Man filing for unemployment benefits while on SSD.

Can I Collect Unemployment If I Was Fired While on Disability?

Having disability insurance can provide critical compensation while you are unable to work. Whether it be short term or long term, disability insurance will pay a portion of income for a set period of time. This can alleviate much of the financial pressure those on disability leave may face. While disability insurance serves an important purpose, it is only to help cover part of your income while you are unable to work. It does not protect your job. There are some federal and state laws in place that will, in certain instances, protect employees on disability from losing their jobs. Whether your job will be protected by these laws, however, will depend on other factors such as whether or not you qualify for the protections and how long the protections last. In any event, should you be terminated from your job while on disability leave, it is important to understand your options. For instance, you will most likely want to pursue the possibility of collecting unemployment should you find yourself in this situation.

Can I Collect Unemployment If I Was Fired While on Disability?

It is possible for a person who was fired while on disability to go on to collect unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefit laws, however, are consistent across all 50 states in requiring that a benefit applicant be not only physically capable of working, but also available for duty and actively interviewing for jobs. This means that, as long as you remain unable to perform your job due to disability, you will be unable to collect unemployment benefits.

People who are terminated while on short term disability leave, however, will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits as soon as they recover from their temporary disability. Those who are fired while on long-term disability, however, usually suffer from a permanent medical condition from which they may never recover enough to be able to go back to work. In these cases, unemployment benefits are not going to be an option. As long as you remain unable to return to work, you will not be approved for unemployment benefits.

If you are terminated while on disability, you may also want to see whether your rights were violated when your employer fired you form your job. Some federal and state return to work laws provide protections for qualified employees of covered employers. These return to work laws may protect your job while you are on disability leave or shortly after you return to work post-disability leave. For instance, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), is a federal return to work law providing protections for temporary disability. FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protection while eligible employees, working for employers covered by FMLA are on disability leave. Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that has return to work provisions to provide protections for employees on disability leave.

Disability Attorney

Being on disability leave, even when receiving disability benefits, can be a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Waiting to recover and not knowing about your job situation when you are able to return to work can be overwhelming. Know your disability rights. Know your legal options. For disability questions, Roeschke Law can help. We are here to support you in any way we can. Contact us today.

Home office for disabled person working remotely.

Post-Pandemic Remote Work Options for the Disabled

Q: Will disabled people benefit from remote work opportunities after the pandemic?

One possible benefit that could result after the coronavirus global pandemic resolves is that the world will embrace the new reality of working from home. This would be a wonderful thing for many people – especially the disabled.

Disability attorneys of Arizona help those who are overwhelmed and don’t know how to get disability benefits in Arizona.

The process is complex and time-consuming and while it’s possible to submit an application without the guidance of a skilled disability benefits attorney, the reality that 2/3 of initial applications are denied leads many applicants to trust an attorney when applying for disability benefits.

How to choose the right disability benefits program

In a nutshell, the Social Security Administration administers two different disability benefits programs. Social Security Disability Insurance “SSDI” is for applicants who have previously worked and paid into Social Security through payroll deductions prior to becoming disabled. Supplemental Security Income “SSI” does not require work credits, but is a means-based program for applicants with extremely limited income and assets.

Qualifying for disability benefits under either program requires satisfying the government’s definition of being disabled as well as other requirements that are individual to each program.

Many disabled people are able to work–or would be able to return to work–with the right accommodations. Before the pandemic, many employers did not embrace the idea of having their workforce working from home. With no other choice but to adapt to working remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown, employers will hopefully realize the benefits to their businesses and their employees—both disabled and non-disabled – and continue to offer work from home possibilities even after the pandemic is over.

Depending on the nature of the business, costs of operating a brick and mortar business could be reduced. Cutting commuter costs and time can increase employee appreciation, loyalty, and productivity. Eliminating the transportation-related barrier to employment by allowing remote work could be a game-changer for the disabled community.

Sometimes the “last hired and first fired”, disabled workers may still find it challenging to obtain a new position during the expected high unemployment rate and post-pandemic economic downturn. But remote work options may help even the field.

If you need 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.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families in all aspects of disability law. It’s all we do.

Social security disability claim

How Much Does Social Security Pay a Month?

There are several key requirements you must meet in order to be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. One such requirement is that you must have worked a certain amount of time in jobs that are covered by Social Security. In fact, the actual benefit payment you receive every month will largely depend on your average lifetime of earnings prior to becoming disabled.

How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay a Month?

The severity of your disability does not factor in your monthly Social Security Disability payment. The only factor used to determine your monthly payments is your average lifetime of earnings prior to when your disability arose. This amount will, however, be potentially reduced accordingly for some other disability payments you may be receiving from other sources. However, Social Security Disability, unlike Supplemental Security Income, does not deny applicants based on having too much income or access to too many financial resources.

Only “covered earnings” are used in averaging your lifetime earnings for Social Security Disability purposes. “Covered earnings” includes income from jobs that have paid into the Social Security system. If you have ever reviewed your paychecks and seen that money was withheld for either “Social Security taxes” or “FICA,” then that is what is meant by jobs where your earnings would be considered “covered earnings.” The majority of earnings are classified as “covered earnings.” The average of your covered earnings is referred to as your “average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). The Social Security Administration (SSA) will then apply a formula using your AIME to reach your primary insurance amount (PIA). Your PIA is the basic amount that SSA will use in establishing your monthly benefit amount.

Your PIA will be subject to applicable reductions. Reductions are not applicable based on receiving disability benefits from private sources. Private sources of disability payments may come from something such as a private pension or private insurance benefits. These private sources of payments will not affect your monthly Social Security Disability benefits payment. Payments from other public disability benefits, however, may affect your benefits payment. Receiving workers’ compensation benefits for an on the job injury, for instance, may justify a reduction in your monthly benefits payment.

There is also a limit on how much you may receive from SSDI and other public disability benefits. The combined total amount of money you receive from SSDI along with all other public disability benefits you receive cannot exceed 80 percent of your average earning amount prior to becoming disabled. Should the amount exceed 80 percent of your average earnings prior to becoming disabled, the excess amount would most likely be deducted from your monthly SSDI benefits amount.

Social Security Disability Attorney

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits and calculating how much you will receive each month can both be complicated. While these public disability benefits programs can be critical to providing individuals with the ability to make ends meet, they can be extremely difficult to understand. Roeschke Law is here to help. For all of your Social Security Disability questions, we are here with answers. Contact us today.

COVID-19 molecules.

Potential Roadblocks to COVID-19 Treatment for the Disabled

Q: Will the disabled be passed over if COVID-19 treatment resources are limited?

Disability attorneys of Arizona are dedicated to helping disabled people get the disability benefits they deserve. 

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is generally a time-consuming and complex process in which approximately 2/3 of initial applications get denied. So, many people opt to hire a skilled attorney to handle their application—or to appeal a denial of social security disability benefits–in the hopes of expediting the process. It can be stressful to handle the application and appeals process alone and, sadly, some applicants have died before they were able to access their benefits. 

Now, the disabled have a new-found fear—COVID-19. 

The government-mandated social distancing requirements of COVID-19 have already impacted some disabled people’s access to direct support professionals whom they rely on for things such as transportation to regular medical and other appointments, access to groceries and medication, bathing, cooking, cleaning and more. 

But the biggest fear many disabled people have is that they will be passed over in favor of non-disabled COVID-19 patients when limited inventory forces doctors to choose who will get a ventilator and who must do without—and possibly die. 

This isn’t paranoia.

Disaster preparedness plans can discriminate against the disabled

Disability advocates claim the disaster preparedness plans in several states make those with intellectual disabilities like Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy “a lower priority for life-saving treatment” and are discriminatory. The language of some state plans specifically “deprioritize the disabled” while other plans are vaguely written and leave the disabled vulnerable to an unfavorable interpretation. 

The emergency preparedness plan in Arizona directs doctors to “allocate resources to patients whose need is greater or whose prognosis is more likely to result in a positive outcome with limited resources”.

State laws regarding managing COVID-19 differ and can change on a moment’s notice. Parents and caretakers of non-verbal and/or intellectually disabled adults and children are panicking at the thought that strict bans on any visitors would leave their disabled loved ones alone, confused, frightened, unable to communicate or advocate for themselves in the event of a COVID-19-related hospitalization. This was the case in New York–the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in America– until disability advocates pressed the governor to enact an Executive Order allowing the disabled one companion/visitor. 

In a society where disabled people often are discriminated against and treated unfairly– intentionally or unintentionally–it is more important than ever for disability advocates to stay vigilant in protecting this vulnerable population. 

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

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

Someone on a non-ada compliant website.

Litigation Rising on Behalf of Disabled Over Non-ADA Compliant Websites

Q: Do websites have to accommodate disabled users?

Disability attorneys of Arizona understand the many barriers that the disabled face on a daily basis and work to help them access Federal Social Security disability benefits.  

Applying for disability benefits is a complex process and two-thirds of initial applications are denied. Trusting your application for benefits or your appeal of a denial benefits to a skilled attorney may increase the chances of success and allow you to focus on your health or other matters. 

Whether you were born with a disability or became disabled during your lifetime as a result of an illness, condition, or injury, you may unfortunately encounter accessibility, prejudice, discrimination, and other challenges as a member of the disabled community.

What types of discrimination do disabled people face online?

One form of discrimination against the disabled is a business website that is non-ADA compliant. Websites and all of the content thereon must be accessible to all visitors. Many blind and deaf people use screen-readers to allow them to shop or access information from business websites, but if the website lacks the necessary HTML coding to communicate with the screen-reader software, the screen-reader cannot relay the information to the disabled viewer.

For example, those who are blind or visually impaired must be able to access the information they can’t see through audio functionality. Similarly, those portions of the website which offer audio or video, must have text and/or subtitles so the deaf or hard of hearing visitors can access that information. 

Unfortunately, there are many websites that are non-ADA compliant whether intentionally or unintentionally. Recently, there have been multiple lawsuits nationwide against large and small businesses by disability advocates. These suits—often brought by the hundreds by a single attorney– seek attorney’s fees and compliance within a certain time frame and are generally not for monetary damages (though money may sometimes be paid to the plaintiff in exchange for keeping settlement details private). 

Many business owners question the motives of the handful of attorneys bringing hundreds of such suits and are frustrated by three things: (1) not knowing their websites needed to be ADA-compliant in the first place, (2) not being given a warning and chance to become compliant before commencement of litigation, and (3) the lack of clear federal regulations on how websites can become ADA-compliant.

What are businesses doing to avoid making their websites non-ADA compliant?

Despite the lack of definitive regulations, “courts have recognized web accessibility standards called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG), created by an international consortium of volunteers”. Among the recommended requirements are that:

  • “Content must be coded for audio translation by screen-reader software.
  • There must be on-screen captions in videos for screen-reader software to read to the blind and descriptions for the deaf.
  • Sites must include accessible drop-down menus for those who use a keyboard as an alternative to a mouse.”

Business owners should not rely on the above recommendations, but rather should always consult their web developer and their attorney for guidance on the compliance issues of their particular websites.

If you need assistance applying 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

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Blind individual's service animal.

When Pigs Fly: Changing the Service Animal Definition on Airplanes

Q: What service animals can I bring on a plane?

Getting through the arduous process of applying for disability benefits is faster and easier with the assistance of a skilled Arizona disability benefits attorney.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits means meeting the federal government’s definition of being “disabled” which is “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 Social Security Administration maintains a “Blue Book”—a list of many recognized qualifying physical and mental impairments, though the list is not exclusive. 

What disabilities warrant service animals?

Some disability recipients suffer from impairments that require support from service animals, such as guide/service dogs for the blind or deaf, and for those with other disabling conditions like PTSD, seizures/epilepsy, and more. Unlike typical pets, these service dogs receive specialized training to perform specific tasks to support their disabled owners. 

It used to be that properly-trained canines were the only service animals allowed inside airplane cabins to support the needs of their legitimately-disabled owners. In recent years, standards have loosened so significantly that airplane cabins look like “flying barns” –complete with pigs, iguanas, ducks, turkeys, and even a peacock—who boarded under the guise of being “emotional support animals”. In reality, most are family pets of non-disabled owners who are attempting to skip out of the fees of flying the family pet. 

Having a wide variety of apparently untrained animals loose in a cabin not only mocks legitimate service animals but also causes the potential for dangerous interactions between these animals and other passengers. In some cases, passengers have been bitten by these animals. 

Narrowing the definition of a “service animal”

Disability advocates are hailing a recent proposal by several airlines to adopt rules that would narrow and redefine what a “service animal” is and restrict airplane cabin access “to only a canine that has been specifically trained to help a person with a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or mental disability”. Any animal that doesn’t fit the new definition of a “service animal” would be subject to size and species restrictions, would require carriers and would be subject to an additional charge.

The proposed rule – which has been endorsed by more than 80 veterans and disability groups – is expected to take effect after the period for public commenting on the proposal expires. 

If you need assistance applying 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

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Denied claim of social security disability claim.

How Do I Appeal a Denial of My Social Security Disability Claim?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews applications for disability benefits under SSI and SSDI. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) provide benefits for disabled individuals in the United States. Denials of Social Security disability claims are common. An Arizona disability benefits attorney can help you appeal your denial of disability benefits to help you secure the disability income you need to provide for yourself and your family.

Appealing Social Security Disability Claims

An SSDI or SSI claim can be denied for many reasons. Both programs have certain requirements for eligibility, including income restrictions, work history, and medical requirements. 

You can request a reconsideration of a denial of your original application for Social Security disability benefits. Generally, you have 60 days to request reconsideration after you receive a notice of the denial of disability benefits.

During a reconsideration, another individual with the SSA reviews your complete claim. The person looks at all evidence submitted during the review of the original application and any information you provide when you request the reconsideration. If the claim is approved, you may receive back pay for benefits from the date of disability through the date of approval of your Social Security disability claim.

Appealing a Denial After Reconsideration 

There are three additional levels of appeal after a request for reconsideration. Your next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this level of appeal, an actual judge hears your case and makes a decision regarding your SSDI or SSI benefits.

Appealing to an Administrative Law Judge involves appearing at a hearing. You are not required to appear at the hearing, but it is strongly recommended. Hearings are typically held within 75 miles of your home. It is also helpful to retain a Social Security disability attorney if you have not done so at this time. An attorney understands the hearing process and how to present the case to the judge. Witnesses, including your doctors and others, may appear at the hearing to testify as to your disability.

If the Administrative Law Judge denies your disability claim, the third level of appeal is before the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council could deny your request for review if it believes that the evidence, laws, and regulations support the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council denies your appeal, your final option is to file a lawsuit in federal district court. You will want to seek advice from an attorney before proceeding with a civil lawsuit in federal court.

Contact an Arizona Disability Benefits Attorney for Help

The time to appeal a Social Security disability claim is limited. If you do not file your appeal before the deadline, you must start the process from the beginning if you wish to pursue disability benefits.

Before beginning the disability claims process, you may want to talk to our Arizona disability benefits attorney about Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today.  We can help you file your initial claim and take care of any issues and problems that might arise during your case, including filing appeals if your Social Security disability claim is denied.

Young man with Down Syndrome, getting ready for work.

Down Syndrome & Social Security Disability Benefits

Q: Is Down Syndrome a qualifying impairment for disability benefits?

The federal government offers two different disability benefits programs, both administered through the Social Security Administration “SSA”. The first program, Social Security Disability Insurance or “SSDI”, is available to disabled people who can satisfy the work history requirements, regardless of their financial status. The second program, Supplemental Security Income or “SSI” does not require a prior work history but rather is a means-based program for qualified disabled people who do not exceed the extremely limited income and assets threshold. 

Qualifying for disability benefits for either program requires the applicant meet the federal government’s definition of “disabled” which is “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 SSA has a list of qualifying physical and mental conditions, called the Blue Book. While it would seem straightforward to qualify for benefits based on a diagnosis of one of these conditions, that isn’t always the case. When the impairment is mental in nature, symptoms can be difficult to evaluate which can open the door for a denial of benefits. The majority of initial applications for benefits are denied.

What are some reasons a disability claim based on mental illness might be denied?

Some reasons why disability claims for mental illness may be denied include but are not limited to: 

  • vague treatment notes by mental health professionals 
  • failure to take prescribed medication
  • failure to follow doctor’s orders
  • “lack of duration” –  if the condition hasn’t lasted or isn’t expected to last for at least a year. 

How are Down Syndrome cases approached?

Generally, in 98%of cases, Down Syndrome applicants will qualify for disability benefits as far as the definition of being “disabled” goes, under the statute’s Blue Book section 10.00 Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems and more specifically subsection 10.06 Non-mosaic down syndrome. For the 2% who have mosaic Down Syndrome, it’s harder to qualify for benefits, but qualifying may be possible using commonly accompanying conditions like cardiac issues, communication problems, vision or hearing loss, and more.

Parents of children with Down Syndrome may be able to apply for SSI benefits at a young age, depending on their income. If they exceed the income and assets threshold they may need to wait or reapply once the child reaches the age of 18. A disability benefits attorney can provide more specific guidance.

Interestingly, the new study shows that “three out of five people with Down Syndrome will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia by age 55”. Alzheimer’s is another impairment recognized as a qualifying disability by the SSA. So those with Down Syndrome who may be able to work in their youth despite their Down Syndrome symptoms may find they qualify for disability benefits if and when Alzheimer’s symptoms appear later in life. 

Contact Our Social Security Disability Attorney Today to Learn More

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits for yourself or your child, or need assistance 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, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Man using the jobs access program to go to an interview.

Solving Transportation Issues for the Disabled

Q: How can disabled people get to and from job interviews or work?

Disability attorneys of Arizona help disabled individuals and their family members access the disability benefits they deserve. 

The federal government offers two different disability benefits programs – Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The former is available to disabled individuals who satisfy the work credits requirement of having worked a certain number of years while also paying into the Social Security system through payroll deductions prior to becoming disabled. SSI does not require any prior work history, but is a means-tested program where disabled applicants must not exceed the extremely limited income and assets threshold in order to qualify. 

Qualifying for disability benefits for both programs, also requires that applicants meet the government’s definition of being “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.

Regardless of whether you are an SSI recipient with no work history or an SSDI recipient hoping to attempt a return to the workforce, the odds are transportation is a challenge. Reportedly, of the 2 million Americans living with disabilities, approximately 30% have transportation barriers that render them unable to leave their homes. Obviously, this impacts their ability to get to and from a job. 

How can the Lyft Jobs Access Program help the disabled?

Recently, rideshare giant, Lyft, announced plans to offer free or discounted rides to help disabled people “access job training and get hired”. Through its Jobs Access Program, Lyft will provide riders with rides “to or from job training programs, interviews and to get back-and-forth from work for the first three weeks of employment” carrying them over until their first paycheck. Lyft has partnered with other organizations to connect with disabled people who could benefit from this transferred transportation program. 

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

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

Losing Your Disability Benefits

Q: What should you do if you are losing your disability benefits?

Disability Attorneys of Arizona is dedicated to helping clients and their families access federal Social Security disability benefits in their time of need. If you are fearful of losing your disability benefits, you may need the help of an experienced social security disability attorney.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits depends on which of the two federal disability benefits programs you are trying to access. While each program has its own requirements, both programs require the applicant to satisfy the federal government’s definition of being “disabled” which means they are “unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last a minimum of 12 months or result in death.”

In a nutshell, Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) is based on work credits and is awarded to those who worked for the requisite number of hours and years and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes prior to becoming disabled. The other program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a means-based program for those with extremely limited financial assets or income. 

It can be a complex and lengthy process to apply for Social Security disability benefits. So, it’s no wonder that those fortunate enough to have their applications granted might be concerned and fearful of losing those precious benefits. 

Depending on which program your benefits are paid through, some of the reasons a recipient might stop receiving benefits include:

  • reaching retirement age 
  • returning to work
  • no longer meeting the government’s definition of “disabled”
  • exceeding the income and/or assets threshold. 

If you have SSDI, your benefits generally will convert to Social Security retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age. Whether SSI benefits will stop when the recipient turns reaches retirement age is determined by the amount of income the recipient is receiving – because SSI is it means-based program with income limits. 

Because disability benefits are meant for those who aren’t able to work, returning to work can be a reason for benefits to stop. SSDI recipients may be able to return to work during a “trial work period” and still receive their disability benefits as long as they report the work and still satisfy the government’s definition of being “disabled”. This is designed to encourage those who feel they are able to attempt a return to the workforce in the hope of getting off disability benefits without having to fear a loss of benefits if it doesn’t work out. Because SSI is based on income limits, recipients can generally continue receiving their disability benefits as long as their income remains below the threshold.

If there comes a point in time when a disability benefits recipient no longer meets the government’s definition of “disabled” benefits may cease. Periodic Continuing Disability Reviews are conducted by the Social Security Administration as a way of confirming the recipient’s disabled status and entitlement to continued disability benefits. Sometimes, benefits can be lost if the recipient failed to follow a doctor’s orders or comply with treatment recommendations and possibly contributing to their inability to return to work. 

SSDI benefits are not limited based on income, but exceeding the income and assets limits for countable assets is grounds for losing SSI benefits.

Contact Roeschke Law, LLC Today 

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits, appealing the denial of benefits, or need information regarding a loss of benefits, the Social Security disability experts at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, Arizona we help clients and their families throughout the state in all aspects of disability law.