Did you know that there are more than 8 million Americans over the age of 65 who are disabled and rely on Social Security for survival? It’s true. Many may recall President Nixon signing into law the Supplemental Security law in 1972. A lot has changed since then. The program is now 43 years old and some say it’s long overdue for an overhaul.
It’s alarming to realize how many of those who receive these benefits but who are also living in deep poverty. There are more than 50 national organizations that have now endorsed the SSI Restoration Act of 2013 (H.R. 1601) with the goal of eliminating these antiquated rules both for those receiving benefits and who have been denied coverage.
Currently, the federal benefit monthly rate is $733 per month, per individual and $1100 per month for a couple. Many who receive these benefits also receive Medicaid. The rules are hard lined and overstepping even one such rule can cause significant problems for those who need these benefits. For instance, an SSI recipient may not have more than $2,000 in available resources and, in most states, applicants may not have more than $718 in monthly income. Worse, for those whose family members help provide food and other maintenance necessities, they may actually prevent their loved one from qualifying.
The tragedy, when one looks at it from a “total picture” perspective, is that the program was designed, in President Nixon’s words, to be a “big step out of poverty and toward a life of dignity and independence.” It’s often anything but for many recipients, especially when the annual amount comes to less than $9,000 annually (2015).
There are appeals processes for those who are denied coverage. Benefits are to continue during that appeals process – but only if that individual appeals within 10 days of receiving the notice. According to some reports, employees at the Social Security Administration fail to keep adequate timelines of when appeals are filed. When that happens, the odds increase that paperwork is lost – even when it’s sent certified mail. If the employees are losing and misfiling paperwork, it jeopardizes the recipient’s ability to continue to receive benefits.
Further, some employees have been fired for bypassing the laws when it comes to an appeals claim. For instance, when a conference is requested by a denied applicant, the SSA must schedule a meeting within 15 days of receiving that request. Unfortunately, the SSA may request a delay – and too many times, that’s exactly what happens.
These are just a few of the many problems within the Social Security Administration. The new law, if passed, will overhaul it in its entirety. It will put into place better protective mechanisms for recipients and applicants and will allow elder care lawyers better options for protecting their clients.
Currently, reports are being compiled that will bolster the justification for improving the law. We will continue to follow the events as they unfold. In the meantime, if we can help you or a loved one with your application for SSI, we welcome the opportunity. Contact our offices today.