By Jim of Allsup
People who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits often have a lot of questions.
Where do you apply for Social Security disability? Who can apply? How can you find out if you are eligible or possibly qualified for SSDI benefits?
For the first time, people with severe disabilities have an easy way to get a lot of these questions answered—and fast.
With empower by Allsup, people can receive a free online assessment of their likelihood of being eligible for SSDI benefits.
They can find easy to understand information on their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.
They can also start their SSDI application from the convenience of their own home, and receive 24/7 customer support, as well as user friendly videos and audio to walk them through the Social Security disability process.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience exclusively for Allsup customers, and we hope you like it.
Another feature of the new empower by Allsup is the ability to learn about returning to work, once you receive SSDI benefits and when you medically recover. There are so many important benefits to the SSDI program—that’s why you shouldn’t give up.
Your SSDI Application: Do It Right The First Time
It’s no secret that applying for and receiving SSDI benefits can be one of the most disheartening, stressful and frustrating experiences for millions of people with severe disabilities.
The Social Security disability backlog continues to get worse, which means the best opportunity someone has to receive SSDI is to make sure you qualify with your initial application, and do it right the first time.
By using empower by Allsup, we hope you can discover the smart, easy, helpful way to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
We want to help you do it right the first time—and avoid the hearing backlog that now stretches past 530 days.
Plus, best of all, empower by Allsup’s web-based technology is paired with Allsup expert disability representation by your side, all along the way.
Here at Allsup—we believe this is a better way to apply for SSDI.
When President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 1990, people with disabilities were given full access to public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and employment.
This watershed moment was a great and noble idea, but sometimes it’s much easier to create a law than it is to implement and enforce it.
One example comes to mind. Not long after the ADA was enacted, I joined CEO Jim Allsup on a visit to Washington, D.C., where we met with leaders of the disability rights movement. We were there to spread the word about how Allsup could help former workers obtain the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits they paid for while they were able to work.
But our conversations didn’t stop there. For example, we talked about the confusion regarding the definition of how employers would make “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace for their employees. Just what is reasonable? That discussion continues today.
One day we met independently with two powerful disability rights leaders. The topic was wheelchair curb ramps, and I was surprised to learn that these two men were on opposite—and very vocal—sides of what I thought was a simple issue.
Not so. One man, with paralysis, wanted all street curbs cut to make it easier for other wheelchair users. Makes sense to me, I reasoned. Why not?
Not so fast, a blind man warned me later that same day. Creating curb ramps is extremely dangerous for people who are visually impaired and use long canes, because they are unable to detect streets before stepping into traffic.
Compromises on the construction of curb ramps were eventually made, but the battle for the civil rights of people with disabilities continues.
Allsup has been part of that effort since 1984, some six years before President Bush signed the ADA into law. In the early days, we worked to help qualified people receive SSDI benefits, and we still do.
Today, Allsup Employment Services, Inc., an Allsup subsidiary, also helps SSDI beneficiaries to use these benefits to return to work when they are able to do so.
Efforts to realize the promise and ideals of the ADA continue.
By Tai of Allsup
African American actor Jesse Williams gave an impassioned speech when he accepted the BET Humanitarian Award last month. He attacked systemic racism and promoted social justice. Near the end of his speech, he said, “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we aren’t real.”
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Give me a few paragraphs to make the connection.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the groundbreaking U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity—A Supplement to Mental Health.
The report concluded that mental illnesses are serious and disabling disorders affecting all populations, regardless of race or ethnicity; however, it exacts a disproportionately greater toll on the overall health and productivity of minorities.
Among the report’s findings:
- Ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S. face a social and economic environment of inequality that includes greater exposure to racism and discrimination, violence, and poverty, all of which take a toll on mental health.
- Racism and discrimination are stressful events that adversely affect health and mental health. They place minorities at risk for mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
- Mistrust of mental health services is an important reason deterring minorities from seeking treatment. Their concerns are reinforced by evidence, both direct and indirect, of clinician bias and stereotyping.
- Cultural misunderstandings or communication problems between patients and clinicians may prevent minorities from using services and receiving appropriate care.
Toughness & Resiliency
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines magic as, “the use of special powers to make things happen that would usually be impossible,” and “a special, exciting quality that makes someone or something different and better than others.”
Key ingredients to the “magic” of African American culture includes culturally protective factors cited by the report—spirituality and community and family support.
I would add resiliency. The ability to endure, most often in silence, is much more than a valued personal characteristic. It is how you survive.
This necessary toughness often makes accepting and dealing with mental illness much harder to do in communities of color.
The same dynamic—the need to be “tougher than” to exist in a society that constantly sends the message that you are “less than,” is also experienced in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community.
It’s not surprising that the report also found that attitudes toward mental illness held by minorities are as unfavorable, or even more unfavorable, than attitudes held by whites. Stigma discourages major segments of the population, majority and minority alike, from seeking help.
As we observe Minority Mental Health Month in July, and celebrate the magic found in all cultures, I’d like to emphasize Williams’ reminder that we are real.
Our magic doesn’t exempt us from mental illness. But it can help us understand, love and support each other. We can share our stories, speak out against stigma, and raise awareness that treatment works.
By Tai of Allsup
National HIV testing day was June 27. The day may be over, but the need for people get tested is not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, but one in eight people don’t know they have it. That’s one reason why the CDC advocates for routine voluntary HIV screening as a normal part of medical practice for all patients aged 13-64.
Additional reasons why the CDC recommends routine HIV screening:
- HIV infection is a serious health disorder that can be diagnosed before symptoms develop.
- Infected patients have years of life to gain if treatment is initiated early, before symptoms develop.
- The costs of screening are reasonable in relation to the anticipated benefits.
- Thirty percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who are living with undiagnosed HIV.
The CDC estimates that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people living with HIV and making sure they receive early, ongoing treatment.
However, despite the benefits of HIV testing, nationwide, only 42 percent of people aged 18-64 report ever getting tested, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
According to the nonprofit organization Medwiser, barriers to testing include stigma, fear, people not thinking they are at risk, and physician and healthcare systems not being aware of screening recommendations.
Find Confidential HIV Testing
Most preventive healthcare, such as HIV testing, is fully covered by private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover HIV testing for everyone ages 15 to 65, and for people of other ages at increased risk—without additional cost-sharing, such as copays or deductibles.
Medicare covers HIV testing once every 12 months and up to three times during a pregnancy. Medicaid coverage of routine HIV screening varies by state.
Even if you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to access free, fast and confidential testing near you. Visit the CDC’s website at https://gettested.cdc.gov/ for a site locator.
HIV/AIDS and SSDI
Today, HIV is a manageable disease. According to AIDS.gov, most people with HIV/AIDS can continue working, and their overall well-being and financial health can be more stable when they are gainfully employed.
For those who aren’t able to continue working due to HIV/AIDS, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can offer a monthly income, access to Medicare, and help returning to work.
A recent Social Security study found that Social Security disability beneficiaries with HIV/AIDS were among those most likely to be employed.
However, the best way to avoid the need for SSDI due to HIV/AIDS is to get tested. Take the test and take action to protect your health.
As the baby boom generation ages, the number of people living with serious disabilities is exploding. Today, nearly 11 million former workers, their spouses and their children are drawing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
About 2.5 million more apply for this critical program every year.
They all have several things in common: They suffer from life-changing disabilities so severe they had to quit working, and all of them rely on a network made up of their families, caregivers and medical professionals for support.
An integral part of that network includes the professionals who manage, process and decide their claims for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which oversees the SSDI program, employs more than 65,000 people nationwide. More than 16,000 people work at state-level Disability Determination Services offices.
The National Association of Disability Examiners (NADE) serves the workers who make critical decisions every day that affect so many people, and for the last 15 years, the organization has set aside one week each year to honor them.
This year, National Disability Professionals Week is June 20-24.
In our more than 30 years in business, Allsup has helped more than 250,000 people with severe disabilities receive the SSDI benefits they paid for when they were able to work. We know how important the professionals at the SSA and DDS are in the disability claims and appeals process, and we salute them during the week that acknowledges their service.