Consumer News

Government benefits available for sick, disabled

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A growing number of people are growing desperate for government benefits, particularly people who've become disabled and are unable to get another job in this tough economy.

If you become sick or disabled, you may be eligible for a very important government benefit. The money could help you and your family survive, but getting those much-needed funds can be difficult and tricky, unless you know the system.

Much needed money for desperate families is in fact available in the form of Social Security disability benefits, but you have to know how to go about getting it.

Alan Karper had been the breadwinner for his family for 30 years when suddenly everything changed.

"And boom I was looking and I was like, 'I can't see out of my eye'," said Alan.

Alan had a stroke and now suffers from a long list of debilitating health issues that prevent him from working.

"It's killing me," said Alan. "I have a younger daughter who is 14-years-old; I can't give her anything. "I may lose my house; I may lose everything I put into this house since I moved in back in 1999."

There is help for which Alan believes he's eligible.

Social Security disability; it provides benefits to people whose disabilities prevent them from working. But to qualify, you must have worked and paid into the Social Security system for a certain period of time.

By Alan's calculations, he's eligible to receive about $2,000 dollars a month, so he applied for SSD in March of 2010, but he's been denied three times.

"If you're denied, don't give up. Ask for reconsideration if you're in a state that requires reconsideration or in Pennsylvania, ask for a hearing and then if you're denied at your hearing, file a new case and an appeal," says Social Security Disability Attorney Eric Shore.

Attorney Eric Shore says it is critical people re-file and re-appeal.

Only about 34% of initial applications in PA are approved; only about 45% in New Jersey. But Shore says while the approval process can be very long, there are exceptions.

For example, if a person has a terminal illness, or if they're about to be homeless or if they can't get medical care, Social security has said that they will expedite these cases.

But you have to send proof to the Social Security Administration, for example, a note from your doctor or an eviction notice. And you have to ASK to have your case expedited.

Also when applying, you're more likely to be approved if you list all your medical providers, medications, as well as any mental health conditions.

And again, like Alan, be persistent.

"It's really, really tough," said Alan. "You know, you just got to keep fighting and fighting."

Shore also advises using technology to speed up your case. He says apply, appeal, and submit evidence all online.

Web links:

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