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La Crosse Social Security Disability Law Blog

The SSD Compassionate Allowances program: What is it?

A great many people who file for government disability benefits arguably cannot wait. That is, they have a truly debilitating mental condition or physical illness or injury for which they require immediate help. Put another way, any delay in eligibility confirmation and approval of benefits works an extreme hardship on them, as well as the caregivers who often make great sacrifices to step in and help them.

That above description applies to legions of claimants who file for Social Security Disability benefits in Wisconsin and nationally. They have worked for years paying into the system and, when incapacitating illness or injury strikes them, they duly call upon the government for support through a program that they have paid into.

Most people never file for SSD benefits, but the vast majority of those who make claims invariably have a compelling reason for doing so, coupled with a documented condition that has been medically recognized as sufficiently disabling to qualify for them.

Criticisms of SSD program perhaps better aimed at Capitol Hill

Virtually no one who has ever applied for federal disability benefits will say that the process efficiently promoted a just outcome within a reasonable period.

Indeed, Social Security Disability applicants know that the SSD process can be a long and arduous slog, especially for claimants who do not timely secure the knowledgeable and focused assistance of an experienced disability attorney.

In addition to the complexity and inherent inefficiencies that seem to centrally mark the program, SSD regularly suffers from critics -- most often politicians seeking to curry favor with their constituents -- who pillory it for alleged failings and consistently seek to shrink the program.

Primer: a look at the Supplemental Security Income program

The Social Security Administration administers a number of programs that help with the basic living needs of elderly, disabled and other Americans, with eligibility requirements being varied.

Many of our readers in Wisconsin and elsewhere know a bit or even a great deal about Social Security Disability, a worker-funded program pursuant to which applicants are made eligible through financial contributions over the course of their working lives. Our firm provides comprehensive assistance to SSD claimants at all stages, from initial application to appeals and beyond.

Back pain: Increasingly cited SSD condition in future?

Chances are that if you are an adult reader of this blog post in Wisconsin or elsewhere, you have likely suffered from back pain at one time or another during your life.

Most people have. In fact, back pain is one of the more common ailments that afflicts people of all backgrounds, and it can range from temporary discomfort to longer-term and excruciating pain that can, in some instances, last a lifetime.

Many people flatly cannot work -- or can work at only a reduced level -- because of persistent back pain. In some cases, employees can file for and receive workers’ compensation benefits for injuries suffered pursuant to on-the-job endeavors. In other instances, short-term disability can provide for needed time off and payments to defray living costs.

Proposal requiring more medical information in SSDI applications

It seems we can expect the Social Security Administration to tighten rules concerning those applying for Social Security disability benefits.  The SSA has proposed that applicants provide relevant medical information to authorities.  It appears that such requires will even apply to applicants that are not able to work.

There have also been concerns that information received from applicants is incomplete.  The SSA would like all evidence turned over to them regardless of whether the information is favorable or unfavorable to an applicant's case.

Advocates seek legislative change to SSI rules, limits

Is there a federal program that can assist persons with mental or physical disabilities who do not quality for Social Security Disability benefits owing to an inability to sufficiently pay into the Social Security system through payroll taxes?

There is, indeed. The Supplemental Security Income program seeks to provide a protective netting for disabled persons who lack the requisite work experience to obtain SSD benefit checks. Unlike the SSD program, which is self-funded through workers’ tax contributions, SSI money comes through the nation’s general tax revenues.

It is an immediate necessity for many individuals and families in Wisconsin and nationally who seek information concerning SSI eligibility and entitlements to contact an experienced Supplemental Security Income attorney. A host of factors come into play regarding benefits under the SSI program, and proven legal counsel can ensure they are addressed and that a claimant’s best interests are fully promoted.

SSA announces expanded screening program for representative payees

Many of our readers in Wisconsin and elsewhere might vividly remember the so-called “dungeon case” that emerged with all requisite horror in late 2011. A number of people were subsequently charged with nearly 200 criminal counts deriving from their treatment of several mentally disabled people.

As the sordid details came to reveal, those disabled persons were held against their will in a Philadelphia basement in squalid conditions, while their captors collected and spent their Social Security Disability checks.

As a result of that nightmare, the Social Security Administration launched a pilot program in the Philadelphia area in June 2012 aimed at ensuring that such exploitation would never happen again.

Wide variances can occur in SSD processing times

A recent media investigation into how disability claims are handled at a particular Social Security Administration office in Western New York is revealing on a number of counts. We think that some of the details might be interesting to readers in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and thus pass them along.

It might be noted initially that the most salient point about the flow of Social Security Disability claims through the SSA office in Buffalo, New York, is perhaps this: Generally speaking, they take a very long time to process.

To wit: Although the national average for a claimant to get a definitive response from an administrative law judge considering an appeal is 393 days, it is 426 days in Buffalo.

Fully disabled veterans' SSD claims to be fast-tracked

Wisconsin military veterans and their peers nationwide who have been deemed fully disabled by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs are reportedly in for some good and long-awaited news.

Media outlets are reporting that the Social Security Administration will begin expediting those veterans’ Social Security Disability claims starting next month.

That means, according to an account in the Baltimore Sun, that applicable SSD applications will be sped up “at virtually every step of the process.”

Are the unemployed defrauding SSD program? Researchers say no way.

Here is undoubtedly what critics of programs pursuant to which government benefits are distributed to select individuals wanted to see from recent university research findings: a misuse of the Social Security Disability program by people no longer able to collect jobless benefits.

Those critics must be flatly disappointed by the findings.

Indeed, the bottom line in a new study carried out jointly by professors from several of the nation’s leading universities, as stated by head researcher Andreas Mueller from the Columbia Business School, is this:

“[T]here is no convincing evidence that workers whose unemployment benefits have expired apply for disability insurance on a large scale.”

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