How can vulnerable disabled citizens be protected from nursing home abuse?

Applying for disability benefits in Arizona is a complex and time-consuming process. There are two different federal programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) each with its own requirements. Gathering the required information and documentation can be overwhelming and since two-thirds of all initial disability benefits applications are denied, getting it right the first time is important. 

First, applicants must consider whether they qualify for disability benefits under either federal program – – Social Security disability insurance (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security income (“SSI”).

At the risk of oversimplifying the two programs’ differences, SSDI is available to applicants who have worked and paid into the Social Security system through payroll deductions over a certain period of time and hours prior to becoming disabled. SSI is available to elderly or disabled individuals with extremely limited income and resources – – there is no requirement for ever having worked. Occasionally, people may qualify for both programs. 

Both federal programs define being disabled as “suffering from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that is lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more or result in death”. There are many physical and mental conditions that the government recognizes as disabilities. 

While becoming disabled and proving that disability to the government can be a devastating and frustrating experience, some people’s disabilities are evident and their benefits are awarded with little to no resistance. Unfortunately, some severely disabled people may be at risk of physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse because of their vulnerable condition. The abuse may come at the hands of loved ones, caretakers, or strangers. 

Recently, right in Phoenix, a young disabled woman living in a vegetative state who needed the support of feeding and breathing tubes to live gave birth to a baby boy in a skilled nursing facility. Reportedly, the staff was not aware of the pregnancy which apparently resulted from a sexual assault according to investigators. The alleged victim was reportedly incapacitated from the age of three. An investigation continues into who impregnated the woman and how the staff was unaware of the pregnancy until the baby was born. 

If you or a loved one needs help applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, or if you have any other questions, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona.