Monday, December 06, 2010

800 Numbers for Social Security Disability and VA Compensation

I am writing this post today because of some recent events in my own practice that were caused by my client calling the toll-free 800 number for the VA. What I will explain in this article also applies to the national 800 number for Social Security disability and SSI. If you have a lawyer you should never call the VA or Social Security 800-number to check the status of your claim. The purpose of these national telephone numbers is for the most part good intentioned, but they frequently give out wrong information both about individual claims and the benefits in general. To be quite frank, the only time someone should call these numbers is to get the phone number and/or address of their local Social Security office or VA regional office. I cannot tell you how many times clients of mine have called these numbers to check the status of their claims and received the wrong information. I also get e-mails from people who have called these numbers and were told wrong information. If you have a lawyer and want to check the status of your claim you should call your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer or your lawyer does not return your call you should then call the 800 numbers only to get the phone number of the local office where your claim is being handled. I felt the need to write this article today because I had a client who called the VA 800-number and they were told there was no claim pending for this individual. This individual who assumed they had received accurate information then called my office understandably extremely upset. I looked at this individual's file and everything was in order and a claim was pending and I was able to tell them exactly where they were in the process and who was processing their claim. I called the local regional office and explained the situation and they told me themselves that there was nothing wrong with the claim and that the 800-number employees do not have access to all the information and frequently give wrong information. This incident by itself would not have prompted me to write this article today but I had it happen again in the same day to another one of my clients who was told by the 800-number that my office had not been in contact with them for several months. Once again, the information provided was completely wrong as I knew I had been in frequent contact with the regional office supervisor. Many people who have Social Security disability and VA compensation claims resort to calling these phone numbers because these claims can take a long time. Other people call these phone numbers to get information about these benefits. If you want to make sure that the information you get is correct you should call your lawyer if you have one. If you do not have a lawyer then you should call your local regional office in a VA compensation claim or district office in a Social Security disability or SSI claim and set up an in person or telephone appointment with someone who actually has knowledge of your claim. If you do not have a claim and are just looking for information start by looking for your answers on the VA or Social Security website and if you can't find the answer there call your local office. I can't guarantee that the local office will even give you the right information or status of your claim 100% of the time, but I do know that your chances of getting a right answer are better if you ask your local office rather than the national 800 numbers. I mean no disrespect to the people who answer the phone at these 800-number's. Many I am sure are hard-working and do their best to give the information as they know it. The problem is frequently they do not have access to all the information on your particular claim and many may not be trained to the degree of the local office employees who are actually handling actual claims on a daily basis. I hope this article makes you think twice before relying solely on information you received from these national Social Security and VA 800 numbers. If you have VA questions you are welcome to visit my website on VA disability benefits or my website on Social Security disability benefits and e-mail me from those websites.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Social Security Disability and the Holidays

It has been my experience that Social Security Disability and SSI claims decisions appear to slow down during the holidays. I believe this is because many employees of Social Security and Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) like everyone else this time of year have many things to do during this season. I have no statistics to back up my claim that there are less SSDI and SSI hearings scheduled or decisions made, but I noticed it in my practice over the years. I also believe there is a slow down because many people take vacation time at this time of the year and take sick or vacation days to do some shopping. It makes sense, since if you consider how hectic this time of year is for you, it is no different for the people who work for SSA or the ALJs at the Social Security hearing offices. To see how long it takes to get a Social Security Disability decision visit my page on the topic which shows you the average wait time at the hearing level for each state and SSDI hearing office. This is not something I see as a huge problem, but if you do not get a decision around this time and you are at the time frame were you would think you might don't be too surprised if your decision or hearing date comes after the holiday season. I am only telling you this so you can be aware, so you can mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that your case could be slowed down a little. Just to be clear, it may not be the case and only a local thing I have noticed in the offices I deal with on the most frequent basis, but it also does make sense that there would be at least a little slow down in the processing of SSD and SSI claims at this time of the year. I hope that none of your cases are delayed by the holidays and that you get a favorable decision before the holidays, so you can enjoy them a little more without having to worry about you Social Security disability claim. Not much you can do about any possible slow down except do everything on your end to make sure Social Security has all the information they need to find you disabled. Take this time to research my free Social Security disability information at my website.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why You Must Know as Much as You Can About Social Security Disability

Chances are if you are reading this you already realize the importance of learning as much as you can about Social Security disability, and how they will answer the question "are you disabled". Some of you may hire a lawyer so you do not have to try and learn something as complex as Social Security disability law. This is understandable for some of you who have disabilities that prevent them from being able to take on such a task. However, for those of you who are able even if you have a lawyer you should read and become as knowledgeable as you can on SSDI or SSI. How deep your research goes will depend on your ability to retain the information, and be able to apply that information to your particular case. You might be asking: isn't that why I hire a lawyer? Yes, but I will give you a couple of reasons why you should still do your best to know as much as you can about Social Security disability law. First, many Social Security disability lawyers are extremely good at what they do, but even the best lawyers can not know exactly what you are going through and how your particular medical condition is affecting you as an individual. Lawyers know how certain medical conditions affect people and they know how to use that information to present your case. However, just because two people suffer from the same medical diagnosis does not mean they have the same limitations and symptoms as each other. In other words, no one knows your condition as well as you do. If you know even the basics of how your claim will be handled by your lawyer you will be able to help the attorney present your case in a way that gives you the best chance to win. I will give you an example from my case I had not too long ago in front of a particularly difficult judge. My claimant had a rare visual medical condition that did not fit neatly into the Social Security disability guidelines to be found disabled. The claimant did not meet or equal the listing from any of her visual tests, so we had to show that this person could not even perform the simplest of work. The claimant had read a piece I had written on the Internet about keeping a diary and the importance of being able to explain exactly how your medical condition limits you in day to day activities. After going through all of my clients medical records and speaking to my client for over an hour the claimant handed me a notebook where my client would write down a sentence or two each day about the difficulties of my client's vision from day-to-day. I noticed almost every day it was noted this person had double vision lasting hours. I confirmed with the treating doctor that this was one of the side effects of her condition. The doctor then wrote up a report explaining it was his opinion that the patient experienced double vision at least six hours a day and that this was very common for people with this medical condition. On the day of the hearing, the ALJ asked the typical questions about visual acuity and peripheral vision. The ALJ then presented a hypothetical to the vocational expert with the limitations that the eye test showed. As I expected, the vocational expert came up with quite a few jobs my claimant could do. It was now my turn to present my hypothetical to the vocational expert. I asked the vocational expert and the judge to cross their eyes. I then asked the vocational expert if this was an individuals vision for six hours a day would there be any work this person could do. The answer was no and the ALJ, with the treating doctors report as part of the file, had no choice but to find the claimant disabled. As you can see in this example, because the claimant read my article on the Internet that told people to keep a diary and the claimant did it, I had the information I needed to come up with a creative way to present my claimant's case to the ALJ which in turn led to a favorable decision. Another reason it is important to be as knowledgeable about SSD and SSI as you can is so that you will know whether the lawyer you are considering hiring is the one that gives you the best chance to win. You will have the confidence to ask questions and ask how he or she plans to pursue your case. Lastly, if you know what you have to prove, and what evidence you need to do so, you can get that information if you don't have a lawyer or help the lawyer get the information that is needed to win your claim, without having to wait for instructions from the attorney who probably has many clients. It is important to remember that if you have a lawyer never send anything into Social Security without your lawyer seeing it first, because no matter how much you have researched if you have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer they will still know the law better than you. I hope all of you who have claims pending have a favorable outcome in the near future.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Things to Know When Trying to Get Social Security Disability Benefits

In this post, I will talk about some things you should keep in mind when you have a Social Security disability claim. First, sometimes good claims get denied and bad claims win. This is true at every stage of the process and the decisions made at each stage. We sometimes forget that the Social Security Administration is made up of people. Like in all walks of life and jobs there are hard-working employees, lazy employees, and everywhere in between. Your SSDI or SSI claim can be affected adversely and positively depending on the employees that are working on your particular case and their individual opinions of disability. This is one reason you can see differing approval and denial rates in different states and even different local offices or hearing offices in the same state. Believe it or not, besides making sure you have all your medical records and doctors opinions and even a lawyer the second most important thing for winning your Social Security disability claim is to not give up if you can't work. It is my experience, that if you have a good claim and you truly can't work because of your medical conditions, in most cases, you will ultimately win if you continue to appeal your denials. As time goes on, if you and your lawyer are working hard on your case then time is your friend, because it enables you to keep improving your claim. This is not the only reason, another reason is every time you appeal a denial a different decision-maker will make a decision on your claim. So looking at it mathematically with each new person that looks at your claim to make a decision, there is a chance that the next person who looks at your claim might be more sympathetic to your claim then the last. Of course, this is not always the case, but if you keep appealing and you have a good claim chances are you will eventually get a decision-maker at Social Security who will look favorably upon your case and find you disabled. You should also know despite what you may have heard that not every case loses the first decision. For most of you who cannot work because of you disabilities, but do not meet or equal listing, or have a clear-cut case under the rules your best chance of winning will probably be at the hearing stage when your case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge at a SSDI or SSI hearing. Second, as you go through the stages of the Social Security disability process you should always be trying to improve your claim. For some of you, this may mean getting additional evidence that was not in your claim first time you were denied. Another way to improve your case is to hire an experienced Social Security disability lawyer. Whether you decide to get a lawyer or not, it is extremely important that you continue to learn as much as you can about what you have to prove for your particular case to win under the Social Security rules. You should know the five step test Social Security uses to determine if someone is disabled. You should also know how Social Security will handle your particular medical condition or conditions. If you have multiple conditions you should know how Social Security evaluates you combining all of these conditions to determine if you can work. I do understand that if you're trying to get Social Security disability benefits and you can't work that the idea of learning all of this information can be a bit overwhelming. I don't want to sound like I am promoting lawyers but for some of you having an attorney who already knows exactly how to handle your particular type of case can be extremely helpful in making sure you are giving yourself the best chance to win. The last thing you should know is that getting SSDI and SSI benefits can be a long and drawn out process and you must be prepared financially and mentally for the time it takes until you ultimately are able to succeed at winning your disability case. There is no way around it unless you are one of the lucky ones who win at application you must prepare yourself for the stress and frustration of the Social Security disability process.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't Let the Government Cut Your Social Security Benefits.

I spoke a couple weeks ago on this blog about how Social Security Disability and SS Retirement was going to run out of money sooner than you thought, and how I expected the government to see reducing your benefits and raising the retirement age as the way to address this problem. Well, I was reading on the Internet today that part of the president's plan was to do just that. I wish I knew where I read it so I could point to the article, but I as many of us do, I was skipping around and lost the article. Anyway, keep your ears open for politicians to start touting this idea as something that needs to be done. I think it is time we remind the politicians, that if they have not been taking money from the Social Security fund the problem would not be nearly as serious. We pay a separate Social Security tax and this is not part of the general tax revenue of the United States. And yet many politicians see reducing these benefits and raising the retirement age as a way to reduce our deficit and supposedly save the Social Security system. The government has plenty of discretionary spending plans made in recent and past years that could be reduced or eliminated to help with this problem without having to affect the Social Security system. If we don't write our senators and congressmen this will happen. As the results of the last election show the majority of Americans believe we need to stop spending money and at the same time produce jobs for all Americans. However, don't let the politicians take an easy way out by limiting your safety net which is the Social Security system. I do not claim to have all the answers but we all know how much money the federal government has wasted over the last several years on less important things than the Social Security system. Let your voice be heard and tell your local Congressman and Senators to cut their pork barrel spending and not the Social Security system. If we do nothing I strongly believe those of you who are on Social Security disability or retirement benefits will see cuts of those benefits, and those of you who expected to retire will have to wait longer. I also would not be surprised to see an effort by the government to make it more difficult to win a Social Security disability claim. It is hard enough to win a Social Security disability claim with the rules as they are now. The disabled and retired cannot afford to have their benefits reduced because the government does not know how to control their spending. I hope I am wrong but when I read that article I saw the writing on the wall.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

50 years old or older and Social Security Disability

Many of you have heard that it is difficult to get SSDI or SSI if you are young. This can be true for many cases, and it is also true that if you are 50 years or older you may have a better chance of winning your Social Security disability claim. However, the advantage of being 50 years or older really only comes in to play when the work you have performed in the past 15 years was light or heavier. It also for the most part only helps people in this category if your disabilities are mostly physical in nature. To understand when age is important and why you can visit my page on the grid rules. For those who have claims due to psychiatric conditions, age although it may be considered by some at Social Security, it does not play as much of a factor as it does for someone claiming mostly physical disabilities. Many people with psychiatric disabilities read the five step process for disability and don't really understand how their condition is evaluated at steps four and five since the grid rules only reference physical limitations. If you are trying to get disability based on psychiatric limitations it is important that you know that even if you don't meet or equal a listed impairments at step three of the process you can still be found disabled if you can show the limitations from your psychiatric condition would prevent first your past work then a significant number of any other work. I am writing this post because I received many e-mails from people who read the five step process and understandably don't understand how it applies to someone with a psychiatric condition. Steps four and five can also be confusing if you suffer from both physical and mental conditions, but again if you can show your limitations from these conditions prevent you from being able to perform your prior work or a significant number of any other work you can be found disabled at these steps. I hope this post clears up some questions many of you might have about how age is a much more significant factor for those with physical disabilities then it is for those with mental disabilities. To be very general, if you are under 50 years old, or over 50 years old but had work in the past 15 years that was sedentary, then if you do not meet or equal a listed impairment at step three you will then have to show that your limitations from your conditions would prevent you from even being able to do unskilled sedentary work. If you are 50 years old or older then chances are if your prior work was light or heavier than you would only have to show you are limited to sedentary work to be found disabled. If you have psychiatric medical conditions such as depression and you do not meet or equal the medical listings at step three you will then have to show that the limitations from your psychiatric conditions would prevent almost any type of work in significant numbers. If you suffer from physical and psychiatric impairments and you do not meet or equal listed impairment Social Security will look at all your limitations combined to determine if there is a significant number of jobs you could perform. I try to be very general and not get too technical so that you would have some idea of how an SSDI or SSI claim is decided and how age plays a factor for some in the decision. You should also follow the links in this article which will go into more detail on specific aspects of this article.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Your Social Security Disability Hearing

For many people, a Social Security disability hearing is the most stressful part of the SSDI or SSI process. I am here to tell you that this should not be the case, since if you have taken all the steps to make sure your case is ready for hearing this is possibly your best chance to win. If you are extremely nervous about your disability hearing and you have not hired a lawyer you should consider doing so, not just because they have experience with hearings, but also it will give you the confidence that you have someone on your side listening to what you have to say and following up with questions in case you say something that may have hurt your claim. A lawyer will also be able to lay out the reason you are disabled under Social Security disability rules so that you do not have to consider this and focus on answering the questions at the hearing. A good Social Security disability lawyer will also go over with you the types of questions that will be asked at the hearing so that you will not be surprised by the questions and wondering how to answer them. If you do not have a lawyer, and do not wish to have one I strongly suggest you read my page on Social Security disability hearings as it will explain the types of questions asked, who will be there, and what you can expect. One of the biggest mistakes people make at the hearing stage is that they tend to want to tell their whole story as soon as the first question is asked at the the hearing. Try and focus on the question that is asked of you by the administrative law judge (ALJ) or lawyer and only answer that question. It is also important that you do not try and give them the answer you think they want to hear since this will leed to your testimony appearing to be unnatural and possibly even worse it could be considered exaggerating. I don't want to seem like I am promoting the fact that you need to have a lawyer at your hearing, but you should consider it because they are trained to listen to what you have to say and follow up with questions to make sure you do not go off topic or let anything you say be misinterpreted in a way that could hurt your claim. The one thing you have no control over at your hearing is what ALJ is assigned to your case. Some have very high approval ratings and others have very low approval ratings. There are ways to find out your ALJ's approval ratings on the web, but I think this is a better tool for lawyers than it is for claimants going to a hearing on their own. I say this because if a claimant sees that there ALJ has a very low approval rating they may approach how the answer their questions differently than if they have an ALJ who has a higher approval rating. Most ALJs fall somewhere in the middle and approve about 60% of the cases. What these statistics will not show you is what a particular ALJ finds to be important to them when deciding if someone is disabled. One example, is that some Administrative Law Judges value a strong work record and will deny many SSI cases or SSDI cases where a claimant has a poor work record. If you have a strong work record and you happen to have this type of ALJ assigned to your case and you only look at his approval rating you may go into the hearing thinking you have no chance of winning. The fact is, his approval rating for your type of case may be quite high, but you will not be able to find any statistics on the types of cases they tend to approve. A good Social Security disability lawyer who sees that an ALJ has a low approval rating may know the judge or will research by asking other lawyers who have had the judge what types of cases that ALJ tends to approve, and what information that particular ALJ finds to be important when he makes his decision. The lawyer can then structure his questions and arguments based on his knowledge of what is important to that particular administrative law judge. I know it sounds like I am promoting lawyers for your hearing in this post, and I guess I am, but with good reason. You have already lost your case once or twice if you are at this level. Also experienced SSDI or SSI lawyers have handled hundreds if not thousands of disability hearings and this is probably your first experience with a disability hearing. Lastly, because of this experience a lawyer has presented cases before every type of ALJ imaginable and will know how to tailor your questioning and present your arguments as to why you are disabled at your Social Security disability hearing. If you have a hearing comming up I wish you luck and if you have any questions feel free to call me or e-mail me your questions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Depression, Chronic Pain and Social Security Disability

In my practice over the years, there is a mistake made by people applying for Social Security disability benefits that I see over and over again. Many people attempting to get SSDI or SSI suffer from chronic pain due to many different medical conditions. It is extremely common for someone who is suffering from chronic pain whether it be from a back condition, fibromyalgia, RSD, or any other medical condition that involves pain to also suffer from some degree of depression as a result. Chronic pain by itself can cause depression, but many people also become depressed due to lifestyle changes caused by the severe pain. I can't tell you how many people have come to me with chronic pain conditions and were told by their doctors to seek help for depression and anxiety from a psychiatrist as part of their treatment. Many of these claimants do not follow their doctor's advice and seek treatment for depression for various reasons. I have been told things such as "I'm not crazy I'm just in pain". Many people also don't want to be labeled with a diagnosis of depression for different reasons. I am writing this post to tell you that it is very important to follow your doctor's advice and get treated for depression or anxiety if your doctor recommends it. It will not only help your Social Security disability or SSI claim, but hopefully help your overall well-being. Many people don't realize they are depressed, because they are so focused on their physical problems. Since this post is about Social Security disability and depression I will explain why it is important that you claim depression as a medical condition along with your physical problems to give yourself the best chance to win. Let me first say that everyone who has chronic pain does not also have depression but if your doctor tells you you do or advises you to be checked by a psychiatrist you should do so. In a Social Security disability claim for some of you your physical problems and pain can cause many limitations and be enough to prove to Social Security you are unable to work. For others, your physical problems and pain may severely limit you to the point where you would be unable to perform many jobs but Social Security may find there is light or sedentary work that you could perform. If you are getting treated for depression and you can show you have mental limitations from depression or anxiety these additional limitations may mean the difference between winning or losing your SSDI or SSI claim. For example, particularly if you are under 50 years old Social Security frequently will say that although you are limited from performing heavier work you can still perform sedentary work. If your psychiatrist or a Social Security psychiatrist finds you have mental limitations these mental work limitations must be considered by Social Security just as your physical limitations are. So if Social Security finds you are limited to be able to do sedentary work but you have additional mental limitations, then depending on how severe these mental limitations are they may prevent even a significant number of sedentary jobs and therefore you can be found disabled. Some mental limitations that would significantly impact your ability to perform work related activities would be your ability to interact with the public, ability to interact with supervisors and take direction, ability to complete tasks, difficulties with concentration, difficulties with memory, ability to handle stress, inability to deal with changes in work setting, inability to perform complex tasks, inability to form simple tasks, and many other possible limitations. Depending on how severe your depression is I hope you can see how getting treatment for depression and getting an opinion from your psychiatrist can greatly improve your chances of winning if you suffer from this condition and include it in your claim for disability. There is no shame in suffering from depression it is a medical condition just like your physical impairments are. I do want to caution you, that if you do not suffer from depression, do not claim that you do, for this will hurt your case. I am writing this post because of the great number of people trying to get disability benefits and their records clearly show they have depression and they do not included this condition in their claim or get treatment for it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New and Improved Ultimate Disability Guide

My Social Security Disability website the "Ultimate Disability Guide" now has a new look. It still contains the great content that it always has on SSDI, SSI and even has information on VA Compensation benefits. If you are familiar with my website, please let me know what you think of the new design and usability of the Ultimate Disability Guide. Although there is some information on VA compensation benefits on this website I have a website designated for VA Compensation and Pension benefits at my veterans disability website. I hope you all like the new look and find it easier to navigate to the information you are looking for about Social Security Disability. I will continue to update this information and it will continue to have the best and most informative free information on the web on disability topics. The Social Security Disability lawyers convention is coming up and I will report any information that I find out at the conference that I think may be of interest or help to you in getting your SSDI benefits. The new website does not look drastically different from the old website, because I did not want people who have visited me in the past to think it was a different website. It is basically a face lift for the old website to give it a more modern look and better usability. For those of you who follow my writings on the Internet you will also notice that my blog has some significant changes as well which I hope you like. I always welcome comments and suggestions on how I can improve this website including any topics you wish me to cover that you have not been able to find. Thank you to the loyal readers of my website and welcome to any new readers of the Ultimate Disability Guide and my other articles across the web.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thank you to our military and veterans for all you have done and are doing to protect this great country.

On this day September 11, nine years ago we were attacked and I want to take this opportunity to thank all those past and present who have devoted all or part of their lives to defending the United States of America. I remember the day as if it was yesterday and unfortunately it feels like many Americans have forgotten that terrible day. This post is to ask anyone reading it to thank our Veterans, Military, FBI, CIA, law enforcement, firemen, and anyone else or organization that is now or ever did serve to protect the United States. Many Americans go about their daily lives and are able to because of the United States military that has protected us since we became a country. I lost one of my best friends in the twin towers. His name was Christopher Vialonga or Vio as we all called him. He was just 30 years old and in the prime of his life. There are thousands upon thousands of people who lost someone close to them that day or in the years after that day, fighting to protect us. This country has seen many wars over the years, and we have lost many great men and women as a result. So please if you are reading this today, take the time to thank all those who have served to protect us now and in past wars. Say a prayer for all those who are serving today, for all those who have physical or mental scars from their service, and most of all for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Thank you US military and Veterans for all you have done and will do for your country and its citizens.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Difficulty Finding Good Information About Social Security Disability Law

I recently received an e-mail that best describes the problem with search engines and their ability to distinguish between cookie-cutter Social Security disability websites and real informative websites on SSDI and SSI. I received this e-mail today. "My name is N (name left out for privacy) and I would like to thank you very much for creating your web site. I am just finding your site tonight after years of trying to learn about the disability process and apply for benefits. I learned more from your site in the time I have spent reviewing it tonight than I learned from reading several other sites over years, four attempts at contacting disability lawyers, one in office consult in which the lawyer (though very kind) declined to represent me, and reading over and over again all the info I could find on social security. Thank you for listening to me. And once again, thank you for your site. I will immediately recommend it to everyone I come in contact with so they can be spared the experience I've had." It is frustrating for lawyers like myself to receive e-mails like this knowing if this person had received good free information earlier it could have possibly saved them allot of grief. I and other lawyers like myself spend years writing free information on disability law to make it available to the general public and our informative websites are pushed down in the search results by professional web designers working for a lawyer referral services and big law firms and non-lawyer representative companies. Some of the best information on Social Security disability may never be seen because Social Security Disability specialists like myself are not also Internet specialists. The Internet is becoming less and less about disseminating free information on topics to those who need it and more about which companies can afford the best search engine marketers or which company is willing to spend the most bidding for spots on paid advertising spots. This is a shame because the content of many of the top ranking websites for Social Security Disability information are not written to give you information but rather written in a way to make them rank higher in search engines. In an effort to make more money, the search engines also appear to be cluttering the true search results with paid advertising. I understand the need for search engines to make their money, but it is becoming more more difficult to distinguish between the paid spots and the actual search results. I have written for many years on Social Security Disability and VA disability law, and despite my lack of knowledge of how search engines work, I have been able to get out my free information to many people. However, this appears to be becoming more and more difficult to the point where to keep pace I to have to hire search engine specialist to help me reach more people. Hopefully, the search engines will get to a point where they can distinguish between fresh informative content from specialists in the areas you are looking for from companies that know little about the subject matter but know how to manipulate the results. The good news is that many of you take the time to look through the results you get back and you can tell the difference between good information and these cookie-cutter websites. I will continue to write all original content on my websites and always have the goal of providing the best free information on Social Security disability and VA compensation on the web. My hope is that if I get the help of a search engine marketer I can reach a larger audience with my quality content on disability law. My recommendation to all of you looking for good information on Social Security Disability law is that when you find a good website make sure to bookmark it so you can find it again and recommend it to others through e-mail, social networking websites and forums. I hope you all have an enjoyable long weekend and for all those who have Social Security Disability claims pending I hope that you get a favorable decisions soon.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Social Security Long-range Financial Outlook Bleak

What will it take to get Congress to address and fix the Social Security disability system. In a Social Security disability press release it was announced that the combined assets of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2037. This projection has not changed since last year. Everyone in the United States government has known for years that the Social Security trust fund was running out of money and could not be supported by the incoming Social Security taxes. My biggest fear is that the government will take the easy way out and reduce benefits or make it harder for the disabled to get their benefits. Hard-working Americans have been paying their Social Security taxes in the believe that they would have some security if they were to become disabled or for when they retire. I believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to sure up the trust fund and make sure not only that this generation be able to have the security of Social Security disability and Social Security retirement benefits, but also that our children and grandchildren will have that same security. I have no doubt that the Congress and Senate will attempt to do one or all of the following: increase Social Security tax, extend the age of retirement, make rules that will make it more difficult for the disabled to get their benefits and increase the general tax revenues. This seems quite unfair considering one reason, and I believe the biggest reason is our government's mismanagement of the Social Security trust fund. I think it is clear that we cannot wait any longer to address this issue. It is time to make the tough choices that need to be made to save Social Security. Just imagine if Social Security Disability Benefits were not available to those who became disabled. You must also think about the possibility that when you reach retirement age there will be no money to pay you even though you have paid your Social Security taxes your entire life. I am not going to claim that I have the answers, but I do believe Congress needs to figure out a way to sure up the trust fund with the least amount of burden being put on the American people. This is not a political piece as I believe both parties are responsible for the situation. I know in the next election the biggest issue will probably be the economy. However, I think we as American taxpayers should also insist all those who seek office in the next election tell us their plan on how to sure up the Social Security trust fund. We cannot wait until 2037 to deal with this issue if we expect to have any chance of saving Social Security Disability and Social Security Retirement Benefits. If you are reading my blog then chances are you or a loved one is either getting or attempting to get Social Security benefits. Write your congressman and Senators and any candidates running for these offices and ask them what they will do to make sure the Social Security trust fund will be there for you your children your grandchildren and beyond. Let us not let another year go by without anyone having to answer the tough questions about the Social Security trust fund. This is not a political party issue this is an American issue and we need to help get the conversation started even in these tough economic times. To see the full Social Security press release follow the link.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tips for a Social Security Disability Claim for Mental Conditions

If you are claiming to be unable to work due to a psychiatric condition either on its own or in combination with other physical impairments, in this article you will find some helpful information on how you can be found disabled for Social Security Disability for mental illness. Let me first say, that even if your psychiatric impairment is your most severe medical condition if you have other medical conditions as well you should make sure to include these in your claim. Social Security will look at all your medical conditions when determining whether or not you can work. That being said, the focus of this article is on the mental aspect of a claim for SSD or SSI. It is extremely important when applying for Social Security disability benefits for a mental condition, that you are under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist on a regular basis if possible. It is also important that you have a good record of following the doctors advice and take your medication as you are supposed to. It is important to have a diagnosis whether that diagnosis is depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, or any other mental diagnosis. Often times many of these conditions have similar symptoms and even overlap and you may have multiple diagnosis over a period of time. This is very common. When you have a psychiatric impairment you will definitely want to look at the medical listings of impairments for mental disorders. No matter what your diagnosis is you will want to look at all of the conditions listed to see if you may meet or equal one of these listings. If you think you do meet or equal one of the medical listings, you should take a copy to your doctor to get your doctor's opinion of whether or not you meet or equal one of the listed impairments. If your doctor feels you do you should ask them for report explaining which listing with an explanation as to why you meet or equal the listed impairment. It is important to note that is not enough to simply have a diagnosis of a mental condition in the medical listings of impairments. To be found disabled due to meeting or equaling a listing you have to have all the requirements the listing calls for. All is not lost if you do not meet or equal a listed impairment for your mental disorder. You can still be found disabled if the limitations from your psychiatric impairment would prevent first any of your past relevant work and second any other work. So you may now want to know how do you show what your limitations are from your mental impairment. The two main ways to show your mental limitations that would prevent you from working are by doctors report or by your Dr. filling out a mental RFC form. Social Security will also probably send you to an exam and they will have their own doctors assess what your mental limitations are. It is extremely important to have your own psychiatrist's opinion as to your limitations because if your treating doctors opinion is supported by the medical records and not inconsistent with those records it is supposed to be given more weight than the Social Security doctors opinions. I also want to mention if you have physical limitations it is important to remember that these limitations are considered as well and sometimes the additional limitations from my mental illness can really improve your chances of winning your case. In this article you will find several links to pages that provide additional information and should be helpful in your pursuit of winning your Social Security disability claim for mental illness. You should also visit my websites on the right of this blog for more information on Social Security Disability.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Social Security Disability Process

I write so frequently about individual topics on social security disability that I often forget to include the basic big picture things. In this post, I will explain the Social Security disability process from application to US District Court. To start a claim for Social Security disability or SSI you must apply. If you are denied then in most states you would file an appeal by requesting reconsideration. Some states do not have the second step and go right to the next step which is requesting a hearing. So if you are denied at application and you are in a state that does not have reconsideration stage you appeal by requesting a hearing. If you are denied at the hearing stage you have a few different possible options. You can make an appeal to the Appeals Council called a requests for review. You can file a new application for SSDI or SSI benefits. In many cases, you can both appeal to the Appeals Council and file a new application. If you choose to do both then you essentially have two cases going on at the same time. One thing I should mention here, is that if you win your new application, you should immediately inform the Appeals Council as the sometimes can lead to a remand for a new hearing on the claim before the Appeals Council. You might be wondering why you would want to do this if you just won on your new claim. The reason is because you can only be paid on your new claim from the date of the ALJ's decision (the decision that you are appealing at the Appeals Council). Now if you lose at the Appeals Council you can file a claim in US District Court. In very rare situations, if you are denied by the US District Court you would then appeal to higher federal courts. How and what to appeal to the US District Court or higher federal courts is best left up to an experienced disability lawyer. Don't forget to check my websites for more information on SSD and SSI and veterans compensation law. You can find a list of these websites on the right of this blog.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Social Security Disability and Obesity

Years ago, the Social Security Administration eliminated obesity from the medical listings of impairments. I think this has caused some confusion. Just because obesity is no longer a listed impairment does not mean you cannot be found disabled based on obesity. Obesity is still to be considered in a Social Security disability claim as an individual impairment and the effects it has on other impairments are also to be considered. In fact, many of the listed impairments make special note of the fact that obesity could adversely affect many medical conditions in the listings. So the effects of obesity must be considered when Social Security determines if you meet or equal listed impairment and when determining whether you are disabled at step 4 or 5 of the process. Severe obesity by itself can cause an individual many limitations that would prevent them from working. However, in most Social Security disability cases obesity is just one of the medical conditions being claimed. In this situation, obesity can clearly have a negative impact on many medical conditions such as heart disease, back impairments, sleep apnea, depression and many others. Since obesity was eliminated from the medical listings of impairments many at Social Security appear to disregard its effects on one's ability to work. It is very clear however, that the decision makers of your claim have a duty to consider the impact of obesity on your Social Security disability claim. If you are claiming obesity as one of your impairments it may be a good idea to get a lawyer to make sure that the limitations from this condition are considered when Social Security makes a decision on your case. I also believe, that there is a general bias against obesity as a disabling impairment. It can help your claim if you're being treated for your obesity and following your doctors advice for treatment. However, sometimes a doctors advice might be for you to undergo serious surgery to help treat your obesity. I am often asked if your refusal to get surgery will hurt your claim for Social Security disability for obesity. This is a difficult question to answer because I am sure there are those at Social Security that would look at your refusal to get the surgery as a negative but I have seen many clients with complications from this type of surgery who are worse off after the surgery. Whether or not you decide to get surgery is a matter between you and your doctor and you should base your decision on what you think is best for you. I can tell you that being denied based on refusal to get such a surgery would give you a strong case for a remand or reversal of that decision.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where and How Should I Research Information About Social Security Disability

There are many places on the Internet that offer information on Social Security disability law. However, much of the information on the Internet is written by marketing companies and Internet specialists. In fact, most of the sites that you will find that show up on the first page when you do Internet searches through search engines will be from these sources. This is because marketing and Internet specialists know how to write website pages that rank high on search engines because after all their job is to know how these search engines work and get their clients to show up on searches as high as possible. If you want to find good information on Social Security disability law you sometimes will have to go beyond the first page of the search results to find what you're looking for. Websites that provide good free information about Social Security disability law are in most cases written by lawyers and representatives that actually represent clients and many do not have the knowledge of how search engines work to show up high on search results. Many websites that are written by lawyers and representatives get help from marketing Internet specialists to get higher rankings on search engines but it also can affect the way the material is presented. This does not mean that all pages that rank well on search engines do not have good information it just means if you are serious about finding information to help your claim you should take the time to look at several websites and evaluate which websites are giving you real information and which ones are only trying to get you to give you their information. Another thing you can do is try and be as specific as possible when doing a search. For example, if you want to know how to win a social security disability claim instead of searching for "Social Security Disability", search for "how to win a social security disability claim". You can tell by reading a website if the author of the material knows the subject matter and is providing real information and helpful articles. Chances are if they are providing information you can understand and is generally helpful then if you have a question this would be the type of website that might be more willing to answer that question for you. The Internet can be a very good source of information about Social Security disability but if the website you are reading does not provide you full answers, spits out legal jargon, or the information is so general as to not be helpful then you should consider moving on to the next website. If you continue to do this for several websites you will start to get a feel for the websites that are actually providing you with real helpful information and you can bookmark those websites to questions you may have in the future. Those of you who know my writings on the Internet no that I try to provide helpful information on Social Security disability and VA compensation law. Another good reference is government websites such as the Social Security Administration website and the VA website. It is hard to find good information on disability law on the Internet but you can find answers to most of your questions if you take the time to research and find websites that are genuinely trying to provide free information to the public about disability programs. After you have found a few websites you feel are giving you good information check to see if they have a custom search on the website so that when you ask your question in the search bar it will give you results from that website. You should also look for the answer to your questions on more then one website because you can not only check if the answer is the same but perhaps there is more then one way to handle a certain situation you are looking for an answer to. Research on the Internet is a good place to start and easier then other ways of getting the information you are looking for on social security disability but if you have a legal issue or problem that you need to know the answer to, or if you think you need help with your claim you should seek out a disability lawyer to help you.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Do You Really Have to be Out of Work a Year to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Many people who read the Social Security "five step process" that determines disability will notice that it says to be eligible for SSDI or SSI you need to be out of work for a year or more or be expected to be out of work for a year or more. Let me start by saying, that this does not mean you have to wait a year before you can apply for benefits. However, many times when someone applies as soon as they stop working Social Security often will send back a denial stating that your condition is not expected to keep you out of work for at least a year. In my opinion, this is the decision-maker at SSA taking the easy way out and not making a decision based on the medical evidence. This amounts to a wasted opportunity to win your claim at application. So your next question might be, how do I avoid this type of decision being made on my application. Sometimes, it is better to wait six months after you stop working to apply. I say this because if it takes 3 to 6 months to make a decision then it is a lot more difficult for the decision-maker at Social Security to say your condition is not expected to keep you out of work for at least a year. I do understand it is not always possible to wait six months with no income, particularly if your state does not have state temporary disability available to you. So in the situation where you have to apply as soon as you stop working, there are things you can do to prevent being denied based on not being out of work for at least a year. You can get a report from your doctor explaining your medical condition, that you are disabled, and that he or she expects you to continue to be disabled for at least a year if not permanently. The more detailed the report by the doctor in regards to your limitations from your medical condition that are keeping you from working the better. You should also try to provide Social Security with as much medical information as possible that supports your doctors opinion. I hope this post makes this part of the five step process a little more clear for those of you who are confused by the wording. However, if you have any questions you are always free to e-mail me or call me at 1-877-527-5529. If you need more information on Social Security disability law visit my Ultimate Social Security Disability Guide website.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What you should know about SSD even if you have a lawyer

Many of you have lawyers for your Social Security disability or SSI claim or you may be considering getting an attorney to help you. However, this does not mean you should simply sign the paperwork and wait to see what happens. Even if you have a lawyer you should have an understanding of how Social Security will determine if you are disabled. You should know the five step process Social Security uses to determine disability. Another thing you should consider is that even if you gave your doctors names and addresses to your lawyer and/or Social Security this does not guarantee they will be able to get all of your medical records and opinion evidence needed to win your case without your help. Many times, doctors are much more willing to give their records, and an opinion on disability to their patients directly, rather than answering a request for this from your lawyer or Social Security. However, keep in mind when you have a lawyer representing you it is important that you not be too involved in the case as to interfere with your attorney's representation of you. What can sometimes be worse though, is when you do not stay involved in your case at all. So it is important to balance your involvement in your case. The best way to do this is to ask your lawyer what you can do to help win your case. Your lawyer may send you to your doctors with paperwork or ask you to send them certain information. In the course of the social security disability claim many claimants may start to ask why do I have a lawyer if I am doing all this work. However, it is my experience in handling SSD and SSI claims for many years that those who are willing to help with their claims can substantially increase their chances of winning. I should also note, that clients who write constant letters and make constant phone calls to their lawyers and Social Security can actually hurt their claim. So how do you know if you are involved enough, but not too involved in your claim. For one, you should never call or write to Social Security without speaking to your lawyer first. You have a right to and should call your lawyer every two or three months to check in on your case and see if there is anything you can do to help. Many times speaking to your lawyer's staff should be enough to give you an update on your case and be able to tell you of any records or opinions they are having difficulty getting. However, there will also be times where you feel it is important that you speak your lawyer directly. Make sure to keep in mind that lawyers who handle Social Security disability lawyers have many clients, so it is important that when you request to speak your lawyer about your case that you do so for issues that are very important to your case or for some other reason you only want to speak your lawyer about it. Every client has a right to speak to their lawyer about their case, but just always keep in mind that if you call to frequently it can be very disruptive in the amount of time a lawyer has to work on your case and other cases. So to sum this up, if your lawyer asked for your help or asks for some information from you remember it is with the goal of winning your case, so attempt to get them the information they are looking for as soon as possible. If you have a question you should first ask that question of the staff (unless it is personal) and if your question is not answered to your satisfaction you should then ask to speak to the lawyer personally. For example, if you are simply checking on the status of your claim the lawyer's staff should be able to answer this question for you. Another example would be if you are checking to see if your lawyer received certain information you sent to the lawyer again the staff should be able to tell you. If your question is legal in nature or pertains to sensitive medical condition then in this situation you'll probably want to request you speak to the lawyer handling your case. Every law office handles cases differently and in some cases lawyers do not even have employees. So know your lawyer and use your best judgment as to when you need to call and what you can do to help your claim without getting so involved as to hurt your claim.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Choose the Right Social Security Disability Lawyer for You.

For some of you choosing a Social Security disability lawyer might simply come down to first website you find or commercial you see on TV. Some people are looking for a large disability firm, while others prefer the personal touch of a smaller firm. In terms of importance to give yourself the best chance to win your SSD or SSI claim one of the most important decisions you can make is, whether or not to get a lawyer to help you with your claim. If you have decided that you want a disability attorney for your SSDI claim, then you will have to determine who to hire. To make this decision, you should consider what is important to you. One thing you should know is that many of the biggest Social Security disability representative companies out there are not lawyers. So if you want to be represented by a lawyer you may first want to check if the company you are considering is actually a law firm or if they are a disability advocate company. Is it important to you to be able to speak to the lawyer or representative who will be handling your case during the long process? This is important to many people and yet it can be very difficult to find a Social Security Disability lawyer or law firm, in this field, where you can actually talk to your lawyer if you need to. This is one of the biggest complaints of claimants that are represented. Social Security Disability lawyers are extremely busy and have many clients; however you should have the right to speak your lawyer on important issues about your case. This does not mean that you should have access to speaking to your lawyer directly whenever you want, calling to often will actually prevent your lawyer from being able to spend the time your case and other cases need. If you have something important to speak your lawyer about and if you call and the person who answers cannot address your question to your satisfaction, you should be able to leave your name and number for your attorney and expect a callback. I get a lot of e-mails from my website and not getting callbacks appears to be a bigger problem with large firms and non-attorney companies then it is with small to medium-sized law firms. This is a very general statement and not true in all cases, because I have certainly received e-mails from people who do not receive callbacks from small law firms as well. The toughest question to answer for you is, how do you know if you will be able to have contact with your lawyer once you sign the paperwork to be represented? There is no easy answer, but you could try calling the lawyer or firm you are interested in and tell them you are considering hiring them, but that you would like to speak to the attorney that would be handling your case first. If you can't get a lawyer to call you back even before you sign-up this should give you some idea of your accessibility to the lawyer or representative if you were to hire them. If the lawyer does callback, you can simply ask them if he or she is the lawyer who will be the one handling your claim and if you can expect to see him or her if you have to go to a SSD or SSI hearing. It is not uncommon for the lawyer who is available at the time to call you back even if that is not the lawyer that is going to handle your case, but they should be able to tell you which lawyer is your main representative. There will always be people who just want to sign up with the biggest most well known non-attorney companies or law firms. There are also those who prefer to be treated as an individual and not as a number. You can learn a lot by reading the non-attorney companies or lawyers writings on the web. Is the website or pages very generic and bland with no real answers? Do the website or pages appear to be written by someone who knows what they are talking about, and appears to care about their readers by providing real helpful information? When you are reading website information about Social Security disability law is the author of that information easily known or do they appear to be hiding who they really are? Many websites that show up very high in search engine results have almost no useful information because they are written by companies that specialize in high rankings and have little or no actual knowledge of Social Security Disability law. Most law firm websites and non-attorney websites are written by third parties as I described. So if you are trying to get a feel for a particular lawyer or representative try to find something they have written which can sometimes give you some insight into the type of person they are. I hope this post helps you if you have decided to hire a lawyer for your Social Security disability claim by giving you some ideas as to how to find the right fit for you. If you want more information on how to find a lawyer for Social Security Disability visit my page on the topic.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Social Security Disability for medical conditions of the back for people under 50 years old.

One of the most common disabilities claimed on Social Security disability applications is for back conditions. Some back conditions are herniated discs, arthritis, lumbar fracture, degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. Many times, back conditions are just a part of your claim but on this page I will talk about disability for those whose primary disability is there back and the secondary symptoms from the condition and who are under 50 years of age. In SSD and SSI claims where the only disability is a back injury how old you are and the type of work used to do play a very significant role in determining your chances of success. If you are under 50 years old and you do not meet or equal a listed impairment, then you will have to be able to show that your limitations from your back condition would prevent you from even being able to do a significant number of sedentary jobs. This means jobs that require you to lift very little weight (10 lbs at most) and you are sitting most of the time. To give you an idea of the types of jobs Social Security will frequently say someone with the back condition can do: they often consider jobs such as surveillance system monitor, ticket taker at the movie theater, greeter and other jobs of this sort. Often times, even the inability to sit for long periods of time is not enough for Social Security to find you disabled. Believe it or not there are many jobs that allow the worker to sit and stand as they need to. Pain and the effect of prescription medicine such as narcotic pain medication and limitations they impose on one's ability to concentrate and memorize things is supposed to be considered by SSA when they determine if a younger individual with back problems is able to work. In practice, the decision makers at Social Security appear to disregard or minimize these limitations on one's ability to work. However, if you have these limitations it is very important that you say so, and that it is supported by the medical evidence. Back disability cases for younger individuals are difficult to win no matter how severe your back condition is. In these types of cases you should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to help you with this type of claim. I am not saying they cannot be won, but you will need a good theory as to why you are disabled which is supported by strong medical records and opinion evidence from your doctors. If you feel you meet or equal a listed impairment it is very important that you take a copy of the listing to your Dr. to see if they also feel you meet or equal a listed impairment. If they do, then you should ask them for a report explaining which listing (here you will find SSA medical listing for back conditions), why and what evidence supports that conclusion. Many people with back problems who have suffered with chronic pain frequently develop depression as a result. Unfortunately, many of these people don't take their doctors advice and seek the help of a psychiatrist to treat the depression. I often hear comments like "my Dr. told me I have depression and should be under the care of a psychiatrist, but I'm not crazy I'm just in a lot of pain." I know many of you reading this and saying that sounds like me. This is not a good approach to take for your own medical health or for your disability claim. If you truly have depression as a result of chronic pain you should seek treatment. I am not suggesting that everybody who has a back problem should run out and see a psychiatrist to help their disability claim. This is not only the wrong thing to do in general, but is probably not going to help your claim because a psychiatrist will probably not find you to be depressed or have any limitations from it. In these claims, it is also important if you use an assistive device for walking. I do not have enough room on this page to try and explain how to win your disability claim for a back condition when you are a younger individual, but the purpose of this post was to make you aware of the difficulties of this type of claim so that you get the help you need to give yourself the best chance to win. For more information on Social Security disability back claims visit my website which goes into more detail about how you can help yourself and this type of claim.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is there any way to get a favorable decision at the hearing level without a hearing?

The short answer is yes. However, the one method I am about to explain is underutilized or not used at all by many lawyers and representatives and sometimes over used. It is called a requests for a fully favorable on the record decision also frequently called OTRs. This method of getting a favorable determination is not a good choice for all claims. When a lawyer decides to ask for a fully favorable on the record decision before a hearing they should only do so when they feel they have an extremely good case with the evidence they have. The lawyer then writes a brief detailing why his client is disabled under the rules and how a fully favorable decision is supported by the evidence in the file. As I said earlier, there are some lawyers and representatives who never do this. On the other end of the spectrum, there are lawyers and representatives who do this on every case or close to it. Briefs for OTR's are most successful when they are used sparingly for only cases they feel are strong enough that they can win by this method. The reason I say this is because if the lawyer is known by the employees at the hearing offices to only send requests for fully favorable on the record decisions when it is appropriate, then the lawyer's brief is more likely to be read quicker and given more credence since the lawyer will have a good track record with that office. Most people at the hearing stage probably feel their case is strong enough for an OTR. However, this decision should be left up to the lawyer who is very familiar with the types of claims that are likely to get a favorable result using this method. The hearing offices like to approve extremely good cases before a hearing because it decreases the average wait time for a hearing at that office because there is one less hearing to schedule. However, the hearing offices do not like to receive requests for OTR's if it is not an extremely good case because it can actually slow down the offices workflow by requiring their attorneys to do extra reading without any benefit to the hearing office. A successful OTR can decrease and individuals wait for decision in some cases from years to months. There is nothing wrong with asking your lawyer or representatives if your case is strong enough at the moment to request an OTR but you should respect your attorneys decision not to do this if he feels your case is not ready and not likely to result in a favorable decision without a hearing. Keep in mind, most cases at the hearing level should not request an OTR. In fact, most cases that win at the hearing level will still have to go through the hearing process. In many cases, your testimony at the Social Security hearing can play a big part in you being found disabled. So if your lawyer decides not to do an OTR in your case, do not look at it as if this means you have a bad case, it just means your case might need more development or your testimony at a hearing is crucial to the case. Lastly, I want to mention that even if a request for an on the record fully favorable decision is denied you will still have an opportunity to have a hearing and a decision will be made after that hearing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Social Security announces it is adding new medical conditions to its Compassionate Allowance Process.

The Social Security Administration made a press release on February 11, 2010 there will be expanding its list of medical conditions eligible for its compassionate allowance process. I have spoken about this process before which is very helpful for those who have very serious medical conditions. This is part of Commissioner Astrue's plan to help reduce the backlog of Social Security disability cases and get quicker decisions for those who are obviously disabled. When you apply if you have one of the medical conditions on this list it will be identified by a computer and referred for special consideration under the compassionate allowance process. If it is found that you have one of the conditions on the list it resolves in a very quick favorable determination. Previously, this list consisted mostly of different types of cancers but now there are many conditions listed that are not cancers. Even if you do not have one of medical conditions on the list it is still good news for you because it takes many other claims quickly out of the process which will hopefully lead to quicker decisions on SSD or SSI claims that goes through the regular Social Security process. Below is a list of the new medical conditions added compassionate allowance program. For more information on compassionate allowances and the other medical conditions it covers you can visit the SSA website at . You can also find the rest of the list on my web page on cancer and Social Security Disability.

Below is the added medical conditions to the list.

Alstrom Syndrome, Amegakaryocytic Thrombocytopenia, Ataxia Spinocerebellar, Ataxia Telangiectasia, Batten Disease, Bilateral Retinoblastoma, Cri du Chat Syndrome, Degos Disease, Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Edwards Syndrome, Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Glutaric Acidemia Type II, Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) Familial Type, Hurler Syndrome Type IH, Hunter Syndrome Type II, Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa Lethal Type, Late Infantile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses, Leigh’s Disease, Maple Syrup Urine Disease, Merosin Deficient Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Mixed Dementia, Mucosal Malignant Melanoma, Neonatal Adrenoleukodystrophy, Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses Infantile Type, Niemann-Pick Type C, Patau Syndrome, Primary Progressive Aphasia, Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, Sanfilippo Syndrome, Subacute Sclerosis Panencephalitis, Tay Sachs Disease, Thanatophoric Dysplasia Type 1, Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Walker Warburg Syndrome, Wolman Disease, and Zellweger Syndrome.

For more information on the Social Security Disability process and how SSA is trying to improve processing times you can visit my linked page on the subject.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How to Win Your Social Security Disability Claim.

If you are reading this it is because you are applying for Social Security disability or you have been denied SSDI or SSI. If you are denied your disability claim then you might be saying to yourself what can I do to improve my chances of winning? Let me first say, there is no secret formula to win every Social Security disability claim but if you are disabled and unable to work there are certain things you can do to give yourself a better chance of winning. In this post, I will list some things that you can do to help improve your chances. The first thing you need to know is what you have to prove to win your particular SSD claim. If you are unable or you do not have the time to research the Social Security laws to know what it will take to win your claim then it is strongly recommended you get the help of a lawyer for your disability claim. You must also be very active in making sure all your medical records that are relevant to your claim are submitted to Social Security or your attorney if you have one. It is also a very good idea to have opinion evidence from your doctors explaining your medical condition, treatment, medications, medical tests, and how your medical conditions limit you and your ability to do work related activities. In other words, you need evidence that shows your doctor believes you are unable to work. It is not enough to simply have a statement from your Dr. stating that you are permanently and totally disabled. The type of opinion evidence you need must be detailed and explain exactly what your limitations are that prevent you from working. You must also have an understanding of the medical listings of impairments. If you meet or equal a listed impairment then you will be found disabled by Social Security without consideration to other things such as your age education and work experience. However, meeting a listed impairment is designed to be difficult for this reason. So if you think you meet or equal a listed impairment it is important that you show a copy of the medical listings to your Dr. and if your Dr. agrees that you meet or equal one of these listed impairments then you should get a report from that Dr. explaining which listing and why and it needs to be supported by the rest of the evidence in the file. Meeting a listed impairment is not the only way you can be found disabled and most people that are found disabled do not meet or equal listed impairment. However, you should always check to see if your medical conditions are listed and read the requirements it takes in order to meet these listings. If you do not meet or equal listed impairment this is where your doctors opinion of your limitations can still show that you are unable to work. Let's assume for a minute that you do not meet or equal a listed impairment. In this situation, SSA will look at your age, education, work experience and how your medical conditions limit you to determine first if you can't do your prior work, and if they determine you cannot, you must then have the evidence that shows them that you cannot do a significant amount of any other work. What exactly you will have to show and how you will do it depends a lot on your particular medical condition and limitations from it and how old you are, your education and any skills you have acquired from your previous work. Social Security disability claims can become extremely complex in some cases and almost always difficult in general. You may want to consider hiring a Social Security disability lawyer since they have the knowledge and ability to put your case together in a way that gives you the best chance to win your SSD claim. Even if you decide to hire a disability attorney it is still a good idea to learn as much as you can and stay as active as you can in your claim. For more helpful information on Social Security Disability visit my website which covers almost every aspect of an SSD or SSI claim. Another good resource for information but of course will not give you tips on how to win is the SSA website.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Social Security Releases More Information to Public

Commissioner Astrue announced it will be making new data about Social Security available to the general public. This is part of President Obama's transparency and open government initiative. It is available at . I took a quick look at the webpage and I can tell you it is far from user-friendly at this stage. In the press release they did stay they plan to make the database more user-friendly in the future. I hope this is the case and that they are able to make the information understandable for the average person applying for Social Security disability benefits. The information is supposed to include information about hearing workloads and types of decisions made by administrative law judges. It is also supposed to help give people an estimated timeline as to when they can expect to have a hearing held or when a decision will be made on their SSD or SSI claim. When I have time I plan to further review this new data program and its usability and as always will post my thoughts about how this new program could benefit those applying or receiving Social Security disability benefits. My first take on the database is that it is pretty overwhelming and confusing but I have to admit I did not spend much time with it. If you are looking for information on how to win your Social Security disability claim I do not expect them to help you with that so I suggest at least for the time being you continue to read my website, the Social Security website and other informative websites that try to explain the Social Security system in plain English.