USA Today recently printed an editorial written by Charles Martin, a Social Security Claimants’ Attorney.  It is reprinted below, with permission.

Social Security Disability Insurance remains a vital lifeline for citizens who once held full-time jobs but have become too ill or injured to work. It is a time-honored expression of our nation’s commitment to help care for those who must stop working due to illness or injury.

While any large government program will have problems — and Social Security is no exception — we should work on fixing the problems and not join the current rush to condemn an entire system because of rare instances of abuse or mounting political pressures to cut federal spending.

As an attorney who has spent more than 34 years helping thousands of Social Security applicants, let me be clear that getting disability approval is harder than ever. Undocumented pain, alcoholism and drug abuse have been disqualified. Mental retardation and HIVstandards are tougher. Diabetes and obesity are no longer distinct disabilities. Illegal immigrants are now disqualified. Applicants must now present objective medical evidence of disability. This is no rubber-stamp process.

Moreover, it is a misrepresentation to claim that there is a surge in unemployed applicants looking to get on the public dole. Applications have increased due to social, medical and economic mega-trends (such as more insured women and aged workers).

Yes, today’s Social Security Disability Insurance system is huge, complex, costly and certainly imperfect. But it deserves to be improved, not scorned. Claimants’ representatives play an important role by discouraging frivolous applications and assisting those who can prove disability navigate a daunting and often confusing bureaucracy.

The road to restoring Social Security to full health is not to conduct a witch hunt for the rare but inevitable undeserving claimants or deficient judges, but through sensible measures such as giving more help to people with disabilities who want to work, giving employers incentives to hire them, and upgrading the gathering and delivery of medical treatment and information.

Tough times can bring out the best in people. Let’s not let our frustration over a lousy economy cause us to turn on those who are most in need. Let’s improve a system that reflects the true spirit of American compassion.

Charles Martin, a Decatur, Ga.-based attorney, is president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.

How Attorneys Help

February 9, 2012

Many people wonder how attorneys can help them. According to government reports, having a representative can help eligible applicants receive a favorable decision earlier in the process. Experienced representatives help claimants navigate the complicated system and avoid common pitfalls that lead to unnecessary delays and denials that later get reversed at an expensive hearing. Claimants analyzed in the government report could have saved 500 days by engaging a third-party representative when they applied.

Good attorneys focus on documenting and moving a well-developed claim through this complicated process as quickly and as efficiently as possible. This is the result I want for every one of my clients.

Baby Name Data Released

February 3, 2012

I love how I can tell a person’s rough age by their name. For instance, if your name is Tracy, I can tell you that you war probably between 35 and 45. Anyone named Tiffany / Tiffani / Tiffanie is probably under 35. Jasmines are even younger, thanks to the Disney princess, I imagine. And, if your name is Grace, you are probably under 20 or over 60. This information was confirmed when SSA released baby name data. Recent data shows that “old fashioned” names are on the downturn, and that more unusual names are on the upswing. I suppose when I get a call about someone named River Gorge, I can assume that person is little younger than me!

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