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St. Louis Legal Issues Blog

Clarifying confusion over Social Security disability benefits

In today's political environment, many Missourians could be confused about certain aspects regarding Social Security and the benefits that people are entitled to. One is Social Security Disability Insurance. Given the way certain political figures are trying to remake the government, including Social Security and its benefits, it can be ignored that SSDI can be just as important for a person living with an injury, illness or condition as Social Security benefits are for a person of retirement age. The truth about SSDI should be accounted for.

A worker will qualify for benefits if he or she works for the equivalent of 10 years. The criteria to receive disability are different from retirement and Medicaid due to the possibility of someone younger needing it. SSDI is often misidentified as welfare when it is in fact a benefit that the person earned through payment of payroll taxes. SSDI claims have risen in the past few decades, but that is most likely due to demography. For example, those classified as baby boomers reached ages when it is often necessary to have Social Security disability benefits for illness; at the same time, more women were working, adding to the number of people who are eligible for SSDI. The retirement age for Social Security rising from 65 to 66 has also probably affected this.

The basics of SSDI and SSI and how it relates to diabetes

Suffering from debilitating effects of diabetes makes your life a challenge. Your daily life consists of the pain, accommodations and maintenance requirements of your condition. In addition, you may worry that you can't adequately provide for yourself or your family anymore. This could lead to depression, anger and other negative consequences, even though the situation may be out of your control.

If you can't work because of your diabetes, your friends and family may be telling you to apply for benefits from the Social Security Administration but can't provide you any additional information. You may have heard that the SSA provides benefits but need further information regarding what you may qualify for based on your disability, income and resources.

What does extreme limitation after a brain injury mean?

Missourians who have suffered a brain injury might be able to receive Social Security disability benefits for injury. However, the criteria needed for the Social Security Administration to approve the benefits must be met. There are certain terms that are used that many laypeople do not fully understand. It can be a confusing process. One is how "extreme limitation" is defined in the context of what the person can do. For example, if a person cannot stand up from a seated position easily, it can be difficult to find a job.

Having an extreme limitation in motor function means that the person cannot stand from the seated position, cannot maintain balance when standing and walking, and cannot use the upper extremities to perform work-related activities. The assessment will depend on how much the person's functioning is interfered with by the effects of the injury. The inability to stand up after being seated means that when the person is seated, he or she cannot stand and stay in an upright position without help from someone else or by using a device like a walker or crutches.

Budget proposal could affect Social Security Disability benefits

Missourians who have a medical issue can often receive Social Security disability benefits due to their condition. There are several programs that provide these benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Those who are seeking or are already getting these benefits should pay attention to current events to know how certain legal changes might affect them. One is the budget proposed by President Donald J. Trump and how it would reduce SSDI.

The program is in place to protect workers who have suffered a disabling injury or illness and is used by close to 9 million workers. These workers are usually between the ages of 18 and 64. It also helps nearly 2 million dependents. If the budget passes, the program would be cut by an estimated $70 billion in the next decade. Many of those who would be affected by this are from areas that voted heavily for the president.

Social Security disability for Wounded Warriors: important points

Memorial Day is a good time to consider certain Social Security disability benefits that people who were wounded during their military service might be eligible for. Missourians who are considered Wounded Warriors should be aware that their qualifying SSD benefits for injury could be affected by military pay and status. It is also important to know what information must be provided to the Social Security Administration when seeking benefits.

Military pay does not have to stop a person from receiving SSD benefits. Those who are still getting pay from the military should not hesitate to apply as they might still meet the benefits' requirements. A person who is being treated at a medical military facility and is also in a designated therapy program or is on limited duty might be eligible for benefits. The SSA must conduct an evaluation into the work the person is doing to decide whether they meet the federal requirements to get benefits. People who are performing substantial work for profit cannot get SSD benefits. The SSA will calculate the work the person is doing. The amount of pay and the military status are not relevant.

Is my arthritis grounds for a disability claim?

Arthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that can have an impact on various areas of your life, including your ability to work. Many people diagnosed with this disease live and work with relative ease thanks to medication and other forms of treatment, but the most severe cases can be crippling, overwhelming a person's ability to enjoy a certain quality of life. 

Simply having a diagnosis of arthritis is not enough to file for disability benefits, but you may have grounds to move forward with a claim if you are unable to work because of the pain and loss of motion. The disability claims process can be complex, but you do not have to navigate it alone. 

When can I receive SSD benefits for bipolar disorder?

People in Missouri who have a mental disorder often do not even realize that they have it or that its severity might warrant an approval for Social Security disability benefits for mental conditions. There are different types of mental issues; one that can lead to an approval is bipolar disorder. A person who has bipolar disorder experiences irritability, depression, elevated or expansive mood and loses pleasure in most activities. This results in a diminishing of functioning. The person might feel hopeless, guilty, think about suicide, experience a significant deviation in body weight or appetite, have issues sleeping, experience a rise or reduction in energy, lose impulse control, feel sad, euphoric or withdraw socially.

To be approved for SSD benefits for bipolar disorder, the applicant must meet the requirements in categories A and B or A and C in the Social Security Administration guidelines. For category A, the person must have three of the following: pressured speech, flight of ideas, inflation in self-esteem, a reduction in the need for sleep, be easily distracted, take part in activities that have a high chance of painful results, or have a rise in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.

U.S. Supreme Court decides on military retirement benefits case

Veterans, military members and their non-service member spouses who reside in or are stationed in Missouri and are getting a divorce will undoubtedly have questions about how their benefits will be allocated when the case is decided. Divorce issues are complicated, but when there is a dispute over military benefits, it is of greater difficulty. A case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court was decided and it will have an influence on how a military divorce and its benefits are handled.

The decision by the highest court in the land ruled that states are not allowed to increase the amount the former spouse will get out of the veteran's retirement pay to account for lost benefits that were part of a necessary waiver to get disability. The couple in question got divorced more than 25 years ago. The husband was a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force when he retired in 1992. They began getting retirement pay the year after and it was split as part of the divorce.

What parents should know before being deployed

While military action has not made major headlines in the last few weeks, overseas deployments still occur (and will continue to do so). If you are a single or newly divorced enlisted parent, you understand that you may be deployed again.  Because of this possibility, several things should be in order when you receive deployment orders.

This post will highlight a few of them. 

Aside from medical condition improvement, when can SSD stop?

St. Louis residents who are receiving disability benefits through Social Security will undoubtedly be aware that if their condition improves, the benefits will stop. This is a basic part of the federal regulations that the Social Security Administration follows with SSD benefits for illness, injury or any other issue. However, there are also other justifications the SSA can use to stop benefits and these too must be understood. When the SSA decides to stop benefits due to these other reasons, having legal help is vital to try and get them back if they are still warranted.

If a person has had vocational training, if there were advances in medical care and treatment to deal with their issues, or if there was an improvement in vocational technology, the benefits can be stopped. The SSA might stop benefits if there was a mistake in a previous decision to approve them or to continue them. In some instances, a claimant is accused of making false statements to receive an approval. If that is found to be the case, they can be stopped.

Alan E. DeWoskin, P.C.
225 South Meramec Avenue, Suite 426
St. Louis, MO 63105

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