Were you Zeblied?
As a result of a settlement agreement made in the case of Sullivan v. Zebley, a new term may be commonplace among disabled young people, some still children, some adults.
If you were a disabled child in the period from January 1980 through February 1990 (meaning under age 18) you may have been “Zeblied”, that is refused or removed from eligible status for receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) assistance. The reason for the reduction or refusal would probably have been that your particular disability was not on a list of “acceptable” medical conditions.
This was a the result of a budget cutting technique used during the Reagan and Bush administrations, which simply put, said that people not on the list were not considered disabled or no longer considered disabled. This relieved the Social Security Administration of responsibility for making the SSI payment. Some people affected may have been receiving Social Security benefits, some not, but in either case the disallowance cost them money and cut costs for the administration.
In Sullivan V. Zebley, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff, Mr. Zebley, was entitled to the SSI benefit even though he did not meet the narrow standards set by the agency.
Starting in July, the SSA began mailing notices to the 452,000 people who were apparently cheated under this system. If you received a form, make sure that you fill it out and return it promptly. Get advice if necessary, and help in completing the form, but do it promptly. Keep copies and follow up if you do not get a response in a reasonable time (3 or 4 months).
If you or one of your children was denied or cut off from SSI payments during the 1980 – 1990 period and you did not receive this mailing from Social Security, call the local social security office and request a form. You may also call for free advice from Community Legal Services, 1-800-523-0000.
Note: The wording of the form says “if you want us to review your claim, fill out this form, etc,.” If you were cut off SSI, or denied benefits, you WILL want to ask for the review.
The SSA has said that they are doing a major campaign on TV and radio. posters, articles and press releases. To date this has not been apparent in our area. If you are one of the 452,000 people affected or think that you might be, call for the form.
If you already have the form and have delayed submitting it, don’t delay any further. The SSA says you have 120 days from the date you recived the form to send it back, or they may not be able to review your claim.
The Social Security Administration estimates the children found eligible under these new rules could receive as much as two
billion dollars in retroactive benefits and additional benefits over the next five years. If part of that is yours, make sure you are on the list this time.