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.

Pilot Program May Offer Hope for Aging Parents of Disabled Children

What will happen to my disabled child when I get too old to care for them?

It is never easy to learn that your child has been diagnosed with a disability, especially one that is significant and lifelong and may prevent the child from ever living independently. Sometimes the diagnosis comes at birth, sometimes at a later point. After the shock wears off, many parents do the research and at some point begin applying for Social Security disability benefits and other assistance from the federal government.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is one of two federal government benefit programs available to those who meet the government’s definition of being physically or mentally “disabled”.

Unlike Social Security disability insurance benefits (“SSDI”), SSI does not require the applicant to have previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through their income taxes prior to becoming disabled. Rather, SSI is a means-tested benefit available to the disabled (or those of advanced age) with severely-limited income and resources. Even if someone qualifies for social security disability benefits, recipients– especially those with advanced needs who cannot live independently– would be challenged to survive on these benefits alone.

As most parents of disabled children and disabled adult children will admit, they fear dying because they don’t know who will take care of their disabled child after they are gone.

The toll of caring for a disabled child at home can be a financial, emotional, and physical burden to their aging parents. What will happen when the parents need someone to take care of them or need to go into assisted living themselves?

This scenario– a nightmare for many special-needs parents—may finally have a brighter solution in the future.

A pilot program to ease the burden for seniors charged with the care of a disabled person is being considered in New York. In a nutshell, the aging parent would enter an assisted living community and be able to bring their disabled adult child with them where they would share a small companion suite. Both would have access to the facility’s amenities including “housekeeping, on-staff doctors and resident nurses, laundry services, physical therapy, and more” as well as social programs in-house. Then, the disabled child will remain at the facility after the parent dies.

No doubt, the pilot program will be watched with interest by special-needs parents nationwide and may serve as a model for other states to incorporate to meet the growing need for such accommodations.

If you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent clients throughout the state of Arizona in all matters of Social Security disability law.

The Social Security Disability Benefits Appeals Process

How many levels of disability benefits appeals are available to applicants?

As Arizona Social Security disability attorneys know, persistence can pay off—especially in the world of Social Security benefits appeals.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits is a complex, often difficult, and time-consuming process. Not only must an applicant fit the federal government’s definition of being “disabled” by suffering from a recognized physical and/or mental disability, but their application must pass muster or it will be denied. In fact, 2/3 of all initial Social Security disability benefits applications are denied, which is a primary reason many people trust their application to an attorney that specializes in these matters.

Hiring a skilled disability benefits appeals attorney is wise especially since the current wait time for an appeal hearing is averaging two years in many states. Sadly, applicants are literally exhausting their savings, becoming homeless, and even dying from their injuries or conditions while their appeals are pending. There are many levels of appeals, each more complex than the others, ending with an appeal on the federal court level.

An inspiring story that perseverance and persistence can pay off involved an Army veteran reportedly suffering from Type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy and a history alcohol abuse who filed his initial disability benefits claim in November, 2012.  He filed appeals that were denied in December 2012, March 2013, and August 2014.

Undeterred, the applicant pursued an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals on the basis that in the August hearing, the “administrative law judge failed to meet his obligations to identify, explain, and resolve an apparent conflict between the testimony of the vocational expert and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles” regarding what if any work the applicant could still perform in light of the limitations of his disability. This time, the court agreed and granted the applicant a new hearing for disability benefits.

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

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent clients throughout Arizona in applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Source: https://flarecord.com/stories/511625266-army-veteran-granted-new-hearing-in-dispute-over-social-security-disability-claim

Navigating Housing on Disability Benefits

Q: Do disability benefits recipients have a right to accessible housing?

Applying for disability benefits can be a long and complex process, complicated further by the extremely high incidence of initial denials of applications and the subsequent extended waiting for an appeal that denial.

With 2/3 of initial applications being denied and a backlog of up to two years for an appeal hearing, hiring a skilled Arizona Social Security disability benefits attorney may increase the likelihood of that either an initial application or an appeal will be successful. It doesn’t cost anything out-of-pocket to do so.

When a gainfully-employed individual becomes disabled mentally or physically as a result of an illness, accident, or injury and is suddenly unable to continue to work, their and their whole family’s life can be turned upside down. In addition to the possible pain associated with the disabling condition, there’s the financial stress of losing an income – – and the long wait before benefits kick in. During this time, it’s not uncommon that applicants will blow through their savings and possibly lose or need to sell their homes and find affordable apartment housing.

Even with Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), it can be challenging to afford housing, much less housing that is designed to accommodate particular disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, (“ADA”) mandates that public places where people work be handicapped-accessible, but it doesn’t apply for residential housing beyond the public spaces of a residential housing building – such as a clubroom, gym, leasing office and a public bathroom. This leaves cash-strapped disabled people at a disadvantage in accessing an apartment suited for their needs.

There is some protection for the disabled under The Fair Housing Act which provides that prospective landlords can’t discriminate based on a tenant’s disability. It also bars a landlord from renting a disabled tenant an inaccessible unit or “refusing reasonable requests to make modifications that make it more accessible”.

But unfortunately, the landlord is not required to pay for those modifications or to pay the cost of returning the modified apartment to its original state when the disabled tenant vacates.

While it’s not a guarantee of suitability, newer complexes, with four or more units, built after March 31,1991 are required to meet “certain accessibility requirements”. In addition, societal pressure to make accessible apartments has led to newer apartment buildings “being designed with accessibility in mind”.

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

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

 

Disability Benefits and the Compassionate Allowances Program

Is there a way to expedite my disability benefits application?

Arizona Social Security disability benefits attorneys know all too well the obstacles and delays that disabled people face when trying to access federal government disability benefits like Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits, both of which are administered by the Social Security Administration.

Applying for SSDI benefits is a complicated process as evidenced by the fact that nearly 2/3 of initial applications are denied. Add that grim statistic to the fact that most applicants who appeal a SSDI denial have to wait as long as two years for an appeal hearing, and it becomes obvious that many suffering people could die before getting approved for SSDI benefits.

While many of the mental or physical conditions qualifying for Social Security disability benefits are chronic and/or long-term, other applicants may be suffering from conditions that are expected to take their lives extremely quickly. They are arguably the most vulnerable and needy recipients and they especially don’t have time to wait for the usual slow processing of their claims.

Fortunately, the government has a fast-track process for those with certain severe health conditions who are applying for SSDI benefits. It’s called the Compassionate Allowances Program (“CAL”) and it allows for the approval of SSDI benefits “within weeks of medical confirmation of a diagnosis, versus months or years”.

In order to be considered, the medical condition must fall within the CAL program’s list of 233 qualifying impairments, many of which are “brain disorders or types of cancers”.

Recently, five new health conditions were added to the CAL: Fibrolamellar cancer; Megacystis Micro Intestinal Hypoperistalis Syndrome (“MMIHS”); Megalencephaly Capillary Malformation Syndrome (“MCAP”), Superficial Siderosis of the Central Nervous System; and Tetrasomy 18p.

If you or a loved one needs 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 Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we help disabled clients throughout Arizona access the disability benefits they need and deserve.

Swanny (Goes Up The) River in Disability Fraud Case

Q: Can I go to prison for lying about being disabled?

Because applying for Social Security disability benefits is a complicated process and up to two-thirds of initial applications are denied, many people choose to hire a skilled disability benefits attorney to handle the process. Doing so may not only improve the chances of an initial application or a subsequent appeal being successful, but it can also help keep the applicant out of serious legal trouble.

Fisherman have a reputation for spinning tall tales about the one that got away, but one man apparently got caught downplaying his physical abilities in an effort to try to obtain Social Security disability benefits. And now he’s in hot water.

The man, Swann, filed an application for disability benefits claiming a workplace accident left him so disabled and restricted that it “interfered with his ability to stand, sit or walk, and that he had difficulty carrying on a conversation because of his in ability to concentrate”. When his initial application was denied, he reportedly told an appeal judge that he was only a “temporary volunteer” at an Alaskan summer fishing camp.

After that level of appeal was denied, he continued, but allegedly never disclosed that all along he was operating the profitable “Swanny’s Guided Fishing, a year-round guide service and led as many as 300 excursions a year” throughout several northeast states for which he reportedly earned over $92,000 in 2012. He also allegedly made radio, television, and seminar speaking appearances as a professional fishing industry representative and reportedly did not pay income taxes.

While Social Security fraud and perjury are punishable by up to five years in prison, he was reportedly sentenced to serve “a year and a day” in federal prison.

Attempting to apply or appeal a denial of Social Security disability benefits can tempt even honest suffering people to unwittingly exaggerate the extent of their disabilities in attempting to qualify. Don’t risk making a bad situation worse. Contact an expert.

If you need assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roethke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Tucson, Phoenix, and Tempe, we represent residents throughout Arizona in their quest to obtain federal disability benefits.

Couples Consider Divorce to Obtain Benefits for Disabled Child

Q: Should I divorce to get disability benefits for my child?

Qualifying for disability benefits in Arizona is a very confusing process.

That’s why many people choose to hire a skilled Social Security disability benefits attorney to help them navigate the process.

In order to qualify for disability benefits, and an applicant must satisfy the government’s definition of “disabled”. The Social Security Administration requires the individual to 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 result in death.

There are two federal disability benefits programs and people may qualify for one, the other, both, or neither. If an initial application for benefits is not granted, applicants can appeal a denial of benefits, but the process and backlog is complicated and time-consuming. Appeals are taking up to two years for a hearing date.

Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) may be awarded to those who, prior to becoming disabled, were employed and paid into the social security system through payroll deductions for the requisite number of work credits and years. SSDI is merit based and awarded based on these work credits regardless of the applicant’s financial situation. But Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits are different– – it is only available to qualified disabled people with extremely limited financial resources.

Sadly, some couples with disabled children who have been denied disability benefits because they earn too much to qualify are considering getting divorce – – not because the legitimate stress of caring for their disabled child may have taken a toll on their marriage, but because they believe it may be the only way to obtain needed benefits for their disabled child.

Some couples divorce, others leave jobs or move to another state, and others divest assets or impoverish themselves to qualify for aid. As state laws differ, divorcing for this purpose may cause a couple legal trouble. Seeking the guidance of a skilled disability benefits attorney prior to taking such drastic action is encouraged.

If you are disabled, or have a disabled child, and need assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you apply for the appropriate benefits, appeal a denial, and navigate the bureaucracy. Contact us today to request a free consultation.

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

When Social Security Disability Benefits are Mistakenly Paid

Q: Do I have to repay disability benefits Social Security paid in error?

Applying for disability benefits is more complex than the public is led to believe.  Unfortunately, this leads many people to apply without legal counsel and is likely the reason that two-thirds of all initial disability benefit applications are denied.

Hiring a skilled Social Security disability benefits attorney with experience in the process may increase the odds of a faster and or more favorable decision. And with disability benefits appeals taking as long as two years before for a hearing, anything that could expedite the process is worth consideration. Especially when the consultation is free.

Sometimes, additional personal circumstances exist that further complicate receiving Social Security disability benefits. One little boy learned that the hard way.

Federal government workers who process disability benefits paperwork aren’t perfect, but their mistakes can, unfortunately, result in red tape, delays, and significant financial hardship for innocent benefits recipients. That’s because in instances where Social Security pays benefits to people by mistake–even if it’s entirely their mistake– it’s treated as the recipient’s mistake and the benefits must generally be returned.

Social Security disability benefits do not only benefit the recipient whose work record they are based on. Sometimes, the recipient’s child can receive a child benefit based on their parent’s disability benefits.

In one unfortunate case, a young boy who was reportedly receiving child benefits based on his living father’s Social Security disability benefits also started receiving child survivor benefit checks based on his deceased mother’s work record shortly after her death and while he was being cared for by his mother’s cousin. After about a year, Social Security apparently noticed the mistake and demanded repayment of the overpayment claiming the boy was only entitled to receive “the larger of the child benefit and the child survivor benefit” but not both. The cousin is attempting to challenge the repayment demand.

Whenever a change of circumstances can impact Social Security disability benefits in any manner, hiring a Social Security disability attorney can help prevent and/or resolve potentially costly mistakes.

If you are interested in applying for disability benefits, appealing a denial of benefits, or have any other 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, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona.