Monday, August 29, 2016

State Grant Will Help Disabled New Yorkers Fight for Benefits

Denial rates of Social Security Disability claims is at one of its highest points in history.  It is common for some administrative law judges (ALJ's) to approve only 25% to 30% of the cases that they hear.  Due to the high odds of loosing a Social Security Disability case, many disabled claimants are going through the system unrepresented.  This lack of legal representation has lead to many abuses within the system particularly against individuals who are indigent and suffer from intellectual limitations and mental illness. 
Fortunately, the State of New York has announced a $8.2 million grant to assist claimants in the pursuit of benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance and other similar Federal programs.  Commissioner Samuel Roberts of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance of the State of New York is pleased with the results that the "Disability Advocacy Program" has brought to New Yorkers.  From July 2014 to July 2015 approximately $17 million in benefits were generated for disabled recipients.
Several great non-profit legal legal advocacy organizations are currently participating in this grant. Here is a partial list of the organizations:
  • Legal Services NYC has received $2.29 million -  the largest amount.
  • The Empire Justice Center will provide services in 13 western New York counties.  They will also administer the statewide advocacy program.  The total grant of this organization is $1 million.
  • The Urban Justice Center will receive $819,189
  • New York Legal Assistance Group $794,528
  • Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee  $676,858
  • Legal Aid Society if Mid-New York $628,522
  • Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York $619,023
  • Legal Services of the Hudson Valley $558,493
  • Meighbohood Legal Services $526,371
  • Erie County Department of Social Services $162,242
  • Legal Aid Society of Rockland County $105,323


Monday, August 8, 2016

Social Security Disability Insurance Marks its 60th Birthday!

On August 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) into law.  President Eisenhower stated at the time of signing: "I am hopeful that the new law... will advance the economic security of the American people".  Sixty years later, SSDI has provided injured and disabled workers with a safety net for their economic stability.  
We must all do more to educate the public about the importance of Social Security Disability Insurance.  Please share my blogs and social media posts.  With a backlog of more than a million cases, the Social Security Disability programs need your support more than ever.  
Public opinion polls show a strong support for SSDI.  Nearly nine in ten American's have expressed their support for the program.  (See poll results here.)  Nonetheless, over the past two years a strong minority of ultra conservatives such as Sen. Tom Coburn and Sen. Tom Cotton have done everything possible to undermine the program.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bill Establishing Time Limits for SSDI Payments Likely to Fail

Republican Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative J. French Hill (R-AR - 2) are pushing a piece of legislation that would set time limits for Social Security Disability payments.  This bill hasn't received much support.  The proposed bill called "Social Security Disability Return to Work Act of 2016" establishes four categories in which beneficiaries can be placed.  Each category sets a different durational period for the payment of benefits.  

The four categories are:

  1. "Medical Improvement Expected" (MIE)- Under this category benefits would end at the 23rd month of benefits.
  2. "Medical Improvement Likely" (MIL) - Under this category benefits would end at the 59th month of benefits.
  3. "Medical Improvement Possible" (MIP) - Under this category the claimant would have to undergo a Continuing Disability Review ("CDR") after five years.
  4. "Medical Improvement Not Expected" (MINE) - Under this category the claimant would have to undergo a Continuing Disability Review ("CDR") after ten years.
The proposed legislation does not allow claimants to appeal the category that they are placed in.   The bill also provides a benefit offset for individuals who are placed on the MIE and the MIL categories. Earnings above the Substantial Gainful Activity level would result in $1 reduction in benefits for every $2 earned.

Fortunately, no action has been taken on these bills and this Congress will probably never act on this initiative.