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Austin Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSDI: earned, modest benefits on which millions depend

As the U.S. gets closer each day to mid-term elections this fall, political rancor increases in intensity. As we know full well in Austin, immigration and foreign policy issues command today's attention of media and politicians alike. But one day soon, the focus will swing back to Social Security Disability benefits. Because the program will require in the next couple of years an upward adjustment in revenue, debate is likely to be heated.

While there's calm before that coming storm, we would take a brief look at two key, though sometimes overlooked, points about the program: benefits are modest and they are earned.

Step by step: determining disability status

Like many government agencies, the Social Security Administration takes a methodical approach. In order to determine if a person is disabled and therefore eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it goes through a five-step process that begins with determining if you are presently employed and ends with determining if you are physically and mentally capable of doing work other than the type you did before applying for SSDI.

For Austin residents contemplating applying for disability benefits, the first question the SSA is going to ask is “Are you working?” If the answer is yes, and you’re earning more $1,070 per month, the agency is not going to consider you disabled. 

Consumed by pain

A year and a half ago, her time and energy were focused on family (she has six children), her writing about health research and her hobby: boxing. Today, the 51-year-old often spends her time focused on the chronic pain that can take over her life. On bad days, she cannot even eat or speak.

She’s fortunate that she has an accommodating employer that allows her to work from home several days a week; days she says that allow her to deal with the pain and “hibernate and suck on ice chips.”

U.S. Senator says it's time to secure SSDI funding for the future

As every Austin fan of University of Texas football knows, a good defense is a critical part of a winning strategy. But we also know that you simply can’t win games today if your offense can’t put points on the board.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown says it’s time for supporters of Social Security Disability Insurance to not only defend the program, but also to go on offense. The Ohio lawmaker says it’s time to expand Social Security benefits and secure SSDI funding for the future.

A one-two punch against diabetes and heart disease

Diabetes affects thousands of people in Austin each year. The condition also raises the risks of developing cardiovascular disease, and we know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Those facts got researchers to wonder what would happen if they mounted a two-pronged defense against the conditions that so often attack together.

In a recent study, researchers looked at two dietary factors. The first is a low glycemic diet, better known as a whole grain diet. Whole grain diets have been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes.

Scheduling woes roil medical care for veterans, VA

When someone enters our military and sacrifices family life, job opportunities and even their health in order to serve our nation, it’s not too much to expect that they get medical care in a timely fashion from the VA. But more than 57,000 veterans across the nation had waits exceeding 90 days for check-ups, ABC News reports.

According to a Texas newspaper, two specialty clinics about 300 miles south of Austin had the longest waits in the country: 145 days. Those kinds of delays in care for veterans, some of whom are disabled, have caused a national furor. 

Increasing numbers of women receiving SSDI

The percentage of women participating in the labor force peaked in 1999 at 60 percent. Since then, there has been a slow decline in the percentage of women working, dropping to 57.2 percent in 2012. At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of women receiving SSDI.

In 1970, just 28 percent of those workers receiving Social Security disability benefits were female. By 2012, the figure was up to 48 percent. Unsurprisingly, the surge was expected as women increasingly joined the workforce in the '70s and beyond.

Could limb movement be restored to spinal cord injury victims?

Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating anyone can sustain. Far too often, someone is paralyzed for life because of an injury to their spinal cord sustained in a car accident, fall or sports or recreation incident. As many people in Austin know, diseases such as arthritis, cancer and osteoporosis can also cause spinal injuries that leave people with paralyzing disabilities.

Researchers continue to pursue ways to limit the effects of the injuries and means of restoring function to legs, arms and hands. New research at the UK’s Newcastle University offers hope that one day soon doctors will be able to restore the use of those limbs in patients who have a damaged spinal cord or motor cortex.

Countermeasures against Parkinson's disease

Many in Austin believe they couldn’t manage to live their lives if they didn't have their smartphones and laptops to check on work and social media as they sit in coffee shops, sipping hot java. But life can be much different for those with Parkinson’s disease. Getting to the shop, having a job to check on, and even drinking the cup of coffee can all be much more difficult for those dealing with tremors in their limbs.  

Far too often, Parkinson’s disease leaves a person unable to work and do other things many people take for granted. But a couple of new inventions are available to help counteract the tremors that often accompany Parkinson’s.

Can you apply for disability benefits due to fibromyalgia?

Some Austin area residents may have been aware that Fibromyalgia Awareness Day was recognized Monday. May 12 has been designated as a day to spread awareness about fibromyalgia since 1993. Fibromyalgia, a condition that is characterized by debilitating pain, is often misunderstood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that more than 5 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia. The condition can result in serious financial consequences, as it can leave people unable to work while struggling with medical costs related to their treatment. The CDC reported that in 2012 the average annual medical costs incurred by individuals due to fibromyalgia were just under $6,000. This can be a lot for patients to bear, even if they have pretty good medical insurance coverage.

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