Yesterday’s post described the problems my Nephew was facing and the lack of progress he had experienced working with the Social Security Administration (SSA). I have now had a full day of trying to improve the situation and I am convinced we should scrap the entire SSA and start over.
It seems that the SSA has a policy that if a person is working and making over $1090 per month, they are not disabled regardless of any medical conditions that they suffer from. My nephew is still working, barely, but he continues to try to support himself and his wife until he can get help. However, the only way he can get the SSA to accept his application is to quit work first.
Of course, if he quits work he will need to live on whatever savings he may have. With the combination of no advanced education and suffering from a serious disease for the last twenty years, he has never had a job where he made enough to accumulate any significant savings. Within at most three months he will have nothing and the notices will begin arriving in the mail.
“Your electricity will be shut off in thirty days unless we receive payment of…”. “Your rent has been unpaid for thirty days. Eviction proceeding will begin if we do not receive payment in ten days.” Notices like these will greet him every day when he hobbles to the mailbox.
The solution, it seems, is to quit work and immediately begin applying for every kind of state and county aid that is available and hope that you can make through the eighteen or more months that it will take for a lawyer to get the disability application completed and the six additional months before the first payment arrives.
It is interesting to note that the lawyers who handle these cases make it a point to say “Our service will cost you nothing! We only get paid when you get paid.” The policy of the SSA is to pay back payments to the date of the initial filing of the claim. The pricing for these law firms is to take one third of whatever the back payments total. So, if your benefit payment is $1500 per month and it takes eighteen months to get approval, then the lawyer gets $9000 (18 months times $1500 is $27,000, lawyer gets one third of that) for handling the claim. If it takes twenty four months then the fee will be $12,000. The SSA is motivating the law firms to take more time rather than to complete the process as quickly as possible.
Being a bit naïve in these matters, I may be wrong but it seems to me that the SSA policy is designed to accomplish two objectives. First, have as many applicants as possible die before they get any benefit payment and second, provide a government financed gravy train for lawyers who handle these cases. I can find nothing that indicates that the policy is concerned with helping the citizen who has worked and paid into the system for years.