Sheri R. Abrams, P.C., Attorney at Law
Social Security Disability News from
 Sheri R. Abrams, P.C. Attorney at Law
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In This Issue
What are Social Security Disability Benefits?
Rising Backlog in Disability Appeals
Our Office has Moved
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Issue: # 1 August 2008 
Picture of Social Security Card and Dice

Welcome to the first issue of Social Security Disability News.  In this newsletter we will be providing you with the information you need so you don't gamble with your or your clients/patients Social Security Disability Benefits. 
What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?
 Image of WheelchairWhat is the Difference Between
 Social Security Disability
 and SSI? 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or DIB or Title II) is a program financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers and self-employed persons.  Disability benefits are payable to disabled workers, disabled widow(er)s or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible.  Auxiliary benefits may be payable to a worker's dependents, as well. The monthly disability benefit payment is based on the Social Security earnings of the insured worker on whose Social Security number the disability claim is filed and is similar to those received by retired workers.  (Currently the most an individual can receive is $2185 per month.)  When you become entitled to twenty-four (24) months of SSDI you are entitled to Medicare at a nominal cost (currently $96.40 per month).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI or Title XVI) is a welfare type program financed through general tax revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled, meet the income, resource and living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. (Currently can have no more than $2000 in assets for an individual and $3000 for a couple). No Auxiliary benefits are paid with SSI.  The monthly amount of SSI payments are different in every state and can vary by the person's income and resources. (In Virginia and many other states the maximum amount is currently $637 per month for an individual and $956 a month for a couple).  You can be eligible for SSI even if you have never worked or paid taxes taxes under FICA.  Generally, however, to be eligible for SSI payments you need to be a U.S. citizen or meet certain requirements for non-citizens. If you receive SSI you are entitled to Medicaid with no waiting period and it is free
For more information on Social Security Disability and SSI benefits please read on.
Rising Backlog in Disability Appeals
No End in Sight for Rising Backlog of Disability Appeals

Hundreds of thousands of Social Security disability (SSDI) claimants are waiting up to three years for a resolution of their disability appeals, according to a article in the New York Times. During the long wait for an appeals hearing, more and more claimants are losing their homes, filing for bankruptcy, dying from their illnesses or even committing suicide. The average wait now exceeds 500 days, and the backlog of cases numbers 755,000; in 2000 the wait was 258 days and the backlog was 311,000 cases. The Social Security Administration's (SSA) plan to hire 150 appeals judges to tackle the backlog is caught in the showdown between Congress and the White House over domestic appropriations. President Bush proposed a $9.6 billion budget for the SSA for fiscal year 2008, but an additional $100 million is needed to hire more SSA judges. Congress had approved an increase of $275 million for the SSA in November, but Bush vetoed the bill that included the increase. If the standoff continues and the government operates through continuing resolutions, the SSAA's spending will remain at last year's level, which would not only scuttle the plan for new judges but conceivably lead to furloughs, according to SSA Commissioner Michael A. Astrue. The increased backlog in appeals over the last decade is the result of litigation, funding shortages, and the rising number of SSD applications from baby boomers in their 50s and 60s. About 2.5 million disability cases are filed each year, two-thirds of which are denied initially by state agencies based solely on the documentary record. Most claimants give up at that point or after their request for local reconsideration is denied. But two-thirds of the more than 575,000 claimants who appeal eventually win reversals after a hearing before an SSA judge. Federal officials predict that the lack of additional judges will mean even longer waits and more personal hardships for claimants. The long delays are also a strain for state welfare agencies that provide cash assistance to some SSD claimants during their long wait for an appeals hearing. Like his predecessors, Commissioner Astrue has promised faster decisions. He indicated that the SSA has begun a process for the speedier initial approval for claimants who are clearly eligible and that more hearings are being held by video. But indications are that there will be no significant impact on the backlog without major increases in funding, judges, and support staff.
Our Office has Moved!
Picture of Old Town Fairfax Building Expanded Practice  

Our law office has moved to a new location in the "Old Town Fairfax Building,"
4015 Chain Bridge Road
Suite I
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 934-5450
which is right across the street from the Courthouse in
Fairfax City, Virginia.
We continue to practice Social Security Disability Law and prepare Wills, Living Wills, Health Care & Financial Powers of Attorney but now we have expanded our law practice to include the preparation of Special Needs Trusts.  For more information on Special Needs Trusts please read on.
If you know of someone who could use our legal services please forward to him or her this e-mail newsletter or give him or her our telephone number:  (703) 934-5450.
We provide legal services to clients in Virginia, DC and Maryland and we are always happy to provide FREE friendly phone advice.
If you refer someone who becomes a client, we will treat you to a great cup of coffee (you will receive a FREE Starbucks Gift Card).
If you, or someone you know, is involved with an educational event or support group that would benefit from a presentation on Social Security Disability Law, Wills or Special Needs Trusts, please call us at (703) 934-5450.