lady looking leftSorry. No More Disability Benefits For You.

Social Security disability benefits are paid to people who fit the criteria of “unable to work gainfully.” This essentially means that due to some physical condition(s) a person cannot hold a regular job matching their ability or skill level to an extent that they are able to earn a livable income. Of course, being a government program, that definition is way more simplistic than it is in real life and that is where this article comes in. Thousands of people lose their disability benefits each year.  What are some of the reasons people lose their benefits?

 

One reason people stop receiving disability benefits is simply that they request to stop receiving them. In this case their condition improves to the point that they can work and no longer need the financial assistance. Many times this is a result of the Ticket to Work program that allows a person to slowly ease back into working until they are self-sufficient and know they can handle the career physically. More information on the Ticket to Work program can be found here: http://www.chooseworkttw.net.

Some people, especially those with physical conditions that the Social Security Administration believes may improve, will have a condition review every so often. Usually the first one is about three years after benefits start, then repeats as often as the SSA believes it is necessary. If the SSA thinks a person no longer qualifies for benefits the recipient will lose them after the review.  Disability recipients can help the review go more smoothly by continuing to maintain doctor’s appointments and medical procedures as needed just as they did while applying for benefits. A potential red flag to an investigator is someone who no longer visits their doctor or takes medications after being awarded disability benefits.

And then there are those whose benefits are removed due to fraud or suspicion of fraud. As I stated at the beginning of this article, benefits are for people who are unable to work gainfully. Paul Hebert was indicted last July on federal fraud charges stemming from claiming to have a disability that prevented him from working, but went on TV as a reality TV star and appeared to work strenuously to land some pretty big fish. Although Mr. Hebert’s lawyer states his client is innocent of the charges, the actor did not do himself any favors by drawing attention to himself in such a high profile way.

Along the same lines, Pablo Razo Fierro pled guilty last week to Social Security fraud. He actually owned and operated a restaurant while claiming disability benefits. Unfortunately for him, he granted a newspaper interview about his restaurant. The article was printed and a complimentary video was placed online only to be discovered by the SSA Office of the Inspector General.

Let’s add one more warning about fraud. If a person truly has a disability that prevents gainful work, then they should be careful to not give the government reason to suspect that the disability claim is false. Postings on social media sites are open fodder for investigators no matter what your privacy settings may be. Some judges have been complicit in awarding search warrants that are broad in scope and contain gag orders that prevent the social media site from notifying people that their page is being monitored. Investigators can watch a person for months or years before a decision is made to press charges or move on.

I hope that if a person stops receiving their Social Security disability benefits it is because they voluntarily ceased the benefits due to an improvement in their physical condition and they were able to return to work. Realistically, though, working gainfully will be a distant memory for millions of people with true disabilities. These folks should carefully follow doctor’s orders and SSA directives, attend the required reviews and maintain appropriate activities for their level and type of disability so that they do not unwittingly lose their benefits.

 

 

 

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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.”


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