About a month ago we wrote about a team of disabled athletes who compete in sled hockey on Saturdays in Central Park. Their coach, who organized the team, said he hoped to teach his players that an injury or illness doesn't have to be a barrier in their lives. To the satisfaction of many across the country who live with disabilities, his sentiment was recently backed up by the federal Education Department.
Many people in New York collect Social Security disability payments. The reasons why people collect benefits vary widely from cancer to fibromyalgia to blindness. While what constitutes a disability may seem clear-cut, a recent situation at a New England college has prompted some to call for a new determination of what it means to be disabled.
When a person is seeking federal disability benefits due to a debilitating disease or condition, he or she must not only fill out an application but also appear before an administrative law judge for a hearing. An administrative law judge holds the power to decide whether an individual will receive Social Security disability benefits or be denied. We would hope that these judges understand the serious nature of their decisions and approach each case fairly and without bias. Unfortunately, it appears that some judges in New York have not been doing that.
Here in New York, we've all heard of the financial struggles that face the Social Security Administration. While we hope lawmakers will find a way to continue to support the program that is so important to so many people, some in New York may be feeling nervous about all of the bad news. However, the SSA has taken some steps recently to decrease its costs.