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Young man with qualifying mental conditions fights for benefits

For many, coping with a mental disability is a daily challenge. Finding acceptance in society and trying to fit in at a workplace can be a difficult task, while still maintaining one's self-esteem. Dealing with a Social Security disability claim is the last thing a New York resident with qualifying mental conditions needs to encounter, especially in a struggling job market. Recently, a man, who is in his late 20s, has been pursued by his state unemployment office for what they say is a $3,000 overpayment of benefits as the result of an issue with his disability income.

The case originated because the man, who was previously able to hold a full-time job, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. When he lost his job, he applied for and received unemployment compensation. On the advice of a doctor, he also applied for Social Security disability benefits, and his application was ultimately granted based on qualifying mental conditions. As is the typical procedure, he was paid those benefits retroactively to the date he first applied, and in doing so, the payments overlapped those of the state unemployment agency. Now, the unemployment commission contends the man received $3,000 more than he was entitled to and they are demanding its return.

The Social Security Administration and the state unemployment office usually coordinate actions, meaning that the overlapping funds would be deducted from the man's retroactive Social Security disability payment for his qualifying mental conditions and remitted to the state agency.

Normal procedures seem to have been overlooked in this instance, and the man is facing a legal battle with the unemployment agency. He is contesting the demand to repay the money, arguing that he should not be held responsible for government mistakes, ones that would require him to repay funds that he may no longer have. The man's attorney indicates that it was the government's error, and he should not have to pay back the government for their failure to take the appropriate steps.

This case demonstrates that those who are receiving disability payment are often willing to work, but cannot keep up with the demands of their job due to a legitimate health concern. In fact, this young man worked until his struggle with schizophrenia made it essentially impossible. When describing her son, the man's mother said that he "has his goals and he goes after them."

Source: St. Louis Today, "Mentally ill Dardenne Prairie man challenges unemployment bureaucracy," Steve Giegerich, March 23, 2012

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