Articles Tagged with SSI

More students than ever are graduating with student loan debt. Tuition has skyrocketed in the last few decades and it is now common for college graduates to owe tens of thousands of dollars by the time they earn their undergraduate diploma. If an individual becomes disabled before they pay back their federal student loan debt, they may face a very difficult situation.

If an individual took out student loans to finance their education, then these loans are currently not dischargable by bankruptcy unless that individual can prove that repaying the loan would cause an “undue hardship“. Proving an “undue hardship” is an extremely high standard to show unless the individual has a severe disability. The U.S. Department of Education’s website provides the reasons for which a student loan may be forgiven, cancelled, or discharged: Department of Education’s website.

Federal student loans may be discharged if the borrower suffers a total and permanent disability. According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are three ways for an individual to prove that they are totally and permanently disabled:

1. If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
2. If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within five to seven years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination.
3. You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that – Can be expected to result in death,
– Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months, or – Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

The Department of Education allows individuals to apply for a “Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge” for federal loans online at the following website: http://www.disabilitydischarge.com/home/
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If a disability is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death, then the disabled individual should apply for Social Security disability benefits. There are two types of Social Security disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI, also known as Title II benefits) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI, also known as Title XVI benefits). To learn the eligibility requirements of each program, read O’Ryan Law Firm’s article about Eligibility for SSDI and SSI benefits.

The process of applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) may seem complex, but this article will explain what information is needed to apply and how to apply.

Information Needed to Apply

Before applying for Social Security disability benefits, the following materials should be gathered:

-Your Social Security number;

-An original or certified copy of your birth certificate and, if you were born in another country, proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency;

-If you were in the military service, the original or certified copy of your military discharge papers (Form DD 214) for all periods of active duty;

-Your W-2 Form from last year or, if you were self-employed, your federal income tax return (IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE);

-Direct deposit numbers (from a check, or ask your financial institution for the numbers) to have your monthly benefits deposited automatically;

-Information about any workers’ compensation claim you have filed, including date of injury, claim number, and proof of any payments made to you;

-The name, address, and phone number of someone who knows about your condition and can help with your claim;

-Information about your illnesses, injuries, and conditions, including dates of treatment, and patient ID numbers; and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the medical providers who treated you. It is best to provide all treatment information beginning 12 months prior to your disability onset;

-Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who requested the tests;

-Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them. You may also want to include side effects from medications;

-Medical records that you already have in your possession; and
-A list of up to five jobs and dates you worked during the last 15 years prior to your disability onset.
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Applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration is a layered process. If a claimant is denied initially, then they must file a request for reconsideration. If their request for reconsideration is denied, then they must file a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Claimants should be aware that each of these appeals must be filed within 60 days of receiving a denial letter.

At the hearing level, the claimant’s chances of success improve. However, even strong claims can be denied by an Administrative Law Judge for a variety of reasons. It is a nationwide trend that more Social Security disability cases are being denied.

Appeals Council

When an Administrative Law Judge denies a claim, then the next step is to request a review from the Appeals Council. This request must be made within 60 days of the denial notice. The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia and performs a review of the claimant’s evidence. There is no hearing at this stage, and requests for review must be made in writing. Unfortunately, the time it takes for the Appeals Council to make a decision is extremely long. The Social Security Administration’s website states that “the average processing time was 395 days” for the period of October 2011 – September 2012.
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