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Atlanta Social Security Disability Law Blog

Inconsistencies plague hearings on SSD claims

With the wait time for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) hearing already averaging around 18 months in Georgia, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has delivered more bad news for those who have requested a hearing. Even once a claimant receives a hearing, they cannot count on their result being consistent with others in the same or similar circumstances. Such inconsistencies are yet another blemish on an already-struggling SSD claims system.

What sensory impairments qualify for SSD benefits?

An impairment of an individual's vision, hearing, or speech can be devastating. If such an impairment will inhibit the ability to work, an individual may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits. Social Security Disability Benefits will not replace all the income you lose from not working, but they can help relieve some of the financial pressures that such lost wages create.

In order for your sensory injury or impairment to qualify for SSD benefits, it must fall under the specific government guidelines for such injuries. The guidelines require certain thresholds of severity to be met before benefits will be granted. For example, statutory blindness requires vision that 20/200 or poorer in the best corrected eye. Medical proof of any sensory impairment will be required.

Get the benefits you deserve for your service-related injury

Although the process for initiating a claim for veteran's disability benefits has become quicker and more streamlined over the past decade, recent changes to the program now prevent veterans from applying for benefits before leaving their branch of service. Under the former "quick start" process, veterans could start the claim process if they had 59 days or fewer left to serve. The Department of Veterans Affairs phased out the "quick start" program in 2017.

The successor program is called "Decision Ready Claims." Under this new system, however, you can't initiate a claim until after you leave the service. Although the processing time for service-connected disability claims remains better than it was over a decade ago, these recent changes to the claims process create the potential for delays in getting you the financial and medical benefits you need and deserve.

Backlog slows Social Security Disability benefits

In Georgia, a worker with an injury or illness that will keep them out of work for a year or more can look to Social Security Disability Insurance for financial assistance. This federal program is funded by the U.S. workforce. However, a burgeoning backlog is preventing injured and ill workers from getting the financial assistance they need.

The initial application can take months to process. In 2016, for example, Social Security processing centers in the Southeast Region were taking almost three months to process applications. And, that is before the application is forwarded to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in the state where the applicant lives. DDS must then complete a disability determination before any benefits can be paid.

Time for processing veterans' injury claims improves

In 2007, before the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense rolled out their Integrated Disability Evaluation System, the average amount of time it took for a veteran's benefit application to be processed was well over a year -- 540 days. Thanks to the IDES and improved cooperation between VA and DoD, the average processing time for a claim has dropped to 250 days. This means veterans with a service-connected disability claim receive the financial and medical benefits they need much more quickly.

Another factor that helped improve the claim time was the implementation of a "quick start" process, which enabled service personnel to start a disability claim up to 59 days before leaving service. The VA phased out quick start in 2017, which raised concerns among veterans' groups like the VFW and American Legion. However, a new program called "Decision Ready Claims" will take its place.

When injury strikes, SSD benefits offer financial help

Readers may be surprised to learn that American workers have a 33 percent chance of suffering death or some form of disability before they are able to retire. Unfortunately, many workers have neither the savings nor the private disability insurance that would help offset the wages lost from their inability to work after such an injury. Social Security Disability Insurance is a government program that can help replace lost income in the event of a major injury or illness.

Social Security Disability is funded by tax-paying workers when they pay the Social Security tax on their income, so it is available to most American workers. However, not all injuries or illnesses will qualify for SSD benefits. There are certain medical requirements that must be met, such as the inability to work for more than a year. For those who do qualify for SSD benefits, though, the program can make a tremendous difference.

What bone injuries qualify for SSD benefits?

A broken bone, amputation, or spinal injury can be devastating. A person who suffers such an injurymay be unable to work, making it difficult to pay bills and make ends meet. If a bone-related injury prevents a person from working for at least a year, it may qualify the injured person for Social Security Disability Benefits, which will help make up for some of thelost wages and assist with other financial needs.

To receive SSDI benefits, a personmust have an injury or disorder that qualifies under governmentguidelines. A bone-related injury must prevent the person injuredfrom being able to work for at least a year. These include spinal disorders that compromise a nerve root or the spinal cord, such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, or a fractured vertebra.

Do mental illnesses qualify for Social Security benefits?

It is an unfortunate fact that all across Atlanta individuals suffer from diseases and disorders that no one else can see. While a physical condition such as paralysis may be witnessed by another person, medical issues such as bipolar disorder or depression may lay under the surface of the sufferer's appearance.

Mental illnesses can be debilitating and for this reason the Social Security Administration permits those who suffer from these conditions to receive disability benefits if their conditions meet certain requirements. The remainder of this post will discuss how the Social Security Administration evaluates mental illnesses but readers with specific questions are asked to discuss their cases with disability benefits attorneys.

Are veterans entitled to Social Security disability benefits?

Just recently this Georgia disability benefits and veterans' issues blog discussed the prevalence of American veterans who receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Disability benefits are available to those men and women who suffer from long-term illnesses and injuries that prevent them from earning sufficient incomes to meet their needs. Individuals who have served in the armed forces are often part of this population but may not be aware of their rights to pursue benefits.

American veterans should know what financial and benefits-based programs are available to them, and for this reason it can be helpful for them to consult with legal professionals that make it their priority to serve former members of the military. The lawyers of Rogers, Hofrichter & Karrh are honored to serve the legal needs of men and women who put their own lives on hold to protect our nation from threats both at home and abroad.

Many veterans receive Social Security disability benefits

Social Security disability benefits are a financial lifeline for millions of Americans who cannot work due to long-term debilitating illnesses and injuries. What Georgia residents may not know, though, is that there is a large subset of the disability benefits-receiving population who are former members of our nation's military. Disabled veterans do receive and can apply for Social Security disability benefits to help maintain their needs after their periods of service have ended.

In fact, according to the Office of Retirement Policy at the Social Security Administration, more than 9 million American veterans received disability benefits in 2016. While some of the veterans who received benefits during 2016 served during World War II, the majority of the veterans receiving assistance from the Social Security Administration were active during the Vietnam War.

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