recent months. The problem: claims for SSD benefits have increased by as much as 25 percent since 2007.

The record numbers of people receiving Social Security disability benefits have taxed the funds available for payouts and have raised concerns that the disability fund is going broke. The high number of claims has also caused many to speculate on whether people are applying for benefits they don’t deserve because of a bad economy or are using the Social Security system as an alternative to welfare.

Recently, CBS News reported that investigators from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have jumped on the bandwagon of criticizing the Social Security disability program. House investigators have expressed concern that too many claims are being approved, that there is too much pressure to approve claims, and that there is an absence of required follow-up efforts designed to make sure that only the truly disabled are receiving benefits.

Is the Criticism Deserved?

It is undeniable that there have been a huge number of Social Security disability claims since the recession began in 2008. In fact, in the last year alone, 3.2 million people applied for benefits through either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or through Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has also identified management problems leading to misspending and has identified situations where federal disability claims are being paid to individuals who do not deserve to receive such benefits. In fact, a study of 300 randomly selected cases revealed that a flawed application process led to as many as 25 percent of claims being decided inappropriately.

Fox News and other media outlets have reported that administrative law judges assigned to disability benefits hearings are being pressured to approve claims. Judges are expected to process between 500 and 700 disability cases each year and several have reported that the Social Security Administration urged them to reduce the scrutiny given to individual claims.

The Social Security Administration, however, indicates that much of the criticism the agency is receiving is not deserved. While the SSA acknowledges that there is a backlog of as many as 1.3 million follow-up reviews designed to ensure that those receiving benefits are still disabled, the Administration also indicates that the increase in claims is driven by legitimate reasons.

The increase in the number of people receiving benefits is, according to the SSA, prompted by the aging of the baby boomers.  Further, in a bad economy and with high unemployment, there may be fewer jobs available that the disabled could do while struggling with medical problems. In a better economy, on the other hand, more job opportunities could mean that more disabled individuals could find work that is possible even with their impairments.

The conflicting information makes it difficult to determine whether the increase in disability recipients does reflect a troubling trend of the unqualified receiving benefits or of whether the increase is simply caused by demographic and economic shifts. One thing is certain though – with more scrutiny on the SSA and more scrutiny on claim approval ratings, it could become more difficult for injured and disabled individuals to have their claims heard in a fair and timely manner.

If you are disabled and need help, contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

Going Back to Work While Receiving SSD Benefits

If you are currently receiving disability benefits through either Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, you may wonder what will happen if you decide to try your hand at re-entering the workforce. Our Tulsa disability lawyers know that many people who have a disability want to try to find a job that they can do despite their medical conditions. However, there are a lot of issues that can make going back to work hard for you if you are injured or ill.

While the Social Security Administration tries to encourage a return to work for the disabled, a recent Department of Labor report demonstrates that the disabled face a very uncertain and hostile job market. Unfortunately, this means that getting a job is going to be a challenge even if you are willing to do everything you can to find work.

DOL Addresses Unemployment Among the Disabled

According to the Department of Labor (DOL), the unemployment rate among disabled Americans is hovering around 12.7 percent. This is a much higher rate than the current national unemployment rate of 7.5 percent.  In a tough market where everyone is competing, companies tend to have their pick of candidates. Unfortunately, many employers don’t pick a disabled person because of prejudices, fear of having to accommodate the disability and a host of other issues.

The DOL identified a few of the primary concerns that prevent employers from hiring the disabled in order to better understand how barriers can be overcome.  For example:

  • The DOL indicates that one problem is a lack of skill to perform work that can be done even with a disabling condition. This can especially come into play when a worker was doing a specialized task that required optimal health. For example, someone with a background in mining or construction who got hurt might be able to do an office job or light-duty work but not work in the position he had before. Unfortunately, the worker might not have skills to find work outside of construction.  Skills training may be able to resolve this issue.
  • Workplace discrimination is another problem identified by the DOL. The Americans with Disabilities Act has made discriminating on the basis of disability illegal, but it still happens anyway. Better enforcement of anti-discrimination laws and better education about disabled individuals can help employers to overcome their prejudices.
  • Finally, healthcare concerns are a fundamental and major issue for a disabled person going back to work. Someone receiving SSI benefits would generally be on Medicaid while a person receiving SSDI benefits might be on Medicare after a 24-month waiting period.  Going back to work could make an employee fear he’d lose this health coverage. Losing medical benefits when you are sick or disabled is a nightmare most don’t want to cope with.  The benefits programs, however, generally let you remain eligible for Medicare and even for Medicaid as long as your income doesn’t rise above a certain level. The Affordable Care Act could also help put patients’ minds at ease by preventing insurance discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions.

Provided you can break through the barriers and get an employer to hire you, the SSA offers a trial work period for those on SSDI during which your benefits are still paid in full. The work period for SSDI ends only when the worker has made more than $750 a month for a total of nine months in a rolling sixty-month period and even then, there is an extended eligibility period and expedited reinstatement period.

If you are disabled and need help, contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700 for a free case evaluation.

SSDI Fraud Investigations Could Make Getting Benefits Harder

Social Security Disability Insurance is an important part of the social safety net that aims to protect people if they become disabled and unable to work. Workers fund SSDI through contributions from their payroll taxes and, in exchange for paying these taxes, they are supposed to receive benefits if they suffer a qualifying long-term disability.

Unfortunately, the SSDI program has been under attack due to allegations of fraud and supposed inefficiencies in the system. Our Tulsa, OK SSDI attorneys know that there is already a very high denial rate for disability benefits applications because of concerns about dishonest applicants. Now, a new article has indicated that the House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into fraud and waste. This investigation could potentially lead to changes or to a tightening of the laws that make it even more difficult for the disabled to obtain the benefits they need.

SSDI Fraud Investigation Underway

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the number of people enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program increased from 5.58 million people receiving benefits in 2003 to 8.83 million people receiving benefits in 2012. This is an increase of almost 60 percent.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that two letters written by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have identified fraud as a possible reason for the dramatic increase in the number of people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Improper payment is also identified as a possible reason for the increase in claims.  This improper payment is allegedly caused by mismanagement. Those asserting mismanagement point to proof of the improper payment in a 2010 Government Accountability Office Report. For example, the article indicates that people are receiving SSDI benefits despite being able to pass a rigorous physical exam to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Passing the exam, it is argued, means they cannot be disabled and yet they are receiving benefits.

Finally, a third area of concern identified is structural flaws in the SSDI program. In asserting that the program is badly designed, data from an MIT economist is cited which indicates people may get better benefits and more money if they remain on SSDI rather than trying to re-enter the labor force.

Suggested Ways to Fight Fraud

In addition to asserting fraud, the letters assert that past recommendations to curb abuses have not been implemented. Past recommendations for fighting fraud include conducting more thorough reviews into the income of applicants and more thorough reviews of the medical state of recipients.

Because the past recommendations have not been implemented, wholesale reform of the SSDI program is now being called for, reportedly in order to save the program from potential collapse that could be brought on by too many claims.

Fighting for Your Right to Benefits

Unfortunately, it is already very difficult for people to obtain benefits as there is a very rigorous application process in place and as many claims for benefits are already denied.

With continued allegations of fraud and abuse, any changes made or new regulations passed are likely to make it even more difficult for people to apply for benefits. This is unfortunate, as one of the likely reasons for the increase in claims is that baby boomers are aging and are thus more likely to become disabled and in need of benefits because they are unable to work.

For those seeking benefits with legitimate claims that are denied, it will now be more important than ever to have an advocate on your side to help you make a successful claim.

If you need help obtaining disability benefits in Oklahoma, contact Hansen Dirani & Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700.

The Sequester and Your Social Security Disability Claim

Anyone who is applying for Social Security disability benefits or who has a question about their existing benefits may find themselves coping with long wait times at the Social Security Administration (even longer than normal). Those seeking help from someone at the Social Security Administration may also discover that there are shorter office hours and more limited appointment times. The extended wait times, reduced hours and the lengthy delays are occurring, according to the Baltimore Sun, as a result of the sequester.

Our Tulsa, OK SSDI attorneys know that every minute counts when you are in need of disability benefits and are not receiving the money you require to support yourself. It is very frustrating for people who are disabled and unable to work to wait for weeks or months to get an appointment, start the application process or get an answer on their claim. Unfortunately, this problem is unlikely to go away any time soon and the only recourse that applicants have is to make very sure that they are completing their application thoroughly and completely so they do not give the government a reason to further delay their case.

The Sequester and Social Security

The Sequester refers to a series of $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that occurred on March 1. The cuts included an arbitrary slashing of funding for a huge variety of different government services. While Social Security disability benefits were protected from the cuts and checks will continue to go out on time, the Baltimore Sun indicates that Social Security offices nationwide were affected by the sequester and now have less money and have had to furlough employees and cut hours.

The automatic budget cuts were intended to be unpleasant and draconian in order to force Democrats and Republicans to come to an agreement on how to cut spending. Unfortunately, when no agreement was reached, the cuts went into effect. This has resulted in essential government services — like those provided by Social Security Administration workers — being cut. As the weeks have passed, neither Democrats nor Republicans have shown a willingness to compromise to undo the budget cuts, so it is likely that this reduced funding is going to remain in effect for a while and that the SSA will have to continue operating with a slashed budget.

Getting Your Application Approved and Your Questions Answered

Unfortunately, those applying for disability benefits will now have a longer wait to get help from an SSA representative with their application. Those whose applications are processing are going to have a longer wait to get an answer on approval or denial (the wait was already three to five months on average). Finally, those who have questions or concerns about their benefits are also going to have a harder time getting their questions answered.

Working with a Social Security attorney can be the best option under these circumstances as your lawyer can help by answering questions that an SSA representative isn’t available to answer, and by keeping the application process moving along. Your lawyer will also make sure you’ve provided all the necessary information so that there are no undue delays in processing your benefits claim.

If you need help obtaining disability benefits in Oklahoma, contact Hansen Dirani and  Associates Law Offices at 877-583-0700.