Tuesday, December 5, 2017

SSDI Benefits Calculator

SSDI
If you are considering or are in the process of applying for social security disability insurance (SSDI), it’s likely you’ve have some questions about how much support you can expect. Being injured or becoming ill and no longer being able to work is a severe blow; fortunately, we all have access to benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The agency's various programs are designed to alleviate the burden of no longer being able to work.

After a cursory examination, you have probably gathered that you will not receive benefits comparable to what you made while working. You may have discovered that you might not get anything close to what you were making as part of the workforce. As you can probably imagine, there's a formula in place used by the SSA to determine an individual’s monthly benefit payments. There are several factors considered in calculating how much money beneficiaries will receive, including work income from previous employment and age.

If you are in the process of applying for SSDI benefits, you should know that your monthly payments could be much less than you made while being employed. In some cases, less than half or as much as 90 percent less than before, The Washington Post reports. We are not sharing this information to worry you, but everyone should be informed about what their SSDI payments will look like if approved. You should consider taking a moment to use a calculator that mimics what the SSA uses to do their calculations.


SSDI Calculator


The SSA looks at several factors, including elapsed years, computation years and average indexed monthly income (AIME). Those numbers are plugged into the SSA’s primary insurance amount (PIA) formula, which then delivers the benefit amount. Using the calculator will not give you the exact amount you can count on, just a rough estimate that can help you prepare for the future.

Those who already have an account with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can get a more accurate figure. For those who don’t, you can sign up for an online account profile or use the calculator, here. Please keep in mind that the calculator will make assumptions about certain things based off how people’s careers typically progress and evolve over the years, such specific considerations may not be entirely accurate or representative of one’s personal history.


SSDI Attorney


If your application for SSDI has been denied or you are applying for the first time, please contact the Driscoll Law Corporation. We will help you get through the process to ensure that you get the help you need.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SSA Needs Immediate Funding

SSDI
Taxpaying Americans expect certain protections when they are injured and cannot work, or reach a certain age. No person should be caught out in the cold when their life takes a turn for the worst which is why we have agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA). Aside from Social Security retirement benefits, the administration has many programs for people who are disabled, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Right now, over a million Americans are desperately awaiting aid from the SSA. Without assistance, individuals are at risk of severe consequences. Vulnerable people must be taken care of; they should not have to perish waiting for support. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening more often than you might think. Just over a week ago, The Washington Post published alarming findings regarding the Social Security disability backlog. Some people are waiting 596 days to receive a judge's disposition on obtaining benefits, Medicare, or Medicaid. In fact, the report showed that 10,000 people died waiting for a judge's decision.


SSA Needs Funding


In the United States, there are 1,600 Social Security administrative law judges charged with deciding the fate of over a million-people hoping to receive disability benefits. Given that the backlog continues to grow, the wait time for applicants only becomes lengthier. In 2012, the average wait time was 353 days, which seems long but paled in comparison to 2016.

To reduce the backlog and get people with disabilities the help they require, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called for Congress to fund the SSA adequately, according to a press release. In a recent WAPO opinion piece, Sen. Wyden wrote: 

“Congress has a chance to turn the tide and restore some functionality to the SSDI hearings process. Instead of harmful cuts, Congress should provide sufficient administrative funding in its upcoming appropriations bill so those who are eligible can receive disability insurance in a timely way. That’s why I’ve asked Senate leaders to make the necessary investments so the Social Security Administration can make case-management systems updates, ensure that the agency has enough evaluators and administrative law judges to process claims, and fulfill its obligations to those caught in the disability backlog.”

Americans shouldn't have to wait nearly two years to receive a judge's decision on benefits. So many things can go wrong during such a period, both physically and financially. The press release points out that SSA’s administrative budget has been cut by almost $460 million.


SSDI Attorney


If your application for SSDI was denied or you are applying for the first time, please contact the Driscoll Law Corporation. We can assist you in working through the process to ensure that you get the help you need in a timely fashion.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

SSA Lingo Worth Knowing

SSA
AIME, COLA, and OASDI are three acronyms that might not mean a thing to you, especially for those who’ve never dealt with the SSA (Social Security Administration). Even if you have sought assistance from the SSA, there is a good chance that you have found yourself scratching your head over the language used. The three acronyms above are some examples of what one may hear when discussing benefits with administration representatives.

The scale and scope of SSA terminology can be dizzying. A multitude of factors plays a part in determining one’s monthly benefits. If you are like most Americans, it’s unlikely you thought it prudent to become fluent in the language of the Social Security Administration.


SSA Glossary


In case you were curious, AIME stands for Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (i.e., the dollar amount used to calculate your Social Security benefit if you attained age 62 or became disabled). COLA is an acronym for Cost Of Living Adjustment which occurs when benefits are increased to match a rise in the cost-of-living (inflation). OASDI is short for Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance, or programs that provide monthly cash benefits to workers and their dependents when they retire, die or become disabled.

Those acronyms are just three examples, there are many more, and we chose those above randomly to give you an idea of what you may hear when applying for benefits. Understanding the lingo of Social Security puts one at an advantage when having conversations about benefits. Instead of feeling like a bystander in the effort to have more significant financial security, you can be an active participant if you know the vernacular.

If you are approaching retirement age or are of retirement age, the SSA suggests knowing particular terms. For instance, PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age), and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) are acronyms which should be in your vocabulary. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has provided a glossary of Social Security terms to help you take part in the conversation about your benefits.


SSA Disability Attorney


While apprising yourself of Social Security language is beneficial for understanding the process, we would be remiss for failing to point out that the benefits process can get complicated. Not everyone who applies is approved, you may find yourself having to fight for financial security. If you are applying for the first time or were denied, please contact attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll for a free consultation.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Social Security and SSI Increases 2018

SSI
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is gearing up to begin paying more to beneficiaries in the coming months. Starting in January 2018, a 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will impact more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries. Americans who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will see an increase in their payments as well. The SSI benefits increase takes effect on Dec. 29. 2017, affecting more than 8 million people. Some Americans will benefit from both Social Security and SSI increases.

People who rely on Social Security and SSI will see a 2 percent increase as we make the transition into 2018, Disability Scoop reports. This is the most significant benefit increase since 2012 when recipients saw a 3.6 percent jump and the third-biggest increase since 2009.

Why The Sudden Increase in Benefits?


Every time inflation rises in the United States an automatic cost-of-living adjustment is calculated, by law. The Administration ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index set by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’d like to learn more on how the COLA is calculated, please click here. While the increase may not appear to be all that significant, the extra money will add up over time, giving millions of Americans greater financial security. The average retired worker will receive an extra $27 per month, for instance:
  • In 2017, the maximum federal SSI payment for individuals was $735; in 2018 that number will rise to $750 per month.
  • This year couples received a maximum $1,103 per month, in 2018 that number will go up to $1,125.
  • The ceiling on earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $128,700 from $127,200.
It’s worth pointing out that Medicare recipients who have their Plan B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security may not benefit from the increase, Fortune reports. The “hold harmless clause” is a rule that ensures that Part B monthly premiums don’t rise at a faster pace than Social Security’s COLA. Information on changes to Medicare in 2018 resides here.


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

SSI Lawyer


If you are applying for or were denied Supplemental Security Income, please contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll. At the Driscoll Law Corporation, we can help you navigate the ins-and-outs of Social Security and give you the best chance at receiving the benefits you require.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Social Security Representative Payee Program

representative payees
Social Security is the saving grace of most Americans of retirement age. Without such benefits, getting through one’s golden years would be even more trying than it already is in America. Those who reach the age of collecting Social Security are eligible to receive monthly checks of varying amounts. Naturally, it’s generally not a lot of money, but it is usually enough to make all the difference.

If budgeted in a sound manner, Social Security Administration benefits can go a long way. But, what if a recipient is not of sound mind? As you can probably imagine, there are a number of things that can go wrong. Before we proceed with this article, please keep in mind: A half million retirees have what are known as “representative payees.” Which is only 1.5% of SSA retirees. But, researchers Geoffrey Sanzenbacher and Anek Belbase of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, contend that an estimated 10% or so of retirees have dementia, Forbes reports. Recently, the two published a study on the Representative Payee Program.

If the research is accurate, that is a lot of Americans who probably should not have control over their benefits. You are probably wondering how this can be the case? The answer is that most people don’t know about the existence of the SSA Representative Payee program.

“People don’t know about the Representative Payee program,” said Sanzenbacher. “It’s one reason they don’t use it more.”


Managing SSA Benefits


Perhaps the most troubling facet of this story is that in 1939 Congress granted the SSA authority to appoint “representative payees,” according to the article. Said payees, who are not government employees, manage the benefits of beneficiaries unable to manage their finances on their own. Representative Payees decide how to spend a beneficiary’s Social Security income and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and are required to keep records of how the money is spent. Naturally, to deter against elder abuse.

“Representative Payee can be a wonderful tool particularly for a person whose assets are only Social Security benefits,” says Marit Anne Peterson, program director at the Minnesota Elder Justice Center in St. Paul, Minn. 

The study had some promising findings, indicating that when a Payee is not utilized, one’s family usually steps up to manage finances. However, family is not always a reliable resource to depend on, or are no longer living with the beneficiary. In other cases, getting control of another person’s finances can be extremely tricky, even if they are your family. What’s more, family members may not be in a position to oversee the finances of their mother or father. If you have a loved one with dementia, you should take a look at the Social Security Representative Payee program.

“The people with dementia may be better off with a family member, but clearly the family member is worse off,” says Joseph Gaugler, long-term care professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota. “We clearly rely very heavily on families to provide extreme support. How long can we rely on this system?”


Help With Social Security Benefits


Making sense of the minute details of Social Security can be extremely difficult. At the Driscoll Law Corporation, we can help you or a loved one. Please contact us today.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Compassionate Allowances Expanded

compassionate allowancesToward the beginning of summer, we covered the important topic of Compassionate Allowances. This is the Social Security Administration's (SSA) method for fast tracking benefits for people with certain debilitating conditions. It should go without saying that Compassionate Allowances can prove to be real “life savers” for a significant number of individuals who would otherwise be subjected to the often-lengthy benefits approval process.

With any serious, chronic health ailment there is little time to juggle priorities: healthcare versus livelihood. If favorable outcomes are to be achieved, treatment must begin with haste. When it comes to cancer, that usually takes the form of chemotherapy and/or radiation. The side effects of which make it next to impossible to work, and unless an individual is financially secure, this can present a real problem.

If you or a loved one has limited resources, the SAA will likely be who one turns to. The benefits programs like, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can make all the difference. After a medical diagnosis is made, there should be no reason for making someone jump through the many hoops of the approval process. The same obstacles that people with less serious conditions are required to jump through.


From Diagnosis to Benefits


Compassionate Allowances have helped nearly a half-million Americans with life threatening disabilities, according to the SSA. As of right now, the number of conditions that fall under the umbrella of Compassionate Allowances is 228. The agency recently added to the list: CACH--Vanishing White Matter Disease-Infantile and Childhood Onset Forms, Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, and Kleefstra Syndrome.

“Social Security is committed – now and in the future – to continue to identify and fast-track diseases that are certain or near-certain to be approved for disability benefits,” said Acting SSA Commissioner, Nancy A. Berryhill. “The Compassionate Allowances and Health IT programs are making a real difference by ensuring that Americans with disabilities quickly receive the benefits they need.” 

If you have been diagnosed with a serious illness recently, you can find a list of list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, here.


SSA Help


Attorney Stephanie M. Driscoll is committed to helping people with disabilities get the assistance that they require. The process is often difficult to understand and navigate. At the Driscoll Law Corporation, we can help you, if you are applying for the first time, or have been denied benefits. Please contact us today.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

SSA Benefits Access During Disasters

SSAIn the wake of serious flooding of catastrophic proportions there are likely to be thousands of people in Texas and Louisiana who are unable to access their mail. When it comes to receiving monthly bills, there are a number of people who might welcome such an occurrence. On the other hand, if you are awaiting monthly benefit checks, being unable to access your mail is likely to cause some serious stress.

Thousands of Americans have been displaced due to the torrential flooding of Hurricane Harvey. A traumatic experience, to say the least. For those who rely on monthly benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration (SSA), being unable to get your check is big deal. Fortunately, the SSA is prepared for these kinds of events and those who can’t get their mail have options.

Accessing Social Security Benefits


In most cases, SSA payments are made on the first of every month. For those living on Gulf Coast, September 1st has come and gone. Which means many benefit recipients may not have been able to get their check. The SSA has resources available for those impacted.

Hurricane Harvey resulted in mail delivery services being suspended in the Houston area, according to the agency. As a result, many postal centers were shuttered, as well. If you were unable to get your check(s), there is a list of Post Office locations where recipients can pick up checks with proper ID.

People who would like to pick up their checks in person can go to any one of three emergency payment locations in Texas and two in Louisiana. Beneficiaries can request an immediate payment in person at such locations, to find the locations please click here.

SSA In Times of Disaster


If you are a regular reader of this blog you are probably aware that our practice is in Southern California. Quite a distance from the Houston area and the neighboring areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. However, natural disasters can occur anywhere, including California. As we speak, wildfires are burning all over the state of California. This means that many people have been forced to abandon their homes to head for safety. If you are one of the many affected Californians, you can get information on how to get benefits by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or go to the SSA Office Locator.

At the Driscoll Law Corporation, our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by America’s current natural disasters. For those who are trying to access SSA benefits for the first time, or have been denied benefits, there are always options, but the process can be long and involved. If that is your story, please let Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll advocate for you or a loved one.