83 Percent of Americans Support Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

November 2nd, 2012

A recent poll conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies found that the majority of likely American voters (83 percent), support Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

These same likely voters believe that “Congress should target other areas of the government when proposing cuts to balance the federal budget.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Poll: Overwhelming Majority of American Voters Support Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits Program, Blog Post, October 11, 2012.

“The findings are clear and bipartisan – Americans overwhelmingly support Disability Insurance,” said Stefan Hankin, President of Lincoln Park Strategies. “To cut to the chase, my recommendation to elected leaders in either party is that attacking SSDI is a mistake.”

As a Social Security Disability Attorney, I am glad to hear that the majority of American people understand the important assistance SSDI provides the people of our country. These poll results are so paramount especially since the SSDI program has been under attack lately regarding its diminishing trust fund.

Poll Results:

  • 83% of voters – including 75% of Republicans – agree it would be unfair to cut SSDI benefits to working Americans who have paid into SSDI.
  • 80% of survey respondents support the SSDI benefits program.
  • Only 8% of voters polled believe SSDI should be cut.
  • 77% of those polled agree that Congress should focus on programs other than SSDI to make budget cuts.
  • 73% support SSDI program after hearing allegations that the program is another government handout program.

About the Poll:

The poll sampled 1,000 adult Americans (471 men were surveyed, 530 women) who were interviewed by telephone from September 29 – October 2, 2012. The error margin for this random probability sample is +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level. That is to say, if this survey were replicated, the aggregate results would be within this margin in 19 out of 20 cases. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline and mobile telephones.

Do you agree with the poll results? Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

Why is the Disability Insurance Trust Fund Diminishing?

October 9th, 2012

With the recent attacks against the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program and the reason for its diminishing funds, I wanted to make sure I help explain why the DI Trust fund will be insolvent by 2016.

Social Security policymakers have explained that the rise in federal disability insurance beneficiaries stems mostly from demographic factors, including the aging U.S. population, the growth in women’s employment, and the rising retirement age.

Let’s take a closer look at each demographic factor to hopefully shed some light on what is happening to the Trust Fund (the following demographic factors and information provided was pulled from the following article on Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

  • “Baby boomers have aged into their high-disability years. Aging takes a toll on many workers’ bodies and minds long before retirement age. People are roughly twice as likely to be disabled at age 50 as at age 40, and twice as likely to be disabled at age 60 as at age 50. As the baby boomers – the huge cohort of people born between 1946 and 1964 – have grown older, the number of disability cases has risen substantially.” (Social Security Disability Insurance is Vital to Workers With Severe Impairments, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 9, 2012).
  • “More women have qualified for disability benefits. In general, workers with severe impairments can get disability benefits only if they have worked for at least one-fourth of their adult life and for five of the last ten years. Until women joined the workforce in significantly greater numbers in the 1970s and 1980s, relatively few women met those tests; as recently as 1990, male disabled workers outnumbered women by nearly 2 to 1. Now that more women have worked long enough to qualify for disability benefits, the ratio has fallen to 1.1 to 1. This has been a large factor behind the increase in the number of DI beneficiaries.” (Social Security Disability Insurance is Vital to Workers With Severe Impairments, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 9, 2012).
  • “Social Security’s full retirement age rose from 65 to 66. When disabled workers reach full retirement age, they begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits rather than disability benefits. The increase in the retirement age has delayed that conversion for many workers. In December 2011, more than 400,000 people between 65 and 66 – nearly 5 percent of all DI beneficiaries – collected disabled-worker benefits; under the rules in place a decade ago, they would have been receiving retirement benefits instead.” (Social Security Disability Insurance is Vital to Workers With Severe Impairments, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 9, 2012).

What are your thoughts on the DI Trust Fund? What do you think we should be doing as a country to change the 2016 outcome? Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

National Ranking Report on ODAR Processing Times

February 29th, 2012

The table below lists the national ranking order for each Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). This chart will give you a better idea of how long your disability claim will take to process depending on which city you file in.

(Click on the image to view it in a larger format)

Are you surprised by any of the disability claim processing times?

Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

Judge Identity Removed From Hearing Notices

January 26th, 2012

Effective December 19, 2011, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) instituted a new policy that the identity of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to each claimant’s case would not be disclosed to claimants or their disability representatives until the time of the actual hearing.

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) released the following response to the new policy, “We are acutely aware of the negative impact this policy change will have on claimants and the ability their representatives to represent them, as well as the serious disruption it will cause in the day-to-day operation of the local ODAR offices.”

As a Social Security Disability attorney I agree with the NOSSCR. In my opinion, no one wins—not the attorneys, not the judges, and definitely not the claimants. I say this because, each judge may have certain likes or dislikes that the attorney can prepare for beforehand.

For example, some judges might need a representative to set aside more time for them, some need arguments written in advance, and some want specific presentations to be made. Now, there is no way to help the process along.

I want to also point out that this policy change is unlike any other in our democratic judicial system. Claimants have the right to prepare and present evidence supporting their claim, but this policy changes makes it impossible for them to fully prepare. It also seems that this policy might be inconsistent with SSA’s regulations. Unfortunately, only time will tell if this policy is overturned.

What are your thoughts about the new policy change? How will it affect you and your disability claim? Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

2010 Disabled Worker Awards

December 20th, 2011

The SSA Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program for 2010 was recently released. This report supplies statistical information on which diagnostic groups were awarded Social Security Disability Insurance during 2010.

In 2010, 1,026,988 disabled workers were awarded benefits. Among those awardees, the most common impairment was diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (32.5 percent), followed by mental disorders (21.4 percent), circulatory problems (10.2 percent), neoplasms, (9.0 percent), and diseases of the nervous system and sense organs (8.2 percent). The remaining 18.7 percent of awardees had other impairments.

 

Click on image to enlarge.

Source: SSA Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2010.

What are your thoughts about the diagnostic groups that were awarded benefits in 2010? Did your diagnostic group receive benefits? Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

Payroll Tax Cuts and the Social Security Trust Fund

November 17th, 2011

Most of you have probably noticed an increase in your take-home pay because your Social Security with-holdings are much less than they have been in previous years. In fact, they are 2% less than they were last year.

This 2011 tax reduction is part of the American Jobs Act (AJA) that President Obama proposed to stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Before this year, employees and employers each paid 6.2% of taxable payroll. However, the payroll tax cut passed in December 2010 provides that the employees pay only 4.2% in 2011. The employer’s tax rate remains at 6.2%. Payroll contributions under FICA (the Federal Income Contributions Act) fund the Social Security Trust Fund.

Now you may be wondering how we are making up for the loss in Social Security revenue. The legislation provided that the Trust Fund will receive all revenues it would otherwise receive through a transfer from the federal budget’s General Fund.

While the Social Security Trust Fund will not lose any revenue under the 2011 employee payroll tax cut or the proposals in the AJA, you can imagine that the long-term probability of reinstating the employee tax rate to, at a minimum, 6.2% is uncertain. Understandably, workers get used to the increase in take-home pay and some Members of Congress have pledged to never increase taxes.

So for right now, we can all enjoy the tax reduction, but understand that there is a possibility that the tax rate will be reinstated in the years to come.

What are your thoughts about this new payroll tax cut? Are you enjoying the increase in your take-home pay? Please leave your comment in my comments section, or on my Facebook wall.

What Are Your Current Social Security Claim Appeal Rights?

September 13th, 2011

There have been a few changes lately to your rights to appeal a disability claim. Below I clarify exactly what these changes are and how they will affect you.

Social Security Ruling 11-1p

Procedures for Handling Requests to File Subsequent Applications for Disability Benefits

Change and how it affects you:

This ruling deals with your appeal rights after being denied by the Administrative Law Judge. Up until now you could appeal to the Appeals Council and then file a new disability application as well. Now, you have to choose whether you want to appeal to the Appeals Council or want to file a new application. You can no longer do both.

If you appeal to the Appeals Council: if remanded you have a hearing before the same judge you had before (it comes back two times to the same judge and then it is reassigned to a new judge).

If you choose to file a new claim: your disability will not start until after the date of your Administrative Law Judge decision. That can make a difference if you have not worked for a while because you may not be able to file Title II benefits.

As a Utah disability attorney, my personal opinion is that this new ruling takes rights away from the claimant. My hope is that Social Security will rethink their position, but it is likely that this is the new choice all of us need to make when it comes to making an appeal.

What are your thoughts about this new social security ruling? How can Giles Disability Law help?

Social Security Administration Closes Temporary Remote Hearing Sites Across the Nation

August 8th, 2011

-Why this Affects You-

In April 2011, Congress passed a budget for the federal government, giving the Social Security Administration (SSA) $1.25 million less than the previous year, making it necessary for the SSA to close 160 remote hearing sites across the Unites States.

This will affect residents across the nation, requiring those living in remote towns and smaller cities to travel to larger cities for their social security disability hearings. For example, the Utah and Idaho sites that are being closed include St. George, Cedar City, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. This means that all Utah and Southern Idaho social security claimants must travel to Salt Lake City for their hearings.

Here at Giles Disability Law, we are concerned about the temporary hearing sites closing because we understand that many of our clients have serious physical difficulties that limit their ability to ride in a car for long periods of time, not to mention the financial hardships that traveling extending distances would incur on them. We are also concerned because there is already a shortage of hearing sites and the ones that are open have a significant backlog of disability cases waiting to be heard.

However, SSA is offering a solution to site closures; video hearings will be offered at field offices where they can afford to do so, and attorneys, such as me have the option of conducting hearings from our own offices.

We are happy about this addition, although it is important for you to know that SSA is required to offer claimants the opportunity to have their hearing in person. We want you to also know that as of right now, the SSA will reimburse claimants who are required to travel more than 75 miles to a video hearing site or the hearing office that is selected.

Where do we go from here? The outlook for 2012 doesn’t look much brighter for the SSA budget, although there could be potential for temporary sites to be reopened in the following years, but for now we will just have to endure the inconvenience of these site closings.

How do you feel? We want to hear about how temporary hearing site closings will affect you. How can Giles Disability Law help?

Welcome!

July 27th, 2011

Hi, I want to introduce myself, I am Wayne Giles and I own Giles Disability Law. Welcome to my blog.

I am a social security lawyer with more than 15 years of experience working within the Social Security system. I help people get the social security they deserve. Click here to learn more about my social security experience.

I created this monthly blog as a way to keep my clients, potential clients and those looking for social security help, informed about the latest social security happenings. We understand the importance of staying up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations so that we can help our clients.

For example, did you know?

  • If you have been unable to work for 12 consecutive months, or more, it is possible you could qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
  • To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits for your child with disabilities, you and your family must fall within a certain income and resource limitation.
  • If you are 60 years old, you can collect benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record.
  • Dependent children under age 16 may also be eligible for benefits on the deceased spouse’s Social Security record.

Thanks for stopping by, I look forward to sharing my expertise with you! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section, I would be happy to answer them for you.