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Supplemental Security Income and paid earnings

Those who collect disability benefits are often caught between collecting their compensation and the risk of losing it if they earn additional income. There are 8.7 million Americans who rely on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which was established to help the disabled and elderly meet basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter.

For those who suffer from disabilities and are unable to work in Franklin County, Ohio and nationwide, the benefit is a necessity. According to some experts, the safety net is actually a burden because it limits the income levels of disabled to people to just above the poverty line. Many are at risk of losing benefits if they pursue part-time work or achieve any other level of security.

By 2035, the federal government anticipates spending $60.9 billion in payments to 9.9 million people. The expenditures for the program are rising as the economic status of disabled people is in decline.

For some disabled persons, maintaining a traditional full-time job is impossible; however, some flexible work arrangements could accomodate an injury or illness. These disabled persons are not able to seek out any kind of part-time employment because they are at risk of losing their benefits. Currently the SSI program gives a limited allowance for additional income. Recipients are also prevented from having significant savings accounts, which can make owning a home or a car, or having a family very difficult.

A flexible financial safety net could be available for when they cannot work, but there is not such program and the only want to qualify or SSI is to demonstrate an inability to “engage in substantial gainful activity.” Working and collecting benefits is necessary for those who cannot work; however, those who suffer illness and disability may also feel trapped by the financial constraints of the Supplemental Security Income program.

For those who suffer from disability, Supplemental Security Income may be the only way to make ends meet. An experienced attorney can review your case, collect relevant documentation and file an application on your behalf. If your claim has been denied, you may be eligible for an appeal.

Source: New York Times, “The Disability Trap,” Julie Turkewitz and Juliet Linderman, Oct. 20, 2012

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