Recently, the social security administration launched “The Faces and Facts of Disability” which is an awareness and education initiative to provide information to the public about SSD insurance and put to rest prevailing misconceptions regarding the same. Here are the important aspects highlighted.
- The social security disability program is the most significant disability program in the nation, providing benefits to disabled workers and their dependents.
- More than one in four 20-year-olds insured for disability benefits will become disabled before reaching retirement age – this is a serious fact indeed. Many of these people will have to depend on SSD benefits.
- These benefits are paid out of the taxes that a worker pays during his working years.
- At the beginning of 2014, Social Security paid just $1146 as average monthly disability benefit.
- Social security beneficiaries are among the most severely impaired in the United States. This is because the law provides a strict definition of disability. They are more than three times likely to die in a year as other people the same age. One in five men and one in seven women die within five years of the beginning of their disability.
- SS does not provide partial/temporary disability benefits as is provided by workers’ compensation or veterans’ benefits. To qualify for social security benefits, a person should have a severe medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least for a year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent them from performing work that they have done in the past, and prevent them from adjusting to other work.
- It is a mistaken belief that large numbers of recipients are on the rolls fraudulently. The disability program is managed efficiently, ensuring a high level of integrity and quality.
- The eligibility requirements are very strict, and SS works aggressively with the Office of the Inspector General to identify and prosecute those who commit fraud.
- Since SS has adopted a zero tolerance approach, the incidence of fraud is just a fraction of one percent.
As SS trustees and actuaries had projected for decades, over the last thirty years the number of people who received disability benefits has grown. The main reasons for this growth are:
- The large number of baby-boomers who have reached their disability-prone years.
- More women have joined the workforce in the past few decades, and have worked sufficiently enough to qualify for the benefits if they became disabled.
However, SSA asserts that in spite of the increase, the approximately nine million people receiving the disability benefits at present are only a small subset of Americans living with severe impairments. Since it is a vital part of America’s safety net, the program must continue to be strengthened and sustained for future generations. The agency is committed to maintaining the integrity of the program and ensuring that the right benefits are paid to the right person at the right time.
Continuing Eligibility Determined via Comprehensive Medical Review
Individuals applying for SS benefits have to file an application for the same. On receiving the application, the SSA may try to obtain the applicant’s medical records. They may ask the applicant to undergo a consultative examination with a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist.
Insured individuals who have a medical condition that is expected to improve are expected to undergo a review by the SSA to determine whether they are eligible to continue receiving the benefits. The evaluation naturally involves a detailed medical record review. It is important for beneficiaries to know how often such an evaluation can be expected.
- If improvement in medical condition is expected within a specific time, the SSA will hold the review 6 – 18 months after the insured started getting the disability benefits.
- If medical improvement is possible, the review will be carried out every 3 years.
- If there is no scope of medical improvement, the review will be conducted only every 5 – 7 years.
A social security disability lawyer can help you find out whether you qualify for benefits under social security disability insurance. In case you have had your claim denied, the lawyer can help you in the appeal process.
Though there are concerns regarding the financing shortfall for the disability insurance trust, it is expected that rebalancing the two social security trust funds (SS – Social Security Disability Insurance and OASI — Old Age and Survivors Insurance benefits) will bring back the social security system to a strong footing until 2033. Existing policy options can be used after that to ensure the long term solvency of the Social Security System on the whole.