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Social Security’s Proposed Fourth Category: What Does It Mean?

Social Security’s Proposed Fourth Category: What Does It Mean?

proposed fourth social security disability category
The proposed fourth social security disability category has a broad range of ramifications.

Social security is frequently changing, and no change goes without consequences. Recently, the Trump administration issued a proposed fourth social security disability category. But what does it all mean, and how will your benefits be affected? Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with the answers you seek.

The Current State of Affairs

As things are right now, the Social Security Administration (SSA) puts disability beneficiaries into three judgment categories: Medical Improvement Expected, Medical Improvement Possible, and Medical Improvement Not Expected. These categories aid in assessing how often to review a beneficiary’s disability eligibility. 

If medical improvement is not expected, disability reviews may occur once every seven years. However, if medical improvement is expected, for example, a disability review could take place every 6 to 18 months. Such disability reviews are a necessary part of the application process. Follow-up is important in case a beneficiary’s health improves to the point they can get back into the workforce. 

Also, follow-up is important in case a beneficiary’s health declines, thereby necessitating fewer disability reviews and in a greater span of time. While the process of applying isn’t easy (many people don’t receive benefits on their first application), disability reviews are just one of many safeguards in place to make sure those who claim benefits are truly eligible.

The Change: An Additional Category and What It Means

The Trump administration has recently put forward a proposed fourth social security disability category. In addition to the other three judgment categories, a fourth category—Medical Improvement Likely—would aid in determining the severity of a person’s condition and how frequently they need disability reviews. The proposed category would have a disability review period of once every two years. This is a shorter time frame than both Medical Improvement Not Expected and Medical Improvement Possible.

In addition, many people from social security’s “Step 5” classification would fall into the proposed fourth category. A person is a step-5 recipient when they are financially eligible but don’t necessarily meet social security’s medical listing requirements, yet their impairment still prevents them from working. Many elderly people and children are step-5 recipients. Subjecting such people to more frequent disability reviews has some people confused and upset.

Jennifer Burdick, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, stated to The Philadelphia Inquirer that labeling these people in such a way is “a radical departure from past practice. There’s no medical or scientific basis to say they’ll get better.” 

Jonathan Stein, a former Community Legal Services attorney added, “There’s an underhandedness to this. It’s ideological, not based on medicine or science.”

Some believe the additional category is not necessary and only makes it more difficult for beneficiaries to continue receiving benefits. It is already notoriously difficult to receive social security benefits in the first place, and having to complete ongoing paperwork for years on end is a heavy burden, one that harshly punishes even a slight mistake or failure to comply with the rules. Because of this, some believe the new category is just a way to weed out those who aren’t diligent in keeping up with the procedures.

What Should You Do?

The proposed fourth social security disability category has not yet gone into effect. This is good news: the proposal is available for public commentary through mid-January 2020. After this period ends, the future is uncertain. The proposed change may go into effect, or it may not. Regardless, there are some things you can do to protect your benefits.

  • Speak With an Attorney—An experienced attorney advocate from SSDA USA can help guide you in the right direction during this turbulent time.
  • Be Proactive—Take steps to prepare for any changes ahead of time so the stresses of adaptation don’t hit you all at once.
  • Know the Process—Read up on social security disability application processes and on how to continue receiving your benefits so you know what to expect

Wondering How the Proposed Fourth Social Security Disability Category May Affect You?

If you’re concerned about your social security disability benefits, contact SSDA USA today. We’ll speak with you to address any questions you have. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200, or get in touch with us online via a contact form or our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions to yourself; contact SSDA USA today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

How Important Is Social Security? Here Are 3 Statistics You Should Know

How Important Is Social Security? Here Are 3 Statistics You Should Know

importance of social security in America
The importance of social security in America cannot be overstated. Here’s 3 reasons why.

The Social Security program is one of the most important government programs in the United States. Even though over 84 years have passed since the program’s inception, social security benefits remain crucial in helping many people live a quality life. Here are just three statistics demonstrating the importance of social security in America.

Statistic 1: How Many People Receive Social Security?

Social security helps millions of people every year. In 2018, 67.9 million people received social security benefits. This means approximately one-fifth of all people in the U.S. are receiving social security! It just goes to show how much of an impact the program has on the country.

Even more helpful, social security assists millions of people in rising above the poverty line each year. If it weren’t for social security, those people would be left behind. This is especially pertinent considering that many elderly people rely on social security benefits as their main (or only) source of income in their golden years.

Statistic 2: What Kinds of People Receive Social Security?

Social security benefits don’t help just retired people, although that is one focus. There are other social security programs that help the disabled and the poor. Recipients may receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or retirement benefits.

In total, for 2018, about 70% of beneficiaries received retirement benefits 14% were disabled workers, 9% were survivors of deceased workers, and 7% were spouses and children of retired or disabled workers.

Each program has its own unique set of requirements, and navigating the application process can be difficult. If you have any questions about your social security disability benefits, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today.

Statistic 3: Where Do the Benefits Come From?

The importance of social security in America has significant and lasting impacts on the community, so much so that even slight changes to the program come with both ardent censure and support. Regardless of social security’s problems, the fact is that millions of people receive aid from what the programs have to offer.

Furthermore, much of the money comes from the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, otherwise known as the payroll tax ($949 billion, to be precise). In fact, almost two-thirds of the government’s mandatory spending fund goes towards social security benefits. Social security is a pay-as-you-go program, meaning your current contributions are aiding someone who needs the money now. The same will be true for if you become disabled or when you reach retirement age.

Additionally, one challenge the program currently faces is that the number of baby boomers retiring does not match the average birth rate. This means there will be more retired workers than working people, thereby requiring the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pull money from its trust funds and/or come up with alternative solutions so that the benefit funds don’t run dry.

Have Questions About the Importance of Social Security in America?

Make no mistake: Social security is one of the most crucial programs in the country. Social security benefits aid the poor, disabled, and elderly. You, too, can benefit from social security programs by signing up. If you have questions about whether you qualify for disability benefits, contact a lawyer advocate from SSDA USA today. 

Our phone number is (602) 952-3200 . Also, you can reach us online with a contact form or through our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions waiting; get in touch with us today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

Low-Impact Exercises: Boosting Mood and Energy

Low-Impact Exercises: Boosting Mood and Energy

how to properly exercise with a mobility disability
SSDA USA is here to help you learn how to properly exercise with a mobility disability.

Living with a disability comes with its own set of challenges. For those who acquired a disability later in life, you may find that you have to learn new ways to adapt to continue enjoying activities that you have done in the past. However, as you know that your disability doesn’t define you, you also know that there are plenty of low-impact exercises that can help boost your energy and mood. However, if you find yourself struggling to exercise because of your disability, read on for some helpful tips about how to properly exercise with a mobility disability.

What Are the Benefits of Exercise?

It has been demonstrated time and again that physical activity is good for the body and the mind. Much research has shown that people—including those living with a disability—are better off when they exercise. Everyone can benefit from physical activity. Some possible improvements include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Elevated mood
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Healthier heart
  • A more positive mindset
  • Decreased risk of diabetes and some cancers
  • Greater energy levels
  • And more . . .

Speak With Your Doctor

Before you begin an exercise regimen, you should first speak with a medical professional who is familiar with your medical history. Everyone’s disability is different, and depending on the circumstances, you may be able to safely engage in certain exercises and not others. It’s important you get clearance from your doctor so you don’t injure yourself while exercising.

For example, if your bones are frail, high intensity exercises may not be ideal. Stick to exercises you can enjoy safely while also reaping the benefits of increased mood and energy. Again, it’s important to know how to properly exercise with a mobility disability before starting a routine, so speak with your medical service provider to help assure you do so safely.

NOTE: There are plenty of other things you should consider to lead a healthy life, such as receiving a proper diet and beneficial therapy. Exercise is only one facet of staying fit, so speak to your doctor about all the things you can do to improve your health.

Try Some New Exercises

With that being said, there are plenty of exercises available for you to try. Exercises are generally divided into three types: cardiovascular/aerobic, strength building, and flexibility development.

Cardiovascular/Aerobic

Cardiovascular/aerobic exercises get your heart pumping and your lungs breathing faster. These exercises are designed to keep your heart healthy and strong and increase your endurance and stamina.

Even people with disabilities have options when it comes to cardiovascular activity. Here are some exercises to consider:

  • Walking or Light Jogging—If you are able, consider regularly walking or doing some light jogging. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even ten minutes can get your heart pumping.
  • Sports—There are plenty of sports that involve cardio, including tennis, badminton, table tennis, and racquetball. Ask your doctor which sports are safe for you to participate in.
  • Swimming—Some light swimming or aqua therapy could be more to your liking. You’ll get excellent cardio activity in the water, for sure.
  • Cycling—You can get on a bike or even on an elliptical machine to get the cardio you need. If you’re in a wheelchair, you could have an arm elliptical fitted for your upper body, too.
  • Resistance Band Exercises—Using a resistance band can get the blood flowing quickly. Just don’t strain yourself!
  • Air-punching—If you’re in a wheelchair, even punching the air can provide sufficient cardio activity. The point isn’t to stress yourself; it’s to elevate your heartbeat and breathing rate.
  • E-sports—There are tons of video games that can give you some cardio activity. For example, bowling on the Nintendo Wii, or even certain real-time strategy games can elevate your heart rate. In fact, research has shown that playing some e-sports exposes you to similar strains as athletes in conventional sports!

Strength Building

Living a sedentary lifestyle can cause muscles and bones to atrophy over time. This can be especially challenging for people with disabilities. Not to worry, though. There are still exercises that can maintain and build strength.

  • Resistance Band Exercises—You can use resistance bands for arm and leg extensions, shoulder rotations, and even pull-downs.
  • Weight-lifting—Bicep and tricep curls are great possibilities, as well as shoulder presses and maybe even bench presses.
  • Isometric Exercises—These exercises involve flexing muscles while staying stationary, e.g. planking or squatting. If you have little mobility, you should consider isometric exercises to help maintain your strength. Remember: How to properly exercise with a mobility disability doesn’t depend on how vigorous the exercise is, but on whether the exercise is affecting the right areas of the body.

Flexibility Development

It’s important to stay limber to alleviate pain and loss of energy. To do this, practice flexibility exercises as follows:

  • Stretching—The simplest way to gain flexibility is stretching. From your arms to your legs, your back to your neck, there are many routines available to keep your joints and muscles loose and nimble.
  • Yoga—Here is a way to improve not only your physical health but also your emotional and spiritual well-being. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and flexibility is only one benefit from the proper technique.
  • Tai Chi—This practice, along with some other martial arts, can increase flexibility, balance, and equanimity in individuals. Make sure you use proper form, however. Try tai chi in group sessions with an expert so you know you’re doing the moves correctly.

Develop a Routine

Once you’ve found the exercises you want to participate in, you should develop a routine so achieve a daily physical activity goal. Exercising every once in a while is not enough to stay physically healthy. Instead, routinely exercise by examining and planning the following steps:

  • Aim for a Realistic Goal—You should begin with a goal in your mind. Not just any goal, but a realistic one. Goals like, “I want to lose 150 pounds in one week” may not come true. Instead, think of something that you can realistically achieve that you would be willing to work towards.
  • Take Baby Steps—Once you have your goal, begin with small but incremental steps. Your goal could be to improve your heart health, or to enhance your mood, or to raise your energy levels, etc. No matter your goal, you probably won’t achieve it in one day. That’s OK. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing right, and it’s certainly worth the time and effort you’ll be putting in.
  • Maintain Diligence—The toughest part is sticking with your exercise routine. Many people give up after a month (or even sooner), and this is what drives people into disappointment. You should know that there will be mental and emotional blocks to exercising, as well as physical ones. But don’t focus on the obstacles; focus on your goal and improving your overall health.
  • Gradually Increase Workload—As you continue to exercise, your routine may naturally become easier. This is a good sign! If your exercises become too elementary, you can gradually move on to more intense exercises to gain even more benefits for your cardiovascular system, your muscles and bones, and your flexibility. You should aim for approximately 150 minutes of exercise per week for optimal results.

Have Questions about Disability?

Exercising with a disability can be challenging. What can be even more challenging, however, is not receiving social security disability benefits that may help pay for healthy food and adaptive equipment. If you have concerns about your disability and social security, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today for a free consultation. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200 or visit us on the web and fill out a contact form. You can also chat with us through our LiveChat feature. Don’t wait; get in touch with an advocate today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

9 Myths and Facts about Disability

9 Myths and Facts about Disability

myths and facts about disability
The myths and facts about disability can be difficult to distinguish. SSDA USA is here with clarification.

There are many myths and misconceptions about living with a disability. This misinformation can be hurtful and damaging to people with a disability. That is why it’s important to stay informed and up to date on the myths and facts about disability so unfounded prejudices don’t form, and so disabled individuals are treated with more understanding and acceptance. Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with some of the most common myths and facts about disability to help guide you in the right direction.

Myth 1: People with Disabilities Always Need Help

FACT: The truth is that not everyone with a disability requires constant assistance. Depending on how severe a person’s disability is, a person with a disability (PwD) may actually be mostly independent. Don’t assume that a person with a disability always needs help. It’s true that some PwDs may require more help than others; this is not under dispute. However, don’t assume this for every disabled person you encounter. Anyone is free to offer assistance, but PwDs may often prefer to be responsible for themselves whenever possible.

Myth 2: Blind People Have Other Heightened Senses

FACT: People living with a visual impairment don’t necessarily develop better hearing or a “sixth sense,” as some people may believe. While it’s true that a blind person may be more in touch with their sense of hearing (and may even possess perfect pitch), this isn’t anything superhuman. Similarly, some blind people may develop an echolocation ability, but this is something people without visual impairment can do, as well. It is true that the brain can rewire itself to function in different ways when a person becomes blind. However, results vary for every individual, and going blind doesn’t necessarily mean a person’s other senses will greatly improve. Though, such improvements are quite possible.  

Myth 3: All People in Wheelchairs Are Equally Disabled

FACT: Not everyone using a wheelchair suffers from the same disability. Some people may have no use of their legs and therefore require a wheelchair. Others, however, may still be able to walk, but not for long distances. Use of a wheelchair does not reveal the degree of a person’s disability.

Regardless of the degree of disability, people in wheelchairs are also not “wheelchair bound,” as some believe. A wheelchair is a mode of transportation, similar to a bicycle or scooter. But in various settings, e.g. restaurants, wheelchair users may prefer to use the seats provided. It’s all a personal preference.

Myth 4: People with Disabilities Are Brave and Courageous

FACT: Living with a disability doesn’t require bravery or courage. What is required, however, is an ability to adapt to a different lifestyle. Keep in mind, people with disabilities often don’t see themselves as brave or courageous. And why should they? They are simply living their lives in the best way they can. For them, living with a wheelchair, learning difficulty, cognitive impairment, or some other disability is nothing extraordinary; it’s just how things are. It’s not an achievement to live with a disability. Rather, to live with a disability is to live a different way of life that requires an adjustment of behavior and attitude.

Myth 5: People with Disabilities Should Be Treated Differently

FACT: To treat people with disabilities differently because of their disability would be a form of discrimination. While it’s true that some PwDs require accommodations—e.g. ramps instead of stairs—this does not mean they deserve less respect or lower standards/expectations. In fact, many PwDs can perform their jobs just as well if not better than their non-disabled coworkers.

Don’t pity or look down upon PwDs. They are humans and worthy of respect, just like you. Living with a disability isn’t something a person should pity or frown upon. Rather, the true tragedy is the fact that many establishments lack necessary equipment that would allow accessibility for disabled individuals.

Myth 6: Having a Disability Makes a Person Incapable

FACT: Well, this depends on what the disability is, and what the person is able and willing to try to do. For instance, a person with an amputated leg may need specially devised equipment to figure skate. However, living with a disability doesn’t make a person incapable of everything. What matters most is focusing on what a person can do, not on what they can’t do.

While a person’s disability may be a hindrance in some regards, it’s not the defining characteristic of the person. There have been blind and deaf musicians, painters without arms, and mathematicians with mental illness. PwDs more often than not can learn to adapt and still achieve their dreams, even with their disabilities.

Many PwDs today try to take advantage of joining mainstream society. Oftentimes, PwDs wish to be seen as regular people, not as different or “other.” To do this, PwDs show that they are just as capable as anyone else, and they often succeed in that endeavor.

Myth 7: People with Disabilities Prefer “Their Own Kind”

FACT: It’s not fair to assume that disabled individuals would want to interact with only other disabled individuals. Some PwDs enjoy interacting with other PwDs, while some keep their company limited to those without disabilities. Just as we all have our own preferences and prejudices, so too do PwDs have their preferences and prejudices. Just as it’s unfair to assume the people you associate with, it’s equally unfair to assume whom a PwD would associate with.

Myth 8: Children Shouldn’t Ask Questions about Disabilities

FACT: Sometimes, children may ask questions that adults may find embarrassing or surprising. This is OK, however. Don’t discourage your children from asking questions about PwDs. By discouraging them from asking questions, you are implicitly saying that knowledge of disability is taboo, forbidden, or otherwise undesirable. Remember, PwDs are not inferior, and it’s understandable that children will have many questions about the way PwDs live. Rather than instructing them not to ask questions, you should instead direct the phrasing of their questions to be mindful and respectful, so as to not offend. Most PwDs will be happy to answer questions about living with a disability.

Myth 9: Everyone with a Disability Qualifies for SSDI

FACT: Not everyone will qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Keep in mind, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability in the following way:

  1. You have a condition that hinders you from working and earning Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), and
  2. Your condition has lasted/will last for at least a total of 12 months or will result in your death.

Additionally, to qualify for SSDI, a person must have a certain number of work credits, which is dependent on a person’s age and may not equal the amount of credits needed for retirement benefits.

With this information in mind, it’s important for PwDs to assess whether they qualify for SSDI benefits. If a person is able to work and participate in SGA, that person will, generally speaking, not qualify for SSDI. There are, however, some conditions that will automatically qualify a person for disability, according to the SSA’s Blue Book; certain physical and mental conditions may require less scrutiny during the evaluation process because of the nature of the condition.

Have Questions on the Myths and Facts about Disability?

Living with a disability can be a challenge, but Social Security Disability Advocates is here to help. If you have questions or concerns about disability benefits, contact us right away. You can give us a call anytime at (602) 952-3200 or contact us through an online contact form or LiveChat feature. Don’t let your questions bottle up; get in touch with SSDA USA today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

What’s New with Social Security in 2020?

What’s New with Social Security in 2020?

changes for 2020 social security benefits
Do you know the changes for 2020 social security benefits?

The new year is around the corner, and with it comes some much-anticipated news about social security benefits. Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with everything you need to know about the upcoming year’s social security adjustments.

2020 Social Security Adjustments

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced that the 2020 Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) amount to a 1.6% increase. While this isn’t as much as 2019’s 2.8% increase, the COLA news is one of the most important changes for 2020 social security benefits.

As a result, the average retired worker will receive approximately $24 more in their social security check each month. While it’s not much, it’s better than receiving no boost at all—as was the case in 2009, 2010, and 2015.

Additionally, beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will receive more, too. Individuals will receive $783/month (up $12 from $771/month), and couples will receive $1,175/month (up $18 from $1,157/month).

One of the most important changes for 2020 social security benefits, though, is the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) adjustment. The threshold amount went up across the board, meaning that disabled workers can earn more money without fear of losing their benefits. 2020 SGA is $2,110/month for blind individuals (up $70 from $2,040/month) and $1,260/month for non-blind individuals (up $40 from $1,220). Again, while not much, this allows disabled workers some additional freedom to work without losing benefits.

In tandem with SGA adjustments comes a raised Trial Work Period (TWP) amount. Trial Work Periods occur when a disabled worker wishes to attempt going back to work while still receiving full Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If a disabled worker earns more than the TWP threshold amount for nine months out of a 60-month period, their benefits may be suspended. For 2020, the TWP threshold amount went up $30 from $880/month to $910/month, giving workers more breathing room before having their income count toward their TWP.

Other changes for 2020 social security benefits aren’t necessarily so positive. For instance, The maximum taxable earnings went up across the board. For Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI), the amount went up from $132,900 to $137,700. Furthermore, the amount for a social security work credit (known as a quarter of coverage) went up from $1,360 to $1,410, meaning that workers must earn more to receive credits that count towards SSDI and retirement benefits. 

Tips for the Future

With all the changes for 2020 social security benefits in mind, what should you do? Well, it’s not always easy to know what to do. But SSDA USA is here with some guidance.

  • Consider Working More—If you are approaching retirement or have already retired, a 1.6% COLA may seem like it’s not enough. And for many senior citizens, it isn’t. This is why, sometimes, continuing to work can help offset a low COLA. Consider consulting for your previous field of work, or trying to turn your hobby into a profit.
  • Maintain Other Sources of Income—Remember, social security retirement benefits are not meant (and never were meant) to replace your full source of income. They only cover about 40% of your earnings. Therefore, it’s highly suggested that you maintain other sources of income, e.g. retirement savings accounts, pensions, etc., in your golden years.
  • Consult a Lawyer—If you have questions about your social security benefits, reach out to a Social Security Disabilities lawyer today. SSDA USA can help you through the entire application process and can inform you about the benefits tailored for you.

Have Questions about the 2020 Changes for Social Security Benefits?

If you have any social security questions or concerns, get in touch with Social Security Disability Advocates USA. Our advocates are ready and standing by to address all your social security needs. Get in touch with us by calling (602) 952-3200 , or contact us online via a contact form or our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions bottled up; chat with us today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.