Category Archives: Social Security

Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability

Today we welcome guest blogger Bryan MacMurry from the  Disability Benefits Help. Disability Benefits Help provides information about disability benefits and the application process.

Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability

As a caregiver, you’ve probably helped your loved one with various types of paperwork related to their medical condition. If they have become so debilitated due to a mental or physical ailment that they are no longer able to work, they will probably require your assistance in applying for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.

Here are some things you should know about SSA benefits. These insights will help you determine which program your loved one is eligible for as well as the steps that need to be taken to complete the application process.

What Disability Benefits Are Available?

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, a person must be completely disabled, which means that they must be unable to perform any kind of substantial gainful activity and their disability is expected to last for at least a year or to end in their death.

The SSA has two support programs intended to help people with diagnosed disability support themselves financially and have access to the medical treatment they need. Each program is meant for a different type of applicant but both of them will pay monthly cash benefits to those reswho meet the medical criteria required for eligibility.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This program pays benefits to disabled workers based on their past earnings. To be eligible for SSDI, your loved one must have worked a certain number of years prior to becoming disabled and paid into Social Security. Once approved, he or she will be eligible for Medicare coverage after two years.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is “means-tested,” meaning that it is intended for those in financial need. Applicants must have less than $2,000 in assets and a highly limited income, which makes SSI a program geared more toward children and the elderly. SSI recipients can also receive Medicaid in their state.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits

When your loved one applies for disability, the SSA will evaluate his or her eligibility by consulting the Blue Book, which is its official publication of disabling conditions. The Blue Book, which has one section for children and another for adults, requires an applicant to meet the listed criteria of a disabling condition in order to qualify for benefits.

When you help your loved one apply, you will also have to collect and submit medical documentation that confirms his or her diagnosis and outlines their treatment history. Their treating physician will fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which the SSA will use to evaluate how the applicant’s illness has affected their ability to maintain gainful employment. SSI applicants will have to be interviewed by a SSA representative, so prepare to be present to provide any necessary support.

The Compassionate Allowances Program

Applicants with certain disabilities can be automatically qualified as disabled and have their applications fast-tracked via the Compassionate Allowances program. These conditions include breast cancer, acute leukemia, heart transplant graft failure, and mixed dementias.

Qualifying for Benefits With a Medical-Vocational Allowance

If your loved one does not meet any Blue Book listing but his or her RFC analysis indicates that they are unable to maintain gainful employment, they may still qualify for SSD benefits under a medical vocational allowance system. The SSA will review all medical documentation to evaluate how the illness has hindered their ability to perform daily activities as well as functions related to jobs they are trained and qualified for. If the SSA concludes that their symptoms leave them significantly impaired, they may be granted disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. This program is intended for those who are genuinely unable to work but could not meet a Blue Book listing.

For more information about applying for SSA disability benefits on behalf of a disabled loved one, please visit the SSA website at, schedule an appointment at your closest SSA office, or call 1-800-772-1213. Monthly disability payments will make it easier for your loved one to meet his or her medical and financial needs, which will give both of you peace of mind.

Disability Benefit Help is responsible for the content written in this article.

“This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at or by contacting them at”

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December 23, 2016 · 12:20 pm

November – National Care Givers Month

November is National Care Givers Month!

 We all know some one who is a caregiver, whether we find ourselves taking care of a loved one, know someone who takes care of a loved one, or even if we have heard an inspritational story on the news.

 In today’s busy world it can be easy to forget to show our appreciation to those who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others everyday. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to those who choose to spend their days serving others.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
Alan Cohen

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While we know that the tumor has been downsized by the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, we have taken a long look at our personal belongings and have started the process of downsizing in this area too.  So far, the experience has been quite cathartic.

How much ‘stuff’ does one really need to be comfortable in life?  China that has never been used, kitchen gadgets (well, except for the Tumor Extractor!), glasses, roasting pans; yikes where did all this stuff come from?   And better yet… what really is the need?

Funny as it seems, when I was in the seminary those little rooms we lived in seemed so small…now as I look back at that experience, living austerely has its benefits.  Thomas Merton does know what he is talking about!

Cancer is a life changing experience for all who are involved in it.  We have grown closer because of the disease and have I have come to a reality check with my life.   You see, what is important is not how many items you collect, rather what is important is how many lives you touch.   The last few years I have lost touch with my own reality; cancer does have its peculiar benefits.

As the green leaves transition to beautiful autumn colors, we are in a transition mode as well.  What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others will ever be immortal.  I am honored and proud to be a caregiver, it is one of the most remarkable experiences in life.  I am also grateful for the reality check that our downsizing has provided to us.  May the ‘Little One’s’  health continue to improve; let the downsizing begin!


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It’s all about you!

We are on our way to the final chemotherapy treatment; it is a good thing!

All told, ‘The Little One’ has improved quite a bit since my arrival in Florida two weeks ago. I am in no means taking credit for his improvement, yet I do have to wonder “how does anyone who is alone cope with cancer?”

Sure, there are a tremendous amount of resources out there to help; yet that is not the point. In time of a health crisis, that is when family is needed the most!

This makes me wonder about family dynamics, rather what constitutes a family?

I am proud of my family; my four diverse and beautiful sisters, my brother and favorite sister-in-law; all my nieces an nephews who affectionately call me their F.U. (favorite uncle); my little one who is so brave and courageous; our friends who have constantly checked in with us…

Thank you for being s part of our family… Thanks for not leaving us alone!

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Out, About and 20% Down

As we move closer to the start of the Chemotherapy and Radiation, (looks like we’ll be starting on August 29th), we are attempting to go about our lives as best we can.  The long and introspective talks are followed by fun and laughter.  In our opinion, humor is the best way to go about dealing with a serious illness.  Humor and sarcasm can go a long way in taking the ‘edge’ off serious health related issues.    While we want to be politically correct, we want to be able to talk freely about what we are dealing with because this disease has a profound affect on both of us.  We are in this together, side by side…one by one.  There is no other way to deal with this than head on; we are present to each other in our words, actions and deeds.  While I can’t feel his ‘pain’, I can’t let it go unnoticed either.

During our discussions this week, I have learned that there is a 20% co-pay for the radiation treatments.  Florida insurance can be tricky; yet luckily there are terrific resources available in Florida for seniors.   The Aging and Disability Center of Broward County is a great source for us as is my old stomping ground…Broward County Elderly and Veterans Services…

I am often amazed at how few people (seniors) access services that are available; hence the need for an advocate!   20% is quite a bit for someone who is on a fixed income to come up with on a moments notice.   What does one do when their insurance will not pick up the entire tab?   Our country can give millions of dollars abroad, yet at times, we have trouble taking care of our own.  It can be perplexing?

When one is dealing with the trauma of being sick and having cancer; all their efforts should be focused on getting better.  Having an advocate will help alleviate the burden of all the ‘red-tap’  that comes with dealing with insurance companies, multiple health care providers and the such.   I often wonder and have seen it for myself…’How does a senior, or anyone for that matter,  fend for themselves when they are sick and  alone?’  Some are to proud to reach out for help;  some families are too scared and broken to know when, or ever worse, how to help.

Senior care is a big money making business; while there are plenty of wonderful, mission driven  non-profit organization  caring for seniors,  there are other organizations who make their health care decisions based on the financial bottom line.  My advice is to choose wisely; hence, another need for an advocate…hence the need for love, passion and commitment.

The advances in Medicine has far outweighed the advances in caring for our seniors.  People are living longer and money does not go as far as it once did.  I often chuckle when I hear the debate in regards to Social Security reform.  How many people recall that when FDR started to implement the Social Security System, the average age expectancy was in the late 50’s early 60’s. Of course it was a good deal at the beginning…how many people lived beyond the average age expectancy?  According to the Census Bureau the average life expectancy today  is 79.5.  I’ve never been a math whiz, yet looking at the life expectancy in the 1930’s versus today, there is a 19 year difference in the life expectancy rate over the past 80 years.  Multiply that with the increase of our population…well, I think you know where I’m going with that; the figures are astounding!  It is no wonder the system is broken…

Times have changed, but change is difficult.  The debate will continue in the halls of congress, yet to do nothing, is not taking on the role of an advocate, which in my opinion, is a role our government has often overlooked in today’s political process. While we should not solely relay on our government for aid and assistance; our government should not be the  road block to the assistance as well.    Leadership and advocacy comes hand in hand; you can’t do one without the other.  It is difficult to make decisions based on a need, unless you have experienced that need.  How many politicians have trouble coming up with the 20% down?

At the time of the depression in the 1930’s there was a radical call to action, “million of people were unemployed, and those circumstances led to many calls for change.” If you listen to the news today, that sounds quite familiar.  There is radical call for change, yet the government is to polarized to change. Change will come when the people stand up for it; that does not seem to far around the corner. (Follow the link for some great information on the history of Social Security

At the time of the great depression and beyond,  families cared for each other,  it was the right of passage.    Grandparents were not set aside, yet celebrated and cared for with honor and dignity and often in the family home.  While families today are ‘different’…we all have to set aside the time to care for each and everyone in our family.  It is our human responsibility to care for those whom we love, and whom we entrust our lives too.

I close this evening with this simple, yet complex analogy of how times have changed over the years.  Using the 30’s as an example…other than medical personnel, no one was allowed in the delivery room at a hospital when a baby was born.  Today, families celebrates the birth of a baby with a ‘welcoming committee’ in the delivery room; it is a beautiful event.  In contrast, in the 30’s, generations of families lived together in one household, and at the time of death, the wake of a loved one was right at the home of the deceased.  As these important life rituals have changed, we must continue to be mindful of how we celebrate life.

If we are to celebrate life, we need to celebrate all parts of life.  As the birthing process has changed over the years to a welcoming committee of family and friends; too many seniors are dying alone, without much fanfare, without much hope.  As we ponder our future; let us celebrate life to its fullest; let no one go unnoticed at their time of birth or at their time of death.   Because in the scheme of things, that 20% down, pales in comparison to the love and commitment of our family and friends during our entire lifespan; love is what makes life work!

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