Saturday, October 20, 2007

MS and Social Security Disability

Multiple Sclerosis is a difficult to diagnose disease and can be a difficult Social Security Disability case. One thing that makes MS cases hard is that many times a person out of work because of MS symptoms goes undiagnosed for years and when they finally get a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis they may be past the date of last insured (last day they are insured for benefits). Another problem with these claims is that the most limiting symptom for many people who suffer from this condition is fatigue. So when an individual goes to functional capacity exam they may perform pretty well but what is not seen is that the individual can do nothing for several days after the exam. It is a good idea if you suffer in this way to tell your doctor so it is in your medical records. I have more on MS and Social Security Disability on my website.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Speach by Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration spoke to the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives today. My impression is that he appears to have a good grip on the problems confronting him and the desire to make the changes necessary at SSA to try and fix them. He spoke of the baby boomer generation and the affect it is going to have on the Social Security system. He mentioned the obvious increase in the amount of people who will be on Social Security as a problem. What I did not consider and thought was quite interesting is that there is another problem from the baby boomers reaching retirement age. Many SSA employees are older as a result of the many hiring freezes that have occurred over the years. So many experienced SSA employees will be retiring as well. He mentioned that SSA will drop below 60,000 employees which is the lowest rate since the 70s. This tells me that more claims plus less SSA employees equals more delays in processing of claims. He also mentioned that 150 new ALJs will begin working in June. I will be reporting more on what The Commissioner had to say at my Social Security Disability website.

Monday, October 15, 2007

How does SSA view medical evidence.

A Social Security Disability file contains allot of medical evidence. So how does SSA determine what evidence should be given the most weight? The Social Security Administration is supposed to look at many factors when determining what weight they should give a particular piece of medical or opinion evidence. Notice I say supposed to because I have found SSA employees and ALJs don't always view it as they are supposed to. Generally, treating doctors are supposed to be given more weight than non-treating doctors. In other words your doctor's opinion is supposed to be given more weight than the SSA consultative doctors. Your doctors opinion must however still be consistent with the medical records in the file. Specialties are also considered by SSA. For example a diagnosis of depression by a psychiatrist is more "valuable" than a diagnosis of depression by a family doctor. What does this mean to you. You must make sure you have your treating doctors medical records and opinion of your limitations in the file. If you are seeing a specialist for your condition getting those records and opinion of your limitations from that specialist is a very important. One last note chiropractors are not given much weight so if you have a back condition an orthopedics opinion is much better. I have left out allot here but this is to give you a general idea of how SSA looks at evidence.