Harlan Still & Koch

Columbia Social Security Disability Law Blog

Do I need short-term or long-term disability insurance?

Living with a disability is difficult enough without having to navigate the complexities of insurance. One of the most important but confusing aspects of disability insurance is short-term versus long-term disability. What do they mean, and which one should you select?

In this post, we will discuss the major differences between them so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

Can you get Social Security Disability benefits for depression?

While physical disabilities may be a visible representation of someone’s inability to consistently perform certain job-related tasks, mental health problems can be more difficult to recognize. But if you suffer from a mental disorder as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

How are mental disorders categorized?

What information is needed when filing an SSD claim online?

The advent of the internet has simplified many aspects of our lives. For example, these days, it is possible to apply for Social Security disability benefits online. This may be useful for those in Missouri whose disabilities prevent them from being able to write or leave the home. However, many initial applications for SSD benefits are denied, even if one's application was completed online. Therefore, before applying for disability benefits online, it is important to have all the necessary information at hand, so that one's application can be as complete as possible.

First, if an applicant was not born in the United States, they will need to include the date and place of their birth on their application, as well as their Permanent Resident Card number. If an applicant is married, they need to include identifying information on their spouse. If the applicant is divorced, information on the divorce will need to be supplied. Information on minor children, disabled children or children who are full-time students also needs to be included on the application.

Filing for disability benefits for a mental disorder

Not every disability carries a visible moniker. For example, when we see a person in a wheel chair we understand that person might have a disabling medical condition. However, other disabled persons in Missouri suffer in silence, including those who have a disabling mental condition.

For example, we generally cannot not see that a person is suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression or other documented mental health conditions. Moreover, mental illnesses still carry a negative stigma, meaning those who are afflicted with them may not tell others about their condition.

'Compassionate Allowance' can fast-track SSD benefit applications

When a person in Missouri files for Social Security disability benefits, it is usually because they are suffering from a medical condition that is so debilitating that they can no longer continue working to support themselves. SSD benefits can be the safety net that helps these individuals afford their daily living expenses and medical care. It is important that those who qualify for benefits get the help they need as soon as possible.

For this reason, the Social Security Administration recognizes that some medical conditions are clearly disabling. Therefore, the agency has instituted the "Compassionate Allowance" program. If an applicant for Social Security disability has a condition that falls under the listing in the Compassionate Allowance program, their application for disability benefits will be expedited. This means that the applicant will be awarded disability benefits based simply upon a medical confirmation of their condition. An applicant need not do anything special to be considered for the Compassionate Allowance program.

Can you apply for SSD benefits if you retire early?

Many people in Missouri anticipate working until they reach their full retirement age. Then, with their full retirement savings and Social Security benefits, they'll be able to enjoy their retirement goals, whether this means travelling the world, buying a motorcycle or simply enjoying their free time with their family and friends.

However, for those who suffer a major illness or injury before reaching retirement age, these dreams could be shattered. If a person's health is so poor that they cannot continue working, they may be forced into taking an early retirement. This could be devastating, not just on an emotional level, also but because the worker will not have contributed as much to their 401(k), IRAs and other retirement savings as they would have liked. Moreover, depending on their age, if someone takes an early retirement and thus has not worked as many years as they planned, then their Social Security retirement benefits may not be as high as they expected. All of this combined could mean a person is living on a lower income than they would have wanted once retired.

September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

Many people in Missouri have been touched by cancer in some way. For example, they may have a friend or loved one who had cancer, or they may even be a cancer sufferer themselves. When it comes to cancers affecting women, breast cancer awareness has gotten a lot of attention. However, there are other cancers affecting women that people should also be aware of.

Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month is September, and it serves as a means to educate the public about gynecologic cancers such as ovarian cancer. One ovarian cancer survivor encourages women to listen to their bodies as there are symptoms that can point to ovarian cancer. And, ovarian cancer, like other cancers, is more treatable the earlier it is detected.

Five conditions added to expedited disability program

Sometimes a person in Missouri becomes so ill that working has become impossible. This can be a severe blow not just to a person's psyche, but also to their pocketbook. After all, many people will say their job is a part of their identity, and without a paycheck it won't be long before they start to feel the impact of their situation financially.

For these reasons, people who are so ill that they cannot work can apply for Social Security disability benefits for illness. They may be concerned that it will be a long time before their SSD claim is approved. However, the Social Security Administration has a program that may shorten the length of time it takes to approve for applications for benefits.

SSD appeals still backlogged, despite transfers

Many people in Missouri and nationwide may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. However, the unfortunate fact is that many times their SSD claim is initially denied. When this happens, there is an appeals process in place. Following a denial at the reconsideration stage of appeal, a claimant can seek a hearing with an administrative law judge. However, there is currently a major backlog in such cases, which the Social Security Administration is trying to address.

As of fiscal year 2017, over one million people in the United States appealed a denial of Social Security disability benefits, and they waited on average 605 days before receiving a decision on their case. To address this issue, over the past 10 years, the SSA transferred more appealed disability claims from offices that had a backlog of appealed claims to offices that the SSA believed were better able to process such claims. Starting in fiscal year 2008 until 2017, the percentage of transferred claims went up from 14 to 43 percent.

Can prenatal HIV infection lead to disability?

Not every person with HIV contracts the disease as a sexually active adult. Some people contract HIV prenatally. One may wonder how contracting HIV prenatally affects a person's health as a young adult. One recent study examined that question, the results of which may interest people in Missouri and elsewhere who suffer from HIV.

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics examined whether young adults who contracted HIV prenatally run the risk of suffering additional physical health conditions and mental health conditions. Of the people who participated in the study, 27 percent had a psychiatric condition, such as substance use, anxiety and mood disorders. The study concluded that these disorders threatened the participants' health as adults within the context of HIV.

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