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.

DAG Blog

Stay up to date on the latest news in social security disability law.

SSDI Benefit Cuts Prevented Due to Funds Transfer

The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) is funded through a trust fund, with SSDI and old age retirement programs having different trust funds. Payroll taxes are collected to fund both disability and old age retirement benefits. The collected taxes are put into these trust funds, which are also kept separate from other federal funds, so the money is available to pay out claims for each program.

Unfortunately, the SSDI trust fund was scheduled to run out in 2016, and the program would have become pay-as-you-go. This means benefits could be paid out only from the money coming in through current payroll taxes. This would have resulted in 11 million people facing a 20 percent across the board cut in Social Security disability benefits.

Fortunately, reform has occurred and cuts have been prevented as part of the bipartisan budget deal created by federal legislatures.

The New Federal Budget Deal Helps to Prevent SSDI Benefit Cuts

The new budget deal allows for a shift of funds from the old age retirement program into the disability fund. Beginning next year, .57 percent of the 12.4 percent payroll taxes that are collected will be diverted from Social Security's retirement fund into the disability fund. This means the disability fund will now receive 2.37 percent total from payroll taxes collected. This change was sufficient to provide money for benefits until 2022. 

The budget also imposes some potential reforms to SSDI that aims to make the program solvent for longer. The reforms include expanded use of investigation units to track down fraud, and an increase in penalties for fraud. Additionally, a medical review of applications will now be required before benefits are awarded.

This change marks a big shift, and is the first significant reform since 1983. While it is good news that the benefit cuts were prevented, however, it is bad news that lawmakers made it even more difficult for people to collect Social Security benefits. Getting approved is already extremely difficult for applicants, and now the additional medical review requirement presents yet another hurdle. Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyers should be consulted for advice about what the medical review will entail and for assistance in successfully completing applications so you can maximize the chances of being awarded benefits.  

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Refusing Medical Treatment and SSD Benefits

The Social Security Administration allows you to receive disability income from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) only if your medical condition is severe enough to prevent you from having a job that allows you to make a substantial gainful income.  Your medical records are carefully reviewed to determine if you can receive benefits.  If your medical records show you have refused surgery or other treatments that could improve your condition enough to make it possible for you to work, then your claim for benefits may be denied or your benefits may be stopped. 

Can Refusing Treatment Affect Disability Benefits?

If you refuse medical treatment, this could jeopardize your claim for disability benefits or could result in you no longer being eligible for the benefits you have been receiving. However, there are exceptions to this.

  • If you have a religious objection to the proposed treatment, you may not be required to undergo it. You will need to provide documented proof of your objection and of your affiliation with a religion which has a long-standing or well-established objection to the particular type of treatment. 
  • If you have a substantial fear of the treatment and you and your doctor can prove your fear is so intense it would do more harm than good to undergo the treatment, you may not be required to attempt that particular method of improving your health. 
  • If there are conflicting medical opinions on the necessity or effectiveness of a treatment, you may not be required to undergo it as a condition of getting or remaining eligible for benefits. 
  • If there is a substantial risk of side effects or complications associated with the treatment, then you can generally opt out without affecting benefits eligibility. 
  • If you have previously undergone the suggested treatment and it was unsuccessful, you typically will not be required to try again. 

If you are thinking about refusing recommended medical treatment while applying for or receiving SSD benefits, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about the impact this decision can have.  Call a Los Angeles Social Security Disability lawyer before you refuse treatment so you can better understand how your benefits will be affected and so your lawyer can help you to fight for eligibility for SSD even with your refusal. 

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Who Decides if I Should Get Disability Benefits?

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you submit your claim to the Social Security Administration. The SSA will review all of your records to determine if you meet the agency's narrow definition of disabled and are eligible to receive disability income.  It is important to understand how this decision is made, which means learning more about who actually gets to decide whether you should receive the disability income you may be depending upon if you cannot work. 

Who Decides If You Get Disability Benefits?

When you initially submit your Social Security Disability benefits claim, a review is done by the local Social Security Administration office to make sure you have a sufficient number of work credits (for Social Security Disability Insurance) or to make sure your income and resources are sufficiently limited (for Supplemental Security Income). 

If you meet the basic eligibility criteria, it becomes necessary to determine if you are sufficiently afflicted by a long-term disabling medical condition that entitles you to receive disability income.  Your application goes to disability determination services (DDS) where it is reviewed by a disability claims examiner. This examiner is going to look at your medical records and other information you have submitted to assess whether you meet the criteria to be considered disabled.  The goal is to assess whether you have a qualifying condition listed in the Blue Book, along with the requisite symptoms, or whether you have a qualifying condition equal in severity to those listed that prevents you from having a job you are qualified for. 

The disability claims examiner is going to make the decision on whether you should get benefits. However, if the claim is denied, you can make a request for reconsideration and a new disability claims examiner is going to review your case again with fresh eyes.  If a denial occurs again, then an administrative law judge will get your case and decide if mistakes were made or not. Finally, in the last stage of appeal, your case could go before a federal appellate court judge. 

This means that the decision on whether you should get benefits or not is going to be made by a different person depending upon whether your initial application is approved or whether you must appeal.  A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer will help you to try to put together a solid application to maximize the chance a disability examiner initially approves your claim on the first try.  

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Can Any Lawyer Help with My Disability Benefits Claim?

Most applicants for Social Security Disability benefits should have a lawyer to help them. There are many reasons to get an attorney. Your lawyer can help to determine if you will actually qualify for Social Security Disability benefits since there is a very restrictive definition of what it means to be disabled. Your attorney can also help you to determine if you should apply for SSI or SSDI, and can guide you through preparing the evidence required for your application. With more than half of all people who apply for benefits finding themselves with a denied claim, you want to have a qualified and skilled professional assisting you so you can maximize the chances of getting disability income. 

Once you have decided you need legal advice, you may not be sure of exactly what your next steps are.  One question many people have is whether any lawyer can assist them in making a claim for Social Security disability benefits or whether they should look for a particular kind of lawyer. 

Can Any Lawyer Help Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Lawyers, like doctors, have different areas where they have dedicated their careers.  You should not ask a general attorney or a lawyer who specializes in some other area of law to handle your Social Security Disability claim any more than you would ask an optometrist to operate on your heart or a brain surgeon to help you solve a problem with your knees.  When you hire a legal professional, you want someone with extensive knowledge of how the Social Security Disability benefits system works.  This means finding an attorney who has based a practice around helping the disabled to get benefits. 

With such a high denial rate for Social Security Disability benefits applications, there is a good chance you will end up needing to appeal an initial denial of your application. Having an attorney with experience in Social Security Disability cases becomes even more important at this point because there are multiple steps in the administrative appeals process and there are strict deadlines for being able to appeal.  You will also need to be able to make a very compelling argument if your case gets to the third appeals stage and you come before an administrative law judge. 

A qualified attorney can provide invaluable assistance as you fight for benefits. Contact a Social Security Disability benefits lawyer today for assistance.

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Do You Have to Attend a Disability Appeal in Person?

If your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits was denied, there are multiple steps you can go through to try to appeal. The first stage of appeals, a request for reconsideration, simply requires submitting paperwork asking the Social Security Administration to look again at your claim. The second stage, however, requires a hearing before an administrative law judge.  

The Social Security Administration is going to have a representative at the hearing to explain the agency's position on your application and to try to convince the judge the decision denying your benefits is appropriate. You do not want to be unrepresented.  However, it may sometimes be difficult for you to travel to the location where the appeals hearing will take place. As a result, you need to consider carefully whether to appear at your hearing in person or whether you should instead have a video hearing. 

Should You Attend a Disability Appeal In Person?

Video hearings have become a popular tool used by the Social Security Administration to try to deal with a backlog of cases.  You may be able to have a video hearing if you live far away from a location where the disability hearings take place and/or if it is difficult or impossible for you to attend a hearing in person. 

A video hearing generally requires you to go to a designated location (usually your local Social Security Administration office) where you will then present your case to the administrative law judge over video conferencing. While this can save you time and travel, however, you may not be able to make the same level of personal connection as you would if you attended the hearing in person. 

A Los Angeles Social Security Disability lawyer should be consulted to represent you in your appeals hearing, regardless of whether you have a video hearing or whether you appear in person or not.  Your attorney can provide you with assistance in determining whether a video hearing is a good option for you or whether you would be better off actually going to your disability benefits hearing in person. Call your lawyer as soon as your claim is denied for assistance with this choice and with other strategic decisions throughout the process of appealing a disability benefits denial. 

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Why You Should See a Specialist If You Are Applying for Social Security Disability

Getting the Social Security Administration to approve your claim for disability benefits can be very difficult. In fact, more than half of people who submit a benefits claim will initially have their application denied. 

You can maximize your chances of getting your Social Security disability application approved by submitting substantial medical proof of your disabling condition and your symptoms.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has clear guidelines regarding the type of medical proof accepted and detailing how the agency determines how much weight to give to a medical opinion. A Los Angeles Social Security disability attorney can explain the guidelines to you so you can put together as strong an application as possible. 

Why See a Specialist When Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

Section 404.1527 of the Code of Federal Regulations addresses the rule the SSA uses when evaluating opinions from medical professionals to determine if your benefits claim should be approved. 

The SSA makes clear that it gives more weight to evidence submitted by a provider who treats you on a regular basis.  The SSA also states in 404.1527(c)(5) that it gives “more weight to the opinion of a specialist about medical issues related to his or her area of specialty than to the opinion of a source who is not a specialist. “  

The length of the treatment relationship the doctor has with you, and the frequency with which you see the medical professional are also factored in by the SSA when considering how much consideration to give a medical opinion about your condition. 

Because you want the SSA to take the medical evidence you submit seriously, you should try to see a specialist as soon as possible when you believe you have a condition that could qualify you for benefits. This way, you can establish a treatment relationship and have a long and documented history with a medical care provider the SSA should trust.  

A Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer will help you to determine how to best assemble the strong evidence you need to get a disability benefits claim approved. Call today to speak with an attorney to get started.

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How Does SSA Determine Your Credibility When You Apply for Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to ensure that Social Security Disability benefits are only provided to people who need them most. This means the SSA looks at every application for possible signs of fraud. Only an application that shows credible proof of a severe disabling condition is likely to be approved for benefits.  

How Does the SSA Determine Credibility in a Disability Application

Some conditions are clearly diagnosable and there is objective medical evidence to prove you have a qualifying health problem. For example, you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits for conditions like metastatic cancer or severe kidney failure. If you have a condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s blue book listing of impairments and you provide objective medical proof that you have the required symptoms to go with that condition, you should not have difficulty getting benefits.

In some cases, however, you will have a condition not listed in the blue book and will need to prove it is medically equivalent in seriousness to the listed ailments, and/or you will have a condition that is listed but that cannot be diagnosed or proved with an objective medical test.   When this happens, you need to be able to provide a lot of clear proof of a legitimate medical condition that truly prevents you from working.  

The SSA is going to look at different factors to determine how credible your claim of disability is.  One of the biggest things that will be considered is your medical history.  You should be able to demonstrate that you have seen a medical professional who specializes in the particular ailment you have. For example, if you are claiming to have an anxiety disorder, it is important to have seen a psychiatrist.  You should also provide proof you have complied with medical recommendations made by your provider and undergone treatment recommended.  

The SSA may also speak with employers, and may even talk to other people you know about how your condition affects you.  If you are concerned about being able to credibly prove that you have a medical condition, you should speak with an experienced Los Angeles social security disability lawyer about how the SSA determines credibility and about how you can put together a strong disability application. Call as soon as possible so you can begin getting the medical proof and other evidence you need right away.

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SSD Benefit Cuts Could be Coming Without a Fix

Social Security Disability (SSD) and Social Security retirement income are both funded by trust funds. Taxes collected to fund these important programs is supposed to go into the trust fund and be paid out to provide benefits to those who are either disabled or who are retired. There are two separate trust funds, one for each program.  Unfortunately, by the end of 2016, the Social Security Disability trust fund is likely going to run out of money unless there is something done soon to shore up this fund.  

As the Washington Post reports, the trust fund running out of money could mean a big benefits cut for people receiving Social Security Disability. Without money in the fund, payments could be made only out of new cash coming in.  The income coming in to the trust find is only enough to pay 81 percent of current benefits, so the disabled could see a 19 percent cut in the money they get from the Social Security Administration.

Social Security Disability Benefits Could Be Cut Without Congressional Action

It is very important that this benefits cut not take effect because there are too many individuals and families who are disabled and who rely on income from the Social Security Administration to pay their bills. There are few people anywhere in America who could withstand a sudden 20 percent drop in their pay, but the disabled are likely to be the least capable of dealing with such a decline in their income.  A person who has qualified for social security disability benefits has gone through a rigorous application process to convince the Social Security Administration they are severely disabled enough to get SSD benefits. This means if you are receiving these benefits, you likely really have no ability to get a job to make up for a 20 percent benefit cut. 

Politicians from both political parties seem to be in agreement that this arbitrary cut to benefits should not go through. However, there is conflict over what approach will be taken to solve the problem and prevent a cut to the income the disabled need.  Money has been transferred back and forth between the retirement trust fund and disability trust fund in the past, so this is one possible option. There are also proposals for longer-term fixes to the system.

Those relying on Social Security disability benefits and their advocates will need to watch proposals carefully and should make contact with their representatives in Congress to stress the importance of coming to a deal that does not jeopardize Social Security Disability income for those who need it most. 

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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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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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