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Hackensack Disability Law Blog

What is MS and how can it impact your job?

You’ve been working at your job for several years. The company is great and you have turned coworkers into lifelong friends. You enjoy the work that you do and most days are relatively pleasant. As far as careers go, yours has been going smoothly.

But now you have concerns. A few weeks ago you started feeling ill. At first you felt tired and a little faint, but now things are getting worse. You’ve done some research and now you can’t help but wonder if something more serious is going on. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an illness you’ve heard of, and some of your searches have resulted in this term, but you have questions. Do you have it? Will it impact your ability to work? What will happen financially if you can’t do your job?

New law will raise oversight on disability representative payees

In many New Jersey cases, a Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits recipient is in a vulnerable state and unable to handle many aspects of their lives alone. In these cases, they might have a person who handles their payments and helps to oversee their finances. While this is for the benefit of the person getting SSD benefits, it is also a system that is ripe for abuse. People who are getting or seeking Social Security Disability benefits and have someone who will handle or does handle their payments should know about a new law that is going into effect.

President Donald J. Trump has signed a law that will place increased focus on those who are handling another person's disability payments. The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 received unanimous support from Congress. It will subject representative payees to greater oversight when they are managing Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income for another person. As a result, it is important for disability recipients and their representative payees to know what the law entails.

How is work activity assessed for SSD benefits?

When a New Jersey resident has a medical issue that prevents him or her from working a regular job, there are certain requirements that must be met before getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits. A key factor is whether the claimant can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). The Social Security Administration will examine certain aspects of the work before a decision is made.

If the person must use his or her experience, skills, provide supervision, take responsibility or contribute in a substantial way to the business as it is operated, this can be viewed as working at SGA level. The ability to perform will be considered.

Understanding SSD benefits for veterans and expedited claims

For New Jersey veterans that have suffered an injury or illness and are seeking Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, the continuing and problematic backlog of cases can be cause for concern. SSD benefits can be crucial to a person's survival not just for everyday living with paying for a residence and purchasing essentials, but also for receiving the medical care for their issues. Many might not know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has an expedited processing program for veterans who meet the requirements.

If the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation rating is 100 percent Permanent and Total (P&T), expedited processing is available. Veterans who are already having enough trouble with their injuries might have trouble differentiating between how the SSA and Veterans Affairs (VA) addresses disability cases. Both pay benefits to those who qualify, but there is a difference between how eligibility is determined.

Do I have an ERISA claim?

Imagine this scenario: Awhile back, you got into a pretty serious car accident. Your recovery included a few surgeries and outpatient visits, not to mention countless hours of physical therapy. Right now, you are miles ahead of where you started, but still not quite able to go back to work.

During your recovery, you have been drawing on first the short-term disability and then long-term disability benefits provided by your employer. However, you just received notice that your benefits are being discontinued because your employer's insurance policies have changed, and now you are in fact required to pay back all of last year's benefits due to overpayment.

How being homeless can affect SSI benefits

It is an unfortunate reality that there are many homeless people in New Jersey. Some of them are ill, have various personal and professional issues or became homeless for a variety of unforeseen and understandable reasons. These individuals and their families might think there are few, if any, programs to help them. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to people who are homeless and meet the qualifications to get benefits.

People who are homeless have the same right to seek SSI benefits as anyone else. The person must be blind, disabled or 65-years-old or older. The person must meet the income and resource requirements.

What are issues that can hinder eligibility for SSI benefits?

When a New Jersey resident meets the basic requirements to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at 65 or older, disabled or blind, it does not automatically mean they will still be able to get SSI benefits. There are disqualifying issues that can hinder a person from getting SSI. It is important to know these, so the person can rectify that hindrance and then be eligible for benefits.

A person who has an unsatisfied felony or is subject to an arrest warrant is not eligible for SSI. The following circumstances will lead to ineligibility: an escape from custody, a flight to avoid being prosecuted or confined or flight escape. The Social Security Administration can also withhold retroactive payments, if these factors are in place. Once proof is provided that the issues have been satisfied, the payments will be made. If a person is incarcerated, either in jail or prison, it is also a reason for being ineligible for SSI. The retroactive payments will be withheld as well.

What is Ticket to Work under Social Security disability?

New Jersey residents who are receiving Social Security disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income might want to try and work. However, they are reluctant due to a fear that they will lose essential benefits and not be able to get them back if they try to work and are unable to do so. This is where the Ticket to Work program can be beneficial. There are work incentives with Ticket to Work. These can let the person retain some cash benefits, Medicaid or Medicare as they try to get back into the workforce. Those taking part in Ticket to Work need not worry if they try and cannot keep working because they can get their benefits again.

Ticket to Work is for people age 18 to 64. If they receive disability benefits, they can take part in Ticket to Work. The ideal for the Social Security Administration is to help people who can work become independent enough that they will no longer need SSDI or SSI. With Ticket to Work, the person will receive assistance in finding work, getting vocational rehabilitation, and other levels of support. The job will be found through employment networks. These are entities that give support to a person trying to get back on the job. There are various networks to choose from. People are advised to shop around and find one that suits their goals.

If I got SSI benefits as a child, what happens when I turn 18?

Supplemental Security Income is a program that provides benefits to people who are disabled, blind or 65 and older and meet certain requirements for income and resources. It is also available to children who meet the criteria to get benefits. What New Jersey residents who receive SSI benefits as children should be aware of is that there will be a redetermination when they turn 18. This does not automatically mean that the person cannot get SSI benefits any longer when turning 18.

The SSA will conduct a review of the person's eligibility to keep getting SSI. This is contingent on the adult rules rather than the rules for children. The recipient will generally receive a notification within a year of their 18th birthday that a redetermination will take place. When the medical review takes place, the SSA will ask the person: what medicines he or she takes; if there were admissions to the hospital and surgical procedures; if there were visits to doctors or medical facilities; if the person worked or did the equivalent; if he or she was given therapy and counseling; if there was attendance at a school or special classes; and if there are teachers and counselors who are knowledgeable about the person's condition.

What are the rules for reporting wages when I get SSI benefits?

New Jersians whose financial and disability circumstances meet the requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income should know that the Social Security Administration must receive information to ensure that the SSI benefits are warranted. That means it is necessary for a person getting SSI and SSI-related benefits must report their income to the SSA. This is important because SSI is based on need for those who are disabled, blind or 65 and older. It hinges on the income that the recipient has available. If that income surpasses a certain amount, they will no longer be able to get SSI.

Monthly wage reporting is necessary to make sure that the income remains under the limits for the person to continue receiving SSI. The income is reported at or near the start of every month. The income might affect the SSI payments, but it is possible that it will not. Expenses are factored in when they are needed for the person to work. In general, if the person has more income available, the SSI amount will reduce commensurately. This helps the SSA pay the proper amount in SSI-related benefits. Failure to report the earnings on time could result in the person owing money to the SSA.