Monday, March 21, 2016

Curious How to Reenter the Workforce After SSDI?

If you are wondering how to reenter the workforce after a stint on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, may I make some suggestions based on my observations and research? 

The first thing you want to do is stir up your own thinking – and reenergize your motivation to return to work. The next thing is contacting your state or local vocational rehabilitation (VR) agency. And remember, a good attitude is the most important tool you can use to interest them in providing maximum help. 

VR providers have testified (in hearings) that the motivation of clients is key to successful vocational rehabilitation. Enthusiasm in a potential client motivates vocational counselors to invest their time and limited agency funds in people who are determined to get back in the workforce. 

Unhappily, a long period of dependency on SSDI can reduce a person’s motivation. Long periods of unemployment can rob a person’s confidence that they can work, and weaken skills that formerly bolstered their confidence. The person may be struggling with poor morale. 

The individual who seeks VR services can prevail over this real obstacle by remembering, researching, and resolving

Remembering: Think about the activities you have enjoyed formerly. Describe them in writing. This exercise helps you recall skills, talents, and interests that can apply to other jobs.  

Researching: Check the Internet website O*Net (http://www.onetonline.org) to learn the kinds of jobs that may be available in the economy. Some jobs may spark your interest and involve skills you have or can potentially develop through education or VR – this can become a powerful talking point when discussing options with a VR counselor!  

Resolving:  Put what you have remembered and research into action. Contact your state or local rehabilitation agency and express your desire to pursue these kinds of jobs, knowledgeable of the kinds of education and training that will equip you to open other employment doors. (For contact information on state VR agencies go to: http://askjan.org/cgi-win/TypeQuery.exe?902)

Of course, many people are concerned about losing SSDI benefits before assured that they can work steadily. Your VR agency can advise about legal protections for SSDI benefits while you become equipped to work or can refer you to another qualified source.

In short, a person with disabilities who wants and needs to work can make a better case for   gaining necessary vocational rehabilitation assistance by remembering former enjoyable activities and researching the jobs in this economy. An informed and well-prepared presentation to a vocational counselor helps the counselor make a better connection between the client and employment opportunities.      


I  welcome your experiences and suggestions.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

2015 Annual Adjustments Affecting SSDI Benefits - Compared with 2014


Cost of Living Increase. There is a 1.7% cost of living increase for benefits payable in 2015. There was a 1.5% cost of living increase in 2014. This increase applies both to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, and Retirement benefits. 




Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Earning While Disabled. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries in 2014 will be able to work and earn up to $1,090 a month without forfeiting their monthly checks. Effective January 1, 2015, if earnings exceed this amount the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the earnings to show "substantial gainful activity" or "SGA". (A higher SGA amount - $1,820 a month - applies to blind individuals.)

In 2014 the SGA amount is $1,070 a month ($1,800 for blind individuals). SSA Fact Sheet: 2014 Social Security Changes, http://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2015.html.

Why is this important? If a beneficiary earns more than the SGA amount for a sustained period, this could trigger a continuing disability review and could cause SSA to stop benefits. Or if one is applying for SSDI benefits and earning at the SGA level, this could lead SSA to deny the claim. References:
How Work Affects Your Benefits, www.ssa.gov/pubs/10069.html
Redbook, http://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/definedisability.htm#a0=1

Trial Work Month. A "trial work month" in 2014 will be any month in which earnings exceed $780. The 2014 amount is $770. SSA says:

“The trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During your trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment.”

A trial work period may be several stints of occasional work that add up to a total of nine months over a five year period, or may be a continuous nine months in a five year period.

See also Working While Disabledhttp://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Profiles in Courage?

Why do federal politicians enact a clumsy new health "system" that adds heavy taxes on all Americans, but refuse to reform the finances of Social Security where American workers largely fund their own retirement and disability benefits? Tom Margenau, a former Social Security staffer explains in, "Politicians Punt Again …".

Friday, February 07, 2014

Social Security Disability - 25 New Compassionate Allowance (CAL) Conditions Speed Claim Handling

From the Social Security Administration Press Office 
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced  25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions on January 15, 2014, including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to 225.  The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. The new conditions also include disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.
SSA - New Compassionate Allowance (CAL) Conditions Added 1-15-2014
  1. Angiosarcoma
  2. Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
  3. Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
  4. Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
  5. Esthesioneuroblastoma
  6. Giant Axonal Neuropathy
  7. Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  8. Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
  9. Joubert Syndrome
  10. Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
  11. Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
  12. Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
  13. Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
  14. Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  15. Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
  16. Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  17. Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  18. Prostate Cancer - Hormone Refractory Disease - or with visceral metastases
  19. Revesz Syndrome
  20. Seckel Syndrome
  21. Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
  22. Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
  23. Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
  24. X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
  25. X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SSDI: Annual Adjustments Affecting Benefits in 2014 Compared with 2013


Cost of Living Increase. There is a 1.5% cost of living increase for benefits payable in 2014. There was a 1.7% cost of living increase in 2013. This increase applies both to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, and Retirement benefits.



Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). Earning While Disabled. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries in 2014 will be able to work and earn up to $1,070 a month without forfeiting their monthly checks. Effective January 1, 2014, if earnings exceed this amount the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the earnings to show "substantial gainful activity" or "SGA". (A higher SGA amount - $1,800 a month - applies to blind individuals.)

In 2013 the SGA amount is $1,040 a month ($1,740 for blind individuals). SSA Fact Sheet: 2013 Social Security Changes, http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2013.htm.
Why is this important? If a beneficiary earns more than the SGA amount for a sustained period, this could trigger a continuing disability review and could cause SSA to stop benefits. Or if one is applying for SSDI benefits and earning at the SGA level, this could lead SSA to deny the benefit application. For more information see the SSA publication, How Work Affects Your Benefits, SSA Publication Number 05-10069, www.ssa.gov/pubs/10069.html; and the SSA Redbook, http://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/definedisability.htm#a0=1

Trial Work Month. A "trial work month" in 2014 will be any month in which earnings exceed $770. The 2013 amount is $750. SSA says:

“The trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months. During your trial work period, you will receive your full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment.”

A trial work period may be several stints of occasional work that add up to a total of nine months over a five year period, or may be a continuous nine months in a five year period.
See Working While Disabled, SSA Publication Number 05-10095, http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10095.pdf

Monday, September 30, 2013

SSA Online Video Resources for SSDI & SSI

SSA Video Resources                                                          
SSA offers free video instruction on applying for SSDI and SSI. Viewing these requires Microsoft® Silverlight® software that is  available free online. Silverlight® is available for Windows® and Mac®. Silverlight® works on the Safari®browser installed on our Mac® but not on Firefox®. Others have noted this on the Mac®.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

SSDI moochers - NOT!

People who want a good capsule summary of the workings of the Social Security Disability decision process can find it (without political hogwash) in the article “Law Firms That Specialize in Social Security Disability,” by ex-Social Security representative Tom Morgenau.

Torrents of hostile criticism are falling on recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits these days. Much is political and grossly uninformed.

Critics should reflect on the meaning of the term “insurance” before criticizing legitimate SSDI recipients. SSDI is insurance. Most workers and former workers have paid for it by payroll withholding.  If they qualify for benefits they should receive them – they paid for them. Some people believe they are moochers. Try mooching off this program and you will receive a different impression.

The program has solvency problems. Therefore we should aim criticisms at its architects, administrators, and overseers (Congress).  Better still, we should go to them with suggestions for a sounder more stable system that will not further impoverish people with disabilities. 

Mr. Morgenau provides a good starting point for self-education and building an informed view. It’s worth getting on his email distribution list. It not only has much useful information, but keeps readers oriented toward reality more than the politics of SSDI.