Monday, December 14, 2015

Getting SSDI for Vision Disorders

If your main disabling medical condition is a vision disorder the best way to get found disabled is if you meet or equal the SSA Medical Listing of Impairments for vision disorders.  So if you are applying for SSDI based on a vision disorder, the first thing you should do is read the medical listing for vision.  If your doctor feels you meet one of these listing it is important to try and get a report from him or her that describes how your condition meets or equals the listing.  This report should also include any test results that support this opinion.  If you do not meet or equal a listing then it becomes more difficult to get SSDI for a visual impairment, because you will have to show how your visual limitations prevent you from working.  This is why it is important to include all your medical conditions even if your visual impairment is your main disability.  For example, Diabetes can cause severe visual impairment but also may affect other parts of your body as well.  One common symptom of Diabetes is numbness of the hands or feet.  So in this situation you may want to document not only your visual limitations, but also the fact that you have numbness in your hands that cause difficulty grasping things, writing, lifting, or typing.  So in this example, even if your visual limitations by themselves are not enough to show you can't work the additional limitations from the numbness in your hands may be enough to show you are unable to work.  For more on getting SSDI for vision disorders read my page on my website.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Social Security Disability and SSI What is the Difference?

Social Security Disability, also called SSDI, is a program that allows those who are unable to work due to medical conditions receive monthly benefits based on the individuals payment of Social Security taxes when they worked.  To be eligible for these benefits you must have enough work credits and recent enough work credits.  The amount of money you get per month is based on how much you have paid into the Social Security system when you were working.  Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a needs based program for those who are unable to work due to medical conditions.  To qualify for SSI you need to be unable to work due to medical conditions and have low income and resources.  The monthly payments are based on need and the money comes from the general tax and not the Social Security Fund.  To better understand if you qualify for SSDI or SSI follow the link to my website that explains these two programs further.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Applying for Veterans Disability Benefits

If you are applying for VA disability benefits it is a good idea to try and list all the medical conditions you are trying to get service connected in one application if possible.  I say this because many veterans apply for some of their medical conditions in one application and then make another application later with more medical conditions listed later.  Although there is nothing wrong with this it can cause some issues later.  With one application you then should get one decision which means you will only have one decision to appeal.  If you have more than one application then you will get more than one decision and each new decision may have to be appealed.  The less appeals you have to make the less chance you have of missing an appeal deadline.  I also believe if you have all your medical conditions on one application it will help keep your claim easier to work with at the VA Regional Office which may lead to a faster processing time.  It is not always possible since many times new medical conditions may pop up or you later find out a medical condition you have can be service connected that you were not aware could be.  So, I am not saying it is terrible for your claim if you don't apply for everything at once I just believe if you can apply for everything at the same time it may just make things easier for you as you go through the VA disability process.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

How to Get RFC Forms Completed by Your Doctor

If you spent any time online researching how to win your Social Security disability claim than you know the importance of getting RFC forms completed by your treating doctors.  RFC forms are also called residual functional capacity forms and when filled out show a doctors opinion of your limitations from your medical conditions.  Having a good and long term relationship with your treating doctor certainly helps when trying to get these forms completed.  Doctors also like to be paid for there time so asking your doctor how much it would cost to complete these forms and paying him or her is one very good way to convince your doctor to do this.  Another way is to make an appointment with your doctor specifically to fill out these forms.  This way your doctor is being paid for his time and he or she has the benefit of being able to ask you questions that could assist the doctor in completing the forms.  If you tried to get these forms filled out by your doctor but were unsuccessful you can also pay for an independent Residual Functional Capacity exam.  This is when you pay a doctor to do a series of test on you to determine your level of functioning in a work environment.  This last way can be expensive so it may be a good idea to do this as a last resort.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Prior Work in a Social Security Disability Claim

Why is prior work important in SSDI claim?  Whether or not one can perform prior work is decided at the 4th step of the Social Security disability test.  If SSA finds you can perform past work you will be found not disabled.  If they determine you cannot perform past work you then move on to the 5th step of the test which is whether or not you can perform any work that exist in significant numbers.  For a full explanation of the 5 step test follow link above to my page on how Social Security determines if you are disabled.  To give an example of how step 4 works lets say you are limited to sedentary work with no non-exertional limitations.  If you have prior work that is sedentary then according to SSA you would be able to do prior work.  Now lets assume you are limited to sedentary work but all the work you did the last 15 years is considered light or heavier.  In this situation SSA would find you are no able to do prior work and you would move on to step 5.  What is important to note here is that if SSA finds you cannot perform prior work this does not mean you are disabled, since Social Security will still have to determine at step 5 if you can do any other work.  For a better understanding of a Social Security Disability claim is decided be sure to read my website.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Social Security Disability and Back Conditions

One of the most common medical conditions listed on SSDI claims is back conditions.  Some common examples are herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture, and spinal arachnoiditis.  It is very important if you are claiming a back condition in your SSDI claim that you get regular medical treatment if at all possible.  This will document that you have a serious back condition that requires frequent treatment.  It also helps because if you are seeing a doctor regularly that doctor may be more willing to provide you with opinion evidence in support of your Social Security disability claim.  For any SSDI claim for a back disability one should start by looking at the Social Security Medical Listing of Impairments.  If you meet or equal one of the listings then you will be found disabled without SSA having to consider other factors.  If you do not meet or equal a listing then you will have to show how the limitations from your back condition prevent you from working.  Also, if you are suffering from some degree of depression as a result of your chronic pain or change in daily activities you should make sure depression is also a part of your claim because there may be additional non-exertional limitations on your ability to work.  For more information and getting SSDI for back condition make sure to read my page on this.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Fireworks and Combat Veterans

This post is just a reminder to everyone who plans to set off their own fireworks this weekend to celebrate the holiday.  Please be aware of any combat veterans in your area.  Many combat veterans who suffer from PTSD are extremely sensitive to fireworks so please keep this in mind.  I represent veterans in VA disability claims and veterans with PTSD often say fireworks causes a great deal of anxiety for them.  Veterans risked it all to protect our freedom so please be responsible this weekend.  Happy 4th of July to all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Long Does VA Disability Claim Take?

How long a VA disability claim takes is a very difficult question to answer.  I have been handling VA compensation claims since 2007 and what I can tell you is it depends on so many things that it is almost impossible to answer for any given case.  For some, it may be a matter of months and others it may be years until you are satisfied with the result.  If all the records are in the VA C-file, it is a clear cut case, and you are dealing with one of the better VA Regional Offices than it may only take months.  In other cases, difficulty finding evidence needed, the need for nexus opinions and a slower VA RO may cause the VA disability claim to take over a year.  Keep in mind if you get a decision from the VA and you are unhappy with that decision it can take longer and longer with each appeal.  Some VA disability cases can take many years before you get what you deserve.  As you can see answering this question is very hard.  So what can you do to speed up your VA compensation claim.  The first thing you can do is request your C-file from the VA so you know what the VA has and you will be able to determine what may be missing or what evidence you still need to win you claim.  You should also get help with your claim from a service organization or a VA disability lawyer.  This will help because a good attorney or representative will know the law and what is needed to win your claim and then be able to make arguments on your behalf as well.  At the very least, you need to research what it is you need for your particular claim to win your VA disability case.  The last thing you would ever want to do is to make your claim and sit back and hope the VA will figure it out for you.  It is also important to keep in mind that when you have a VA compensation claim you need to be persistent but also patient.  It can become very easy to get frustrated and quit or take out your frustration on the VA and neither of these is going to help you win you VA disability claim.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Medical Treatment and Disability Claims

So why is it important to have a good history of medical treatment and recent treatment.  Whether it is an SSDI claim or VA compensation it is important to be able to show past and present treatment.  One reason is that many decision makers on disability claims wrongly will assume that someone who is not being treated regularly does not suffer from a severe medical condition because if they did they would be getting treatment.  Also the basis for any disability claim is your medical conditions and if they are not documented well it makes it difficult or impossible to determine the severity of the medical condition.  I should also point out that if you are seeing a doctor regularly and for a long period of time chances are that doctor will be more willing to provide you with opinion evidence that is often needed in SSDI and VA disability cases.  I know it can sometimes be difficult and many people do not have insurance but you should make every effort to get regular medical treatment.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Veterans IU and SSDI

I speak to veterans all the time who are not able to work and are trying to get VA IU (Individual Unemployability) and who are not also applying for SSDI.  In most cases, If you have a claim for IU you should also have a claim for SSDI.  The reverse is true as well if you are applying for SSDI then in many cases you should also have a claim in for VA IU.  Yes, in most cases you can get both.  If you win one of these claims it can help you win the other as well.  The main difference is that if you are trying to get SSDI the decision maker at Social Security will look at all your medical conditions to determine if you are disabled.  In a VA IU claim the Veterans Administration will only look at your service connected disabilities to determine if you are unable to work.  They each have their own rules to determine if you are disabled so you will still have to prove your case to both agencies but for most veterans unable to work you should have both claims.  If you have any questions and would like to speak to a lawyer that handles both VA IU and SSDI cases feel free to call me at 1-877-527-5529.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Importance of Getting Your C file in a VA Disability Claim

If you have a veteran's disability claim pending at the VA you should be sure to get your C-file as soon as possible.  There are many reasons for this.  If you have your file you will be able to see what the VA is looking at to determine your claim.  This will allow you to make sure everything you need to win your disability claim is in the file before a decision is made.  In many cases important information such as service medical records, treatment in service, present treatment, etc. are missing from the C-file.  Yes the VA has a duty to assist to get what is not in the file but many times they might not know what is missing or they can't find something.  If you know what is not in your file you can help get it.  Another reason to have your file is if you decide to get a lawyer you will be able to give that file to your lawyer and this will save time having to wait for it.  Remember your VA decision will be based on everything that is in that C-file so make sure everything you want to be in it is.

Friday, March 27, 2015

VA IU and Social Security Disability

What is the difference between VA IU and Social Security Disability?  Many veterans ask this question and I will try and give a basic explanation.  The main difference is that Social Security will look at all your medical conditions to determine if you are unable to work.  With veteran's IU the VA will only look at your service connected disabilities to determine if you are disabled.  You can get a better understanding of how each agency determines disability by reading my web pages on Social Security's 5 steps to determine disability and how the VA determines if you are unable to work under VA IU.  What most veterans need to know is that if you have been found disabled for VA IU there is a real good chance you will be able to get SSDI.  Also if you are getting SSDI mainly due to your service connected disabilities, there is also a good chance you can get VA IU as well.  This is a very simple explanation of the difference between these two programs and the website links above should help explain further.  If you are unable to work because you are disabled and you are not sure what you may qualify for then one of the best things you can do is speak to an attorney to see if you may qualify for IU and SSDI or both.  If you would like to ask me feel free to call me at 1-877-527-5529.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Social Security Medical Listing of Impairments

The medical listing of impairments comes into play at the third step of Social Security's 5 step process for determining disability.  If your medical condition meets or equals a listing you will be found disabled.  If you do not meet or equal a listed impairment then you would move on to next step of the process.  To meet or equal a listed impairment it takes a doctor saying you do and explaining why it is your condition meets all the requirements for the listing, or at least why your condition equals the severity of the listing.  If there is a medical expert at your ssdi hearing, one of the first questions usually asked of the expert is if the claimant meets or equals a listed impairment.  You should read the medical listing of impairments as it applies to your medical condition and if you think you meet the listing you can take a copy to your doctor and ask them if they think you meet the listing.  If they think you do ask them to write you a report saying this and it should include why and be backed up with all evidence that supports this conclusion.  If you do not meet or equal a listing it is not the end of the world since you simply move on to next step in the process.  The majority of social security disability cases that win are not based on meeting or equaling a medical listing since these listings were made very hard to meet by design.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Veterans Disability Claims and The Long Wait Times

Most Veteran Disability claims take an extremely long time before they are resolved.  There are many reasons for this.  The Veterans Administration is underfunded, under staffed and has a huge case load.  This can be very frustrating for veterans trying to get their VA disability benefits.  Changes are being made at the VA that I think will start to help with this but I do not expect it to ever be a quick process.  It is important to know this so you can try not to become too frustrated with the process.  VA lawyers, veterans, Congressman and VA employees all wish the process was faster.  One thing the VA is doing to help with this problem is they are trying to get all VA files and claims into electronic format.  This will probably take a while longer before this is a reality but it is a step in the right direction.  Electronic records have helped make an improvement in the Social Security Disability wait times and I would expect it would help the VA disability wait times as well.  The VA has also received more funding to help with staffing issues.  So as frustrating as it can be hopefully things will slowly get better.  If nothing else I hope this article will help you understand you are not alone in your frustrations with the long wait times in Veterans disability claims.