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Disabled veterans need better access to health care

Veterans are some of the hardest-working individuals in the country. They served their country, protected it and they deserve respect. Some veterans find that it's difficult to get the medical care they need, and combined with an inability to work or reliance on financial benefits, this can become frustrating.

The Veterans Affairs (VA) health system is there for people who have suffered injuries and served in the military. Unfortunately, the system is often underfunded and overcapacity. This can mean long wait times for veterans looking for health care. Many veterans need services now, but they're told they have to wait for weeks, months or longer. Many aren't even able to schedule a treatment.

You may obtain Social Security Disability with an illness

If you're struggling with an illness or disability, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD). There are dozens of conditions that qualify individuals for this benefit. The illnesses and disabilities are listed out by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If a medical condition isn't on the list, that doesn't mean someone can't get benefits, but it may make it more difficult to do so.

The medically approved list of impairments includes may illnesses and disabilities including back problems and dysfunctions of the bones or joints. Cardiovascular conditions, like heart disease or heart failure also qualify an individual for disability. Other kinds of illnesses or disabilities that could qualify you for disability payments include speech issues, blindness, mental disorders, blood disorders, neurological conditions, inflammatory bowel disease and immune system disorders. Even chronic illnesses such as asthma or cystic fibrosis may help someone qualify for disability benefits if the illness is severe enough.

Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is different than Supplemental Security Income (SSI), because SSDI is intended to replace wages while SSI boosts those wages. Both programs do supplement the income of those who are unable to work, but they are not the same.

The main difference between the programs is that SSDI is only available to those who have paid into the system for a period of time. SSI, on the other hand, is available to those who have limited means but can't qualify for SSDI.

What is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles?

At the end of most Social Security Disability hearings a vocational expert will testify. This is a person who has experience placing people in jobs. This person usually has gone to school and has received a degree in rehabilitation or counseling. This person also knows about a publication called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. It is often abbreviated as the DOT.

Why does it take so long to get a hearing?

The short answer is a lack of funding for the Social Security Administration from Congress. Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) have not had an increase in funding in many years. SSA officials have told Congress that they need more Social Security Administrative Law Judges and support staff to administer the hearings. However, Congress has yet to provide that money. This issue has been in the news lately.

It Pays to Be Nice at the Social Security Office

Social Security Administration has a longstanding commitment to treating members of the public and staff with dignity and respect. While some may find the application process frustrating, claimants and their appointed representatives are also required to show "due respect" to the administrative law judge at a disability hearing. Keep in mind that this individual is the one deciding whether to approve the case. While the administrative law judge will base his or her decision on the evidence in its entirety, it should be obvious that rude or disrespectful behavior is not likely to sway the decision in your favor.

Cost of Living Adjustments

You may have stopped working, but the cost of living has not stopped rising. In the 1970s, inflation was so high that Congress ratified a provision to make periodic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to the amounts distributed among pension benefits and government entitlements. Prior to 1975, an increase in Social Security benefits required special legislation to make a cost-of-living adjustment. These COLAs are used to counteract the effects of inflation, and generally equal to the percentage increase in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W), a variant of the consumer price index calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The COLA formula is currently determined by applying the percentage increase from the third quarter of one year to the third quarter of the following year. If consumer prices drop, or inflation is not high enough to substantiate an adjustment, there is no COLA increase the following year.

You can appeal a Social Security Disability denial

When Social Security Disability (SSD) payments are delayed, people suffer as a result. When it can take over a year to find out if a person qualifies for disability benefits, that's a year that the individual has to suffer and struggle.

One recent investigation showed that individuals in Minnesota were having to wait longer than individuals in other parts of the country when they wanted to appeal Social Security Disability denials. They wait longer, on average, just to get a hearing.

Supplemental Security Income increases in 2018

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can give you peace of mind when you have a low income that you need to boost. Each year, the limits are adjusted as needed, and 2018 will be no different. 2018's federal SSI benefits and limits have been released, so it's a good idea to re-educate yourself on the changes coming this year.

In 2017, the standard amount for SSI payments was $735. This year, that amount is going up to $750. Families may also see a $22 rise, giving them up to $1,125 monthly.

MIDWEST DISABILITY office locations

Midwest Disability, P.A.
408 Northdale Boulevard Northwest
Coon Rapids, MN 55448
Toll Free: 888-351-0427
Fax:763-862-7521
Coon Rapids Law Office Map

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