Social Security Disability Attorney In Los Angeles

This is NOT legal advice. This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases. To discuss your particular

circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please feel free to contact Disability Advocates Group at (800) 935-3170

or online if you have any questions regarding your Social Security Disability claim.

Social Security Disability for Mental Health Conditions

Mental disorders may cause you to be unable to hold down a job.  If this happens to you, you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits as long as you can convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your mental health issues are long-term (have or will last for a year) and are severe enough to prevent you from doing work that you are qualified for based on education and experience. 

Sometimes, it can be hard to show that you have mental health problems since there may be no objective tests like an x-ray or an MRI to demonstrate just how bad your symptoms are. You will need clear medical evidence from a physiatrist or other mental health professional who is licensed in the field. You should also consider getting help putting together a strong application. A Los Angeles Social Security Disability lawyer can assist you in convincing the SSA that your mental health problems really are bad enough to make you eligible for disability benefits. 

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Mental Health Issues

The Social Security Administration has a “Blue Book,” which lists qualifying medical conditions for which you will become eligible for benefits (provided you have the symptoms of the condition you claim to have in your application). 

Mental impairments are addressed in Section 12 of the Blue Book.  Some of the listed conditions that are within this Section which can make you eligible to receive Social Security Disability income include: 

  • Organic mental disorders, including psychological or behavioral abnormalities which occur as a result of brain dysfunction. 
  • Schizophrenia
  • Paranoia and other psychotic disorders
  • Affective disorders, which can include manic depression as well as other full or partial manic or depressive syndromes
  • Intellectual disabilities, including significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning and/or deficits in adaptive functioning (these conditions usually must manifest during the developmental period before age 22)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Somatoform disorders, or physical symptoms that there is no demonstrable organic findings of or no known physiological causes of
  • Personality disorders, including signifiant maladaptive personality traits
  • Autistic disorders
  • Pervasive developmental disorders affecting the development of social skills 

For each specific condition, you must have demonstrable proof of symptoms that occur in the frequency and with the severity required by the SSA.  A Los Angeles Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to show you have a mental health condition that should qualify you for benefits.  Call an attorney today to learn more.

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Social Security Disability for Back Pain

Back pain is a common health problem that affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, back pain sometimes becomes so severe that it makes it impossible to work.  If you have terrible back pain and you cannot do your job as a result of it, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. An experienced Las Angeles disability benefits lawyer will help you to determine if you can put together a strong application for benefits given the nature of your back pain. 

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Back Pain 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires applicants for disability benefits to have a severe disabling condition that either has lasted for 12 months, is likely to be fatal, or is likely to last for 12 months.  This means your back pain must be chronic if you are going to be eligible for benefits.  Your condition also must prevent you from working in the job you were doing before your back began to act up, or from doing any job that your education and experience have qualified you to do.  

To help the SSA determine when to allow an applicant to receive benefits, a “Blue Book” or Listing of Impairments has been created by the Social Security Administration.  If your health condition isn’t listed in the blue book, it becomes harder to qualify for benefits because you must show medical equivalence. If you do have a listed condition, you are going to need to show specific symptoms associated with the listed medical problems you are claiming to have.  

Most of the listed conditions related to Back Pain are found in Part 1 of the Blue Book, which relates to Musculoskeletal Disorders.  For example, section 1.04 addresses disorders of the spine that can make you eligible for benefits, including:

  • Osteoarthritis or facet arthritis 
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Vertebral fractures

If you have these conditions, certain other medical problems like osteoporosis, or other severe back pain, you may be able to put together an application to convince the SSA to give you benefits. Contact a Las Angeles Social Security disability lawyer to learn more and to find out how to move forward with making a disability benefits claim.

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Top 3 Reasons Your SSD Claim was Denied

The vast majority of Social Security Disability (SSD) claims end up being denied, at least initially. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is very strict about fighting fraud, but unfortunately ends up disqualifying many people for benefits even though they are legitimately disabled and need help.  

While there are a lot of reasons why claims are denied, there are a few primary things that can cause the SSA to reject your application for benefits. For example, three primary reasons why your SSD claim may be denied include the following:

  • Your condition is a short-term problem or not severe enough. The SSA recognizes only certain severe conditions as disabilities, and your condition must last for a year or be expected to last that long or expected to end in death. Your condition should be on the SSA’s List of Impairments or you will need to prove it is medically equivalent if you wish to get benefits. It also must prevent you from working. 
  • You do not have enough work credits. If you have not worked long enough to qualify for benefits, you will need to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance. The specific amount of credits requires varies based on age. You must have worked both long enough and recently enough. If you do not meet the work history criteria, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you have limited resources and low or no family income.
  • You do not submit medical evidence.  You must have medical evidence from a qualified, licensed doctor who is a specialist in the particular  area where your medical problems are focused. If you do not give the SSA access to your medical records showing you have a severe condition with specific symptoms required by the SSA, your claim for Social Security Disability benefits is likely to be denied.

A Los Angeles Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to avoid common application mistakes and will work hard to help maximize your chances of successfully getting benefits. Call an attorney as early as you can in the application process so you can put together the strongest application possible for the benefits you need.

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What is a Consultive Exam and How Does it Affect Disability Benefits?

A consultive exam is a medical examination the Social Security Administration may request if they want to obtain further information about your medical condition. When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you must prove you have a severe health issue preventing you from working. If the SSA does not believe your records are clear enough or is not convinced that your doctor has shown you suffer from a qualifying condition, you may be asked to undergo a consultive exam. 

What is a Consultive Exam?

A consultive examination is performed by an independent physician who has a contract with the Social Security Administration to examine applicants for disability benefits. The SSA does not actually employ in-house doctors; the physicians who perform the consultive exams work independently of the agency and are supposed to be objective and unbiased. 

The disability examiner who is reviewing your case and who has requested the exam will provide the doctor with specific questions to answer about your condition or will ask for the doctor to find out specific information about your health status.  The doctor will conduct appropriate medical testing in order to be able to provide a reasonable assessment of your medical status. You may have to undergo a variety of tests including x-rays or psychiatric evaluation depending upon the condition you are claiming has caused you to be disabled.  

The outcome of your consultive exam is going to make a big impact on whether the Social Security Administration approves your claim for disability benefits or not. You need to attend the exam when the SSA requests it of you because otherwise your claim could be closed and you would either not receive benefits or you would have to start the entire application process over.  

A Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer can provide you with more information on consultive exams and can provide you with help throughout the process of applying for benefits so you can better understand the disability application process. Call an attorney as soon as you can in the application process. You may be able to avoid the need for a consultive exam by ensuring you submit substantial medical proof to give the SSA what they need to approve your benefits claim.

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What Happens If You Receive a Notice of SSD Overpayment?

If your circumstances change or if the Social Security Administration has incorrect information, you could end up receiving more Social Security Disability benefits than you are actually supposed to get. If this happens to you, you may receive notification of overpayment. The notice will include an explanation of why SSA believes you received too much money as well as details about what your repayment options are. The notice should also provide information about your right to appeal. 

What Happens If You Are Overpaid Social Security Disability Benefits?

If the SSA claims you were overpaid Social Security Disability benefits, you will either need to fight the accusations of overpayment through an appeal or you will need to give the money back. The way in which the money is returned to SSA varies depending upon whether you are receiving income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

If you are receiving SSDI benefits, the full benefits amount may be withheld until you have repaid the money due.  The withholding will start 30 days after you are notified of the overpayment. However, you can contact the Social Security Administration to request that they withhold less than the full amount so you can still receive some money you need. 

If you are receiving SSI benefits, 10 percent of your monthly money will be withheld until the amount has been repaid. Withholding should start 60 days or more after you receive notice of the overpayment. The 10 percent is usually calculated based on the federal maximum SSI benefit rate, even if you are not normally receiving that specific amount, so it is important to know how much is to be withheld. You can contact SSA and ask that less money be taken out. 

An experienced Los Angeles Social Security Disability benefits lawyer can help you if you have received a notification of overpayment or if you are having any problems with your benefits. Call today to learn more about what your rights are and for assistance from an experienced legal professional in protecting the Social Security disability income that you need when you cannot work due to a disability.

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Is Social Security Disability Back Pay Paid in a Lump Sum?

The Social Security Administration may take a long time approving your claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  When you are eligible for disability benefits through either of these two programs, you may be entitled to back pay as a result of the delay in having your application processed. The back pay may total hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  This money may be necessary to help you pay off past due balances and get caught up on bills that were hard for you to pay as you waited for benefits to be approved. b2ap3_thumbnail_money.jpg

The back pay may be awarded to you in one large lump sum for the total amount due, or it may be awarded to you in installment payments. The method of payment depends upon whether you are approved for SSI or SSDI. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to make the determination of whether SSI or SSDI is the best choice for you and will work to try to expedite the processing of your application so you can get paid as quickly as possible. Your lawyer will also help you to understand what to expect when it comes to receiving back pay. 

How Will your Social Security Disability Back Payments be Made?

When you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you are entitled to payments based on your disability onset date. The benefits start to be paid five months after the onset of your qualifying disability.  If your application took longer than this to process and you are owed back payments, you will receive the money that is due to you in one large lump-sum payment. 

If you qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead of SSDI, you may receive a lump sum payment or you may receive smaller installment payments. The method by which you receive your payments depends upon whether the back pay owed to you is more than three times the maximum monthly SSI benefits available under federal law. If the back pay exceeds this amount, you are paid partial installment payments. These payments are made at six month intervals and a total of three payments are made. The first and second payment cannot exceed three times the maximum monthly benefit. The remainder of the back pay is paid in the third installment payment, regardless of the amount. 

A disability benefits lawyer will help you to determine which of these two different payment methods applies to you.  Call an attorney as soon as possible for help moving your benefits claim forward.

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Are You Eligible for Expedited Reinstatement of Your Disability Benefits?

If you were receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and you began trying to work for a living, your benefits may have been suspended. There are different rules for when benefits are suspended based on whether you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or when you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and are participating in a trial work period.  Regardless of whether you are on SSI or SSDI, you should be eligible for a period of expedited reinstatement if your benefits are stopped due to working for a living.  b2ap3_thumbnail_calendar-1072482-m_20150511-201432_1.jpg

Expedited reinstatement means that you can get your benefits restarted without needing to go through the entire Social Security Disability application process again. You can get the benefits restarted quickly once you qualify to do so, which is important if you had tried to work and found you couldn’t because your medical condition became worse or affected you more than you thought.  

In order to be eligible for this expedited reinstatement, you must have had your benefits stopped because you began engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and/or because you stopped receiving the benefits due to your earnings from your work.  You must also make the request within five years from the month when the benefits were ended due to SGA or work earnings.  

To get your benefits restarted again, you must provide updated medical information showing that you still meet the definition of disabled. You also must complete the necessary forms and submit them to the SSA.  Provisional benefits may become available immediately while the SSA takes the time to review your forms and your new medical information in order to determine that your SSDI or SSI benefits should be restarted to the level they were at before they were suspended. 

A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to determine if you should receive expedited reinstatement of benefits and can assist you with the process of completing the necessary forms and providing qualifying information.  Contact an attorney as soon as possible when you believe you should be eligible for your benefits to restart so you do not have to wait any longer than necessary to get the money coming in that you need to support yourself and your loved ones.

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Getting Disability Benefits Immediately for a Financial Emergency

If you have a disabling medical condition and cannot work, you may be facing significant financial hardship. In some cases, you may have a pressing medical expense that you need to pay right now. You may also be in danger of eviction, having utilities shut off, or having a vehicle repossessed if you have no money coming in.  b2ap3_thumbnail_money-check.jpg

If you find yourself in dire financial straits and you believe you qualify for disability benefits, a Social Security Disability attorney may be able to help you get paid right away. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that sometimes disabled individuals need to get money immediately and the SSA makes it possible for qualifying individuals to get an emergency advance payment. 

An emergency advance payment may be available to new applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) who have delayed benefits or who have benefits they have not yet received. The maximum emergency advanced payment is equal to the lesser of the SSI federal benefit rate; the total amount of benefits that are owed to the recipient; or the amount of money that is being requested to meet the financial emergency.  

The emergency advanced payment will be deducted from the payments that are due. If this is not sufficient to cover the costs of the emergency advanced payment, then the payment will be subtracted from the current monthly benefit amount that is paid on your normal payment date. 

In order to be eligible for this emergency payment, you must demonstrate that you are a qualifying applicant.  An attorney can help you to determine if you should be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits on the basis of both your financial situation and your current disability status. You must have a covered disability, which includes a severe long-term medical condition that makes working impossible. You must also have limited income and few household resources in order to be eligible to qualify for SSI. 

If you are eligible, the emergency advance payment can be a life-saver when you are severely ill or injured and need cash right away. Contact a Social Security disability lawyer to help determine if you can receive a Social Security payment to help you to meet your financial needs.

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How to Appeal a Termination of Disability Benefits After a Continuing Disability Review

The Social Security Administration periodically checks to ensure that Social Security Disability (SSD) beneficiaries are still eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance income.  The process of confirming ongoing eligibility is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).  b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer-investigation-code-book.jpg

If the SSA determines that you are no longer eligible to receive benefits during a CDR, then your benefits can be ended. This can be devastating if you are relying on Social Security Disability to pay your bills. Fortunately, you do not have to just accept that you will no longer have income coming in to your home. You can file an appeal after the termination of benefits.  A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer can assist with the appeals process and help you to try to fight to keep the income that you need. 

How to Appeal a Termination of Disability Benefits

When you have had your disability benefits terminated, you can ask for a review of the decision that was made. Disability Determination Services (DDS) is in charge of reviewing the file.  Based upon the review, a DDS staff member may determine that a mistake was made and that you should be eligible for continued disability benefits after all. 

If the DDS staff member does not reverse the decision terminating your benefits, you can request a hearing with a disability hearing officer.  The DHO will review the medical and legal issues surrounding your continuing disability review to determine if mistakes were made. 

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome, a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is the next step, followed by appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council and finally to the federal court. The process is similar in many ways to the initial appeals process that you may have had to undergo when first applying for benefits if your initial claim was denied. You will need to ensure you make strong arguments for why you need ongoing benefits and you will also need to make sure that you have as much evidence as possible to back up the arguments that you are making to keep your income. 

A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in trying to get your benefits back if they were terminated due to a continuing disability review. Call today to talk to a lawyer and learn more. 


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What to Expect For Your Continuing Disability Review?

b2ap3_thumbnail_medical-cross-4-971654-m.jpgThe Social Security Administration periodically conducts a continuing disability review for people who are receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The purpose of the review is to ensure that the individual who is receiving benefits remains severely disabled enough to still qualify.  You generally will need to simply submit medical records to show that you have not improved enough for your benefits to stop.  However, if the SSA believes that you may no longer qualify or if the agency is not sure about your continued eligibility, then you may need to undergo testing or a consultive medical exam. 

A Social Security disability attorney can help you to complete all necessary forms, provide your medical records, and take the steps you need to show the SSA that you should still be eligible for disability income. Your attorney can also help you to understand what to expect if the Social Security Administration requests testing or a medical exam. You must comply with the SSA’s requirements for continuing disability review, otherwise you are in danger of losing your Social Security benefits and not having the income you need. Your attorney will provide assistance throughout the process. 

What to Expect for a Continuing Disability Review

When your review begins, the Social Security Administration will send you a Disability Update Report (SSA Form 455).  The purpose of this report is to determine if there has been a change in circumstances or an update in your condition that should trigger a medical review. For example, if you indicate on the forms that your health has improved; that your doctor has cleared you to work; that you have not seen a doctor in a long time; or that you are earning above the SGA levels, you will likely be subject to further review. 

When you complete the forms, the SSA can request your medical records in order to compare your records to the answers that you provided both on your new forms and on your old case file. If the new records show improvement from the old ones or if there is a discrepancy in the information provided by you and your doctor, the SSA will follow up. 

If there are no red flags on your forms, that may be the end of the continuing disability review process. If there is an issue that the SSA believes needs further explanation, the agency will ask you to provide more details or to undergo an examination.  An attorney can help with any followup after your initial forms have been submitted. Call a Los Angeles disability lawyer about the review process for help ensuring you do not make a mistake that jeopardizes your income. 

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Do You Need a Representative Payee for Social Security Disability Income?

People receive Social Security Disability income as a result of severe mental or physical disabling conditions. In some cases, the condition that a person suffers from will not only make it impossible to work, but will also make it impossible to successfully make financial decisions or manage money.  When this happens, the disabled individual can and should still continue to receive benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in order to provide for his or her care.   b2ap3_thumbnail_mother-and-son-695076-m.jpg

A representative payee can be necessary in order to obtain and manage the benefits paid to the disabled individual.  A representative payee is appointed to manage the SSD benefits coming in for people with a variety of different medical issues including dementia, alcohol addiction or drug addiction. When SSD benefits are paid to children, a representative payee also manages the money. 

A representative payee has a number of different obligations to ensure that the needs of the Social Security Disability recipient are met.  The payee must provide a record of expenses each year, including money spent and money saved. The payee must ensure that beneficiary is provided with food and shelter; receives necessary dental and medical care that insurance does not cover, is fully clothed and has personally needs like recreation fulfilled, and is able to undergo necessary rehabilitation. 

If the SSD recipient receives a lump sum of payments (such as back pay benefits), the payee needs to use those funds to improve the life of the recipient in some way. Examples may include purchasing durable medical equipment that insurance does not pay for; arranging special schooling or training for the SSD recipient; or improving living conditions for the beneficiary. 

A Social Security Disability lawyer understands the rules regarding representative payees, including when a payee is needed and what a payee’s obligations are. Payees are usually family members or relatives of the disabled person and must submit an application to the SSA that the SSA can review and approve or deny.   The SSA will conduct an interview in order to approve a payee.  

A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer attorney can provide assistance to representative payees and SSD recipients on all aspects of Social Security disability benefits. Call today to get the help you need. 


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Should You Appeal an Established Onset Date for Disability Benefits?

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, the established onset date (EOD) must be determined. The EOD is the date at which you officially developed a qualifying disability that the SSA believes makes you eligible for benefits.  The EOD is sometimes very clear: for example, it may be the date when you suffer a debilitating accident that causes severe impairment. In other cases, like when you have a progressive physical or mental illness, the question of when you became too severely disabled to work may be a subjective one since it can be difficult to determine exactly when your condition became bad enough to get benefits.  b2ap3_thumbnail_2010-1244710-m.jpg

You will need to provide information on your condition when you apply for benefits so the SSA can determine your established onset date. The date that you determine you are eligible for benefits is called the Alleged Onset Date (AOD).  In some cases, the SSA may determine that your EOD occurred at a very different time than you believe you became disabled (the EOD differs from your AOD). When this happens, you can appeal your established onset date. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to determine if you should appeal and, if so, can assist in making arguments to convince the SSA that you became disabled at a different time than the agency has determined. 

Appealing an established onset date can make sense because you can get benefits sooner (and more back pay) if your established onset date was earlier. When you are receiving SSDI benefits, you may also be eligible for Medicare coverage after 24 months.  The sooner the SSA determines you were eligible for benefits, the sooner this coverage can begin. 

There are a number of reasons why an EOD may be incorrect. For example, the SSA generally considers whether you were were engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) when determining your EOD. If you were engaged in SGA, you are not eligible for benefits during that time period. SGA is defined as earning above a set amount (which, as of 2015, is set at $1,090 per month).  There may be situations in which you received income when you were not actually working (such as when you are paid on a contract basis) and the SSA may set your EOD incorrectly based on this type of discrepancy. 

A Social Security Disability lawyer can help to challenge your EOD, so call as soon as possible if you believe the SSA has made a mistake in determining when you were disabled.

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How Does an Administrative Law Judge Impact Your Disability Claim?

The vast majority of people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits will have their initial benefits application denied. This means that you will not be entitled to receive monthly income when you are too disabled to work for a living.  Most people are relying on getting Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits approved to provide necessary funds to live on when they cannot have a job. Not only do you need the money, but you also deserve it for working and paying your income taxes into the system.   b2ap3_thumbnail_business-signing.jpg

Fortunately, there is an appeals process that can make it possible for you to receive benefits even if your initial application was denied. An administrative law judge (ALJ) is a part of that appeals process. A Social Security Disability lawyer understands the role of an SSD administrative law judge and will work hard to help you make compelling arguments to the judge for why your benefits claim should be approved. You do not want to try to handle your disability hearing on your own, as the outcome of your case could depend upon your understanding of the law and the strength of the evidence you present. You deserve to have an advocate on your side. 

What is the Role of an Administrative Law Judge?

You will encounter an Administrative Law Judge during the second phase of appealing your SSD benefits claim.  The first step after having your initial application denied is to file a request for reconsideration. This simply involves having your initial application reviewed again by a disability claims examiner. If this reconsideration of your application is denied, you will need to request a hearing before an ALJ. 

The ALJ is not a federal or a state court judge. An administrative law judge works for the Social Security Administration and the hearing rules are determined by SSA guidelines. This does not mean that the judge is going to be biased against you and in favor of the SSA. The judge will listen to the arguments made and the evidence presented in order to make a fair and impartial decision about whether your application was properly handled and the decision to deny you benefits was appropriate. If you are able to make a compelling argument for why benefits are necessary, the administrative law judge may grant you the right to receive disability income.

A disability benefits lawyer will work hard to help you convince the ALJ to side with you in your hearing. Call an attorney as soon as possible if you have had an initial application or request for review denied so you can begin preparing your case. 

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Why Qualifying For Disability Benefits is So Important

A person who is 20-years-old today has a 30 percent chance of becoming disabled before the end of his or her working life. When you become so disabled that you cannot work, you may face significant difficulties providing for yourself and your family members. This is especially true since Business Wire reports that a full 57 percent of working adults do not have any type of private disability insurance. b2ap3_thumbnail_money-news.jpg

Private disability insurance can be complicated to buy and many people are not aware of how to begin shopping for a policy, or even that such a policy is necessary. Employers often do not provide private disability insurance as an option as part of benefits packages and purchasing private insurance can be too costly for many people to afford.  The result is that the majority of workers in the United States have a very limited safety net in case something happens to them. 

The reality is that Social Security Disability Insurance effectively is the safety net. Social Security Disability Insurance is provided by the Social Security Administration and is paid for through premiums deducted from your paycheck. If you have worked long enough when you become sick or badly injured, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is going to provide for your family when you have no ability to get a job due to your medical problems. 

If you have not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, the Social Security Administration can still take care of you. The Supplement Security Income (SSI) program will provide a monthly payment to the disabled with limited resources. 

If you are among the majority who have no SSDI and no SSI, you are going to depend upon Social Security if you are one of the three-in-10 people who become disabled before reaching the end of their working life. It is imperative that you do everything possible to actually qualify for benefits if you find yourself facing this difficult situation. A Social Security Disability lawyer can be there for you from the initial application all the way through the appeals process if your claim for benefits is denied. Call an attorney for help as soon as possible so you aren’t left with no money coming into your home.

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Should You Reapply if Your Social Security Disability Claim was Denied?

When your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim is denied, you should not give up on your effort to try to receive benefits. You pay into the Social Security system with your tax dollars and you deserve to be taken care of when you are not able to work.  However, simply closing out your existing application and reapplying is not necessarily the best option. Instead, it is a better choice to appeal your denial and try again to get the benefits you need.  b2ap3_thumbnail_sad-silhouette-1080946-m.jpg

Appealing can be better than simply reapplying for many different reasons.  For SSI, the date of your application affects the date at which benefits begin so you do not want to submit a new application and get a later start date.  You will also go back to the beginning of the line in terms of having your application reviewed. Because many disability benefits applications are not actually approved until the second stage of appeals (the disability benefits hearing), this means you will be starting the entire process all over again. 

The appeals process gives you a better way to try again to get benefits after your claim has been denied initially. The appeals process begins with a request for reconsideration. This essentially means you ask for a new disability claims examiner to review the application you submitted.  A Social Security Disability lawyer can provide assistance in making the request for reconsideration. 

If your claim is denied again, you still do not want to just reapply but want to continue through the next phase of appeals: the disability benefits hearing. This is when your case comes before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who can hear testimony and make a decision about whether you should receive benefits or not.  The third stage of appeals following this one is a review of the ALJ's decision and the final stage is to appeal to an appellate court outside the Social Security Administration. 

This appeals process may be your best hope of getting benefits when you are not initially approved, and you want to move through the process rather than just abandoning your existing application and reapplying. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help guide you through every phase of appeal and can provide you with insight on how best to maximize the chances of getting a benefits claim approved. Call an attorney as soon as possible if your claim is denied so you can get help fighting for benefits. 

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Can I Get SSD Benefits for an Illness?

Many things can cause disability.  An injury like a motor vehicle accident or a workplace accident can be possible causes of permanent and disabling injury.  If you sustain an accident, you may receive workers' compensation coverage if the accident happened on the job or you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim if someone was responsible for harming you. b2ap3_thumbnail_headache-705116-m.jpg

An illness can also cause you to become permanently disabled and can affect your ability to work or do routine life activities. Unlike with an accident, a severe illness is usually no one's fault and just happens because of heredity or bad luck or any number of other factors. When an illness causes you to be unable to hold a job and earn a living, you may have only one option for getting the money you need to live on: Social Security Disability (SSD). 

Can You Get SSD Benefits for Illness?

Social Security Disability benefits are designed to provide necessary income for anyone who is severely disabled, regardless of whether an illness or an accident was the cause of the disabling condition.  This means that as long as your illness qualifies and the Social Security Administration determines that your condition makes work impossible, you should be taken care of. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does have strict limits about the types of illnesses that can make it possible for you to qualify for benefits. Severe illnesses, like metastatic cancers, are considered compassionate allowance conditions, which means you can get your claim for benefits approved quickly. Other types of illnesses are not necessarily always going to cause a severe medical problem that qualifies you for SSD. 

The Social Security Administration has a list of qualifying conditions in the Blue Book. If your illness is listed, then you will need to check and determine if you are showing all of the symptoms that the Blue Book requires people with that medical problem to have. If you are showing the symptoms and your illness has lasted for a period of at least 12 months (or is expected to last that long), you should be able to get SSD benefits for your medical issues. 

It is up to you to prove that your illness is bad enough to qualify you for benefits. A Social Security Disability lawyer will provide you with assistance in obtaining your medical records, showing how severe your illness is, and fighting for the benefits that you need. Call an attorney as soon as possible when you are diagnosed with a disabling condition as it can take time to submit an application and get your benefits claim approved. 

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Why Would My Disability Benefits Claim be Denied?

If you applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and you received a denial letter, you are likely wondering what happened. The application process can be time-consuming and complicated and getting a denial letter is devastating. You know you cannot work because of your condition and it may seem hard to believe that the Social Security Administration is denying you the money that you need to support yourself and your family. b2ap3_thumbnail_rejected-865417-m.jpg

The reality is, there are a lot of reasons why Social Security Disability benefits are denied. In far too many cases, the reason is because a mistake was made in the application or because insufficient proof of a disabling condition was provided. You want to make sure you get the benefits that you need, which means doing everything possible to understand the reason for the denial and taking the necessary steps to appeal it. A Social Security disability lawyer can provide assistance in trying to get your benefits approved after an initial rejection of your application. 

Why Is a Disability Benefits Claim Denied?

Your Social Security Disability benefits claim may have been denied due to:

  • Not having a qualifying disability. The SSA limits the types of disabilities that can qualify. Your condition must be long-term and severe. There is a list of qualifying conditions in the SSA's Blue Book. If your condition is listed, you must have certain specific symptoms that go with it. If your condition isn't listed, it must be medically equivalent in severity. 
  • Not providing the correct type of medical evidence. You need medical evidence from a treating and licensed physician. Ideally, the doctor should be a specialist in the particular area of your medical problems (for example, a cardiologist should provide medical records if you claim a heart condition is preventing you from working).  If you do not release your medical records or if the medical records don't show you were impaired, you will not get a claim approved. 
  • Not qualifying on the basis of income or work history. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is needs-based and you must have few resources and a low income. Social Security Disability requires you to have a long enough work history based on age at the time of disability. 

These are just a few of many possible problems with your SSD application. Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer to understand why your claim may not have been approved and to get help with the appeals process. 


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Workers' Compensation Cuts are Pushing More People onto Social Security Disability

People who suffer a workplace injury or who get sick because of work should receive disability benefits through workers' compensation. Workers' comp benefits have been in place to protect injured workers since the dawn of the Industrial age. Unfortunately, a new report from ProPublica suggests that nationwide cuts to the workers' compensation program are leaving many injured workers in poverty.  b2ap3_thumbnail_im-still-mobile-1114180-m.jpg

More than 33 state legislatures have cut workers' compensation benefits since 2003. These cuts and limitations have imposed arbitrary caps on the number of weeks a worker can receive disability income. Cuts have also reduced benefit amounts, and have restricted access to medical care.  Judges presiding over Social Security Disability cases have referred to the cuts as inhumane.  

The decimation of workers' compensation benefits has had a profound impact on people with debilitating injuries. ProPublica shared the story of one California man who had his necessary home health aid taken away despite significant limitations on his ability to do routine daily tasks like manage bowel control. 

When workers' comp benefits are cut, this leaves injured employees with nowhere to turn but the Social Security Disability system.  ProPublica's report indicated that the changes to workers' comp benefits have been accompanied by an increase in the number of people relying on Social Security Disability.  

Unfortunately, qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a challenge since more than half of all applicants have their claims denied. Cuts to workers' comp may make SSD benefits your only lifeline and you need to ensure you protect your rights. Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer for help with a benefits claim or with an appeal after a denied claim. Call today to get the help you need to protect your financial stability after a disability. 


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Can You Afford a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

When you start the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you will probably hear that you need a lawyer if you hope to qualify. The reality is that the vast majority of people who apply for benefits will be denied, even though many have a medical condition that should qualify. Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to get your claim approved or to succeed on appeal, since your attorney knows the disability system and can make sure you put together a strong claim. b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer.jpg

Although you may know that hiring a lawyer is a smart choice, it is natural to be concerned about what a lawyer will cost.  The good news is, for people applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you do not have to pay an hourly fee to your attorney. In fact, unless your lawyer is successful at getting you benefits, you do not have to pay for legal services. 

The Social Security Administration sets the rules for legal fees for attorneys who represent people applying for Social Security Disability benefits. According to the SSA, the maximum legal fees you will pay are 25 percent of your back pay your lawyer helps you recover from the SSA, up to $6,000.  

Because of the strict rules regarding attorney fees, there is no risk for you in hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer. You won't end up owing money if you don't successfully receive benefits and there is a limit to how much you can owe. 

Hiring a Social Security Disability attorney is the smart financial choice, and you deserve to have an advocate on your side helping you fight to get the benefits you deserve. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how a disability lawyer can help with your case. 

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Do You Need to See a Specialist to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

When you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to put together the strongest possible application. More than 50 percent of all claims for benefits are denied, leaving applicants forced to go through an appeals process that is often unsuccessful.  If you are not able to convince the Social Security Administration that you have a severe, long-term disabling medical condition, you could be left without the benefits you need to care for yourself and your family when you can't work. b2ap3_thumbnail_medical-doctor-1314903-m.jpg

The most important component of your Social Security Disability application is the medical evidence that you provide to the SSA. The Social Security Administration calls medical records "the cornerstone of the disability determination." You need to release medical records to show that you have a qualifying condition as well as certain associated symptoms that go along with the condition that cause you significant impairment. 

The SSA indicates that the records must come from "acceptable medical sources," which means licensed professionals. The physician who provides your records should be your treating physician who has treated your condition over time and who can provide comprehensive information on your impairments. 

To ensure that you submit strong medical proof that will be persuasive to the SSA, this information should come from a specialist in the type of condition you have. If you have a vision disorder, your treatment records should come from an ophthalmologist. If you have a heart problem, your treatment records should come from a cardiologist.  This means that you should see a specialist regularly as soon as you are diagnosed with a condition that you believe will qualify you for SSA benefits.  The specialist should become your treating doctor and should keep detailed medical records of your symptoms that can be released to the SSA. 

An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help you to understand your rights and make the strongest application you can so you can maximize your chances of getting benefits. Call an attorney today to learn more. 


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Disability Advocates Group is a law firm dedicated to serving individuals who have become disabled and are seeking to obtain the benefits they need and deserve. At Disability Advocates Group, we specialize in representing disabled clients in their claims for Social Security Disability Benefits.

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