disability | Law Firm Newswire - Part 2

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 10, 2015 – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on Aug. 24 that it has slashed its backlog of veterans’ claims for disability coverage by 84 percent from a high of more than 611,000 claims in 2013. VA officials have used a combination of paperless processing techniques, updated software systems and mandatory overtime by benefits department employees to reduce the numbers. Currently, around 98,500 of more than 362,000 pending claims in the Veterans Benefits Administration are awaiting processing. The average processing time for a case has dropped from 282 days to around 105 […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 5, 2015 – A new report shows that although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has improved its processing of veterans’ benefits claims overall, the office that processes disability cases for Florida has failed to handle claims properly. The VA regional office in St. Petersburg, Florida, is either overpaying or shortchanging the state’s veterans in some cases. The St. Petersburg office processes disability claims for all of Florida. The report was part of the inspector general’s ongoing review of regional offices throughout the United States. “In recent years, the VA has been experiencing high […]


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San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 14, 2015 – The Social Security disability fund is running out of money and faces a nearly 20 percent cut to benefits at the end of 2016, according to a Social Security trustees report released on July 22. Nearly 60 million people currently receive Social Security benefits. The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are vital sources of income for special needs children. The budget cuts would immediately affect around 11 million people receiving disability benefits as of 2014. Other beneficiaries could see reduced or interrupted payments in the […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 29, 2015 – Recipients of Social Security disability could experience an automatic 19 percent cut in benefits as the disability trust fund is projected to run out of money by the end of next year. Eleven million Americans rely on disability benefits from Social Security, which turned 80 on Aug. 14. Disabled workers and their families receive an average monthly payment of $1,019, which adds up to $12,228 a year. A 19 percent cut would decrease average annual benefits to under $10,000. “A cut to benefits would be detrimental to the millions of disabled […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 25, 2015 – The House passed legislation on July 28 to speed up federal payments to veterans who have complex benefits claims and to raise the benefits compensation rate for disabled veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be required to pay benefits to veterans as parts of their claim are processed instead of waiting until the entire case is finished. According to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), the typical benefits claim for Afghanistan and Iraq veterans is made up of eight components. She said the measure would “allow veterans […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 31, 2015 – An audit report released on July 1 reveals that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has overpaid almost $17 billion in disability benefits over the past decade, with some individuals still receiving payments despite being ineligible. The audit, issued by the Office of the Inspector General, examined a sample group of 1,532 Americans receiving disability benefits from October 2003 to February 2014. The results indicate that around 50 percent of the people were overpaid. The SSA estimates only $8.1 billion of the $17 billion in overpayments has been recovered, and that it […]


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Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) August 27, 2015 – Rules and regulations relating to what constitutes total disability under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) are confusing. What is the clear definition of total disability, or is there one? Total disability is close to being an open-ended definition to some managers who feel that an individual must be completely disabled 100 percent of the time. This is not the case. However, there are specific requirements that must be met in order to become eligible for FERS disability retirement. Those requirements include, but are not necessarily limited to: * The disability […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 10, 2015 – Ending years of contention between Air Force veterans and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the agency on June 19 agreed to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to former service personnel who might have been exposed to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange on aircraft used in the Vietnam War. Veterans who flew contaminated C-123 airplanes after they were used in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971 to spray Agent Orange are now allowed to seek medical care and file for financial compensation with disability claims for illnesses related to […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 12, 2015 – The Social Security Administration (SSA) is seeking information from insurance companies and local and state government to ensure an appropriate offset of disability benefits. In April, the SSA forwarded a proposal that, if enacted, will require states, local governments and private insurers to report workers’ compensation benefits to the agency when those benefits affect the offset of the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) benefits that the SSA pays to disability insurance recipients. The proposal was included as part of the SSA’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Overview. Under current law, the SSA […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 10, 2015 – In an interview on March 12, David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States, warned that rising costs for Social Security, public pensions and healthcare could jeopardize the nation’s safety net for workers. Walker was the comptroller general of the United States from 1998 to 2008. He served as head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) during the same period. Now, his comments support a recent Social Security Administration (SSA) warning that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund, in particular, could run out of money as early as next year. Walker […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 20, 2015 – Obama’s call to redirect money from the Social Security retirement fund to its disability fund is facing resistance in Congress. On February 2, President Obama unveiled his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The $4 trillion budget includes more than $1 trillion in proposed new tax measures. Prominent among the president’s fiscal proposals is an increase in the Social Security Disability Trust Fund’s share of funding from payroll taxes – an attempt to shore up the finances of an entitlement program that is facing a major shortfall. Under the president’s […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) February 26, 2015 – Coupled with a presidential hopeful’s remarks, the surprise move elevated Social Security as an issue. Republican lawmakers — fresh from midterm elections that delivered the Senate to GOP control and expanded the party’s majority in the House — returned to Capitol Hill in January, energized and eager to forward conservative legislation. And based on an opening day rules change that House Republicans sprung on their Democratic colleagues, it is clear that Social Security will be a major point of contention for the new session. House Republicans signaled their intent to focus […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 28, 2015 – Law would allow those who qualify under executive action to collect disability, other payments. On November 25, key details about how President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform would translate into policy emerged. In an email, White House spokesman Shawn Turner stated that undocumented immigrants would be eligible to collect Social Security and Medicare benefits: “If they pay in, they can draw.” Federal law states that people who pay taxes and have been determined to be “lawfully present in the United States” are allowed to collect government benefits once they become […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 20, 2015 – Veterans who need assistance performing activities of daily living (ADLs) may qualify for a Veterans Administration (VA) pension benefit called Aid and Attendance, which can cover the cost of in-home care or residence in a nursing home. Aid and Attendance is available to veterans who served for a minimum of 90 days, at least one of which occurred during wartime. Veterans or surviving spouses may be eligible if they require the aid of another person to perform ADLs such as using the restroom, eating or bathing. Individuals who are blind or […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) December 17, 2014 – A handful of judges have been found to have approved large numbers of dubious cases and benefits. The Social Security Administration’s inspector general issued a report on November 17 finding a significant number of disability cases approved by certain judges did not have “a well-supported rationale” for awarding benefits. According to the report, 44 judges over seven years were deemed to have decided an unusually large number of disability cases and awarded an unusually high number of benefits. More specifically, the report examined 275 cases and found 216 of them to […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) November 20, 2014 – While claimants wait for a judge to make decision on their case, the already-long Social Security application process can stretch on for more than a year. Some agencies of the federal government have acquired unflattering reputations for big backlogs to process applications or resolve appeals. One agency in particular, the Social Security Administration, has reached an unenviable milestone and is fast approaching another one. As of the third quarter of this year, the Social Security office of judges who hear appeals for for disability benefits ranks as the leading federal agency for […]


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Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) October 28, 2014 – Thousands of Vietnam veterans may become eligible for benefits, thanks to new rules that help veterans appeal less-than-honorable discharges that were caused by conduct related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to a Department of Defense memorandum from United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, PTSD should now be considered a mitigating factor in the review of discharge status. The memorandum also instructs that time limits be liberally waived in these cases so that Vietnam veterans can apply. PTSD did not become an official diagnosis until after 1980. As such, Vietnam […]


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Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 9, 2014 – Some pediatric cancer patients may qualify for disability benefits under Social Security rules. On August 29, President Obama reminded Americans of the seriousness of childhood cancer in the United States and proclaimed September to be National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  As part of the proclamation, the president remembered those children who have succumbed to pediatric cancer. He offered the administration’s support for those children now fighting the disease, for their loved ones, and for the researchers, healthcare providers and advocacy groups who seek to lessen, and one day eliminate, the burden […]


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Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) September 30, 2014 – Personal grooming choices are not considered “protected” characteristics. “It is not against federal employment law for a company to decline to hire someone whose appearance does not appeal to them. Companies may base their hiring and work choices on an individual’s personal characteristics, and they may legally treat them differently according to their attributes,” explained Chicago employment attorney Thomas C. Coffey. Nationwide, an employer may not discriminate against an individual because of disability, race, color, nationality, age, sexual orientation or religion. Those classes are referred to as “protected” classes or groups. […]


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Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) September 22, 2014 – Personal grooming choices are not considered “protected” characteristics. “It is not against federal employment law for a company to decline to hire someone whose appearance does not appeal to them. Companies may base their hiring and work choices on an individual’s personal characteristics, and they may legally treat them differently according to their attributes,” explained Chicago employment attorney Thomas C. Coffey. Nationwide, an employer may not discriminate against an individual because of disability, race, color, nationality, age, sexual orientation or religion. Those classes are referred to as “protected” classes or groups. […]


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