Ask anyone with a Social Security disability determination for a quick description of the process and be prepared for something like: Agony. Or glacial. Or maddening.
There may be a glimmer of hope for some. On February 12 the Social Security Administration added to the list of conditions that will be considered under the compassionate allowance program, which is a fast track approach to making disability determinations. Among those conditions is early (young age) onset Alzheimer’s disease. More on that below.
Why This Might Be Important
Social Security disability determinations are important for a number of reasons. As most know, all those years of payroll taxes fund a mandatory federal retirement benefit called Social Security. Work enough, turn 62 or so, stop working and collect retirement benefits. But what of the younger worker who becomes disabled?
Social Security Disability Income benefits are essentially an advance payment of retirement benefits for the younger disabled (former) worker. The extra income is nice, but the added bonus is that two years after Social Security says the disability began the (former) worker also collects Medicare. (Why a two year wait? It’s a mystery.)
Medicare is the mandatory federal health insurance program that normally goes along with the Social Security retirement benefits. That can be a godsend for the disabled individual who is no doubt racking up medical bills and may have no other health insurance (remember, she hasn’t been working a few years).
A Social Security disability determination vicodin prescription online is also important for the younger disabled person who is truly destitute (she can’t work, she’s disabled, and she doesn’t have any significant work history). Supplemental Security Income is a small benefit with all sorts of strings attached. But it has one very important feature: The doors to Medicaid instantly swing open. Medicaid is the federal health insurance program for the poor disabled.
Getting One Is Another Matter!
Getting the determination is another matter and not for the faint hearted. Years of budget cuts and under staffing have taken a toll. Overworked and under trained caseworkers make erroneous decisions and often do not understand what they are doing.
Good administrative law judges (the ones who straighten out the decisions made by the overworked and under trained caseworkers) are overwhelmed. Getting on a judge’s docket can take months . . . up to a year.
A final decision can take years. The process is so complex that lawyers can actually make a living at it . . . why else are all those ads on TV?
Cutting Through The Mess . . . For Some
That is why the compassionate allowance program can make such a difference to someone with a listed condition. Social Security Administration has determined that the conditions shown are easy to prove with a simple records review. Experience has also shown that people suffering from the listed conditions always win . . . eventually . . . a determination.
So, the thinking goes, why not fast track those conditions. Early onset Alzheimers disease is now one of those conditions. A break for those with a heartbreaking condition.
For a full list of the listed conditions go to www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances. There are 88 conditions listed. Someone lucky (or unlucky) enough to be on the list may be on the way to a speedy determination.