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Timely Issues

Medicare Annual Enrollment: What Disability Recipients Should Know

Disability beneficiaries receiving Medicare should be asking the following questions right now: Do I have proper prescription drug coverage? Should I enroll in a Part C Medicare Advantage plan? Am I on the plan that covers my doctors and medications? Can I save money? This time of year, it’s hard to turn on the tv without being bombarded by insurance company commercials advertising their Medicare products. Each year, the Medicare annual enrollment period is between October 15th – December 7th. During this time, Medicare beneficiaries have the option to add, change or remove coverage. Many assume that the commercials are targeted...

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Covid-19

Covid-19 (coronavirus) is changing life as we know it; at least temporarily. The virus has the potential to be deadly and overburden the nation's healthcare system. Large gatherings are being canceled, universities are canceling in-person classes, sports leagues are suspending seasons; all with the goal of slowing the spread of the contagion. So far, the Social Security Administration has not announced any closings or special protocols related to the outbreak. SSA field offices and hearing offices are open and continuing as they normally do.   Many of our clients have compromised immune systems and all of us rely on our healthcare facilities. We...

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The Problem with the SSI Program

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are paid to disabled persons who do not qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program because they have not paid sufficient Social Security taxes or do not have enough work credits.  The definition of disability and claims process is the same for both SSI and SSDI and in fact, many people are able to apply for both at the same time. The SSI program was designed to provide cash for food, clothing, and shelter it has kept many Americans from becoming homeless. SSI benefits total approximately $771 per month in 2019 (can be more...

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The Case for NOT Reporting Your Neighbor for Possible Disability Fraud

Q: When I moved to my new home a few years ago, my neighbor told me that she'd had multiple back surgeries. She is in her mid-50s and does not work. She does, however, shovel three feet of snow from her roof, uses a rototiller in her yard, lugs mounds of leaves, etc. From conversations and from what I've witnessed, it is my understanding that she is on disability. It is disturbing to be contributing financially for her welfare via my tax dollars, when it is obvious that she's very able-bodied. Additionally, she is an ever-present annoyance who is unable to...

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Trump Eliminates Student Loan Debt For Disabled Veterans

https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/08/21/trump-eliminate-student-loan-debt-for-disabled-veterans/ US President Donald Trump sign a Presidential Memorandum on Discharging the Federal Student Loan Debt of Totally and Permanently Disabled Veterans, at the American Veterans (AMVETS) 75th National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky on August 21, 2019. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images (PHOTO BY MANDEL NGAN / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (PHOTO CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES) President Trump signed an executive order today that will make it easier for disabled veterans to receive student loan forgiveness. Here's what you need to know. Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Trump, who signed the memorandum following his speech at the American Veterans National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, directed the federal government to have an...

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Beware: SSA Phone Scam

There is a phone scam that has been going around for a few years but seems to be happening more and more. In fact, it just happened to OBL Partner Lindsay Osterhout the other day! Lindsay said the call says it’s from “United States” and tells you to “press one” and then has an automated message that says “This call is from the Department of Social Security Administration.  The reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspended your SSN because we found some suspicious activity.  If you want to know...

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Cash Assistance Has Been Reinstated in Pennsylvania!

Not being able to work can be financially devastating and some applicants even become homeless while waiting on a disability hearing. The General Assistance program has been reinstated and we think it may be able to help some of our clients while they are waiting for disability benefits to be approved. The program offers $205 per month for one person and $316 per month for two people to help provide for basic needs. Pennsylvanians can qualify for General Assistance if they are in one of the following situations: have a temporary or permanent disability; are a child who is not...

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House Bill 335 Would Eliminate Services and Negatively Impact the Health of 2.9 Million Pennsylvanians and Their Families

Recently, Lindsay Osterhout, OBL Managing Partner Administrative Division, met with case management staff at Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services, Inc (SPHS) in Charleroi, PA. Among other local news, they discussed new proposed state legislation, HB 335, and the devastating effects it would have on our community. HB 335, sponsored by Representative Seth M. Grove, would eliminate the current Behavioral HealthChoices (BHC) program thereby making it difficult for counties to provide coordinated and integrated human services and negatively impact the health of 2.9 million Pennsylvanians and their families. BHC is the statewide program through which every county delivers mental health and drug and...

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New Rule Makes it Easier for Military Spouses to Find and Keep Jobs in the Law

On January 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners adopted the Military Spouse Licensing Rule, which allows military spouse attorneys who accompany active duty service members to Pennsylvania to apply for a temporary license to practice law in the state. Historically, because service members are subject to frequent military-ordered relocations, attorney spouses were presented with the difficult choice of remaining in a jurisdiction where they were licensed to practice without their spouse or incurring the significant costs of obtaining a bar license in the relocation state. Osterhout Berger Disability Law is very excited to hear that Pennsylvania...

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The “Social Security 2100 Act,” championed by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), is getting a hearing in Congress!

The "Social Security 2100 Act," championed by Rep. John Larson (D-CT), which was the subject of another recent OBL News post, is getting a hearing in Congress! Social Security 2100 proposes to shore up this benefit program for 62 million beneficiaries while ensuring the program's financial stability. Among its proposals are that any increase in benefits under its provisions wouldn't affect eligibility for other key federal programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program.   https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/427835-a-bill-to-boost-social-security-will-finally-get-a-full-and-fair-hearing  ...

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