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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

Smartphone apps are available for blind, deaf Missourians

It has gotten to the point that many of us cannot live without our smartphones or tablets. These devices help their user work and play, and can be highly addictive. But many people with limited vision and/or hearing cannot enjoy many of the features of the average wireless device without help.

Missouri’s Telecommunications Access Program Wireless Project is hoping to improve the smartphone and tablet experience for blind and deaf residents. The program, also known as TAP Wireless Project, is conducting a pilot program of providing devices to volunteers that are supposed to help them in their daily lives.

My SSDI application was turned down. What do I do next?

Since the Social Security Administration turns down most initial applications for Social Security Disability benefits, many people who believe they are deserving of benefits are left unsure what to do. Some start over and apply again, hoping for a better result this time.

This is unlikely to succeed, but there is a better way. Instead of trying the same thing twice, an appeal for reconsideration has a better chance of leading to SSD benefits being approved.

Woman gets life in prison for imprisoning, stealing from disabled

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income payments are supposed to go to the disabled individual the Social Security Administration sends the funds to. The money is supposed to make up for the fact that the individual cannot support him- or herself through work.

The money should not go instead to someone exploiting the rightful recipient. Stealing SSD or SSI checks is a crime with very serious potential penalties, as a woman behind a notorious kidnapping scheme recently learned.

'Health homes' provide 1-stop shopping for mental, physical health

If someone in Missouri is living with one chronic health issue, there is a good chance they have another condition as well. This is especially true for those dealing with serious mental illness. A 2006 report from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors concluded that mental health patients died 25 years earlier than the general population, on average.

People with serious mental illness are disproportionately likely to also be living with diabetes, hypertension and lung disease. Though they need treatment for both their physical and mental ailments, mental illness can interfere with one’s ability to coordinate one’s medical care, especially when you must go to several different clinics.

Federal budget proposal would save SSD trust fund

A budget proposal currently being considered in Congress would avert a 20 percent cut in Social Security Disability benefits in 2016. But it may lead to cuts in the future, according to some observers.

As we had discussed in the past in this blog, the trust fund that backs the SSD program is set to run out of money sometime in 2016. If that happens, the government could only afford to pay about 80 percent of what beneficiaries are entitled to. For many disabled people and their families, suddenly losing 20 percent of their payments could lead to a serious financial strain.

Missourians rally for Disability History and Awareness Month

This month is Disability History and Awareness Month, and also marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark federal law for disability rights. Though the ADA had little direct impact on the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs, it has helped numerous disabled Missourians receive reasonable accommodation for their conditions, allowing them to lead fuller lives.

Earlier in October, an event at the state capitol marked these occasions. As KBIA-FM reports, speakers at the rally also pushed for reforms, starting with changing the face of the state legislature to include more disabled people. Chuck Graham, a former state senator who is now associate director of the Great Plains ADA, notes that he was the first -- and so far, only -- Missouri legislator to use a wheelchair. “If we are 20 percent of the population,” Graham said at the rally, “there should be more than zero of us in there out of 197 members.”

How to save for retirement when you have a disabled child

All responsible parents want what is best for their children. For those with able-bodied kids, that usually means doing what is necessary to put them in a position to be independent, self-sufficient adults.

But many children with serious disabilities will never be able to earn an income or otherwise provide for themselves financially. They will likely depend on their parents to pay for their needs.

Report: growth in SSD recpient rolls is over

A new report from a Social Security Administration committee suggests that the growth in Social Security Disability recipients is over, and seeks to explain the cause for the growth in the first place. These findings come as Congress continues to grapple with how to keep the SSD program’s trust fund from running out in 2016.

As summarized in the Los Angeles Times, the report notes that the number of people receiving SSD benefits has grown significantly since the late 1980s. Some critics claim that much of the growth is due to lazy people who invent or exaggerate disabilities to avoid work. But the reality is quite different, according to SSA’s Technical Panel, a group of academics and experts in the field of retirement.

How SSA can take away SSD benefits after awarding them

Successfully applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be complicated and time-consuming, but once the payments begin, you may feel like the ordeal is finally over. Not so fast -- sooner or later, the Social Security Administration is going to want to check in with you, to see if you are still legally disabled.

Some disabling conditions improve over time, and SSA does not want to provide SSD payments to those it deems healthy enough to go back to work. So the agency periodically reviews the condition of SSD recipients, to determine if they still qualify.

Children with autism tend to wander, often leading to tragedy

One symptom that many people who are not raising a child with autism may not be aware of is wandering. Children on the autism spectrum or living with other developmental disabilities often have the tendency to run away from home, school or another safe place.

Any young child who gets lost could easily get into trouble, and unfortunately many kids with autism will struggle even more to stay safe. Sadly, these wandering incidents often end in tragedy. The Autism Safety Coalition says that 42 percent of autistic children under age 9 who wander end up passing away.

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