Feb 6, 2008

"Endemic To The System"

I have been involved in Social Security disability work for thirty years now and I have never seen anything like the amount of publicity given now to the problems in Social Security disability determination. This is way beyond what happened in the early part of the Reagan Administration, when hundreds of thousands of claimants were being cut off benefits. Before the 2006 election, I could go many days, even weeks between posting links to newspaper articles. Now, it seems that I am posting one or more every day.

From the Times-Herald Record of the Hudson Valley in New York:
Robert Veneziali knows he's sick. Anyone who looks at him knows it too. Anyone, that is, unless he or she works in the Social Security Administration's medical disability review section.

They don't see Robert Veneziali when his legs give way beneath him and his body hits the floor and freezes up and his voice is barely strong enough to cry for help.

The medical reviewers at SSA know Robert Veneziali suffers from rapidly progressing debilitating multiple sclerosis, a disease that sometimes comes in terrifying, months-long waves. When these waves strike him, Veneziali has to deal with vision and memory loss, vertigo and physical numbness. He'll be unable to walk and have trouble swallowing his food. He doesn't dare drive; sometimes walking is a risky proposition. ...

Reluctantly, he filed for disability benefits for him and his kids and his wife, Tracey, who has to work three jobs to keep the family afloat. Social Security doctors turned him down and told him he could be re-examined in another 18 months.

That was too much for his mother, Elaine Veneziali. She got hold of Rep. John Hall. Hall caught wind of a recent CBS news report that contended a "culture of denial" in New York and 13 other states designed to deter people from applying for disability benefits. As a result, Hall has called for a federal investigation into the charge.

Veneziali's treatment was "unconscionable," he said. It could only be worse if it proves to be endemic to the system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

MS is one of the conditions that is a poor fit with the LEGAL definition of disability. Because MS tends to go into remission at times it is oft times hard to find that it prevents the person from working for a period of 12 continuous months. After the fact, the decision may be reopened if a period of work can be determined to be an unsuccessful attempt to return to work.