Enormous healthcare costs, lost income are significant barriers; Allsup outlines considerations when applying for SSDI with spinal cord impairments
Every 41 minutes a person in the United States sustains a spinal cord injury, resulting in 11,000 new cases each year, according to the United Spinal Association. Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation and Medicare plan selection services, recommends that when a spinal cord injury occurs—individuals begin the process of documenting the existence of the disability and its effects when medical intervention is most intense.
Approximately 700,000 Americans have disabilities of the spinal cord, which can include traumatic spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, polio, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and syringomyelia, among others. People living with paralysis may have a number of secondary conditions such as pressure ulcers and respiratory infections.
“Because spinal cord injury is such a catastrophic event, people are suddenly faced with all sorts of changes – SCI certainly impacts them physically, emotionally and economically. It comes out of nowhere and it affects all aspects of life,” said Paul J. Tobin, president and CEO of United Spinal Association. “The cost of spinal cord injury is significant. People are faced with losing their income right when it is needed most.”
Exorbitant healthcare costs are associated with spinal cord injuries, and many insurance plans have dramatically reduced coverage for hospital and rehabilitation. According to the United Spinal Association, in the first year after a spinal cord injury, when medical intervention is most concentrated, costs range from $209,000 to $710,000. Every year thereafter, those with spinal cord injuries experience annual healthcare costs between $14,000 and $127,000. An individual suffering a severe spinal injury at 25 years of age will have total lifetime costs between $624,000 and $2.8 million dollars, the association reports.
Despite the fact that people with disabilities face higher unemployment rates than the general public, about a third of people with spinal cord injuries continue to work. It’s essential for those who must quit working because of spinal cord impairments to consider applying for SSDI benefits because it guarantees regular income and automatic Medicare benefits. Individuals who qualify for SSDI are eligible for Medicare coverage 24 months after those benefits begin.
Because of the complexity of the application process, experienced SSDI representatives like Allsup professionals can make a significant difference.
“When it comes to the SSDI process, it’s all new,” Tobin said. “There is not a lot of immediate support for people who are injured to prepare them for the complicated and time-consuming process.”
Spinal Cord Injuries and Disability Benefits SSDI is a mandatory, tax-funded, federal insurance program designed to provide individuals with income if they are unable to work because of a severe disability. It is overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. Find more about Social Security disability applications on Allsup.com.
Edward Swierczek, an Allsup senior claimant representative, provided the following information for people with spinal cord injuries when preparing to apply for Social Security disability benefits:
1. Speak with your treating physicians to let them know you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and that you require their support. 2. Encourage your treating physicians to respond promptly to any requests for medical information. 3. Be prepared for a lengthy ordeal. Nationally, the SSA denies two-thirds of initial applications, so many applicants must progress to additional levels of review before receiving benefits. 4. Be prepared for the SSA to tell you that you can do “other” work if you have a significant impairment that precludes your past work and you are under age 50. 5. Apprise your treating physicians that they may be asked to provide their medical opinion about your ability to function. “Getting your doctor’s cooperation and assistance to help document how your injury limits your abilities is tremendously vital to your claim for SSDI benefits,” Swierczek said. 6. Seek representation assistance from an advocate such as Allsup, who knows the SSA disability insurance benefit program and can help you to receive your benefits with less stress and more quickly. For example, Allsup’s award rate at the initial application level is significantly higher (56 percent) than the national average of 37 percent.
If you have questions about SSDI eligibility or applying with a spinal cord injury, contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 279-4357 for a free evaluation.
ABOUT ALLSUP Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs nearly 700 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, visit www.Allsup.com.