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Can those with chronic illnesses lose their disability benefits

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2019 | Firm News

A 22-year-old Florida woman with debilitating cystic fibrosis recently found out that her Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits have been terminated. Her Medicaid benefits that cover $100,000 in medical bills each year were also taken away from her. If you’re thinking that this is an isolated incident, then you’re mistaken. Countless SSDI recipients lose their benefits every year under questionable circumstances.

In the aforementioned case, the woman had her SSDI and Medicaid benefits removed from her because the Social Security Administration (SSA) had apparently reviewed her case and found that her health had gotten better. In the letter she received from them, they relayed that she was capable of working.

The idea of her health having improved came as a shock to the woman. She notes that it had actually deteriorated during the past year.

As she did more research into the matter, she found out that Florida and 13 other states, including Missouri, don’t offer expanded Medicaid that covers individuals’ medical costs unless they’re receiving SSDI. Her only option was to purchase private health insurance, something that she could not afford.

Without health coverage, she was forced to sit back and watch her medical costs mount up until her disability payments and Medicaid were recently reinstated.

The SSA is obligated by law to review all disability claims on a periodic basis to make sure that an individual still qualifies for benefits. The number of cases that has undergone full medical reviews have increased from just over 200,000 a decade ago to nearly 900,000 in 2018.

A spokesperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Legal Hotline notes that those with cystic fibrosis have seen the reviews of their cases increase five-fold during the last 18 months. She notes that this makes it seem that the SSA is trying to stop young people with chronic illnesses from qualifying for SSDI. She notes that this is concerning considering how these benefits mean the difference between life or death for many.

Individuals who have serious medical conditions that the SSA argues can interfere with their ability to work or normally function on a daily basis are generally entitled to Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If you’re unsure about whether the SSA considers your condition to be disabling, you’ve had your application denied or benefits withdrawn, then you should consult with an attorney for help.