Piemonte Law Firm Disability Blog: Charlotte, NC

Claim Denied?
Piemonte Law Firm is Here to Help

June 26, 2013

There are various factors that can contribute to the denial of a Social Security Disability or a Veterans Disability benefits claim. One small mistake can be the cause for an application to be rejected, which leaves you, the applicant, confused and frustrated. You deserve your benefits and sometimes you need a little help to get what is rightfully yours. Piemonte Law Firm is Your Disability Advocate and strives to win every client’s claim.

 

The Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration hold strict requirements for applicants to meet their definition of disability. Providing medical records and evidence help meet qualifications, but to get your claim approved, sometimes there are other road blocks to deal with.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY

Your claim could be denied:

  • If you do not have ongoing medical care.
  • If you are not taking your medication as your doctor prescribes.
  • If you do not tell your doctor everything about your medical situation. If it’s not in your medical records, it may be viewed as untrue.
  • If you are working.
  • If you are currently receiving unemployment. If you receive unemployment benefits, you must certify you are ready, willing, and able to work.

If your claim has been denied please call Piemonte Law Firm at (877) VOICE4U so that we may figure out a way to help you win your claim.

VETERANS DISABILITY

If you were denied your Veterans Disability benefits, your claim could have been rejected because:

  • Documentation of a current disability/illness/condition is nonexistent.
  • The injury, illness, or wound did not occur while in service.
  • You may have been given a rating but it is too low.
  • And/or there is no connection between the documentation and the injury that occurred in service.

Simple filing mistakes like misspellings or misdated events on an application can also lead to a claim denial. An experienced and knowledgeable Disability Advocate can help ensure that your application is submitted correctly and increases the odds that your claim is successful. Piemonte Law Firm has over 26 years in practice and a successful track record of helping clients receive their benefits. If you or someone that you know needs help with their denied Veterans Disability or Social Security Disability claim, or needs help filing their claim, please call Piemonte Law Firm at (877) VOICE4U.


Piemonte Law Firm is YOUR Disability Advocate

April 5, 2013

Eight Former Commissioners of Social Security Voice Support for Disability Programs

April 4, 2013

An Open Letter from Former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration

As former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration (SSA), we write to express our significant concerns regarding a series recently aired on This American Life, All Things Considered, and National Public Radio stations across the U.S. ("Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America"). Our nation’s Social Security system serves as a vital lifeline for millions of individuals with severe disabilities. We feel compelled to share our unique insight into the Social Security system because we know firsthand the dangers of mischaracterizing the disability programs via sensational, anecdote-based media accounts, leaving vulnerable beneficiaries to pick up the pieces.

Approximately 1 in 5 of our fellow Americans live with disabilities, but only those with the most significant disabilities qualify for disability benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Title II Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (DI) benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits provide critical support to millions of Americans with the most severe disabilities, as well as their dependents and survivors. Disabled beneficiaries often report multiple impairments, and many have such poor health that they are terminally ill: about 1 in 5 male DI beneficiaries and 1 in 7 female DI beneficiaries die within 5 years of receiving benefits. Despite their impairments, many beneficiaries attempt work using the work incentives under the Social Security Act, and some do work part-time. For example, research by Mathematica and SSA finds that about 17 percent of beneficiaries worked in 2007. However, their earnings are generally very low (two-thirds of those who worked in 2007 earned less than $5,000 for the whole year), and only a small share are able to earn enough to be self-sufficient and leave the DI and SSI programs each year. Without Social Security or SSI, the alternatives for many beneficiaries are simply unthinkable.

The statutory standard for approval is very strict, and was made even more so in 1996. To implement this strict standard, Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, policies, and procedures require extensive documentation and medical evidence at all levels of the application process. Less than one- third of initial DI and SSI applications are approved, and only about 40 percent of adult DI and SSI applicants receive benefits even after all levels of appeal. As with adults, most children who apply are denied SSI, and only the most severely impaired qualify for benefits.

Managing the eligibility process for the disability system is a challenging task, and errors will always occur in any system of this size. But the SSA makes every effort to pay benefits to the right person in the right amount at the right time. When an individual applies for one of SSA’s disability programs, the agency has extensive systems in place to ensure accurate decisions, and the agency is home to many dedicated public servants who take their ongoing responsibility of the proper stewardship of the programs very seriously. Program integrity is critically important and adequate funds must be available to make continued progress in quality assurance and monitoring. In the face of annual appropriations that were far below what the President requested in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012, the agency has still continued to implement many new system improvements that protect taxpayers and live up to Americans’ commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

It is true that DI has grown significantly in the past 30 years. The growth that we’ve seen was predicted by actuaries as early as 1994 and is mostly the result of two factors: baby boomers entering their high- disability years, and women entering the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s so that more are now "insured" for DI based on their own prior contributions. The increase in the number of children receiving SSI benefits in the past decade is similarly explained by larger economic factors, namely the increase in the number of poor and low-income children. More than 1 in 5 U.S. children live in poverty today and some 44 percent live in low-income households. Since SSI is a means-tested program, more poor and low-income children mean more children with disabilities are financially eligible for benefits. Importantly, the share of low-income children who receive SSI benefits has remained constant at less than four percent.

Yet, the series aired on NPR sensationalizes this growth, as well as the DI trust fund’s projected shortfall. History tells a less dramatic story. Since Social Security was enacted, Congress has "reallocated" payroll tax revenues across the OASI and DI trust funds – about equally in both directions – some 11 times to account for demographic shifts. In 1994, the last time such reallocation occurred, SSA actuaries projected that similar action would next be required in 2016. They were right on target.

We are deeply concerned that the series “Unfit for Work” failed to tell the whole story and perpetuated dangerous myths about the Social Security disability programs and the people helped by this vital system. We fear that listeners may come away with an incorrect impression of the program— as opposed to an understanding of the program actually based on facts.

As former Commissioners of the agency, we could not sit on the sidelines and witness this one perspective on the disability programs threaten to pull the rug out from under millions of people with severe disabilities. Drastic changes to these programs would lead to drastic consequences for some of America's most vulnerable people. With the lives of so many vulnerable people at stake, it is vital that future reporting on the DI and SSI programs look at all parts of this important issue and take a balanced, careful look at how to preserve and strengthen these vital parts of our nation’s Social Security system.

Sincerely,

Kenneth S. Apfel Michael J. Astrue Jo Anne B. Barnhart Shirley S. Chater

Herbert R. Doggette Louis D. Enof

Larry G. Massanari

Lawrence H. Thompson


Mandatory Budget Cuts to Take Effect Today Across The Federal Government

March 1, 2013

Sequestration's mandatory budget cuts are scheduled to take effect today, March 1, 2013. The press has reported that "Social Security will not be affected." This is not completely accurate. It is true that the payment of benefits will not be affected. However, the sequestration cuts will affect all other aspects of SSA, including the day-to-day operations of the Agency, by reducing SSA's administrative budget.

 

According to the SSA Fact Sheet on the effect of sequestration on SSA's operations, field office and hearing office operations will be impacted, although the timing is not clear. SSA estimated that sequestration will result in longer waits in field offices (average of 30 minutes) and for the 800-number. Pending levels of initial disability claims would rise by over 140,000 claims and would have to wait about two weeks longer for an initial decision. Sequestration would result in the loss of over 5,000 more SSA employees.

 

At the hearing level, claimants will have to wait nearly a month longer for a hearing decision and the progress in reducing the hearings backlog would be eroded. While SSA will try to prioritize reductions to avoid furloughs, they still remain possible. With each furlough day, the hearing offices would not be able to hold 3,000 hearings.


Social Security Disability Insurance

August 6, 2012

Piemonte Law Firm wants to conclude and clarify a re-occurring myth among the Social Security Disability Insurance community.

Social Security Disability Insurance claims and qualifying Americas has substantially risen due to many reasons but it is not isolated to one circumstance.

Yes, America’s high unemployment rate has influenced amount of individuals seeking Social Security Disability Insurance but this, alone, is not the primary source for the increase.

The major reason the number of applications have increased in the last couple of years is because the number of Americans that now qualify for Social Security Disability has reached it’s peak. Why?

The Baby-Boomer generation, especially in Charlotte, is getting older and suffering from more disabilities, making Social Security Disability Insurance a necessity. In addition to the population growth, medical advancements are saving the lives of people with serious medical conditions. While we are thankful that our loved ones are living longer, these advancements are also directly affecting the number of Social Security Disability Insurance applicants.

It is important to Piemonte Law Firm to not let individuals with disabilities become victims of misinterpreted information or corporate America political arguments over the federal budget. George C. Piemonte believes that if you pay into the Social Security system, you have earned the right to receive benefits. The refusal or extreme delay of benefits to those who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance is an injustice and Piemonte Law Firm wants to help you!

Protecting your Social Security Disability benefits is Piemonte Law Firm’s main objective, regardless of means, age or disability. Social Security Disability Insurance is a vital lifeline for American citizens who once held full-time jobs but have become too ill or injured to work.

George C. Piemonte is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law that knows how difficult illness, injury, and chronic pain is for Social Security Disability clients. To schedule a free no-obligation consultation and preliminary case review by an experienced North Carolina SSD/SSI lawyer, call or email The Piemonte Law Firm today. Piemonte Law Firm is your action advocate!


Common Social Security Disability Myths

June 5, 2012

MYTH: An increasing number of people taking advantage of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is accelerating Social Security's insolvency.

FACT: According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Disability Insurance Trust Fund's share of the overall annual cost of the Social Security program peaked in 2003, not 2011. In fact, SSA projects that the number of workers per disability beneficiary is expected to be relatively stable in the future. This means that restoring sustainability for SSDI will not require continually greater benefit cuts or revenue increases. A one-time change to offset the drop in birth rate will sustain the program into the foreseeable future.

MYTH: The high unemployment rate is the primary reason that more Americans are seeking SSDI benefits. The program is becoming an extension of unemployment insurance.

FACT: It is a misrepresentation to claim that a surge in unemployed applicants are looking to get on the public dole through SSDI. Applications are higher than they were years ago because the population has increased, Baby Boomers are getting older and having more disabilities, more women are working so they are more likely to be insured and to be injured, and medical advancements are saving the lives of people with serious medical conditions that used to be fatal.

MYTH: The current SSDI program is set up so that it keeps able-bodied people out of the workforce when they are employable.

FACT: Disability benefits are so low compared even to minimum-wage work that it cannot reasonably be considered an incentive not to work. And benefits do not start right away, even for those who successfully complete the difficult application process. Furthermore, the program has many incentives built in for those who want to return to work, including trial work periods, insurance continuation, and even retraining.

MYTH: It has never been easier to obtain Social Security disability benefits.

FACT: Getting disability approval is harder than ever. Undocumented pain, alcoholism and drug abuse have been disqualified as qualifying disabilities. Mental retardation and HIV standards are tougher. Diabetes and obesity are no longer distinct disabilities. Applicants must also present objective medical evidence of their disability before they begin receiving benefits.

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