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Dallas Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSA no longer going after old debts -- for now

In a move that was applauded by Social Security recipients and federal lawmakers alike, the Social Security Administration announced earlier this week that it was indefinitely suspending its controversial debt collection efforts.

Until 2008, federal law granted federal agencies like the SSA the ability to refer outstanding debts to the Treasury Department, directing it to seize tax refunds as a means of settling debts that were a maximum of ten years old up. After this time, the law was changed such that the SSA and its counterparts could seize tax refunds for debts that were more than ten years old, a move that greatly expanded debt collection capabilities.

Indeed, the SSA has collected $55 million in debts, the majority of it via seized tax refunds, and has named 400,000 recipients with outstanding debts.     

While you might be tempted to think that the collection efforts would have drawn praise from federal lawmakers, it has actually been the opposite. 

Major hotel chain part of plan to hire and train disabled workers

There are many things that those living with disabilities find more difficult to do than those who do not have disabilities. In some cases, finding a job falls into that category. While the economy has made it difficult for many to find employment over the course of the last few years, this is the norm for many who are disabled.

To address this issue various organizations are taking steps to improve the landscape for disabled individuals who can and want to work. Several groups in another state are banking on disabled workers being a good fit in the hospitality business. To that end they are working with Courtyard by Marriot to construct and run a hotel that in addition to employing disabled workers will also provide educational opportunities.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Texas

Did you know that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month? This month, organizations in Texas and across the country are trying to raise awareness about the unique and difficult challenges that people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury can face. 

Brain injuries can be devastating. Depending on the severity of an injury, a person can experience significant physical limitations, behavioral changes, memory loss, chronic headaches or trouble speaking. It can be one of the most catastrophic injuries that someone can suffer because it can upset every aspect of a person's life.

Appeals for disability benefits skyrocket in Texas

Texas residents who are unable to work because of a disabling condition can be very frustrated by the process of applying for and receiving disability benefits. Whether a person is temporarily disabled, has developed a disabling condition or has never been able to work because of a disability, there are resources available to help people get through a difficult time.

Many of the people who qualify for government benefits are veterans of the U.S. military. Veterans across Texas have developed a physical or mental disability during their service and have the option of pursuing disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, just like everyone else in a similar position, veterans often struggle to get a claim approved and typically need to file an appeal to get benefits. 

Unfortunately, the number of veterans in Texas who currently have an appeal pending is the highest in the entire country.

New research could move treatment of fibromyalgia ahead

Suffering from a chronic and painful illness can be debilitating. Not only could there be physical symptoms of these conditions, but there may also be mental issues that a person is dealing with, such as depression or anxiety. This can be especially true when an illness is not well understood and treatment is inadequate or ineffective. 

These are the challenges that Texans who have fibromyalgia commonly face. Sufferers of this condition experience serious fatigue and pain that can be felt all over, not just localized to one body part. While there are various treatments that can help relieve some of the symptoms, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. However, research is ongoing to help us understand more about fibromyalgia and find more effective ways of identifying and treating the condition.

Recently, research efforts may have put us closer to standardizing the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia.

A possible link between processed foods and disability

In previous posts, we’ve explored some of the theories why Americans have a higher incidence of certain disabling conditions, including many types of cancers, cardiovascular disease and other impairments. A Social Security disability attorney knows that the number of disabled Americans receiving Social Security disability insurance benefits has increased in the past twenty years.

A recent discovery about a chemical called ADA, or azodicarbonamide, may provide an additional theory as to the seeming increase in American disability rates. Specifically, researchers have discovered that ADA is also a listed ingredient in perhaps as many as 500 food products. 

Social Security disability and local assistance programs

The interaction between various assistance programs can become confusing, as a recent article illustrates. 

The article addressed the situation of a woman who recently qualified for Social Security disability insurance benefits. She also has an adult daughter who is a long-time beneficiary of Supplemental Security Income payments on the basis of Down Syndrome. 

How the Social Security Administration defines disability

Understanding the requirements for Social Security disability is no small feat. Not surprisingly, the Social Security Administration recently published a Q&A on that subject.

The article clarifies the SSA’s definition of disability. To be eligible for benefits, an applicant for Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income must not be able to work -- either in his or her former job, or in other work that is common in our current national economy. 

Social Security disability helps many, but could it be better?

Social Security disability benefits provide much-needed financial assistance to many people in Dallas who are unable to work because of a disability. However, there is still room for improvement in the disability program. Continuously, people who deserve benefits are denied them, and people who do not need them but find ways to game the system are approved. How can the Social Security Administration make sure that program works the way it is supposed to?

In the wake of the string of arrests in New York for disability fraud, one administrative law judge offered a few suggestions for improving the system based on his personal experience.

SSA: 35.5% of those who receive SSD have mental disorder

As mental illness continues to move out of the shadows, more people in Texas and elsewhere are receiving Social Security disability benefits due to a mental condition. The Social Security Administration reports that mental disorder is one of the fastest-growing categories of disability for which the program gives out benefits.

According to the report, which is based on data through December 2012, exactly 10,088,739 people were receiving SSD benefits due to mental disability. That made up 35.5 percent of all recipients at that time, and was nearly double the number of beneficiaries for mental illness in 1995. It is the single largest group of disabilities for which the SSA grants benefits, the report says.

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