Archive for the ‘disabilities’ Category

CRS — Primer on Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (August 1, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Primer on Disability Benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In general, the goal of disability insurance is to replace a portion of a worker’s income should illness or disability prevent him or her from working. Individuals may receive disability benefits from either federal or state governments, or from private insurers. This report presents information on two types of disability programs provided through the federal government: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI is an insurance program that provides benefits to individuals who have paid into the system and meet certain minimum work requirements. In contrast, SSI is a means-tested program that does not have work or contribution requirements, but restricts benefits to those who meet certain financial eligibility criteria.

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CBO — Veterans’ Disability Compensation: Trends and Policy Options

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Veterans’ Disability Compensation: Trends and Policy Options
Source: Congressional Budget Office

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) oversees a disability program that makes payments through the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to compensate U.S. veterans for medical conditions or injuries that are incurred or aggravated during active duty in the military, although not necessarily during the performance of military duties. Compensable service-connected disabilities range widely in severity and type, including the loss of one or more limbs, migraines, scars, and hypertension. Payments are meant to offset the average earnings lost as a result of those conditions, whether or not a particular veteran’s condition has reduced his or her earnings or interfered with his or her daily functioning. Disability compensation is not means-tested; veterans who work are eligible for benefits, and, in fact, most working-age veterans who receive disability benefits are employed. Payments are in the form of monthly annuities and typically continue until death.

Adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars, VA disability compensation to veterans amounted to $54 billion in 2013, or about 70 percent of VBA’s total mandatory spending, according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The remainder of the department’s mandatory spending that year was for programs that provide veterans with housing assistance, education, vocational training, and other assistance. In 2013, about 3.5 million of the nation’s 22 million veterans received disability compensation benefits. (Those benefits are distinct from the health benefits provided through the Veterans Health Administration [VHA].)

UK — The Olympic and Paralympic legacy: Inspired by 2012 – second annual report

July 25, 2014 Comments off

The Olympic and Paralympic legacy: Inspired by 2012 – second annual report
Source: Cabinet Office

This report describes the activities which took place in the second year since the Games to build a lasting legacy across a number of commitments, namely sport and healthy living, the regeneration of east London, bringing communities together, the Paralympic legacy and economic growth.

The report includes a foreword by the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, and an assessment of progress by Lord Sebastian Coe, the Prime Minister’s Olympic & Paralympic Legacy Ambassador.

Chart Book: Social Security Disability Insurance

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chart Book: Social Security Disability Insurance
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Disability Insurance (DI) is an integral part of Social Security. It provides modest but vital benefits to workers who can no longer support themselves on account of a serious and long-lasting medical impairment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the DI program.

In December 2013, 8.9 million people received disabled-worker benefits from Social Security. Payments also went to some of their family members: 160,000 spouses and 1.9 million children.

DI benefits are financed primarily by a portion of the Social Security payroll tax and totaled about $140 billion in 2013. That’s 4 percent of the federal budget and less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Employers and employees each pay a DI tax of 0.9 percent on earnings up to a specified amount, currently $117,000. Financial transactions are handled through a DI trust fund, which receives payroll tax revenues and pays out benefits and which is legally separate from the much larger Social Security retirement fund. Under current projections, the DI trust fund will need replenishment in 2016.

DOD — The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs

July 18, 2014 Comments off

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs
Source: U.S. Department of Defense

The Education Directory for Children With Special Needs provides military families with children with special needs the information they need to make informed assignment decisions and easier transitions.

The directory consists of two components:

  • The Early Intervention Directory focusing on early intervention services for children birth through 3 years old
  • The School-Age Directory focusing on education services for children with special needs, 3 through 21 years old

Both provide tools and resources to help with the transition to a new location. The Early Intervention Directory summarizes national and state level early intervention trends and includes descriptions of local early intervention service providers. The School-Age Directory summarizes national and state level trends for special education and includes descriptions of individual school districts.

Note: Not just for military families. Lots of good info here.

New From the GAO

July 15, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office


1. Medicaid Payment: Comparisons of Selected Services under Fee-for-Service, Managed Care, and Private Insurance. GAO-14-533, July 15.
Highlights –


1. VA Disability Claims Processing: Preliminary Observations on Accuracy Rates and Quality Assurance Activities, by Daniel Bertoni, director, education, workforce and income security issues, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-731T, July 14.
Highlights –

2. Helium Program: BLM’s Implementation of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, by Anne-Marie Fennell, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, House Committee on Natural Resources. GAO-14-751T, July 15.
Highlights –

3. Federal Workforce: Human Capital Management Challenges and the Path to Reform, by Robert Goldenkoff, director, strategic issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-723T, July 15.
Highlights –

Effects of Heath Care Reform on Disability Insurance Claiming

July 15, 2014 Comments off

Effects of Heath Care Reform on Disability Insurance Claiming
Source: RAND Corporation

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fundamentally change the conditions that influence Americans to apply for federal disability insurance benefits. Because disability insurance confers health insurance in addition to cash benefits, it is an attractive option for many individuals with work-limiting disabilities. At the same time, leaving employment to apply for disability insurance benefits (a requirement for application) can be risky for those who obtain health insurance through their employers, making it a relatively unattractive option for others. By enabling access to affordable private health insurance and expanding access to subsidized public health insurance, the ACA alters the calculus of disability claiming decisions. Whether it will lead to more or fewer applications for disability benefits is not obvious. Research summarized here offers empirical evidence that, on net, disability applications are likely to decrease.

There is great interest in this issue because the numbers of disability beneficiaries have swelled in recent years relative to the number of workers paying into the system, leading the Board of Trustees of the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund to predict that the system will run out of funds by 2016.

It is too soon, of course, to know what the actual effects of national health reform will be on disability applications. But a recent RAND study has examined data from Massachusetts, which implemented reforms in 2006 that share the key features of the ACA, including creation of an insurance exchange as a source of lower-cost individual coverage and expansion of Medicaid (subsidized coverage for low-income individuals). Using administrative data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the researchers analyzed changes in application rates for the two federal disability insurance programs — Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — in Massachusetts before and after the reform, statewide and by county, and compared changes to those in neighboring states and counties.

We summarize what the researchers expected to find in the data, what they actually found, and the implications of their results for national health reform.

Intellectual Disability, Australia, 2012

July 9, 2014 Comments off

Intellectual Disability, Australia, 2012
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Intellectual disability is a term used to describe a reduced ability to understand new or complex information and to learn and apply new skills (Endnote 1). The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) defines intellectual disability as “difficulty learning or understanding things.”

Canada — Increasing opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Increasing opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada has partnered with Special Olympics Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation to increase opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity.

Special Olympics Canada currently runs two initiatives, called “Active Start” and “FUNdamentals,” that provide children with an intellectual disability the opportunity to improve physical, social and cognitive abilities, thereby establishing a foundation for being physically active and healthy. With funding from the Government of Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation, these programs will be expanded, reaching more children across Canada.

The goal of this partnership is to promote healthy living and healthy weights among children living with intellectual disability.

Cigna: 20 Years of Disability Claims Data Reveal Emerging Workforce Productivity Challenges

June 23, 2014 Comments off

Cigna: 20 Years of Disability Claims Data Reveal Emerging Workforce Productivity Challenges
Source: Cigna

An analysis of 20 years of Cigna’s short-term disability claims shows that absence related to obesity, treatment for skin cancer and herniated disc surgery increased significantly from 1993 to 2012, while a reduction in absences related to depression coupled with an increase in prescribed anti-depressants may signal a hidden problem. These and other health trends identified by the analysis are important for employers to understand when structuring an integrated wellness and absence management program to improve workforce productivity.

Raising Expectations 2014: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers

June 23, 2014 Comments off

Raising Expectations 2014: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers
Source: AARP and Commonwealth Fund

This report by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation shows some states significantly out-perform others in the delivery of long-term services and supports (LTSS) to older adults and people with disabilities.

While states are making measureable progress in improving long term services and supports (LTSS) – which includes home care services, family caregiver supports, and residential services such as nursing homes – widespread disparities still exist across the country, with even top performing states requiring improvement. Further, the pace of change remains slow, threatening states’ ability to meet the needs of the aging population.

The LTSS Scorecard evaluates performance in five key dimensions: (1) affordability and access, (2) choice of setting and provider, (3) quality of life and quality of care, (4) support for family caregivers, and (5) effective transitions. New indicators this year include length of stay in nursing homes and use of anti-psychotic drugs by nursing homes, raising serious concerns about the quality of institutionalized care.

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering
Source: National Science Foundation

Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering provides statistical information about the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment. A formal report, now in the form of a digest, is issued every 2 years.

CRS — The Education of Students with Disabilities: Alignment Between the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

June 12, 2014 Comments off

The Education of Students with Disabilities: Alignment Between the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities, Georgetown University)

The largest sources of federal funding for elementary and secondary education are the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; P.L. 107-110), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; P.L. 108-446). The ESEA provides funding and services for a broad population of students, including disadvantaged students, migrant students, neglected and delinquent students, and students with limited English proficiency. Approximately 6 million students with disabilities ages 6 through 21 attend elementary and secondary schools; however, they are not afforded special services under the ESEA due to their disability status. The IDEA provides funding and services specifically for those students with disabilities. Both the ESEA and IDEA aim to improve the educational outcomes for students with disabilities. The ways in which they do this sometimes differ, and when the laws are not fully or clearly aligned it can be difficult for educators to plan and execute an appropriate education for students with disabilities.

Facts for Features — Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26

May 30, 2014 Comments off

Facts for Features — Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.

Effects of Employer Health Insurance on Disability Insurance Claiming

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Effects of Employer Health Insurance on Disability Insurance Claiming
Source: RAND Corporation

A new RAND study offers rigorous analysis of the effect of employer-provided health insurance on workers’ decisions to leave the workplace and apply for disability insurance when they become disabled. Specifically, it tests whether individuals who rely on their employers for health insurance are more likely to continue working after the onset of a disabling health condition than are those with other health insurance options, such as coverage from a spouse’s employer.

The study finds that employer-provided insurance has a strong influence on a certain type of newly disabled worker — those who largely retain their physical functional capacity and whose disability is expected to have high medical costs, such as cancer. These workers are 23 percent more likely to continue to work in the years immediately following disability onset (see the figure) if they rely on their employer for health insurance than are those with the option of obtaining health insurance through a spouse. Workers with these types of health problems represent 20 percent of newly disabled workers aged 51 or older.

By contrast, there is little evidence of employment lock for other types of workers with disabilities, such as those with more severe disabilities or lower expected medical costs. The researchers hypothesize that the reason most workers do not continue to work to retain their employer-based insurance is that they may be physically or mentally unable to work: i.e., the effort cost of work is so large that it outweighs the influence of other factors, such as retaining health insurance. Another reason could be that the value of health insurance may be low for some conditions.

At the same time, researchers do not find evidence of an effect on disability claiming, even among workers with low-severity and high-cost conditions: i.e., they do not find that workers who decide to stay employed would have applied for disability insurance benefits if they had other options for their health insurance.

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging: Workshop Summary (2014)

May 27, 2014 Comments off

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging: Workshop Summary (2014)
Source: Institute of Medicine/National Research Council

Being able to communicate is a cornerstone of healthy aging. People need to make themselves understood and to understand others to remain cognitively and socially engaged with families, friends, and other individuals. When they are unable to communicate, people with hearing impairments can become socially isolated, and social isolation can be an important driver of morbidity and mortality in older adults. Despite the critical importance of communication, many older adults have hearing loss that interferes with their social interactions and enjoyment of life. People may turn up the volume on their televisions or stereos, miss words in a conversation, go to fewer public places where it is difficult to hear, or worry about missing an alarm or notification. In other cases, hearing loss is much more severe, and people may retreat into a hard-to-reach shell. Yet fewer than one in seven older Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids, despite rapidly advancing technologies and innovative approaches to hearing health care. In addition, there may not be an adequate number of professionals trained to address the growing need for hearing health care for older adults. Further, Medicare does not cover routine hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids, which can be prohibitively expensive for many older adults.

Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging is the summary of a workshop convened by the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence in January 2014 on age-related hearing loss. Researchers, advocates, policy makers, entrepreneurs, regulators, and others discussed this pressing social and public health issue. This report examines the ways in which age-related hearing loss affects healthy aging, and how the spectrum of public and private stakeholders can work together to address hearing loss in older adults as a public health issue.

SSA — The Medical Improvement Review Standard During Continuing Disability Reviews

May 22, 2014 Comments off

The Medical Improvement Review Standard During Continuing Disability Reviews
Source: Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General

Under the Medical Improvement Review Standard (MIRS), an individual’s disability continues unless the (1) disabling condition has improved since the last favorable disability determination and (2) individual can engage in substantial gainful activity.

SSA may apply an exception to MIRS. The exceptions allow a finding that disability ceased in limited situations without showing medical improvement occurred, but evidence clearly showed the person should no longer be, or should never have been, considered disabled.

The purpose of this report was to (a) determine whether SSA would consider beneficiaries disabled using the Initial Disability Standard, rather than MIRS, during continuing disability reviews (CDR) and (b) evaluate data on the MIRS exceptions.

Social Security — Disability Benefits (updated May 2014)

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Disability Benefits (PDF)
Source: Social Security Administration

Disability is something most people do not like to think about. But the chances that you will become disabled probably are greater than you realize. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age.

This booklet provides basic information on Social Security disability benefits and is not intended to answer all questions. For specific information about your situation, you should talk with a Social Security representative.

We pay disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security disability insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This booklet is about the Social Security disability program. For information about the SSI disability program for adults, see Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (Publication No. 05-11000). For information about disability programs for children, refer to Benefits For Children With Disabilities (Publication No. 05-10026). Our publications are available online at

Inactivity Related to Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Inactivity Related to Chronic Disease in Adults with Disabilities
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Working age adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease than their active peers, according to a Vital Signs report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most adults with disabilities are able to participate in physical activity, yet nearly half (47 percent) of them get no aerobic physical activity. An additional 22 percent aren’t active enough. However, only about 44 percent of adults with disabilities who saw a doctor in the past year got a recommendation for physical activity.

SSA OIG — The Social Security Administration’s Progress in Reducing the Initial Disability Claims Backlog

May 6, 2014 Comments off

The Social Security Administration’s Progress in Reducing the Initial Disability Claims Backlog (PDF)
Source: Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General
From Summary (PDF)

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, SSA expected initial d isability claims pending would exceed 1 million. Therefore , SSA established a goal to achieve a pending level of 525,000 initial disability claims by FY 2014. SSA took actions to reduce the initial disability claims backlog. As a result, SSA reduced the backlog from a high of about 842,000 claims at the end of FY 2010 to 698,000 claims by the end of FY 2013.

Based on SSA’s most recent projections for initial claims receipts and clearances, the pending level will not reach the levels previously expected. With the FY 2014 funding level and the funding level anticipated for FY 2015, SSA expects to make progress in reducing the initial claims backlog while keeping average processing times consistent. If the anticipated funding and productivity remain unchanged, SSA and OIG’s collective estimates indicate the pending level will remain lower than the FY 2013 level through FY 2016. However, the pending level will not be reduced to 525,000 claims.

According to SSA, because of budget uncertainty, it was no longer striving to achieve its previous pending level goal of 525,000 claims, and it had not established a new goal for an ideal pending level. To reduce initial disability claims pending to an ideal level, it is important to have a goal. Further, the goal must be attainable within a timeframe allowed by SSA’s resources and take into consideration an acceptable processing time for initial claims and other workloads that need DDS resources.


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