Saturday, March 26, 2016

Increase In Children Receiving SSI

Over the past 5 years, the number of children receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits has dramatically increased. According to reports, the number of children receiving SSI benefits has increased over an even longer period of time.

Between 1998 and 2013, the number of children receiving benefits increased 45% so as to include 1.8% of all children in the United States. However, the total percentage of children in poverty has also increased during the same time period, thereby increasing the number of children eligible for SSI benefits.

Many of the children receiving benefits suffer from mental disorders, including ADHD and autism. Children with speech and language disorders constitute about .31% of child SSI beneficiaries, which is a nearly three-fold increase over the past 10 years or so. All told, approximately 1.3 million children with a severe disability receive financial aid from SSI.

According to a report this month from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, the government has concerns that the SSI program is vulnerable to fraud. Specifically, the report focuses on families with multiple children who receive SSI benefits as a target for potential abuse of the program.

The Social Security Administration has recently publicized its concerns about fraud and abuse of the SSI and SSDI programs. However, SSI and SSDI programs are primarily utilized by legitimate beneficiaries who depend on the income for vital economic support. Losing benefits or being denied benefits can be severely detrimental to a family or child’s well being.

If you or someone you know is applying for SSI or SSDI, or has been rejected for SSI or SSDI, contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll in Southern California online or at 949-359-1370 for a free consultation.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Possible Increased Scrutiny of SSDI Applications

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides a vital economic lifeline for individuals who are disabled. As more members of the baby boomer generation continue to live longer but encounter injuries and suffer other disability causing events, the demand for SSDI has increased.

As a result of increased SSDI recipients, the federal trust fund that is the source of SSDI began to run low and was reportedly going to be depleted by the end of 2016. Fortunately, that possibility will be avoided as a result of a budget deal between Congress and the Executive Branch last October.

Part of the bill that passed will include new investigatory divisions that will carefully examine suspicious SSDI applications. The effect of these new divisions on SSDI applicants remains to be seen. Will they make it harder for all SSDI applicants to become approved or just those that appear “suspicious”?

According to Steve Scalise, House Majority Whip, the new reforms are designed “to prevent people from abusing [SSDI], from the double-dipping and fraud involved in [SSDI].”

Because of increased scrutiny on SSDI applications, people who are considering applying for SSDI should speak with an advocate who can help prepare and review applications, as well as handle appeals.

If you or a family member is thinking of applying for SSI or SSDI or has been denied SSI or SSDI, contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll online or by telephone at 949-359-1370.