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SSA Continues to Help Veterans and Homeless People to Access Benefits

The Social Security Administration has been fighting to reduce poverty and help homeless people to avail benefits in the United States for many years now. Recently, SSA went up a notch in their efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans and seniors. Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner, declared the Social Security Administration as the the most successful anti-poverty program to help vulnerable populations in United States history.

“Social Security plays a key role in reducing homelessness, and our benefit payments help people to secure and maintain stable housing,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our country’s history and collaborates with other federal, state and local agencies to ensure that veterans, people who are disabled, have lost a loved one, or are retiring have access to our benefits and services.”

Collaborative Efforts

The SSA is working in collaboration with other state, federal, and local agencies to make sure that people who have lost a loved one, are disabled, retiring, or veterans can easily access their services and benefits. The state and federal officials conducted meetings earlier this year to discuss outreach programs and initiatives for eliminating homelessness among vulnerable populations at a forum known as Ending Homelessness: Lessons Learned from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 2015, Virginia achieved the impossible: it eliminated homelessness among veterans. Following Virginia’s example, many state and federal agencies are trying to replicate the practices to attain success. Social Security has developed several key strategies in order to connect homeless seniors and veterans to Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

The Role of SOAR

With SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) initiative, the SSA has been receiving more and more disability applications. Since these applications are complete because they are filled with the help of an agency representative, their approval rate is quite high. This is especially helpful for homeless people who face great difficulty in getting medical records and documenting their cases.

Funded by the SAMHSA, SOAR is a national project initiated to provide greater access to SSDI and SSI benefits for eligible adults. They include individuals who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless and have some kind of medical impairment, mental illness, and/or substance use disorder.

In a report by Arloc Sherman and Kathleen Romig of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it has been found that Social Security benefits have helped more than 22 million Americans out of poverty. This figure continues to soar by the passing day, and it is safe to say that the SSA’s efforts are bearing fruit.

If you are eligible for availing Social Security disability benefits, but having difficulty in filing for it or your application has been denied, you should consult your case with a reliable and experienced social security disability attorney. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

A Look at the Revised Social Security Criteria for Mental Disorders

If an adult or child has a disability due to a mental disorder, they may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Since mental impairment affects a person’s ability to perform daily tasks and decreases their capacity to work, the SSA provides disability benefits to such individuals based on the severity of their condition.
On September 26, 2016, the SSA published a final rule, titled Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders, which will be enforced in January, 2017. This is a comprehensive revision made to the process for evaluating the disability claims of adults and children who have mental disorders.

The Key Changes

The following are the most significant changes made to the current rules and criteria to qualify for Social Security benefits:

  • The titles of most of the listings have been updated.
  • The 5-point rating scale, which was previously used in rules for rating the functional limitations in adult, is retained.
  • New listings are created, 112.15 and 12.15, which are associated with stressor- and trauma-related disorders, to align with the updates made for medical understanding as reflected in the DSM-5.
  • Updates are made in the paragraph A criteria while keeping its structure from previous rules in all listings, except for 112.05 and 12.05.
  • The four areas of functioning that are covered in the “B” criteria in the listings have been changed. The new areas of functioning are: 1) Interact with others, 2) Understand, apply, or remember information, 3) Adapt or manage oneself, and 5) Concentrate, maintain, or persist.
  • The revised criteria for intellectual disability are identical to the DSM-5 definition, and cover three main elements. They include considerable deficits in adaptive functioning, extensive limitations in general intellectual functioning, and evidence pertaining to the fact that the disorder occurred before age 22.
  • A new listing for neurodevelopmental disorders has been included under 12.11. It will identify plaintiffs who have cognitive impairments from extreme or marked functional limitations, but do not fulfill the eligibility criteria for intellectual disorders.


Why is the SSA making these changes?

The Blue Book listings for mental health conditions was way overdue a full revision since 1990, which the SSA carried out this September.

“Updating our medical criteria for the disability program is a challenging task that has been complicated by deep budgetary cuts in recent years,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, the acting commissioner of Social Security. “We are committed to updating our regulations to reflect up-to-date standards and practices used in the health care community.”

The final rule includes changes made considering the public comments from the 2010 proposal, advances in medical knowledge and technology, and updates that were made to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).

If your loved one has a disability due to a mental disorder, they may qualify for Social Security benefits as per the revised criteria. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.


Ways of Submitting a Request for a Disability Hearing

People seeking Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits have the option to appeal for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). This option is available to people who have been denied of their SSD benefits and the Disability Determination Services has also turned down their reconsideration request.


How to Appeal for a Disability Hearing

You can request a hearing by an ALJ in the following two ways:

  1. Appeal Forms

The primary form you are required to file is Form HA-501 (Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge), which is for getting a hearing date. After filling this form, you have to send or take it to your local Social Security office. This form fulfills several purposes, including:

  • Informing Social Security of additional evidence that you will be submitting to support your claim;
  • Stating your reasons for disagreeing with Social Security and their decision that you are ineligible to receive SSD benefits;
  • Indicating Social Security that you want to attend the hearing session in person.

To ensure that Form HA-501 is the right form to submit considering your particular situation, you should first thoroughly read the denial letter from Social Security. It usually contains details about the specific form that you have to submit for a disability hearing. If the denial letter doesn’t contain any such information, you should contact your local Social Security office.

After submitting the Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge form, you will need to fill out the following forms:

Send or submit these forms to your local Social Security office.

  1. Online Request

You have to meet the following criteria to file a request for hearing online:

  • You have already applied for SSD benefits
  • You must reside in the USA or in its territories
  • You must have a Notice of Decision

The online request process consists of two parts:

  1. Disability internet appeal application: You have to provide your personal information and specify whether you are a non-lawyer representative or have a lawyer to represent you.
  2. Disability Report: In this part, you will be asked to provide any new information regarding your health. This includes hospital visits, doctor diagnosis, and difficulties you have been facing that hinder your ability to work.

After you have completed both the sections, you should save your work before you can log off the website. Upon completion, you will receive a reentry number that will allow you to go to your application when you visit the website again in the future.

The process of filing an appeal for SSD hearing can be overwhelming for many people. In order to avoid mistakes and errors in filling the required forms and for effective representation, you should hire an experienced social security disability attorney. They may also help you to speed up the approval of your application and get a date as early as within two months. Contact Harold W. Conick & Associates, Ltd. today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation.