Tuesday, April 18, 2017

National Social Security Month

“No greater tragedy exists in modern civilization than the aged, worn-out worker who after a life of ceaseless effort and useful productivity must look forward for his declining years to a poorhouse. A modern social consciousness demands a more humane and efficient arrangement."
—President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (February 28, 1929)

In 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. The aim was to help those in need of financial assistance, and over the decades the legislation has kept millions of Americans afloat—particularly older people and the disabled. Without the aid of programs, like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), multitudes of people would needlessly suffer. Even those who are not struggling with a disability rely heavily on Social Security, benefits that people can begin to collect at 62-years of age.

Social Security is used in reference to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Whether you work for a company, or are self-employed, some of the taxes you pay every year go towards social security. Funds that can be drawn from later in life, when one’s ability to work or desire to work diminishes. While Social Security benefits can greatly help, it is important to keep in mind that such benefits only replace approximately 40 percent of pre-retirement earnings.

Now, 82-years since FDR made Social Security the law of the land, the Nation is being asked to observe the first National Social Security Month. Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security is asking Americans to takes steps to ensure their financial security, according to an agency press release. Throughout the month of April, the SSA will be providing advice for “developing a sound financial plan that includes Social Security as a foundation.”

On April 20, 2017—Social Security will participate in a Facebook Live Chat, hosted by USA.gov, at 7:00 p.m. ET. At which time, you, the public, may ask questions about the “5 Steps Toward Financial Security.” Those steps include:
  • Get to know your Social Security
  • Verify your lifetime earnings with a my Social Security account
  • Estimate your future Social Security benefits at my Social Security
  • Apply online for retirement, disability, or Medicare benefits
  • Manage your Social Security benefits
If you would like to be involved, all you have to do is follow USA.gov and Social Security on Facebook.

“With retirement, disability, and survivors benefits, Social Security helps secure today and tomorrow for millions of people throughout life’s journey,” Acting Commissioner Berryhill said. “By hosting National Social Security Month, we hope to help the public understand their Social Security protections and promote financial education.” 

At Driscoll Law, we are committed to helping you get the social security benefits you require. We would like to ask our readers to take some time this month to observe the first National Social Security Month, and have an active role in your financial security which we all rely heavily on in our golden years.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

SB-575: Patient Access to Health Records

People in California who would like to apply for social service benefits, such as Medi-Cal, to obtain financial assistance, must jump through several hoops and meet certain requirements. Unless you meet certain stipulations, individuals looking for coverage need to show that they do not make over a certain amount of money. For instance, the income limit is calculated as a percentage related to federal poverty guidelines. Right now, that limit is about $1,188 monthly for an individual and $1,603 for a couple. Such limits fluctuate regarding the number of dependents you have. Setting finances aside, you can also qualify for Medi-Cal if you are:
  • 65 or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled
With all that in mind, it is fairly safe to say that the majority of Californians applying for state benefit programs are at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale—impoverished or indigent. They are applying for such programs because they need help to get by in life, no easy task when you are unemployed or are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

When people apply for Medi-Cal they are required to provide medical records to support one’s claims of eligibility. If you have ever had to get copies of medical records, then you are probably aware that there are fees associated with acquiring them. Asking people to pay cash for the medical records to prove their eligibility, when they are already financially struggling to get by, is a burden that should be mitigated. Fortunately, lawmakers are working to do away with such fees.

As things stand right now throughout the state, medical providers are allowed to charge patients up to 25 cents a page for copies and 50 cents for medical records on microfilm, Southern California Public Radio reports. Additionally, clerical fees can also be added to those page costs. SB-575: Patient Access to Health Records, introduced by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), would require medical providers to cover copy costs. The bill is not specific to just Medi-Cal, but all social services, including: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), State Supplemental Payment (SSP) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

"If you have several pages that you need it can be quite costly," said Leyva. "They [providers] can afford to absorb these costs. The poor people who are trying to receive their records cannot." 

Patient Access to Health Records, if passed, would also waive the medical record copy fees for people applying for:
  • In-Home Supportive Services
  • California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • CalFresh
As of April 3, 2017, SB-575 has passed the Senate Health committee and was referred back to the Senate Judiciary committee. 

If you have additional questions regarding the SSI and SSDI application processes, let our office help you through the lengthy and complicated process of applying and qualifying for these social security disability benefits. Call Driscoll Law Corporation at 949-359-1370 to receive your free consultation.