Saturday, April 30, 2016

Social Security Benefits Critical to Livelihood of Persons with Disabilities

Recipients of Social Security Disability payments rely on their benefits to pay their bills, to keep a roof over their heads, to put food on the table, and live their lives. The benefits provide critical economic support to those unable to work.

The extent of just how vital Social Security benefits can be was evidenced in a news story just this past week from New York. There, an individual living on Long Island suffered a heart attack and was unable to return to his career.

A homeowner, the man was responsible for paying his mortgage, but faced foreclosure after he defaulted on his loan from the bank. With nowhere else to turn for support and unable to work due to a medical condition, he applied for Social Security Disability.

However, the story is far from simple or straightforward. In fact, it reflects the need for an experienced advocate to help shepherd an application, claim, or appeal through the Social Security Administration.

After submitting his application for benefits, the man was initially denied. He appealed. He waited. And he waited some more. Eventually last December, after four years, he won his appeal and started getting benefits. Owed tens of thousands of dollars in back payments, the man was able to pay off his debt to the bank and avoid foreclosure, just in time.

Social Security claims and appeals, as the story shows, can be immensely complicated, long and drawn-out processes. Given how important benefits are to recipients, it is helpful to have an attorney evaluate your claim, prepare your application, and—if necessary—represent you on appeal. 

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice on SSDI and SSI claims and appeals.

If you are applying for or appealing a denial of SSI or SSDI, contact Stephanie online or at 949-359-1370 for a free consultation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Student Loan Program Benefits People with Disabilities

Last week the Department of Education announced a new program that is aimed at helping federal student loan borrowers who have disabilities discharge their student loan debt.

The program creates a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) loan discharge for people with disabilities who have federal student loan debt and are unable to pay the loans back due to their total and permanent disability.

While this program obviously benefits individuals by potentially discharging their student loan debt, it should be noted that the program also aims to prevent an offset against the discharged loans by reducing social security disability benefits or federal tax returns.

In other words, in the past, SSDI recipients who qualified for student loan forgiveness potentially saw a change in their SSDI benefits as an offset for the discharge of their federal student loan debt. 

According to the press release from the Department of Education, this new program, which was part of President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights announced in 2015, aims to identify student loan borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled and protect them from a decrease in their Social Security benefits.

The Department of Education announced that such identified borrowers would receive a letter informing them of their eligibility and providing instructions about how to proceed.

For more information about this new program, go to https://disabilitydischarge.com/faqs 

Stephanie Merritt Driscoll is an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice on Social Security law. If you or someone you know is applying for or has been denied SSI or SSDI, contact Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll online or at 949-359-1370 to schedule a free consultation.