Attorney Brian Anson will be one of the featured legal specialists at the National MS Society Legal Day on May 8, 2010 in White Plains, NY, sponsored by the MS Society's New York City-Southern New York Chapter. The Legal Day will provide a forum for attorneys and specialists to meet with individuals to consult on a variety of topics. Mr. Anson will be available to discuss Social Security Disability benefits. For more information or to schedule a consultation with Mr. Anson, please contact the MS Society by clicking here.
April 2010 Archives
Last month, New York State's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation proposed eliminating or limiting two categories of qualified persons under its Access Pass program, which gives reduced or free admission to parks, campsites, golf course and other state-operated recreational facilities. One category is the "semi-ambulatory." The other is people receiving any of several federal disability benefits: Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income and Railroad Retirement Board Disability. (For more information, see "No More Free Golf for the Not-Quite Disabled.")
While the impetus for this action was the abuses of the Disability system by former Long Island Railroad Employees, widely reported in the New York Times in 2008, the execution of the plan is faulty.
The proposed change states that while certain categories of people will still be automatically entitled to Access Passes (including the blind, the deaf, the nonambulatory, amputees, disabled veterans and the mentally disabled), people receiving Federal disability benefits, including the railroad benefit, would no longer automatically be qualified to receive the Access Passes.
It seems to me that whatever money might be saved by cutting off peoples' free access to walking and hiking trails, pools, boating--- and, yes, golf courses and snowmobile trails---will be substantially offset by the legal fees that will occur when the state has to defend a decision not to grant an Access Pass to a person determined to be "Disabled" by a federal agency such as Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board who must now again prove 'disability' to a park ranger or some other employee of the state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Entitlement to Social Security benefits may come to an end for a number of reasons. I previously discussed medical improvement prior to the resolution of a claim, which can potentially entitle one to a closed period of disability. In the last blog, the focus was on a return to work after benefits have been granted, resulting in a cessation of benefits due to work activity. Benefits may also come to an end after the Social Security Administration conducts its own independent review.
A person receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits can expect to be reviewed every four or five years. This is the Administration's way of finding out if a payee is still "disabled," and hence, still eligible for benefits. They will start by sending a written notification announcing their intent to conduct a Continuing Disability Review ("CDR"). Just as medical evidence is required to establish initial eligibility, it is also necessary to prove ongoing entitlement.
If you need your benefits to continue, it is imperative that you remain under treatment by a medical doctor while you are on disability. Far too often, I've spoken to clients who tell me that they've stopped seeing their doctor because that doctor advised them that "there was nothing more he/she could do for me." While this may in fact be true, it will under no circumstances satisfy the Social Security Administration when they ask for proof that a beneficiary remains disabled. The Administration may require you to see one or more of their medical consultants while they review your continued eligibility. Should that doctor's opinion be unfavorable (as is often the case), the only way to combat it is by having a supportive opinion from your own doctor. Should the Social Security Administration have an unopposed medical opinion, it is highly likely that your benefits will cease.
The Continuing Disability Review process is determined in large part by medical support, but procedural matters can require the assistance of qualified legal representation. However, the most important thing a recipient of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits can do for himself is to continue seeing a medical doctor.
While medical improvement is ultimately the best a disabled person can hope for, there are certainly no guarantees that medical treatment will help. However, often thanks to talented medical professionals, treatment is successful and a disabled individual is able to return to work. This can happen at various times, be it while a Social Security application is pending, or after benefits have been granted.