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Dying woman's disability benefits are cut off over issue about work

In general, Social Security Disability benefits are awarded for people who are unable to do any kind of substantial work due to a medical impairment. In some cases, people may be able to do some work and receive the benefits, but it can be challenging to determine whether someone can work while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI).

Recently, a woman finally reached out to a newspaper for help after being told that she was able to work while receiving SSDI - and then having her benefits cut after being told that she could not. The woman, who has been given about six months to live, began receiving disability checks in July 2012. 

When she was approved for disability benefits, she said that a worker at the Social Security office said she could work as a court-appointed mental health advocate as long as she did not earn more than $1,019 per month. She said her monthly income never exceeded that amount.

But in February 2013, Social Security stopped sending checks, claiming that she had returned to substantial gainful employment within a year of being disabled. Social Security also asked for more information. She asked for a review of the decision, but her request did not go anywhere.

Without the disability benefits, the woman ultimately fell behind on her mortgage. The woman’s condition has worsened to the point that she can no longer do any work at all. Finally, the newspaper in her area published a story about her struggles with Social Security.

She then received a call from her U.S. senator’s office and from the new operational supervisor at the Social Security office that had denied her call. Both said they would look into her case. Friends also revived a benefit fund for her, and she received cash in the mail. She says she “just bawled” after finding the money in the mail.

Hopefully, the woman can resolve the issue with Social Security in time for her to obtain the benefits she needs. Obtaining and maintaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be challenging, and applicants often need all the help they can get.

Source: The Des Moines Register, “Woman's loss of disability payments gets quick response,” Lee Rood, April 14, 2014; The Des Moines Register, “Reader's Watchdog: Dying advocate needs some help,” Lee Rood, April 5, 2014

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