Very often the people I represent have suffered disabling injuries. Every one of my clients who is disabled from work wishes that were not in this situation.
Work makes us feel good about ourselves living in a society where employment is the norm. People who are employed are generally healthier and live longer. People who are not employed die sooner and generally are in poorer health.
Re-employment after a period of disability leads to improved self-esteem and improved mental health. So, in all instances, I try to help my disabled clients to utilize available resources to improve their chances of becoming re-employed.
Several governmental benefit programs are available to assist disabled people get back on their feet and resume life as they knew it before their disabling injuries.
The Social Security Act defines disability as “the inability to do substantial work because of a medical condition which lasts or is expected to last, more than one year, or result in death.” For a child, disability requires a physical or mental condition that very seriously limits activities.
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits to disabled or blind persons who are “insured” by their own, or their spouse or parents’ contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund (FICA on their paychecks).
The Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) makes cash assistance payment to the aged, blind or disabled people (including children under 18) who have limited resources and income.
The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation provides rehabilitation services to help disabled persons prepare for, obtain or maintain employment, either directly or through approved vendors, on an individual basis. The OVR counselor assists persons to select vocational goals and the services necessary to achieve those goals. For each person an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) is developed outlining goals, services, the providers to provide them, and responsibilities of the disabled person. Although some services are subject to a financial needs test, anyone who qualifies for SSI or SSDI is exempt.
For disabled children under 18 in Pennsylvania, Medical Assistance can provide the broadest coverage of medical and mental health services of any insurance plan and children with severe disabilities will qualify for Medical Assistance regardless of a parent’s income or resources. The disability standards consider the extent to which the child’s disability/condition limits the child’s ability to perform basic functions appropriate for his/her age group.
These programs, when utilized by well-intentioned and motivated people, can help a person return to work and revitalize life. I guide my clients to these programs as a temporary means to assist them return to the workforce. My goal is to assist my client to be fully compensated in money damages for the harms and losses caused by the carelessness of another, and assist that person to return to their life as they knew it before the injury. Sometimes these government programs are necessary to accomplish that goal.
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured including due to medical mistakes. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and on the board for the Philadelphia VIP. Tony is a Nationally Certified Civil Trial Advocate, AV Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbel and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). He is also a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2015.