social security attorney

Receiving Both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefits

by Staff | April 22nd, 2013

April 22, 2013

One of the most common causes for an individual to seek Social Security Disability Benefits is because they are left unable to work after an injury resulted from an on-the-job accident. Such instances leave many wondering if they are capable of collecting both Social Security and Workers’ Compensation benefits at the same time.

The Social Security Disability Attorneys with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin explain that the answer is yes; however, doing so may not prove to be beneficial.

Data from the Social Security Administration shows that while a person may be approved for both types of benefits at the same time, receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits will reduce the amount of Social Security Disability benefits a person can be awarded.

The agency has also established limits on the amount of income these benefits can provide. If a person is getting both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time, the combined income cannot exceed 80 percent of the individual’s average earnings before they were injured. Any amount of income above this threshold will be subtracted from the individual’s Social Security disability award.

The firm notes how complex the laws governing the determination of an individual’s benefits can be. That’s why they suggest discussing your legal options with an attorney if you are considering applying for benefits.

Can Spouses Collect Benefits For Deceased Social Security Disability Recipients?

by Staff | March 4th, 2013

March 4, 2013

The death of a spouse can be extremely difficult, both emotionally and financially. For those whose spouses were collecting Social Security Disability Benefits, the loss can also leave them wondering if they are still eligible to collect a portion of the awards that were issued to their loved one.

Opposing Views says there are some benefits survivors can continue to collect, while there are others that will not carry over to a next of kin after death. If an individual is collecting Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and dies, their spouse will not be able to continue collecting those benefits. If the spouse is over the age of 65-years-old and now has a limited source of income, they may qualify for SSI themselves though.

Social Security Disability Benefits are examined under a different set of standards. The spouse of a deceased beneficiary may be eligible to receive a portion, or possibly all, of their loved one’s benefits depending on their age. A person of full retirement age will receive 100 percent of a deceased spouse’s Social Security, while a person of a younger age will receive only a percentage of the benefits.

Other factors that can affect the amount of entitlement can include a spouse’s own eligibility for benefits, marital status, and children.

The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin understand how confusing these benefits can be and are available to answer any questions you may have.

Wonder if your condition is not in the SSA Blue Book?

by lmallernee | January 2nd, 2013

As mentioned in our last blog, there are a number of impairments that will automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), according to DisabilitySecrets.com.

The Blue Book for the Social Security Administration (SSA) lists these impairments, but a condition does not necessarily need to be listed in SSA’s Blue Book to qualify for disability benefits.

A disability claimant does not have to have an impairment that is listed in the Blue Book to be awarded disability benefits. For instance, migraine headaches are not included in the Blue Book, but if a claimant’s migraines are severe enough and the migraines make it impossible for the disability applicant to work a full-time job, the SSA may still grant disability benefits.

The keys are that the condition be a medically determinable impairment and that it either reduces your residual functional capacity, so that you cannot do your prior job or it qualifies you for a medical-vocational allowance.

An individual filing for SSDI benefits does not necessarily have to satisfy the exact requirements listed in the Blue Book for a particular illness or condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis) to be awarded disability benefits. You may also be awarded disability benefits if SSA considers your condition medically equivalent to the criteria listed in the Blue Book.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Certain Medical Conditions Automatically Qualify You for SSDI

by lmallernee | December 28th, 2012

There are a number of impairments—both physical and mental—that will automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) or for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), according to DisabilitySecrets.com.

The Blue Book for the Social Security Administration (SSA) lists impairments under the following categories: musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries; cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease; senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss; respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma; and neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.

Also included in the list are mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation; immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis; various syndromes, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome; skin disorders, such as dermatitis; digestive tract problems, such as liver disease or IBD; kidney disease and genitourinary problems; and cancer.

Provided an individual’s condition meets, or is equivalent to, the specified criteria for one of the above listings, s/he will automatically qualify for SSDI or SSI. If your particular condition or illness is not on the SSA’s Blue Book list or if you are impaired but not by one of the conditions listed, what do you do? Our next blog on Monday will discuss this eventuality with you.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

“Ticket to Work” Helps SSI Recipients

by lmallernee | December 28th, 2012

December 21, 2012

Millions of Americans who receive Social Security Disability benefits want to work, reports Picket News. Ticket to Work is a free, voluntary program that helps people find employment. Those who receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability can begin jobs while keeping some of their benefits.

For one woman, it was more than just a ticket to work. After being diagnosed with cancer and losing her job due to downsizing, she had gone on Social Security Disability Insurance.

A year later, with her cancer in remission, she learned about the Iowa Development Workforce Center and her local American Job Center.

The staff was able to provide her with advice about disability benefits and employment and “Work Incentives,” which are intended to help people who receive disability benefits transition to the workforce.

The woman also found out that during the Trial Work Period, recipients of SSDI can keep their Medicare coverage and their cash benefits. She also learned that if she has to stop work because of her disability, she may be able to restart her Social Security benefits without a new application.

Eventually, the woman did find work. Grateful that Social Security helped her “get through the storm,” she acknowledged that she was pleased to take control of her life, to become financially self-sufficient, and to leave the benefits behind.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security Commissioner Astrue Honored for Service

by lmallernee | December 19th, 2012

Michael J. Astrue was sworn in as Commissioner of Social Security on February 12, 2007, for a six-year term that expires on January 19, 2013. As commissioner, he focused his efforts on reducing the disability backlog and improving services to the public.

He has spearheaded new systems for fast-tracking disability claims, created National Hearing Centers to reduce local backlogs with video hearings, and overhauled the agency’s electronic services.

Astrue has received numerous awards, including the Public Health Leadership Award from the National Organization of Rare Disorders and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Alzheimer’s Association.  More recently, he received the 2012 President’s Award presented by The Arc, one of the largest charitable organizations, according to the Social Security Press Office.

“Throughout his tenure, Commissioner Astrue has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to addressing the needs of people with disabilities. Bringing his unique business perspective to the Social Security Administration, he revolutionized the way it has been run and helped better serve individuals with the most significant disabilities,” said the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc.

“Knowing that Social Security is not just numbers and getting checks out on time, but people’s lives, he has become a true ally to the disability community in our nation. We are thrilled to be honoring him at our national convention.”

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

More ways to fix the Social Security conundrum

by lmallernee | December 17th, 2012

Adding to the three principles outlined in Friday’s blog, Market Watch also wants Congress to keep in mind two more considerations when it comes to tackling Social Security solvency:

4. Fix Social Security sooner rather than later.

The longer Congress waits to make the needed changes in contributions and benefits, the larger the changes will need to be. The financial shortfall is embedded in the long-term budget, so eliminating the shortfall now will improve the long- term budget later. Restoring balance to Social Security will make Americans feel more secure about their retirement.

5. The key to the health of Social Security and of the nation is working longer.

The smaller the number of retired people, the bigger the nation’s economic budget and the larger part of it will be going to working Americans. Increase the Full Retirement Age to 67. Raise the Earliest Eligibility Age to retire from 62 to 64. Then people will not be tempted to take substantially reduced benefits early.

The problem is that a portion of the population–due to health or job market problems—simply cannot work longer. They will need some support between 62 and 64. Congress needs to design or adapt a program to meet this need that does not undo the incentives to work longer.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability claims, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

5 ways to fix the Social Security problem

by lmallernee | December 14th, 2012

Market Watch says that there are five principles that Congress should keep in mind when it comes to fixing Social Security:

1. Because retirements are at risk, Congress needs to think very carefully before cutting benefits.

As many as 53 percent of households are at risk of not being able to maintain their present standard of living once they stop working, according to the Center for Retirement Research’s National Retirement Risk Index. As people live longer, as health care costs rise, and as two thirds of people need some long-term care, the need for retirement income is increasing.

2. Congress needs to keep in mind that everyone depends on Social Security, not just the poor.

Even people earning more than $100,000 are likely to have only a small retirement savings and to have little in the way of non-retirement assets other than their house. They, too, are going to need Social Security benefits.

3. Congress needs to retain payroll tax financing.

Financing Social Security benefits with a definite source of revenue protects the program from the ups and downs of annual appropriation and clarifies the link between contributions and benefits.

On Monday, our blog will continue outlining these important ways to save the Social Security program.

If you or someone you know needs help with SSD benefits, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security numbers accidentally published in California

by lmallernee | December 12th, 2012

The State of California mistakenly published thousands of Social Security numbers on the internet last week, reports WDAM.

Nearly 14,000 Social Security numbers belonging to Medi-Cal providers working for In-Home Supportive Services were inadvertently posted on the internet, an official from the Department of Health Care Services admitted.

For a period of nine days, the confidential information was available on the state’s Medi-Cal website for anyone to see, before the mistake was discovered and the numbers were removed.

“It’s really going to hurt a lot of people, and the bad guys are going to be out there in seventh heaven,” said an In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) worker, who works 50 hours a week as an in-home care provider.

Making $10 an hour, she is taking care of her son, who is legally blind and takes eight separate medications to combat his seizures.

As anyone knows, Social Security numbers are a key ingredient for identity theft.

“If we do get bad reports or money against our accounts, they should be liable,” the IHSS worker said about the Department of Health Care Services.

The deputy director for public affairs for the Department of Health Care Services said, “This was inadvertent, and we sincerely regret this has happened.”

If you or someone you know needs help with a disability benefits claim, contact a Social Security Disability attorney at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security Disability fast tracking

by lmallernee | December 10th, 2012

To address the chronic backlog of the Social Security Administration, the agency is working to streamline the application process.

To ease the burden of debilitating conditions, the Social Security Administration is expanding a program that fast-tracks disability claims by people who have contracted serious illnesses, according to the Herald.

The Compassionate Allowances program approves many claims for a select group of conditions within a few days, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said.

The program was expanded Thursday to include 200 diseases and conditions such as advanced breast cancer, early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Started in 2008, the Compassionate Allowances program is designed to render decisions in 10 to 15 days to claims that could have taken months or years to approve in the past. It was begun after the agency did an internal review of how it handled initial applications from people with serious but rare conditions.

Two hundred thousand people have received expedited benefits since the Compassionate Allowances program was started.

Last week, the agency added 35 more diseases and conditions to the program, bringing the total to 200.

While providing faster benefits to the seriously ill, the program is also designed to ease the workload of an agency that has been swamped by disability claims since the economic recession.

If you or someone you know needs help with a claim, contact the SSD benefit lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.