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Ohio Social Security Disability Law Blog

Cancer and the Social Security Compassionate Allowances program

When an individual comes down with a major injury, illness, or disease, life can change dramatically. The changes can involve not only a burdensome increase in medical bills, but also an inability to work due to time-consuming, invasive and tiring medical procedures. Cancer is a typical example of this.

The Social Security Administration recognizes that cancer, in its various forms, often becomes a serious disability. This is why many forms of cancer have been included in the agency’s Compassionate Allowances list. Compassionate Allowances are specific impairments which the agency puts on a fast track for evaluation. So, rather than having to wait months to hear back about a Social Security disability application, an applicant with a qualifying condition often only has to wait days. 

Social Security puts overpayment program on hold

When a beneficiary begins receiving Social Security disability benefits, they are—or at least should be—made aware of the fact that the Social Security Administration is able to collect on overpayments made to them. While this may not seem like a big deal to the average beneficiary, it can be a big deal when the agency seeks to recover thousands of dollars years after the benefit has been accepted and spent.

The Social Security Administration’s overpayment program, which is authorized under a 2008 change in federal law, can even involve seizure of payments that are over 10 years old. In most of these cases, the agency seizes tax refunds before the beneficiary even sees the money. While this may seem fair on some level, it really isn’t fair in some cases. This is why the Social Security Administration recently announced that it will be suspending the overpayment program in order to conduct a review to ensure the program is operating with “responsibility and discretion,” to use the words of Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin. 

Survivor benefits for deceased SSDI beneficiaries

One aspect of the Social Security disability program that many people are aware of is survivor benefits. Under the agency’s survivor benefits program, dependants of a SSDI beneficiary can receive the money the beneficiary had been receiving. It is important for disabled beneficiaries with young children to understand how this works.

The survivor benefits program operates on a credit system in which one can earn up to four credits per year. On one hand, the number of credits one needs to provide benefits for survivors depends on their age of death—they younger they are, the fewer credits they need to allow family members to receive survivor benefits. 

Qualifying for SSDI based on PTSD

For veterans, post traumatic stress is a common diagnosis and a very common basis for disability benefits. Post-traumatic stress disorder is particularly common among Vietnam vets, among whom 326,530 have already been diagnosed. That number increases every year as more and more vets remember combat experiences and seek out the help and benefits they need.

Impaired veterans don’t always realize that they may be eligible for more than just VA disability benefits. The Social Security Administration does approve benefits for PTSD, but the way disability is approached by the two programs does differ. 

SSDI work incentives help beneficiaries test ability to work

How many people do you know who are actively looking for work? How many of these are unemployed? Now, how many do you know how are unemployed and are not actively looking for work? Even if you personally do not know anybody in the latter category, we are here to assure you there are many out there, and the number is growing.

In truth, there has been a decrease over the last several years in the labor force participation rate in every state, which has forced states to confront the problem. Last year, at least 17 states passed laws that attempted to address the issue. There are different approaches to the problem, and these include tax credits for businesses, programs to help vets find jobs, and grants for training programs. Hopefully these efforts will be effective, since good labor force participation is vital to a healthy economy. 

Applying for SSDI for a back injury

Back pain is among the most common health and wellness challenges that Americans struggle with. So ubiquitous is the problem, in fact, that it isn’t always taken as seriously as it needs to be. That being said, many companies have recognized the problem and taken steps to provide workers with resources to address ergonomic issues that could be contributing to the problem.

Certain industries are known to have more risk in terms of back injuries than others. Recent research from Australia found that those working in the agricultural industry have the greatest risk. Here in the United States it is well known that those working in health care have particularly high exposure to potential back problems. The reasons for the risk levels are similar: heavy lifting, awkward motions, and forceful movement. But even just working for long periods of time at a computer can cause serious back problems. 

VA made good progress on disability backlog over last year

Although the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration have different standards and goals for their disability programs, they do have one thing in common: the challenge of dealing with a backlog of disability claims. Vets who have applied for either or both of these programs know this all too well.

Fortunately, according to a recent statement by the VA, the agency has made significant progress in the last year in terms of reducing the disability backlog. Since last March, the agency has been able to reduce its backlog by more than 267,000 claims, which is a 44 percent reduction. To be sure, there is still a lot of work to do with a remaining backlog of 344,000 claims, but this is still impressive. 

Social Security program allows beneficiaries to test ability to work

Employers obviously have a vested interest in ensuring their employees receive adequate treatment when injured on the job. Getting an employee back to work and productive again is an important concern for employers, and it can pay off for them to develop an effective return-to-work program.

The Social Security Administration, as some of our readers may know, has its own version of a return-to-work program. The goal behind the program is to ensure that beneficiaries are adequately supported while they test out their ability to return to work. For SSDI beneficiaries, it is important first of all to remember that it must be reported when one starts or stops work; when one’s duties, hours or pay have been changed; and if one starts paying for expenses one needs for work because of a disability. 

Chris Brown reported to have bipolar disorder, PTSD

Readers who pay attention to pop culture have heard about some of the incidents surrounding Chris Brown. What before was seen as just behavioral problems is reportedly now being tied to mental illness. According to a letter from a treatment facility Brown is involved with, he is known to have a mix of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some of the symptoms attributed to Brown’s conditions are severe sleep deprivation, inappropriate self-medicating, and aggression. Brown reportedly has another couple months in the facility, having first entered in October after being put in jail on an assault charge. 

Survey looks at most expensive impairments for employers, insurers

According to a survey published this month by consulting firm Mercer LLC, mental illness and cancer are the two quickest growing categories of impairments affecting the cost of disability insurance. In addition, cancer and musculoskeletal conditions are the most expensive impairments insurance companies deal with.

Musculoskeletal conditions, as some of our readers may know, have been shown in previous research to be the number one category of impairments dealt with both in the United States and worldwide. Such conditions include back pain, dislocations, fractures, degenerative disk disease and numerous other conditions.