Belleville, Ill. — Aug. 30, 2017 — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is often a lifeline for individuals who cannot work due to disability because it provides a monthly income and access to Medicare, according to Allsup, the nation’s premier disability representation company. Allsup and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), the international nonprofit Catholic lay organization, are working together to help former workers obtain the SSDI benefits they paid for with their FICA taxes.
The Project Empower pilot program, launched in August 2016, provides training and resource materials to Vincentians to help them identify and assist individuals who may be eligible for SSDI benefits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), Social Security disability benefits keep 3 million Americans out of poverty and reduce the depth of poverty for another 1.9 million. However, most people who apply for SSDI are denied benefits and must endure months or years of waiting during the appeals process. There are currently 1.1 million Americans waiting an average of 596 days for their disability hearing.
Vincentians throughout the United States help millions of persons annually, providing direct assistance with food, housing and utilities. They connect individuals with community resources, including SSDI assistance. Getting expert help with the SSDI application process can help them avoid a backlog that SSA predicts will be 605 days by September. Months and years without an income can have lasting negative effects. In a survey of individuals who had to appeal their denials, almost 90 percent of respondents said they faced negative repercussions, including:
- Stress on family — 63%
- Worsening illness — 53%
- Draining of retirement/savings — 35%
- Lost health insurance — 24%
- Missed mortgage payments — 14%
- Foreclosure — 6%
- Bankruptcy — 5%
A Project Empower workshop will be offered during the SVdP national meeting Aug. 30–Sept. 2 in Tampa.
About the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 150 countries on five continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals nearly 100,000 in 4,400 communities.
SVdP offers a variety of programs and services, including home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, education and mentoring, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, assistance with transportation, prescription medication, and rent and utility costs. The Society also works to provide care for the sick, the incarcerated and the elderly. Over the past year, SVdP provided over $1.2 billion in tangible and in-kind services to those in need, made more than 1.8 million personal visits (homes, hospitals, prisons and eldercare facilities) and helped more than 23.8 million people regardless of race, religion or national origin.