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In an ideal world, all of us would be physically and mentally able to work until we decided it was time to retire. In the real world however, many people's careers are cut short due to unexpected injuries. Some of these injuries are so severe that the employees are never able to return to the jobs they used to have.

Employees in Georgia and throughout the United States who suffer injuries before retirement age may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits, and can apply for them through the Social Security Administration's website. However, receiving Social security disability benefits for injury is rarely as simple as submitting an application and getting approval. In fact, many disability claims are initially denied for various reasons. Sometimes disability benefits are denied due to the applicant's failure to include all necessary documentation or due to a lack of information proving your disability. The back-and-forth process between you and the SSA can be time-consuming and overwhelming, particularly if you are focused on your recovery. The attorneys at Rogers, Hofrichter & Karrh, LLC, understand the difficulties that come with applying for SSD benefits.

Am I entitled to my deceased spouse's Social Security benefits?

Losing your spouse can be one of the most difficult things you ever have to go through. In additional to the emotional devastation, many people in Georgia whose spouses have passed away find themselves struggling to support themselves and their families financially. According to the Social Security Administration, you may be entitled to survivor's benefits based on your deceased spouse's Social Security record, which may ease some of your financial burdens as you go through the grieving process.

Generally, to qualify for your survivor's benefits, you must have been married for at least 10 years. However, there are exceptions. The SSA will determine whether to transfer your spouse's disability payments to you by evaluating a number of factors.

Applying for SSD benefits as a veteran

When one thinks of a veteran, the word "hero" comes to mind. Veterans have made great efforts to protect our country and some suffered devastating injuries in the process. Veterans may receive benefits for their service, but in many cases, these benefits are not nearly enough . Fortunately, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be available to those who have suffered war-related injuries. The Social Security program is separate from the VA disability compensation program, so any VA compensation does not affect SSD benefits.

Georgia veterans can apply for SSD benefits by completing an online application, calling a toll-free number or visiting their local Social Security office. Unlike Veteran's benefits, the SSD program does not generally provide benefits on a temporary or partial basis.

You may be able to work while receiving disability benefits

If a Georgian has an injury or illness keeping them out of work, they may receive Social Security Disability benefits for financial support. Many people worry that once they start receiving benefits, they must stay out of the workforce forever. However, applying for these benefits does not mean that one must stop working long-term. In fact, the disability benefits program is designed to help recipients get back to work, once medically able.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) Ticket to Work program gives people who are receiving disability benefits the chance to get back to work without risking their benefits. There are over 600 employment networks in the U.S. offering free support services to help disability recipients. Some of these services include speaking with employers regarding accommodations, helping recipients improve their stamina and energy and assisting with the SSA's reporting processes.

My claim for disability benefits was denied. What should I do?

Hundreds of Georgia residents file for disability benefits each year, but unfortunately, many of these claims are denied. Claimants who have been denied often give up on the idea of receiving Social Security Disability benefits and accept the Social Security Administration's decision. However, this is a huge mistake, as many claimants who appeal their denials end up receiving the disability benefits they deserve.

First, one can request an appeal, generally, within 60 days. The appeals process often begins with a request for reconsideration to have the claim reviewed by a new reviewer, with additional evidence for consideration. The reviewer will consider this new evidence, along with the original evidence.

What evidence does my examiner need to review my claim?

Many Georgia residents suffer from injuries or illnesses that interfere with their ability to work. Fortunately, many people receive Social Security Disability benefits by qualifying under the criteria in the Social Security Administration's "Listing of Impairments" or based on the medical-vocational guidelines.

If you decide to apply for benefits, a claims examiner will review your application and determine whether you are eligible for benefits. In order to review your disability claim, the examiner will require detailed medical evidence to prove your need for benefits. First, you will need to provide detailed medical records that show that you have an impairment and that the impairment is severe enough to affect your ability to work. Your examiner will likely be interested in your daily activities, the symptoms you are experiencing, the medications and treatments you receive, and any other information relating to your condition and ability to function in the workplace.

New updates for Georgia veterans

Veterans in Georgia and throughout the United States saw a lot of changes occur at the Department of Veterans Affairs and in Congress over the past couple of weeks. While their ultimate effect on veterans benefits and services remains to be seen, the changes represent movement in a bureaucracy often known for its glacial swiftness. The hope is that more veterans will ultimately receive the services and benefits they need more quickly and efficiently.

The first major event was that Robert Wilkie - the White House's nominee for VA secretary - had a successful hearing before the Senate Committee of Veterans' Affairs last week. This is good news for the agency and the veterans who rely on it. The administration fired the previous secretary, David Shulkin, in March amid a scandal. The nominee to replace Shulkin withdrew after allegations about his behavior and charges of professional misconduct were levied against him. Crossing this initial hurdle is a major step for Wilkie.

Is it good news that the SSA is getting fewer SSDI applications?

Claims for Social Security Disability Insurance in Georgia and elsewhere have been on the rise for nearly two decades. This has put considerable pressure on the Social Security Disability Insurance program's ability to deliver services and benefits to the claimants who need them. Moreover, it led to a rapid depletion of the funds earmarked to pay those benefits - funds withheld from workers' wages by the federal government.

According to the New York Times, however, applications for SSDI have decreased sharply. This could have several positive effects on the program. First of all, the continued decline in applications could mean that the delays in claims processing and hearings that current claimants are experiencing could be greatly reduced. The drop off in applications has also caused the Social Security Administration to revise its estimates as to when the program will become insolvent.

How much longer can the SSDI program survive?

In Georgia and across the United States, workers have spent much of their lives paying into a program that is designed to protect them if they become sick or disabled and can no longer work. Worker contributions to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program are held in a trust fund that is separate from the fund for retirement benefits, known as Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). Unfortunately, both trust funds are in danger of insolvency unless something is done quickly.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued its annual report and unfortunately, when it comes to trust fund solvency, little has changed since the previous year. Often the report's projections add more time to the projected insolvency dates from year to year, but that is not the case with the current report. This means that current and future recipients of Social Security Disability, Retirement and Survivors benefits are one year closer to seeing a reduction in or loss of such benefits.

New law expands health care options for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the largest agencies in the United States government and is charged with overseeing the myriad benefits, including health care and financial assistance, that those who have served in the U.S. military services have earned. Unfortunately, as the number of vets has grown in recent years - due largely to actions in Afghanistan and Iraq - the agency has struggled with delivering VA benefits to the vets that are entitled to receive them. At the same time, VA has undergone a crisis of leadership with no current secretary yet confirmed after the previous VA secretary was fired in March.

It appears, however, that the embattled agency may have received a much-needed boost. Last week, the White House signed off on an overhaul of VA that had passed both chambers of Congress with considerable support from both sides of the aisle. USA Today reported that the VA Mission Act directs the agency to merge several private care programs in order to enlarge the opportunities vets have to seek private health care.


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Our founding partners each have more than 20 years of experience in disability law, and they have a high success rate in administrative appeals and litigation in SSDI, workers' comp and long-term disability claims involving ERISA. Contact our Atlanta office today to discuss your needs.

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