In 2008, the Social Security Administration decided to embark on a rather ambitious project in recognition of the fact that it was fighting a losing battle against the deluge of disability claims.
Everyone who has ever had a loved one affected by Alzheimer's hopes that one day, scientists will develop a cure. This sentiment is probably true for many of our New York readers who may have a family member or loved one living with this disabling disease right now.
What does Supplemental Security Income mean to you? For many New Yorkers, it means they can put food on the table and pay for their prescriptions. Supplemental Security Income is a federal program that provides compensation to individuals who have been severely injured or are disabled to the point that working is not an option. It is a needs-based program, and many people rely heavily or completely on the compensation they receive to make ends meet. If you asked these people what would happen if the government decided to start giving them less, it's likely many would worry that it would be impossible to get by.
Here in New York, when we go to the doctor, we rightfully expect to receive good treatment from knowledgeable medical experts. A recent study found out, however, that some people do not receive care at all.
When a person in New York who does not have a disability applies for a job with the federal government, he or she usually has to submit a resume that details their education, experience and other skills that may be relative to the job. For people with disabilities, however, things have been different. Along with a resume of accomplishments and work history, they have had to provide a statement from a doctor or disability benefits agency to prove their "job readiness." Fortunately for those who feel this is unfair, that process has been eliminated.
Disabilities take a variety of different shapes. Some are mental, some are caused by illness, and still some are physical, requiring people to rely on equipment like wheelchairs. When disabled individuals rely so heavily on a device to live, things can get very difficult if that device breaks. For Medicaid patients, a broken wheelchair or other device can mean weeks of having to cope before anything is fixed or replaced.
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.
On this blog, we often focus on the difficulties that come with having a disability and applying for Social Security disability benefits. Of course, those who live with a disability know them all too well. Sometimes, however, it's important to focus on positive things.