Are LTD benefits automatically paid upon submission of a claim?

Some people are lucky to work for companies that include short- or long-term disability insurance as part of their employee benefits package. Others may decide to purchase disability insurance privately if they can afford the added expense—which can be substantial. Alternatively, some people figure they will file for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits with the federal government if they become disabled.

In general, these non-government disability insurance policies partially replace about 60% of your regular income in the event you become disabled and can no longer work. Generally, short-term policies are less costly (due to the shorter term of the benefits payout) and they cover workers for 3-6 months; long-term policies are more expensive because they can provide coverage for periods that can range from a couple of years to the rest of your career.

As you age, you are more likely to get injured, so disability insurance becomes more costly if you wait to buy it until you are older. Generally, those who work in a dangerous profession where the likelihood of getting hurt is high as well as those who are the primary or sole income earners for their families, should seriously consider long-term disability (“LTD”) insurance.
Just as people who file for SSDI benefits from the federal government can have their applications denied, those who have an LTD policy can be denied by their insurance company when they submit a claim. This may come as quite a surprise to many policyholders who assumed coverage and payouts were guaranteed.

LTD benefits attorneys help disabled people apply or appeal a denial of LTD benefits. They can gather medical evidence, vocational experts’ letters or testimony, personal statements and more to support your long-term disability appeal. It’s important to note that the window to file an LTD appeal of the denial of a claim may be very short, especially if the plan is governed by ERISA, so immediately contacting a skilled disability law attorney for assistance may be your best chance for success on appeal.

If you need help filing for long-term disability benefits or appealing the denial of an application for long-term disability benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled individuals throughout the state in all aspects of disability law. Let us be your advocates in the fight to get you the disability benefits you need.

Will the college admissions scandal hurt disabled students?

The college admissions scandal has disability attorneys of Arizona and others across the nation worried about the impact the scandal will likely have on legitimately disabled students who need testing accommodations for college entrance exams and other purposes.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits based on a mental impairment is generally much more difficult than qualifying for college entrance test accommodations – – the latter of which is relatively easy to get for students who already have an IEP (an individual education plan) in effect. And if the college admissions scandal allegations are true, it’s even easy for those without disabilities but with enough cash to get an accommodation.

Many of the mental impairments which would qualify a student for college testing accommodations like “autism, traumatic brain injury, and psychiatric conditions” are also noted as part of the Social Security Administration’s recognized list of “cognitive, emotional, and mental disorders” that may qualify for disabled applicants for Social Security disability benefits.

The testing accommodations for exams like the ACT and SAT, are designed not to give the disabled student an advantage over their typically-developing peers, but instead to level the playing field so they may have an equal opportunity for admission. Examples of some testing accommodations may include allowing a student to take the test alone if their condition is exacerbated by distractions, or allowing a student extra time if their disability requires they have it in order to complete the exam.

Reportedly, part of the alleged scam was accomplished by “helping students fake learning disabilities” for which they were allegedly given special testing accommodations of either extra time and/or private settings where their wrong answers were allegedly either corrected or another student took the exam for them.

Anticipated crackdowns on granting applications for special accommodations for testing can only hurt legitimately disabled students who desperately need them.
If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all parts of the disability benefits application process.

Do celebrities help raise disability awareness when they become disabled?

Disability attorneys in Arizona and across the nation know that when a Hollywood or sports celebrity is diagnosed with a disability, it provides an opportunity to educate the public about the medical condition itself, whether it is life-threatening or incurable, and what it is like to live with that disability. For many, popular actor, Michael J. Fox has become the face of Parkinson’s disease due to his decades-long battle with the debilitating neurological disease. Fundraising to research for a cure for these diseases is often spearheaded by afflicted celebrities.

Approximately four months after announcing her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, actress Selma Blair attended a post-Oscar’s party in an elegant gown and fashionable cane. Admitting she didn’t think she’d get “this bad”, she said she struggles with “movement, memory dressing and… her vision” and worries if she is “hireable” now.

Multiple Sclerosis, or “MS” for short, is one of the many disabling conditions under the Social Security Administration’s fairly extensive list of conditions that satisfy the government’s definition of “disabled”. Qualifying for disability benefits requires suffering from “a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death”.

Many people seek the assistance of a skilled Social Security disability attorney when applying for disability benefits because the process is complex and 2/3 of all initial applications are denied. Appealing the denial of disability benefits is possible but the wait time for a hearing is substantial and can be nearly 2 years. So, it is advisable to engage competent legal counsel as early in the process as possible to maximize the chance of your application being properly completed, and hence more likely to be granted.

If you need assistance with an initial application for Social Security disability benefits, or with an appeal of a denial of benefits, 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 individuals throughout Arizona and our practice is limited to disability law.

Can an employer make a disabled workers job description more difficult?

Walmart has historically been a company open to employing workers with disabilities, enabling many to avoid applying for Social Security disability benefits because they were gainfully employed. Many disabled employees hold the position of “store greeter” –a job that merely requires greeting customers with a friendly hello and goodbye as they enter and exit the store. But Walmart recently announced plans to change its “store greeters” policy– and its plans have unleashed an extreme backlash from the public and the disabled community.

“Store greeters” are reportedly being replaced by “customer hosts”. Unfortunately, the new position requires additional responsibilities that may be difficult or impossible for disabled individuals to handle. Rather than just greeting customers, which can be done by someone in a wheelchair, the customer host position requires employees to do additional duties including but not limited to “lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time”. Obviously, workers with certain physical and mental disabilities will not be able to perform some or all of these additional tasks and are reportedly subject to termination.

Many of these workers struggle with physical and mental conditions that are on the government’s list of conditions that are generally recognized as qualifying for social security disability benefits—such as cerebral palsy. These workers, like many disabled people, strive to work for despite their disability if they are able to do so and may have chosen not to apply for disability benefits because of the relatively easy greeter position and the opportunities for socialization that it adds to what otherwise could be a more isolated life.

Some of these workers– at Walmarts throughout the country– have been employed for approximately 20 years and fear losing their jobs. In response to the backlash, Walmart is reportedly extending the date for the changeover in policy and will review how the new policy will affect disabled workers on a case-by-case basis.

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

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona we regularly represent residents in those areas in all aspects of disability law.

Why Don’t People Realize Some Disabilities Are Invisible?

The universal symbol for being handicapped is a blue and white placard with a wheelchair symbol. This designation helps disabled people locate handicap parking, handicapped bathrooms, and more. It’s also intended to put non-handicapped people on notice that such parking spaces are reserved for those displaying proper permits.

Unfortunately, this symbol is so connected to the public’s idea of “disabled” that it may be doing the disabled community a disservice and may actually be placing some of its members in harm’s way.

As those who have applied for social security disability benefits from the federal government know all too well, not all disabilities are physical in nature and not all disabilities are visible.

In fact, there is an extensive list of both physical and mental conditions that the government recognizes as qualifying for federal disability benefits. Examples of some physical conditions include Multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohns’ disease and more. Some examples of qualifying mental conditions include PTSD, anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, OCD, depression, and more.

A woman suffering from multiple sclerosis since 2012 allegedly recently became a victim of which she reportedly described as a hate crime after she parked her car in a handicapped spot with her handicap permit displayed. Upon returning to her car she found it covered in feces and remembered receiving dirty looks from people nearly at the time she parked there—looks that implied she wasn’t actually handicapped because she didn’t “look” handicapped.

Not everyone who is disabled or handicapped is wheelchair-bound. This is one reason why a change in the universal handicapped symbol is being considered. Life has enough challenges for many disabled people and it’s disheartening to hear of such alleged actions against legitimately disabled people.

If you need help applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. It’s all we do. Contact us today for a free consultation.
With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled clients and their families in all aspects of disability law.

How Can The Disabled Get More Respect From Society?

In America, we are fortunate to have two different federal disability benefits programs to financially help those who qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

When applying for disability benefits, an applicant must satisfy the government’s definition of being “disabled” which means they must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or will result in death.

There’s an extensive list of physical and mental problems that qualify as disabling conditions. But simply being diagnosed with one doesn’t guarantee that your application for benefits will be approved the first time around or even after an appeal. Two-thirds of all initial benefits applications are denied and the waiting time for an appeal is extensive. That’s why many people choose to retain a skilled Arizona disability benefits attorney to handle the initial application or subsequent appeal.

Sometimes people of extremely limited financial means are born with or acquire a disability that would qualify them for benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program. Other times, at some point during their working years, someone might become disabled due to illness or injury and no longer be able to work. Provided the person satisfies the requisite number of work credits (and the government’s definition of disabled), they may be entitled to disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) program which is only available to those who have worked and paid into the Social Security system through payroll tax deductions over a certain period of time. Sometimes, applicants may qualify for both federal program benefits.

Disabled people may be made by society to feel that they are somehow “less” than non-disabled people. Fortunately, this unacceptable reality has been countered in some states, namely California and New Jersey to-date, through legislation mandating the incorporation into public school curriculums of “teaching about the rich contributions and accomplishments” of those with disabilities (and LTBTQ society members). It is the hope raising generations exposed to such a curriculum will “help build more tolerant communities”. Hopefully, Arizona and other states will follow suit.

If you need assistance with an initial application for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.

Will I still get my disability benefits check during the shutdown?

People become disabled in many different ways. Some are born with a disability while others acquire one at some point during their life through an accident, illness, or injury. One of most frustrating things that those suffering from a physical or mental disability must face is the financial struggle make ends meet when you are not able to work. 

Because of this, the federal government, through the Social Security administration (“SSA”) offers two different benefit programs with different qualification requirements. There’s Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits for disabled people who previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes prior to becoming disabled and there’s Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) for elderly and other disabled people very limited financial means and resources regardless of whether they ever worked. 

Qualifying for disability benefits and applying for disability benefits is a complex process which may be expedited and made easier with the help of a skilled disability benefits attorney. 

For those fortunate enough to be receiving disability benefits through the SSA, the recent federal government shut-down may have you wondering whether and how your disability benefits will be affected. Will your check continue to arrive on time during shutdown? Are your payments in jeopardy?

Fortunately, Social Security disability benefits programs are not going to be affected by the government shutdown. “A shutdown only affects funds annually appropriated by Congress, not funding that is sustained long-term” like the Social Security trust fund—comprised of a combination of taxes and long-term investments– from which disability benefits are paid. Further, “disability claims or appeals over benefits would continue to function” during the shutdown as well. 

In other good news, there is no expectation of furloughed SSA employees during this shutdown as there have been in past shutdowns due to a “full-year funding agreement for the Social Security Administration” being reached in September 2018, thereby sparing the agency during this current shut down—at least so long as it doesn’t last beyond the expiration of the funding agreement term.

If you need assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, or have any questions regarding Social Security disability benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Tempe, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona. 

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.

How can disabled people transition from institutions to community-based living?

Sometimes, people are born with physical or mental disabilities and in other cases, they may become disabled during their life as a result of an accident, illness, or injury. When disability strikes, hiring a skilled Social Security disability benefits attorney may expedite the process of obtaining benefits.

The federal government provides disability benefits through two different federal programs. Applying for disability benefits means navigating a complicated and time- consuming process that begins with determining which of the two programs (or sometimes both) is appropriate in your particular case.

Social Security disability insurance (“SSDI”) is available to people who have acquired sufficient work credits before becoming disabled, meaning they previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes for a certain amount of work hours and years. The second program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a means-tested program available to elderly and/or disabled people with severely limited income and resources.

Regardless of which benefits program is appropriate in your particular case, it’s often difficult to make ends meet relying solely on these benefits. Fortunately, other federal and/or state government programs may be available to help the disabled with other living expenses.

One example is the Money Follows the Person program–which provides funds to move disabled people out of institutions and into community living settings. But the federal program is due to expire at year end and needs to be extended and funded by Congress immediately as most states have run out of federal money for their programs.

Money Follows the Person (“MFP”) is formally known as The Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration Grant. The program enables states to “re-balance their Medicaid long-term care systems”. Specifically, MFP program goals include:

  • “increase the use of home and community-based services (“HCBS”) and reduce the use of institutionally based services
  • eliminate barriers in state law, state Medicaid plans, and state budgets that restrict the use of Medicaid funds to let people get long-term care in the settings of their choice
  • strengthen the ability of Medicaid programs to provide HCBS to people who choose to transition out of institutions
  • put procedures in place to provide quality assurance and improvement of HCBS.”

If the program is not extended and refunded, disabled people across the country who are waiting to transition from nursing homes and other institutions to small apartments or group homes in their communities will have to remain institutionalized or complete their transition “on the state’s dime”.

Advocates for the MFP program encourage Congress to focus on the evaluations that have reportedly shown that the MFP program ultimately saves Medicaid “as much is 20% per Medicare beneficiary, per month” by moving the disabled out of costly institutions.

Living with a disability can be painful and stressful, especially when awaiting benefits or trying to access additional funding. Many people seek guidance from Social Security disability benefits attorneys to help them obtain the maximum benefits available through various programs.

If you or a loved one is disabled and needs assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of those benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona.

Why are employers hiring workers with autism?

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits means satisfying the federal government’s definition of “disabled” –which means suffering from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death.

The government actually maintains a list of a variety of health problems that qualify as physically or mentally disabling conditions– but the list is not exclusive. 

One of the fastest growing disabling conditions of our time is autism spectrum disorder, with statistics of its rise in prevalence increasing an alarming pace. Autism is a complex developmental disability with symptoms that “typically appear in early childhood and inhibit communication and interaction to varying degrees.”

Not long ago, the future for those with autism – – particularly regarding employment prospects and independent living – – was at best bleak and at worst nonexistent. Despite school programs that support autistic individuals improving greatly over the past two decades, there aren’t many programs or options after autistic teens age out of their school programs. This has traditionally left autistic people home on their parents’ couches without a purpose or socialization opportunities.

Fortunately, employers are learning that autistic individuals, differ from non-autistic workers in a good way. They often thrive on repetitive tasks that non-autistic peers would likely not be interested in—yet are necessary and valuable to employers. Autistic people are also often detail-oriented, focused, reliable and loyal employees.

With an estimated half-million teens with autism reaching adulthood over the next decade, workplace inclusion is becoming a priority for autistic young adults, their parents (who hope they can lead and independent and fulfilling life), and open-minded business owners who realize the value of these workers as well as tax and other incentives that come with hiring the disabled. With the support of a job coach and proper training, workers with autism can thrive on the job despite a disability. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from a disability and would like information about applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial disability benefits, or would like to know what impact a job may have on disability benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability benefits law.