Archive for November, 2011

Fact: Every second, a worker in the U.S. becomes disabled. Then what?


That is the question that Jon Arbay, Executive Director and founder of the National Association for Injured and Disabled Workers (NAIDW), found himself faced with after he suffered a disability that halted his career indefinitely.

It’s a situation that millions of disabled Americans suddenly find themselves in. Without the ability to go back to work, one of the only lights at the end of the financial tunnel might be the hope of Social Security benefits. But what can you do to help yourself if you experience a delay, or even a denial, of your benefits?

If you’re a member of the NAIDW, a national nonprofit that provides resources and support for disabled workers and their families, there’s a lot you can do. You can stay alert on news and issues that are critical to your condition, find support groups for yourself and youth programs for your children, apply for financial assistance, receive discounts on products and services from a community of professionals and specialists, connect with an entire online community of other disabled workers, and more.

At The Advocator Group, we support the work of the NAIDW. Since we work with claimants every day who are looking for additional support beyond Social Security Disability Insurance advocacy, we asked Jon to tell us more about the organization and his personal story that started it all.

Take a look at part one of our interview, where Jon introduces himself and the NAIDW.

Find out how you can get involved during part two of the interview.


Social Security’s New Year’s Resolution


The Social Security Administration has a New Year’s resolution: To offer its first raise to beneficiaries in two years.

Starting in January 2012, Social Security’s cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) will go up 3.6 percent after staying the same since 2009. 2010 and 2011 were the only two years since 1975  that the COLA wasn’t automatically increased.

This is big news for anyone depending on Social Security Disability Insurance as their sole source of income, and The Advocator Group supports this decision, so we issued a news release about it.

Are you benefiting from the COLA increase? Tell us in a comment.

The Advocator Group Applauds Cost-Of-Living Adjustment Increase

Leading advocacy organization supports Social Security Administration’s increase in cost-of-living adjustment

WAKEFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–2012 brings big changes for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients as the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced the news of a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). More than 55 million Americans on Social Security will benefit from the increase when it goes into effect for beneficiaries in January 2012. Additionally, increased payments to more than 8 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will begin Dec. 30. This is the first time in two years that beneficiaries are receiving a raise.

“We are thrilled for our recipients and applaud the efforts of the SSA in facilitating the increase. This is very positive news during these trying economic times,” says Brett Albren, President of The Advocator Group. “This news comes as a savior for recipients who rely on Social Security as a sole source of income. Without these benefits and the matched increase for cost-of-living, millions would suffer from the lack of non-discretionary items.”

The Social Security COLA is directly related to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. According to the SSA, the purpose of the COLA is to ensure that the purchasing power of Social Security and SSI benefits is not eroded by inflation. Since 1975, automatic benefit increases have occurred every year with the exception of 2010 and 2011, when consumer prices did not experience typical increases. If price changes are negative, the payments stay unchanged as they did in 2010 and 2011.

The SSDI process is an intensive one, overseen by one of the largest administrative judicial systems in the world. For many people who have just suffered an injury or are caring for a disabled family member, the process can be confusing and seemingly chaotic. It can be overwhelming to an individual or family facing a lifetime of physical disability and financial challenges. The Advocator Group navigates the system on behalf of the disabled to get them the benefits they need and deserve.

For more information about The Advocator Group, please visit the company’s website at; blog at; or contact Jackie Zima-Evans at 610-228-2138 (office), 215-534-2973 (mobile), or write to


The Advocator Group is a nationwide advocacy organization dedicated to helping individuals apply for and obtain Social Security Disability Insurance. In addition, The Advocator Group assists Medicare beneficiaries in identifying the best coverage possible for their unique needs. The Advocator Group’s team of experienced Social Security and Medicare advocates ensures that each client is provided great service while each case receives close attention. The company’s core values include humility, integrity, commitment, optimism, learning, and creativity. For more information, visit You can also follow The Advocator Group on Twitter and Facebook.


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The Social Security Administration releases 13 new medical conditions that might qualify YOU for fast approval


How long have you been waiting for your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application to be approved? If you’re suffering from serious medical conditions, any amount of time is too long.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes this. That’s why it created the Compassionate Allowance program in 2008. The goal of the program is to aid those in dire situations by helping them receive their benefits in the shortest amount of time possible.

In December, the SSA will add 13 new medical conditions to the list of existing conditions that qualify as Compassionate Allowances. The Advocator Group strongly supports this program, and applauds these additions.

We issued a news release yesterday to show our support for this decision, which is posted below. Take a look at the new conditions on the list to see if you or a loved one could qualify for a quick approval on the SSDI application.

The Advocator Group Applauds Fast-Track Disability Approval Process

Individuals seeking Social Security Disability benefits can now qualify with new Compassionate Allowance conditions announced by Social Security Administration

WAKEFIELD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Over 10 million disabled workers and their dependents rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as a source of monthly income. But for those who are still waiting to be approved for SSDI, there is new hope.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced 13 new Compassionate Allowances that make it easier for people who suffer from conditions that obviously meet the Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements to receive their disability benefits. In 2008, the SSA created the Compassionate Allowance program to help get disability insurance benefits to those who suffer from the most serious medical conditions quickly.

The program was recently expanded and the new conditions will go into effect in December. In total, the SSA has added 13 new medical conditions to the complete list that will help those who need benefits the most receive them as quickly as possible. If an applicant has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, they should inform Social Security directly or through their representative in order for their claim to receive expedited processing. The Advocator Group, a nationwide advocacy organization dedicated to helping individuals apply for and obtain SSDI, is prepared to help people take advantage of the program’s expansion. (more…)

Why a life-changing disability doesn’t have to disable your life


At The Advocator Group, we can alleviate the financial stress of a debilitating disability by securing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for our claimants. But that’s only part of the challenge that someone with a disability faces. We are hoping that stories of inspiration can help disabled individuals overcome some of those challenges and allow them to return to living a full life.

So with today being Veterans Day,  there’s no better opportunity to introduce you to someone who has met the challenges of becoming disabled head-on, and continues to live every day to the fullest.

Kirk Bauer lost his leg to a hand grenade in the Vietnam War, and for the past 41 years, he’s dedicated his life to inspiring others to pick up the pieces and make the most of their lives after a disability. Through his work as the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA, Kirk uses competitive sports to show people that disability isn’t the end, but rather the beginning of a great new chapter in life.

Disabled Sports USA is a national nonprofit organization that provides disabled Americans with the opportunity to develop physical independence through sports, recreation, and education.

Kirk had his first experience with the organization when he returned from the battlefield in 1969. It had just been founded two years earlier by a group of other Vietnam and World War II veterans. At the time, the small group of organizers could only offer skiing instruction to other veterans who were returning from war with life-changing disabilities.

“When I came back I had one leg, I had shrapnel in me, and it took seven operations and six months for them to put me back together again,” says Bauer. “I was faced with what many of these young men and women [returning from Iraq and Afghanistan] are faced with now. I didn’t know who I was anymore.”

In the hospital, Kirk was approached by fellow veterans who recommended that he try working with the organization they had started, Disabled Sports USA. He started skiing and noticed immediate benefits from the exercise. (more…)

Disabled and preparing for the 2012 tax season


Right now, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. And then, before you know it, you’ll be gearing up for tax season. This means moving from celebration and family into less joyful, personal finance calculations. It’s a necessary chore for everyone. But if this is your first year collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), then you probably have some questions. We have some answers.

Now before we get into this, we just want to remind you that we are SSDI experts, not tax experts or advisers. So, what you are about to read is not tax advice. It’s just what we know about this issue.

I’m sure your first question is: Are my Social Security benefits taxable? The quick answer to that is yes. All Social Security benefits, with the exception of Supplemental Security Income, are subject to being taxed.

That said, Social Security provides a safety net that will help protect you from having your benefits eroded by taxes. The good news is that only about one-third of Social Security beneficiaries are currently paying taxes on their benefits.

For SSDI, the golden rule is: Low-income beneficiaries are generally not taxed at all, and all others will never be required to pay taxes on 100 percent of the Social Security benefits received on an annual basis.

As of the last publications by the IRS  in 2010, here’s how things break down:

  • Individual tax return. If you are the sole provider in your household and file your tax return as an individual, then the bar is set at $25,000. If you make that amount or less, your benefits will not be taxed. If you make more as an individual, anywhere from $25,000 to $34,000, then half of your benefits will be taxed.
  • (more…)

The Advocator Group welcomes Phil Racicot


We’d like to introduce you to Phil Racicot, our new Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) National Practice Leader, who recently joined the Wakefield, Mass., office.

Phil comes to us after a 37-year career with the Social Security Administration. He’s received national recognition for his executive leadership skills. We are looking forward to tapping into Phil’s expertise, creativity, and deep understanding of the SSDI process at all levels to continue our mission of helping claimants receive fast and favorable benefits.

For more about Phil, take a look below at the press release we published earlier.

Former Social Security Administration Branch Chief Joins The Advocator Group

Philip Racicot joins The Advocator Group as Social Security Disability Insurance National Practice Leader

WAKEFIELD, Mass. — (BUSINESS WIRE) — The Advocator Group, a nationwide advocacy organization for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), recently announced that Philip Racicot has officially joined the company in its Wakefield office. In Racicot’s new position as SSDI National Practice Leader he will apply his knowledge and experience of the Social Security Disability process to assist The Advocator Group in more effectively handling the SSDI claims of its clients. (more…)

Getting smart about SSDI


By 2016, the oldest of the baby boomers will be approaching 70. If that’s you, you might be thinking that you’ll be working up to that age, with your golden years stretching before you undisturbed.

But if you become disabled later in life, that might not be the case. Then what?

SmartMoney’s Catey Hill answers that question in her article, “What Happens If You Can’t Work Until Age 65?

We see life-changing situations like this every day, so she asked me to provide SmartMoney’s readers with some tips on how to file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Make sure to give the article a read to see what I told her on applying for SSDI when the income you’ve depended on is no longer an option.