Wednesday, October 19, 2016

SSDI 60th Anniversary

If you were born with a disability, or experienced an injury that resulted in one, then there is a good chance you receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is linked to the Social Security retirement program, but is for workers who become disabled before retirement age. The program helps millions of Americans and their families, providing support that can greatly improve the quality of one’s life. This year, marks the 60th anniversary of the SSDI program, so we thought it important to share some of the program’s history.

When the SSA was formed in 1935, it did not have any provisions for disability insurance, according to the agency. Social Security Disability Insurance program was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, but it only applied to people age 50 or older. Naturally, the program has evolved and been enhanced with new features over the years, including who is eligible for benefits.

At the onset of the SSDI program, there was a six-month waiting period and there were no benefits payable to spouses or children, The Tribune Star reports. Today, people who receive SSDI benefits can receive Medicare coverage, incentives to go back to work and their dependents may be eligible to receive benefits on their earnings records.

Ever since the inception of the SSA, the process to be awarded benefits for the disabled has been arduous. The agency continues to do whatever it can to assist everyone who needs help, and we think it is important to see how far SSDI has come, please take a look at the timeline below:
  • 1954—Social Security Amendments of 1954 establish the disability "freeze."
  • 1956—Monthly benefits are provided to disabled workers aged 50–64 and to disabled children (aged 18 or older) of retired or deceased workers.
  • 1958—Benefits are established for the dependents of disabled workers.
  • 1960—The requirement that a worker must be at least 50 years of age to be eligible for disability benefits is eliminated.
  • 1968—Benefits for disabled widow(er)s aged 50 or older are enacted.
  • 1972—Medicare coverage is extended to Disability Insurance beneficiaries after 24 months of entitlement, and the Supplemental Security Income program is established.
  • 1977—A new benefit formula is introduced that "decouples" the cost-of-living adjustment from wage increases in an effort to control spiraling Social Security program costs.
  • 1980—Social Security Amendments of 1980 place a cap on family benefits to disabled workers, require periodic continuing disability reviews, and create work incentives.
  • 1984—Congress requires the development of new criteria for adjudicating claims involving mental impairments and establishes a "medical review standard" for making determinations on continuing disability reviews.
  • 1999—The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 is enacted, enabling disability beneficiaries to seek employment services and other support services needed to help them reduce their dependence on cash benefits.
If you have questions and need assistance in filing for SSDI, contact Stephanie Merritt Driscoll, an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice as a Social Security Disability advocate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

SSA Updating Mental Disorders Program Criteria

People with mental health and/or physical disabilities often have the odds stacked against them with regard to getting by in life. Without question, Americans living with disabilities have a lot with which to contend. And while those who are given the tools and care to foster in today’s society have a fighting chance, there is a significant number of people who have been left behind.

Scientific understanding of the brain and how it functions has come a long way in recent years, shedding light on various disabilities. Increased knowledge has given therapists the ability to better treat mental health disorders, which can greatly improve the quality of one’s life. Many of those living with any mental health illness require assistance in the form of Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

As was mentioned earlier, researchers continue to shine a light on mental illness, which means that those who once did not qualify for benefits may one day in the future. In order to qualify for SSA benefits for mental health disorder, one must meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is a tome currently in its fifth edition (DSM-V), which was released in 2013. Now, three years later the SSA is finally updating its medical criteria for evaluating mental disorders program. The new rules are scheduled to go into effect on January 17, 2017.

"Updating our medical criteria for the disability program is a challenging task that has been complicated by deep budgetary cuts in recent years," said Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, in a press release. "We are committed to updating our regulations to reflect up-to-date standards and practices used in the health care community." 

You can view the rule changes, by clicking here.

If you have a family member, whether an adult or child, who has a diagnosed mental disorder and you need more information about these SSA Rule Changes, please contact Stephanie Merritt Driscoll, an attorney in Southern California who focuses her practice as a Social Security Disability advocate.