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Atlanta Social Security Disability Law Blog

What if my injury was my fault?

As human beings, we all make mistakes, usually several times a day. While oftentimes these mistakes are relatively minor errors that cause little more than embarrassment or an inconvenience, on some occasions, our mistakes have serious consequences.

For instance, not paying attention on the road or missing an important safety step while on the job can leave a resident of Fayette County, Georgia, severely injured. Depending on the injury, the person may not be able to return to work ever again.

Can I get Social Security Disability and workers' compensation?

Many people in Fayetteville and other parts of the Atlanta area get hurt at work. Should this happen, injured Georgia workers may find themselves facing medical expenses and loss of income. The loss of income can be particularly troubling if injuries leave the worker permanently disabled.

While qualifying for each program involves a separate process and unique eligibility requirements, an injured Georgia worker can get both Social Security Disability benefits from the federal Social Security Administration and benefits through the state's workers' compensation program.

What is a herniated disk?

A herniated disk is a type of back injury that can leave a person in serious and chronic pain. In severe cases, a herniated disk can lead to numbness, a loss of sensation in one's core and problems going to the bathroom.

While many residents of the Atlanta area are blessed not enough not to experience symptoms of a herniated disk, for others, the condition is debilitating.

Can I get Social Security Disability and workers' compensation?

After an injury at work, Georgia workers may find themselves needing medical treatment and also replacement income. This is particularly true if injuries leave the worker permanently disabled.

While qualifying for each program involves a separate process and unique eligibility requirements, an injured Georgia worker can get both Social Security Disability benefits from the federal Social Security Administration and benefits through the state's workers' compensation program.

Veterans' disability system changes proposed

There have been criticisms that the number and complexity of medical examinations and costs in the veterans' disability system are excessive. To combat this, the federal government has proposed a series of reforms in the President's 2020 budget that would revise medical examinations for veterans benefits.

Administration officials referred to court rulings on the veteran disability finding that the Veterans' Administration medical standards exceed the legal evidence required to show eligibility. The VA estimated that that there were over 180,000 unnecessary medical appointments in 2016 and 210,000 in 2017, which were a small but significant part of its workload.

VA may not fight appeal of Navy veterans' benefits

Awarding benefits for war-related injuries is not always assured. Thousands of navy veterans are ineligible for veterans benefits for any disability from their exposure to chemical defoliants used in the Vietnam War, which have been associated with serious and rare cancers. However, the Department of Veterans' Affairs does not recommend appealing a federal court ruling awarding disability benefits to veterans who claim exposure to these chemicals during ship deployments off Vietnam's coast.

Under current VA rules, an estimated 90,000 veterans who served in the blue water navy may receive medical care for their illnesses through the VA. However, before they are eligible for disability benefits, which amount to several thousands of dollars each month, they must prove that their ailments are directly connected to their exposure to hazardous toxins while they were on active duty.

How high are SSDI benefits?

SSDI benefits may be a vital lifeline for disabled workers. On average, the monthly Social Security Disability Insurance benefit is $1,234 in Jan. 2019. However, beneficiaries may receive a monthly benefit that is less or more than this amount. Benefits are calculated on a worker's average lifetime earnings. Payments are not based on household income or the severity of the disability.

A worker should apply for benefits as soon as they become disabled. There is a mandatory five month waiting period after the disability began before benefits are paid. The application process can last three to five months. SSD benefits come from a worker's mandatory payroll deductions. For eligibility, a worker must have worked a specified time in employment governed by Social Security.

New rules complicate SSDI hearings

The Social Security Disability eligibility process may be complicated, but new federal regulations issued over the last two years have also added complexity to seeking SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration imposed requirements that evidence must be submitted within at least five days before a hearing or the administrative law judge must be notified of that evidence within that time. ALJs may refuse to consider evidence that was not submitted before this deadline. Some ALJs may not consider any late evidence unless there was good cause for missing this deadline, but there are no rules defining good cause.

Important evidence may be disregarded. This rule has also presented problems for claimants with disabilities involving mental limitations, which may prevent them from timely providing information about their medical providers. Additionally, claimants frequently have additional medical records because of their ongoing care.

What if I need a special examination for my SSD benefits claim?

For Georgia residents who are seeking Social Security disability benefits, cases will be decided based on the evidence presented. That includes the medical evidence. However, some cases require more information so an informed and fair decision can be made. This is when a special examination might be needed. Understanding the circumstances under which this will be requested and what it means is an important factor in a case.

This examination will only be done so the Disability Determination Services (DDS) in the state can have as much information as possible. DDS is responsible for making the decision as to whether the SSD benefits application should be approved or not. The Social Security Administration relies on DDS for this purpose. The special examination is not a punishment, nor is it a signal that the case is going to be denied. It simply means the DDS needs more information.

New proposal in progress to monitor SSD recipients' social media

While a majority of people receiving Social Security disability benefits are honest and forthcoming about their medical conditions and their inability to work, there are some people who take advantage of the system by exaggerating their injuries to collect benefits they don't really need. The Trump Administration is working with SSA officials to put a stop to these fraudulent disability claims with a new proposal that would let officials monitor SSD recipients' social media accounts.

As of now, the SSA does not usually look at Social Security disability recipients' social media, but if someone's case is flagged for possible fraud, the SSA may look at social media to confirm information they have collected. By monitoring social media proactively, the SSA will essentially be able to see whether recipients are telling the full truth about their injuries and conditions. For example, a person may be claiming that their back injury prevents them from working, but at the same time, they are posting photos of themselves playing sports or lifting heavy items.

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