|The Disabled Worker Vol. 1, No. 1, Page 1
Four Mistakes Claimants Make
Are you sick and out of work? Avoid these common mistakes made by Social Security claimants:
Mistake #1: Waiting to apply.
If you are out of work due to illness and will likely remain out of
work for the foreseeable future, now is the time to apply for Social
Security Disabiltity. The processing time can be quite lengthy, so
don’t delay. Furthermore, benefits can only be granted for one
year retroactive from the date of application, so if you wait more than
one year, you will lose out on benefits.
Mistake #2: Collecting unemployment. When
collect unemployment, you are saying that you are ready, willing and
able to work. This is usually inconsistent with being
disabled. Rather than applying for unemployment, a claimant should
pursue Temporary State Disability. Applications may be obtained
from the unemployment office. Benefits run for a maximum of 26
Mistake #3: Not appealing a denial from Social Security. More
than half of all Social Security Disability claims are denied at the
initial level. Many claimants become discouraged, fail to appeal,
and later re-apply. Realize that a new
application is not the same as an appeal. With a new application
you start over and can lose benefits. If you disagree with the
Mistake #4: Not hiring an attorney. Why
go it alone? The right attorney knows what is needed to prove a
case. Although the judge has a duty to develop your case,
caseloads are large. An experienced Social Security attorney can
take the time to make sure the proper medical evidence is
obtained. A lawyer who has advocated for the disabled in hundreds
of hearings can best prepare a claimant for the hearing.
Disability Claims Statistics
Released statistics on disability
claims for the year 2003. Nearly two and a half million claims
were filed. Of those, 63 percent were denied at the initial claim
level. For those who appealed to the reconsideration level, 85
percent were denied. At the third level, the administrative
hearing, 61 percent won their cases. At
the hearing, the claimant will, for the first time, meet
the decisionmaker face to face. It is apparent that the
hearing is the best place to win a Social Security Disability case. So, don’t give up; keep appealing.
Prescription Drug and Utility Assistance
for the Disabled
State of New Jersey offers prescription drug and utility assistance to
qualifying disabled persons through the PAAD (Pharmaceutical Assistance
to the Aged & Disabled) and Lifeline programs.
The requirements for PAAD and Lifeline are as follows: *You are a New Jersey resident;
* Your income for 2004 is less than $20,437 if single; less than $25,058 if married;
*You are receiving Social Security Disability benefits OR you are at least 65 years of age.
PAAD helps pay for prescription drugs, insulin, syringes and certain
diabetic testing materials. The Lifeline program offers a $225
credit to your electric and/or natural gas utility bill.
For more information, call 1-800-792-9745
Medicare Discount Drug Cards Approved
a person has been getting Social Security Disability benefits for 24
months, he is eligible for Medicare. This is great news for
many claimants with no insurance. Unfortunately, Medicare does not
pay for most prescription drugs.
In March of 2004, the US Department of Health and Human Services
approved Medicare drug discount cards to certain private
sponsors. Medicare beneficiaries can now obtain discount cards
from local drug store chains such as Walgreens, CVS, Eckerd, and
In addition to the discounts, certain low-income beneficiaries may get a
$600 credit to pay for their medicines. The regulations allow the
companies to charge an enrollment fee of $30 annually. Health and
Human Services has published a free booklet, “Guide to Choosing a
Medicare-Approved Drug Discount Card.” The booklet may be obtained
by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.