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La Crosse Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSD advocate: Don't let detractors derail disability program

A Democratic senator says he is tired of “backdoor attempts to dismantle … Social Security by discrediting disability insurance.”

In fact, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says that supporters of Social Security Disability need to stop marshalling a defend-against-attacks strategy against vehement opponents of the program and instead “play offense and expand the program.”

Brown and fellow advocates of SSD say that the persistent attempts of program bashers to portray the disability benefits program as prohibitively expensive and replete with fraud and abuse need to be forcefully countered.

Daunting yet doable: the SSD process for many claimants

We noted in a recent blog post the periodic revisiting of a claim made by naysayers of the federal government’s disability program that the process is flawed if not irretrievably broken (please see our entry dated June 17, 2014).

As we remarked therein, it seems that the records of select administrative law judges overseeing Social Security Disability claims on appeal are subjected to closest scrutiny and withering criticism every couple years or so. The comparatively high claim approval rates of those so-called ALJs are sometimes held out as being emblematic of standard case outcomes in most instances.

Applying for SSDI based on bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness which, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, affects roughly 5.7 million Americans adults. Bipolar disorder comes in a variety of manifestations, one of which involves shifts between episodes of mania and depression and another which involves milder episodes of mania but more severe depression.  No matter what variety of bipolar one suffers with, the condition can be debilitating until adequate treatment is obtained.

As experts in bipolar disorder are firm in pointing out, although bipolar is a challenging condition, it is one which is not beyond one’s control.  A variety of treatment approaches can be helpful in managing the condition, including medication. The latter, of course, can be a challenging thing for bipolar patients to face, not wanting to be dependent on medication for the rest of their lives. Among other things, it is often assumed that medication will inevitably lead to lack of emotional life and a spaced-out feeling. With the right medication and dose, however, side effects can be kept to a minimum. 

Group preserves disability stories in lead-up to 25 years of ADA

We've often written about the misconceptions that continue to swirl around Social Security Disability and disabilities in general. What we hear from too many politically motivated talking heads is that SSD is social welfare rather than social insurance. That's insurance, whereby workers' payroll taxes go into the system in order to provide coverage in the event of a disabling injury or illness.

The truth is that the SSD application process more often than not leads to a denial of benefits. First-time claimants and claimants pursuing an appeal face an exacting and lengthy vetting process, even in cases of severe disability. In other words, don't believe the talking heads when they cast aspersions on the disability community -- a community whose collective voice is badly underrepresented.

Overly high approval rate for SSD applications: fact or fiction?

Here comes that story again, which seems to routinely resurface every couple of years when select congressional members wish it to do so.

Its gist: Judges working for the Social Security Administration to resolve Social Security Disability claims on appeal have run amok, routinely approving many thousands of applications without sufficiently vetting them.

The alleged result: High levels of scam claims are approved, coupled with billions of dollars taken from taxpayers and subsequently misspent. The system is flawed and in danger of imploding

Report: High rate of workplace injuries impacts disability claims

Commentators on Social Security sometimes stress a growing number of disability claims that have challenged the system in recent years.

There is no question that claims have increased, although there is a division of opinion as to why that is the case. Critics on one side of the equation argue that increasingly more claims lack merit because many applicants are filing for reasons other than disability. Job loss is allegedly one major factor that is driving an escalating number of claims.

Naysayers of that view are many and diverse, and they commonly note that a Social Security Disability claim based on a job loss simply makes no sense. Every SSD application must be fully supported by strong evidence of a confirmed medical impairment acknowledged by the Social Security Administration. The vetting process for a claim is long and arduous, with many bumps along the road toward ultimate approval.

Social Security Disability: fact versus fiction

Insurance, not welfare. A sufficient amount of paid-in payroll contributions over time as a threshold requirement for eligibility, not government largesse. An earned benefit, not a handout.

In a nutshell, the above depictions set forth most succinctly what Social Security Disability is -- and what it is not. Objective commentators on the longstanding program are often at odds with opponents who routinely try to run it down.

Factually based writers rightfully point to SSD as a social insurance program that is funded through taxpayer contributions and pursuant to which only persons who establish eligibility through a most exacting process are entitled to collect benefits. On the other hand, program naysayers frequently portray it in starkly inaccurate terms, seeking to tinge it in an unsavory way by implying that benefit recipients often cheat the system and take freebies from the government.

Looking historically at the Social Security Disability program

Although we are lawyers and not history teachers, we specialize in an important area of the law with deep historical underpinnings that provides for programs serving as lifelines to disabled people and children in lower-income homes. That history is fascinating, and we think that many our readers in Wisconsin and elsewhere might be interested in noting some of the notable developments that have occurred in our area of practice.

That area is personal injury and disability, with an acute focus on the federal Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs that provide benefits to eligible claimants.

Federal grant money will assist some Wisconsin SSI recipients

Although many of our readers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are likely familiar to some degree with the Social Security Disability program, they may not be as familiar with another government program sometimes linked with SSD that offers some benefits to eligible persons.

That initiative is the Supplemental Security Income program, which we have discussed with a varying focus in past select posts (please see, for example, our blog entry dated April 8, 2014).

As we have noted, SSI benefits are sometimes available for disabled adults and children below a stated income threshold who are not eligible to receive SSD benefits owing to the lack of a required work history.

Qualifying for SSDI based on back impairments

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the United States, with about 80 percent of Americans experiencing back problems at some point in their lives. The severity of back injuries can certainly vary a lot. In some cases, it is a bit of soreness or tightness that makes itself known throughout the day. In other cases, it is debilitating enough to restrict an individual to bed and leave them unable to work.

When back injury keeps an individual from working for significant periods of time, disability benefits may not be enough to provide the long-term income one needs. In serious cases, Social Security disability may be available to those with back impairments.  Qualifying for SSDI is not usually an immediate thing, but is worth it for those whose back condition leaves them unable to work.

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