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GAO concerned over outside assistance to meet SSA requirements

When people in Florida have questions about how the U.S. government goes about determining disability, there are many issues to sort through. The Social Security Administration has ways in which they make their determination. Sometimes, there is SSA news important to those who are in the process of moving forward with a claim if they believe they meet the SSA requirements. It's important for those who are planning to apply to keep track of issues under current discussion.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office would like the SSA to take a greater interest in the profit and non-profit entities that are being hired by people across the country to (purportedly) help people get approved for Social Security. This was revealed in a recent report.

The concern is that these advocates could be receiving two payments in what is known as "double-dipping." States are said to be hiring people who will help those who can no longer work to switch from state programs to federal ones to save money for the state government. For the years 2004 to 2013, 14 percent of the people applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits received help from outsiders. Before then, the number was less than one percent. These outsiders also help with various aspects of the process such as submitting evidence and advising claimants.

The SSA requirements for applying for benefits can be confusing to people who might not be familiar with how it's done. There are many factors involved with receiving benefits. People who had money taken out of their pay for insurance should be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance if they're no longer able to work. People whose income falls below a certain level could be eligible for SSI. Some people suffer from various conditions that will make them eligible for benefits. Being prepared for a hearing and knowing how to appeal a denial are also aspects of a claim that must be considered.

The GAO is advising states to take a closer role in people who are providing advice for claimants. But the advice also reinforces another point: those who are planning to apply should have qualified legal help -- not a person who might not have the interests of the claimant in mind.

Source: FA-Mag.com, "GAO Urging Greater Federal Scrutiny Of State-Hired Disability Claim Assistants," Ted Knutson, Jan. 5, 2015

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