Lots of things “could” or “might” happen if the government defaults on its debts. This anxiety could certainly have residents in the Memphis metro area, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi worried about how it could affect monthly disability checks. Mr. Heermans, of Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm, says that, “We keep up to date on all Social Security application, award, and benefit announcements and changes as a part of our commitment to giving the best representation to our disability clients”. This is especially true because the Heermans Law Firm recently received the 2023 Social Security Disability Leadership Award recognizing them as National Top 250.
If the U.S. defaults, “it is unlikely that the federal government would be able to issue payments to millions of Americans, including our military families and seniors who rely on Social Security,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently remarked. But the situation is unprecedented and confusing. For example, the Social Security Act conflicts with the Antideficiency Act, two SSDI guiding lights.
Politicians aren’t the only ones sounding an alarm. Payments to Social Security recipients, as well as payments from the federal government to veterans, food-stamp recipients, and reimbursements to state governments for Medicare or Medicaid, could be delayed, credit ratings agency Moody’s said in a recent report.
Chances are, by the time we post this article, politicians will have resolved the current debt crisis with a measure that delays things for a few months or years. So, this issue will probably keep coming up as a point of concern and/or interest for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, if you are currently experiencing a disability, and you are still working, it is best to contact Heermans Law Firm for a FREE disability evaluation. Waiting until you have lost your job or no longer able to work, may be waiting too long.
For decades, disability care in America usually meant generational care. Disabled individuals lived at home, where their parents or children took care of them. The Great Depression, which began with a stock market crash in1929, wrecked that system.
At first, effects seemed limited. Only people who made risky investments on speculative stocks lost money. But by 1931, the economy wasn’t getting any better and, in fact, was getting worse. Since their families could no longer support them, disabled people had to try and find jobs, which were very scarce by this time. Only radical change could stave off disaster.
The 1935 Social Security Act was part of this radical change. President Franklin Roosevelt wholeheartedly supported the idea. He believed disability payments would stimulate the economy, and these payments would also shrink the labor pool.
The Social Security tax funds the disability program, as well as the old-age benefits program. So, to older adults who qualified for disability benefits based on their work credits, government debt default is irrelevant. For younger people or others who qualified for disability payments under a non-work credit, the situation is more complex.
When Congress passed the Antideficiency Act in 1884, it was a very big deal. Lawmakers passed the ADA in response to coercive deficiencies, a common practice at the time. For example, during the Civil War, the military often made contracts with vendors that exceeded its budget. Then, officials asked for more money from Congress to pay these contracts.
But over the past 120 years, no one has been convicted, or even indicted, for an ADA violation. It’s important to understand, it’s a footnote that only comes up if government shutdown or debt default looms. Unfortunately, this conversation is going on right now as congress decides on raising the debt ceiling and the implications and restrictions around this decision. This footnote could also affect disability payments, especially non-work credit payments.
Changing Disability Eligibility and an SSA Law Firm
Politics isn’t the only thing that could affect a disability payment. Medical and economic factors come into play as well for applicants, current recipients, and the importance of being represented by an SSI lawyer near you at the Heermans SSD Law Firm.
Most SSDI orders include annual medical re-examinations. The stated purpose of these re-examinations is to determine if the recipient’s medical condition has improved enough to lift him/her over the disability threshold.
But a disability isn’t just a medical condition. It’s also an economic condition. Furthermore, a medical condition often involves more than the recipient’s health. Mostly for these two reasons, people could improve medically and still be disabled. This is a complicated situation!
Assume Sarah begins receiving disability benefits in 2020 because she has a bad back. Immediately prior to her 2024 annual re-examination, doctors develop a new spinal fusion procedure that could alleviate her back pain and enable her to return to work.
The Disability Determination Services officer wants her to have the surgery and get back to work. Most likely, Sarah wants to return to work as well. But she may be unable to do so, for medical and economic reasons.
Further, assume that because of her years of activity, Sarah has gained considerable weight and is now a borderline diabetic. As a result, she may not be a candidate for the surgery. Furthermore, after at least four years of unemployment, Sarah’s job skills may have become outdated to the new skills that are needed for her job. If the labor market is tight and new job training is not available where she lives, her employment prospects might be dim.
Sarah probably doesn’t want to stay on disability, but she probably needs to stay on it, at least for the near future. To help ensure this happens for her, an SSI disability lawyer in Memphis would most likely request evaluation documents from an independent doctor and a vocational expert. These evaluations would be submitted by the lawyer to the Disability Determination Officer, so that consideration could be made regarding her ability to have the surgery continued approval for disability financial support payments.
On a related note, there’s a difference between employed and unemployable. Many applicants, and recipients, work and still qualify for benefits. You can make up to $1,470 per month (or $2,460 if you are blind) in 2023 and still be unemployable for SSDI purposes.
Initial Disability Eligibility
However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before someone worries about the economy, national debt crisis, late checks, or medical re-examination, you must qualify for disability payments. The SSA defines a disability as:
- Aren’t Working: (This does not apply to contacting the Heermans Law Firm to apply – or reapply for disability if you are experiencing a disability and are still working) As mentioned, this qualification is not an inability to work, but rather an inability to find and hold SGA (substantial gainful employment). This job must pay enough to lift the applicant, and any dependents, above the poverty line. Generally, this job must be in an unsheltered environment. A job at a family business, where the boss looks the other way if your productivity slips or absences mount up, doesn’t count.
- Cannot Work: (This does not apply to contacting the Heermans Law Firm to apply – or reapply for disability if you are experiencing a disability and are still working) This category might sound identical to the previous one, but it isn’t. The previous category is practical (i.e. what does your current pay stub state). This category is theoretical. Applicants must be unable to work, or unable to transition to a new area of employment, even if they hit the bricks.
- One Year: (This does not apply to contacting the Heermans Law Firm to apply – or reapply for disability if you are experiencing a disability and are still working) Short term disability payments are often available through workers’ compensation or another government benefit program. But they aren’t available through SSD. SSA must determine that the disability will either last at least one year or forever.
The important point here is that if you are experiencing a disability and still working, but worried you will not be able to work in the future, contact Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm for a FREE Disability Evaluation. Our lawyers will personally review your information and respond to you quickly and respectfully. If you have already applied for SSD benefits and been denied, we also offer a FREE Denial Case Review. For more information about the SSD process, contact the disability lawyers near me 24/7 call / text (901) 244-0057. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.
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