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For Most Working Americans—Social Security Disability IS Their Disability Insurance Policy

2015 May 22

memorial-blogBy Tricia of Allsup

What does it meant to work? Well, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates about 155 million people are part of the labor force. Through their work, they generate earnings and benefits for themselves and their families, and they are part of the economic engine that drives progress in the U.S.

The benefits they earn include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. About 151 million workers are fully insured for SSDI benefits, according to the Social Security Administration.

Your Ability To Work = More Than Cash Value

Disability Insurance Awareness Month in May allows organizations like Allsup a chance to raise awareness about this valuable resource: Your ability to work.

This month, Allsup disability specialists will receive hundreds of calls from individuals who can no longer work because of a severe, life-changing disability.

It is truly devastating. And—it’s really difficult to comprehend the impact, unless it has happened to you. Click here to read stories from Allsup customers who experienced a life-altering disability.

The harm to your health alone is disastrous.

Then there is the impact on your daily activities, day-to-day finances, health insurance coverage, debt, household needs, family priorities, spouse and children’s futures and retirement.

These are important reasons for buying private, long-term disability insurance. If you have not taken LTD benefits seriously, I recommend you take another look at the cost and value equation.

Of course, experiencing a disability is so much more than the cash value of your earnings. But the need for money becomes incredibly urgent. It’s typically the most important worry for those who apply for SSDI benefits.

U.S. Economy Relies On Nation’s Workers

More than 100 million workers do not have long-term disability insurance. However, about 151 million workers are fully insured for SSDI.

These millions of working taxpayers should be concerned that this important federal benefit remains available to them. It will be a life-sustaining measure for many of them in the coming years following unanticipated, long-term disabilities.

The nation’s workers also should be concerned that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is facing the exhaustion of its reserves in the upcoming year.

SSDI is the primary disability insurance policy for most U.S. workers. That’s a pretty important argument for preserving this vital benefit. It represents more than the cash value of those benefits.

It represents confidence and faith in the importance of the American worker.

If you or a family member has experienced a severe disability, click here for an easy form to receive a free evaluation for SSDI eligibility. You also may reach an Allsup disability specialist by calling (800) 678-3276.

Riding Shotgun: Return To Work With Social Security Disability Benefits

2015 May 18

AssetHandlerBy Tai of Allsup

When I was a child in Hawaii, a hungry alligator lurked under my bed, so I was mindful not to let an arm or leg extend over my mattress. Ever. My cousin thought this was hilarious. She taunted me with offers of letting me take her privilege (as the elder cousin) of riding in the front seat of my grandmother’s car if I would just let a hand or foot dangle unprotected for a few seconds.

I often daydreamed about how wonderful it would be to ride alongside my Tutu in the front seat of her 1970 Monte Carlo, with unobstructed views of sugarcane fields and sparkling blue beaches—the sunshine caressing my face and fresh air rushing through the giant front passenger window. But I was too afraid of the child-eating alligator to take my cousin’s dare.

So, my memories are from the backseat. My view was from a small rectangle of glass, and my breeze was recycled air that had already flown through my cousin’s long brown hair.

How often do we settle for the backseat because we are afraid? How often are our fears unfounded?

Fears About Trying To Work Again

Fear comes up often when I speak to individuals who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits about returning to work.

They tell me they are afraid of losing their benefits. They are afraid their physical condition will get worse. They are afraid that they don’t have the right job skills. They are afraid employers won’t hire them. They are afraid that employers won’t be willing to make accommodations.

They are afraid that even if they are successful, they will have to go through the SSDI application process all over again if they aren’t able to maintain employment.

Some also tell me that they would rather be working. For many, returning to work is not feasible. For others, the only thing that keeps them from attempting to return to work is fear. I understand.

The alligator under my bed did not exist, but he was real to me.

The Allsup True Help® Web Event, “True Help Returning to Work,” is for individuals with SSDI who are willing to peek under the bed.

Ticket to Work participants and experts from organizations including Ability Beyond, DirectEmployers Association, Allsup Employment Services Inc. and the National Stroke Association will share insights on the employment possibilities for people with disabilities, benefits coordination, and options and resources available for individuals who receive SSDI. The goal of the program is to dispel fears.

I don’t daydream about riding shotgun anymore. These days I drive.

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Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day—Confused?

2015 May 14

veteran-reunitedBy The Old Sarge

Armed Forces Day is right around the corner on May 16.

But don’t get that confused with Memorial Day on May 25.

Or Veterans Day observed Nov. 11.

Thoroughly confused? Well, I’ll try to clear it up with a brief history about these three federal holidays that honor our troops.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of May and is a way we pay tribute to all military members for their service. Each branch of the military had their own day set aside (Army Day, Navy Day, etc.) until President Harry Truman brought all the holidays together on May 20, 1950.

First observed in 1882, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was a day to honor all—both Union and Confederate—soldiers killed in the Civil War. By the early 20th Century, the meaning of Memorial Day was extended to include all American service members who died in the defense of their country. Typically ushering in the unofficial summer season, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May.

Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day marks the end of World War I, when the fighting stopped at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Celebrated annually on Nov. 11th, Veterans Day honors all Americans who served their country. Some say it is to honor those who served and survived.

(A note to grammarians: Although an apostrophe in Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day may be grammatically correct, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says, “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans.’ It is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”)

To see how Allsup helps military veterans receive the veterans benefits they served for, click here.

May Is National Stroke Awareness Month

2015 May 11

stroke-logoBy Guest Blogger Julia Richards, Manager, Stroke Survival Programs, National Stroke Association

In April 2015, a Harris International survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that among brain, heart or lung damage, 66 percent feared brain damage the most.

Stroke is a brain attack. Damage to the brain as a result of stroke can be devastating.

Even though stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term adult disability, few take the necessary steps to prevent stroke.

How your story ends is largely in your control. Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented by controlling modifiable risk factors.

In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month this May, National Stroke Association issues you a challenge!

Take the Step it Up for Stroke Pledge and commit to taking small steps to reduce your risk of a life-altering stroke.

While not all risk factors for stroke are in your control, many of them are. Healthy eating habits, physical activity, and controlling medical risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, are a few of those small steps that can go a long way.

Visit the Make Your Choice website today to learn more about how you can reduce your chances of having a stroke.

While you’re there, remember to take the Step it Up for Stroke Pledge, watch Robin’s story, and then take advantage of some of our Risk Prevention Resources to help you get started.

Common Mistakes From A Social Security Disability Expert: Do You Need An SSDI Representative?

2015 April 29

Swierczek-colorBy Ed of Allsup

Does Masters golf champion Jordan Spieth really need a swing coach? Does it ever rain in southern California? Do you really need professional help to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?

Yes, yes and yes. Especially to the last question. Three out of four people have a representative by the time they reach a hearing for their Social Security disability benefits.

Before that, many people miss out on the advantages of having a representative on their side. Many customers who choose Allsup find that, with an SSDI expert, they have an advantage toward receiving their benefits with their initial application. This means they save tremendous time and effort by avoiding disability appeals altogether.

How SSDI Representatives Can Help

If you had to quit working because of a long-term disability, it’s time to apply for Social Security disability benefits that your taxes paid for when you were working.

Filing for SSDI is such a lengthy, complex process that most applicants need an experienced representative to help them wade through the paperwork, medical documentation and Social Security’s requirements. It’s a sad fact that the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies two-thirds of all initial SSDI applications.

Forget to include a piece of medical evidence? You can be denied. Miss a filing deadline? You can be denied. The information you provide about your current activities, work history and medical situation all factor into the SSA’s denial, and people can make mistakes in presenting this information.

These are common errors that an experienced professional will correct before filing your application. By the way, that same representative can save you a lot of time and stress by telling you upfront if you are not likely to be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Questions To Ask a Social Security Disability Advocate

Look at it this way: If the greatest golfers in the world hire coaches to make sure their swings are on track, you can benefit from working with a pro to make sure you receive the disability benefits you paid for.

Once you decide to work with a professional representative, there are a few things to ask:

  • Will you make sure my forms and appeals meet deadlines?
  • Will you take my phone calls and answer my questions along the way?
  • Will you work with my doctors and make sure my medical records are current with the SSA?
  • Will you help me with issues related to my health insurance and access to medical treatment?
  • Will you stay in touch with the SSA and make sure my claim is up-to-date?
  • How much will I pay for your service?

Allsup provides assistance with these questions and more. Contact us and receive a free disability evaluation by calling (800) 678-3276.

Click here to learn more about Allsup’s SSDI representation services. If you know someone who needs a swing coach, click here.

Check Out Medicare When Turning 65 With Social Security Disability

2015 April 24

Tricia-blog-photoBy Tricia of Allsup

One of the important benefits from receiving Social Security Disability Insurance is becoming eligible for Medicare.

This health insurance coverage starts 24 months after your cash SSDI benefits begin.

We help many people to navigate the complexities of choosing their Medicare plans, whether they are choosing traditional Medicare and a prescription drug Part D plan, or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Advantages: Turning 65 With SSDI

One thing many SSDI recipients don’t realize is that when you turn 65—you receive a new initial enrollment period.

This can be extremely valuable for a couple of reasons.

  • Reason one: One advantage is that you receive a new guaranteed issue rights period, meaning you can sign up for supplemental coverage, or Medigap, without underwriting. Even if you already have Medigap, you could see significantly reduced premiums at age 65, and you should shop around.
  • Reason two: A second advantage is that you may now have other Medicare plan options available to you that previously were not accessible because you were eligible by disability, and not age.

So it’s important to revisit your Medicare plan as you get ready to turn 65, even if you have been on Medicare for several years already because of your disability.

Medicare & Where You Live

It’s easy to sign up for Medicare, which is one of the reasons it can seem like a deceptively simple process. In truth, however, Medicare has many rules that affect the types of plans you can purchase, your costs and the timing of these decisions.

A variety of factors can influence your personal decisions, such as the city, county or state where you live. Different Medicare plans are available in different geographic areas. Costs also vary, even with plans that appear to be the same.

Medicare plans also can change from year to year. In an Allsup survey, Medicare beneficiaries told us they were concerned about unexpected cost issues.

Survey findings:

  • 24 percent – Found out their prescription drug wouldn’t be covered.
  • 24 percent – Learned a specific treatment would not be covered.
  • 17 percent – Discovered their doctor or specialist was not in their plan.
  • 10 percent – Found that they had to pay out of pocket for a medical device.

Seeking Help For Better Medicare Choices

These worries and frustrations were one of the reasons Allsup created the Allsup Medicare Advisor® to assist our customers with SSDI benefits several years ago.

We also help:

  • Individuals who are turning 65.
  • Seniors who are relocating or experiencing healthcare transitions.
  • Medicare beneficiaries who are making changes during Medicare annual enrollment each year.

Choosing your Medicare plan is an important health decision, but also a financial and family decision.

Allsup Medicare specialists know this—that’s why our customers return to us time and again for True Help with their Medicare plan decisions.

If you are turning 65 soon, you can contact an Allsup Medicare specialist by clicking here or call (866) 521-7655. Go to Medicare.Allsup.com for more information.

Spondylitis Awareness Matters

2015 April 10

logoBy Guest Blogger Richard A. Howard, associate executive director, Spondylitis Association of America (SAA)

Spreading awareness for a disease helps in all sorts of ways. Ask the “ice bucket” people.

For spondylitis, awareness improves lives. April is Spondylitis Awareness Month.

Saturday, May 2, is World Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Day. To raise awareness and have a chance to win an iPad Mini click here.

When People Are Unaware

What happens when people are unaware?

  1. People “self-medicate” with alcohol and drug abuse.
  2. People break their neck with a roller coaster ride (or a “simple” fall).
  3. People have permanent vision damage including loss of eyesight.
  4. People are considered whiners, lazy and antisocial.
  5. People think it’s normal “growing pains” when a child lays on the floor crying from hip pain.
  6. People have spine or hip surgery, merely to have the pain return.
  7. Providers mistakenly diagnose patients with mental illness instead of referring to a rheumatologist.
  8. Providers are confused when their patients do not get better.
  9. Radiologists don’t notice ankylosing spondylitis on the X-ray and MRI.
  10. People forget to donate to this common, painful and often permanently disabling disease.
  11. People go undiagnosed until it’s too late to stop permanent damage to the spine.
  12. People don’t know why they are angry and short tempered.
  13. People may never fully trust doctors again.
  14. People lose out on having close, long-term relationships with their parents, spouse and children.
  15. People don’t know that their digestion, vision, small joint pain, back pain, fatigue and limited range of motion, osteoporosis, sciatic pain, heart and lung issues are all related.
  16. People feel isolated, alone and depressed.
  17. People don’t know what can be done to feel better.

Help And Answers For Your Questions

Seronegative spondyloarthritides, more commonly called spondyloarthritis or simply “spondylitis,” refers to a group of auto inflammatory diseases that primarily affect the spine and other joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 2.7 million adults in the U.S. have axial spondyloarthritis.

Men and women get this disease. Rheumatologists diagnose and treat this disease. There is a genetic component, so there is a tendency for it to occur in more than one family member. There is no definitive blood test, and diagnosis is not simple.

Incredibly, people can be relieved to hear that they have this painful, incurable disease—because they have been living in pain without any medical answers for years and years.

A lot of progress has been made in the 30 years the Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) has been around. There is a network of support. There are researchers improving lives and seeking a cure.

There is reliable, evidence-based information in a magazine, website, email newsletters, at seminars and just a phone call away through our SAA Member Hotline at (800) 777-8189.

Visit www.spondylitis.org for more information.

Could It Be PD? April Is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month

2015 April 6

Parkinsons-blogBy Tai of Allsup

Bruce’s hands were swollen. Ruth’s foot felt like it was dragging. David could move his left hand, but not his right at the same time.

They didn’t know what was happening*—and at first, neither did their doctors. Eventually, they would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the U.S.

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month—a time to raise awareness among healthcare providers and the public. There is no diagnostic test for PD, so patients often go undiagnosed for years.

Could it be PD?

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, two of four symptoms must be present over a period of time to consider a PD diagnosis. They include:

  • Shaking or tremor.
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesia).
  • Stiffness or rigidity of the arms, legs or trunk.
  • Trouble with balance and possible falls, also called postural instability.

In addition to motor symptoms, people with Parkinson’s disease can experience depression, anxiety, psychosis and problems with impulse control. This combination of symptoms often makes it impossible for people with PD to continue working.

PD progresses differently in each individual. One study found that 82 percent of patients felt they were too disabled to work full time three years after PD diagnosis.

For those who need it, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a valuable resource. The same study found that those who applied for SSDI did so about five years after diagnosis, and those who were awarded had extensive medical evidence and/or the help of an SSDI representative. Click here for more information about Parkinson’s disease and SSDI.

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) offers daily ideas throughout April, on how you can take action to make a lasting impact in the lives of those who battle this disease.

According to APDA:

  • There is currently no treatment, therapy, or drug to slow or halt PD progression.
  • Onset usually occurs in the fifth or sixth decade of life, however up to 10 percent of individuals will receive a diagnosis before the age of 50. The APDA National Young Onset Center focuses on developing education and support services that address the unique needs of young people with PD, their family members, friends and their healthcare team.
  • The APDA Veteran and Information Referral Center is a centralized resource dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of military veterans with PD.

Veterans who have experienced traumatic brain injury as well as PD may be eligible for additional VA disability pay.

For a free SSDI eligibility screening, visit Expert.Allsup.com or call (888) 841-2126.

*Read more about Bruce, Ruth and David at Allsup.com.

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Common Mistakes From A Social Security Disability Expert: Not Applying

2015 April 2

ss-cardBy Ed of Allsup

In my four decades in the disability business, I’ve seen individuals with disabilities make some mistakes with the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

One of the common mistakes (but many people don’t think about) is made by people who are qualified but don’t apply for Social Security disability benefits.

Here are some of the reasons people we hear:

  • “I’m OK because I have family support.” – such as a spouse or relatives.
  • “It’s just like giving up on life.”
  • “I’ll never get them anyway, so why waste my time.”
  • “I am not going onto a welfare program.”
  • “I don’t think my disability is permanent.”

Years later, when you come back to Social Security for your retirement benefits, you could be in for a shock.

You’re getting a lot less money than you should for all your years of work.

That’s because you have several years of no earnings, and the Social Security Administration counted all of those years when it determined your retirement benefit.

Retirement Freeze from SSDI Program

Many people don’t realize that when they qualify for SSDI benefits, the SSA freezes their earnings. The years when you have a disability don’t count against you in retirement. This is a protection for you and anybody who works for decades and must stop following a severe disability.

The retirement freeze is just one important reason to apply for SSDI, and it points to the risks if you are only going to count on family support until retirement.

  • If you truly have a disability that prevents you from working for a year or more, then you are qualified to receive SSDI. Contacting an expert disability representative like Allsup will help you figure out if you should apply. You don’t have to guess if you aren’t sure.
  • SSDI is not welfare—more than 150 million workers in the U.S. pay for this insurance with their FICA taxes. You’ve already paid for this coverage.
  • SSDI should be filed for as soon as possible because the SSA only pays retroactive benefits 12 months prior to filing. If you wait more than a year after you become disabled, you will lose retroactive benefits—money you were entitled to receive.
  • Don’t worry about whether your disability is permanent. If you see improvement in your medical condition and return to work down the road—that would make everyone happy, including Social Security.

Allsup experts have helped many people to obtain SSDI benefits, then watched as they went back to work a few years later. That’s what we call a success story.

If you’re written off applying for Social Security disability benefits, please think again. Give us a call at (800) 678-3276 or click here for a free SSDI evaluation.

If you don’t have time now, come back later to the easy online form at Expert.Allsup.com. It only takes one simple step to ease your mind.

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It’s Time To Thank Your Doctor For Helping Your Social Security Disability Claim

2015 March 24

Swierczek-colorBy Ed of Allsup

Often we don’t think of our physicians—until we need them. But the opportunity is coming on Monday, March 30, during National Doctors’ Day.

I’ve been in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) business for more than 40 years and I’ve helped many thousands of people receive their SSDI benefits. That’s why you can believe me when I say that no one is more critical for you to be granted disability benefits than the doctor treating you.

Let me be very clear. If your doctor doesn’t agree that your disability keeps you from working, you will have a difficult time securing SSDI benefits. It is critical to have his support.

Keep Your Doctor Informed

That’s why it’s so important that you keep your doctors informed of all your ailments. If you’re feeling more tired than normal; tell him. Be sure and tell him if you’re having muscle discomfort, chest pains or shortness of breath.

Your doctor may not only be able to help you feel better, he’ll also document your ailments in your medical records. This is critical because without fully documented medical records, your disability claim probably won’t get through Social Security’s proverbial front door.

Let’s face it. Most physicians do not focus on disability claims as a part of their day-to-day work. They’re usually more concerned about treating you and helping you get healthy.

For example, they may not want to limit your potential for improvement or say that you can’t work. On the other hand, if your medical records are complete and accurate in detailing your disability, especially the severity and impact on your daily activities, then those records speak for themselves.

One more tip: Let your doctor know when you are considering filing for SSDI. Ask him what he thinks. If you’re under age 50 and he says he thinks you’re physically and mentally able to work, then it is less likely that you qualify for benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA’s disability regulations state if one is under age 50 and able to perform any work, not just one’s past work, a finding of disabled is not warranted. If you’re over 50, different rules may apply. Either way, when it comes to medical records—document, document, document.

Tell your doctors that you’re thinking about them on National Doctors’ Day. Better yet, send them a greeting card and they’ll really know how much you value their support.

If you have questions about when to apply for Social Security disability benefits, call us at (800) 279-4357 or click here for a free disability screening.

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