The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability: the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Social Security Act (the Act) and the supplemental security income (SSI) program (title XVI of the Act). You should also look into the “Ticket to Work” program that is offered directly through the Social Security Administration. The SSA will review the work of about 1,500 disability appeals judges across the country whose rates vary significantly from the norm. The wage base for Social Security is indexed each year for inflation and Medicare has maintained an unlimited base since 1993.
All Social Security appeals have a sixty-five day appeal period, if you miss this deadline, you may have to begin your disability claim again. Be sure to do research on this with the help of your Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program as well as with the Social Security Administration.
If your initial claim is denied you should begin the Social Security disability appeal process. This can be done over the telephone, on SSA’s web site (for SSDI claims only) or, preferably, in person at the local Social Security Administration District Office.
The Government Pension Offset Provision (GPO) was enacted to treat retired government employees who had not contributed to Social Security similarly to retirees who had. For example, a 40 year-old Claimant who became disabled in 2003 would have had to have worked and paid FICA taxes for at least 10 years during his lifetime, and for at least 5 years between 1992 and 2002.
Anyone born after 1960 must reach age 67 for normal retirement benefits. Some judges award benefits less than 20 percent of the time while others award benefits almost 100 percent of the time, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. Therefore, the focus in on function, not on diagnosis; SSA often admits that Claimants have medical problems and are “impaired,” but denies that they are “totally disabled.” The debate is over what the Claimant can “do” despite the medical problems.