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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 Reforms

An interesting opinion piece regarding Social Security Disability Reforms.
 
http://tucson.com/business/local/social-security-reforms-will-avert-tipping-point/article_d2cb8c53-9473-59f4-a640-03d3c60bbdc1.html

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Can I Get SSDI If I Have Never Worked?

Being diagnosed with a disability is hard enough, but trying to figure out the complicated process of getting government assistance can be frustrating, too. One common question for individuals entering the first stage of disability applications is whether they'll be able to get benefits if they have never worked or have not worked a lot. 

The government denies applications at the first stage of the process regularly for technical reasons. One of those reasons is not having enough working credits to qualify for disability benefits. If you have never worked, or if you have not worked at all in recent years, you are going to be denied for benefits if you try to apply for SSDI.

The good news is that all doors are not closed to you if you do have a disability condition. There is another form of support available to you from the federal government known as SSI or Supplemental Security Income. This can be received by individuals who are blind, disabled, over the age of 65, or children who meet certain criteria as well. Although your final benefits might depend on the state in which you live (some states provide additional assistance), you can expect to receive around $721 per month if you are a single individual. If you do have other income or major assets, of course, your final amount of benefits may be reduced. 

If you are seeking approval for SSI, it's likely that you will need to apply for other benefits that you may be eligible for, such as Medicaid or SNAP. In this way, getting SSI can be thought of as getting part of a total package if you do find out that you qualify for additional benefits from the government. When you are facing a disability or other type of criteria that qualifies you for benefits, but you have never worked, do not give up hope. There are alternative options for you through the SSI program. To learn more about the differences between the programs and what to expect in your application process, contact a disability attorney today for a personalized consultation for your concerns. 

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What Are My Chances of Winning a Disability Appeal?

So you have submitted a disability application only to find that it has been denied. This puts you in a difficult situation because if you are already impacted by financial stress as a result of your disability, you are likely wondering whether it's worth your while to continue pursuing disability benefits if you're only going to continue being denied. 

Every year, more than 2.3 million disability applications are submitted. Nearly 70 percent of those go to the first stage of the application process. The remaining applications are given a technical denial. There are several reasons for a technical denial. The first is that the person applying for benefits has income above a certain threshold. A second reason is that the individual has not accumulated enough Social Security credits to become eligible. Another reason is that medical records are missing. Finally, the application may have missing materials or details that gives the SSA a reason to provide a technical denial. 

After this stage, a fair amount of applications that go through the appeal process do eventually end up approved. Nearly 39 percent are awarded benefits at this next level. While more than 60 percent of appeals are still denied at this second level, you do have options to continue with your appeal if you wish. Nearly 48 percent of individuals who are denied at this level decide to continue with the appeals process. At this next stage, a different disability examiner will be looking at your case to determine whether you have grounds for benefits or not. 

As you move up the stages, it does become more difficult to get approved, but this does not always mean you'll be denied again. In this third stage, nearly 10 percent of people who were previously denied are able to get disability benefits. Only a small number of people denied here- 18 percent-continue on with an appeal, but more than 80 percent of those individuals are also approved at this final stage.

As you can see, there can be benefits to sticking it out in the process, but it can be complex. Opting to continue with your denial appeal may be a good option for those who have retained an experienced SSDI lawyer to manage their case. 

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Is Marriage Going to Impact my SSDI Benefits?

It's important to note first that SSI and SSDI are treated differently with regards to whether marriage impacts your benefits, but this article is focusing on SSDI specifically. 

Your benefits for SSDI are earned by paying into Social Security through payroll deductions. In order to gain eligibility for those benefits, you must have accumulated "work credits" to be covered under this program. There are several ways that you or someone in your life might have accrued the necessary work credits. 

If you are already receiving Social Security disability benefits through your own work record (meaning that you are disabled), then there is no impact on your benefit payments from getting married. This is true regardless of your situations regarding the spouse. For example, it does not matter if your spouse has no income, receives disability benefits already, or has a steady job. If you received benefits under your work record, getting married has no influence on your benefits. 

If a spouse, widow, or adult child of someone who receives Social Security disability payments gets married, he or she may lose their benefits depending on the circumstances. If you're concerned about this, speak to your disability attorney to learn more. 

If you are receiving benefits through an ex-spouse, getting married will discontinue your benefit payments. If you are divorced from a spouse who has passed away and you are receiving benefits through him or her, you may lose those benefits if you get remarried before the age of 60 (the age is 50 if you are disabled). 

If you are receiving benefits through a parent's work record, getting married will discontinue your SSDI benefits. There are certain situations, however, under which an adult disabled child may be eligible to marry another disabled adult child without having to lose those benefits. As you can see, there are many questions surrounding eligibility when your life circumstances change. If you're concerned about how changes in your life might impact your benefits, contact a Social Security disability attorney to discuss your situation and determine next steps. Having an attorney assist you can be extremely beneficial, even if you are already receiving benefits. 

 

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Can I Get Benefits for Spinal Stenosis?

Have you been diagnosed with spinal stenosis? This is a condition in which the spinal canal is narrowed, leading to compression of the spinal cord and nerves around it. Spinal stenosis may also occur in the lumbar or cervical spine. While this condition may most often be associated with getting older, a ruptured or bulging disc can also cause major pain for a spinal stenosis patient. 

The majority of people who are impacted by this condition are over the age of 50. Symptoms of this condition include sensory deficits, wasting of the muscles, weaknesses in upper or lower limbs, radicular pain, and reflex abnormalities. Walking may also inflame spinal stenosis. Possible treatment options include surgery, but this can depend on the area of the spine that has been impacted. 

One common question from spinal stenosis suffers is whether their condition is covered under disability benefits. In the Social Security Listing of Impairments, lumbar spinal stenosis is mentioned. If you can meet the definition of the condition, you will be able to obtain disability benefits for your condition. In order to do this, you must have pain in your lower back, thighs, and buttocks, have a positive CT or MRI scan confirming your diagnosis, be unable to walk without the assistance of a walker, crutches, or other assistance, and have nonradicular pain. 

It is critical that the diagnosis from the MRI or CT scan is in your medical records already when you apply for disability benefits. Your notes should also include detailed information from your doctor about range testing that was performed on you to confirm your diagnosis and any treatments you have already received. 

Any functional notes that your doctor has made are critically important, especially if your condition impacts your ability to stand, squat, or sit. In fact, these functional restrictions are instrumental in determining whether you will get disability benefits or not, since you are unlikely to automatically receive benefits. Objective medical evidence should back up your application materials if you wish to receive SSDI. Make sure you speak to your disability attorney as soon as you intend to complete an application. 

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Does an inheritance affect your SSI benefits?

 

Money in any form will affect your SSI benefits.  The Social Security Administration considers any money you receive whether inherited or earned as income for the month you receive it. If you keep the money for the next month, then the money becomes part of your resources.  You are ineligible for SSI if you have more than $2,000 in resources ($3,000 for a married couple).   

 

For more information, visit SSA's website at www.ssa.gov

 

 

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Does an inheritance affect your SSI benefits?

 

Money in any form will affect your SSI benefits.  The Social Security Administration considers any money you receive whether inherited or earned as income for the month you receive it. If you keep the money for the next month, then the money becomes part of your resources.  You are ineligible for SSI if you have more than $2,000 in resources ($3,000 for a married couple).   

 

For more information, visit SSA's website at www.ssa.gov

 

 

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What Should I Do While Waiting On My Benefits?

After applying for your benefits, it may take some time for your case to be evaluated and then approved or denied. Here are some tips for how to handle that waiting period in order to make the most of it and ensure that your case is moving along smoothly and quickly. 

The most important tip to know is that you should note when you send in your materials and ensure that you follow up. If you have been waiting for a few months on the decision, you can contact your local office and request to speak with a disability claims representative. While some wait time is certainly reasonable, you can help to move your case along if it has taken too long. Unfortunately, a claims representative usually can only give you some general information like where your claim is at in the process. You aren't likely to get a lot of details about what might be holding it up. In any case, it's worthwhile to see what changes, if any, have been made. Make sure you take notes about the times you contacted for follow-up as well. You can also check your case online, although you aren't expected to get too much detail there either. 

Check the status of your case online by visiting: secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/IAPS/applicationStatus

For those cases that are still pending at the newly filed application stage or the reconsideration stage (meaning that you are on the first level of an appeal), you may want to bypass the claims representative at all and instead speak to your disability examine. This individual works at a separate agency from the Social Security Administration and you can locate contact information by searching for Disability Determination Services. 

If your case is instead in a second appeal, disregard the above advice as your case has been transferred back to the Social Security Administration. Remember that if you are represented by a disability lawyer and this person serves as your representative in a pending case, he or she can also make regular contact with the pertinent individuals to ensure that your case is still moving along. This is yet another reason why it's so valuable to have a lawyer on your side from the outset of a case. 

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What is a Continuing Disability Review?

Every so often, the Social Security Administration will review your case to ensure that you still qualify for disability benefits. If the administration discovers that your condition has improved so as to allow you to return to work, your benefits will then end. For the most part, it's far easy to pass through a disability review than it is to have initial benefits approved in your case. 

These reviews will typically occur every three or seven years, based on the chances that your condition may improve. If you have a condition that is expected to improve, the review will more than likely be three years out. Those individuals under the age of 50 also have a chance of being reviewed more often. 

For children, claims are reviewed when the minor reaches age 18. At that point, adult standards will apply. There are other scenarios, too, under which your claim may be reviewed, including you returning to work, an introduction of a new treatment for your condition, a third party informant telling SSA that you are no longer following your treatment guidelines, you informing the administration yourself that your condition has gotten better, or the existence of medical evidence showing a marked improvement in your condition. 

You will be notified by mail if your claim is being reviewed. Based on the likelihood of your condition improving, you will be sent either a short or long form to fill out. Any updated evidence in terms of your medical condition should also be submitted at this time. 

So long as you haven't returned to work on your own, the administration will conduct an evaluation of whether there is medical improvement in your condition. If they come to the conclusion that your condition has improved, your disability benefits may be discontinued. How they arrive at such a decision can be overwhelming and confusing, which is why it's important to retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney early on. Doing this can help you make you aware of what to expect and to help you in the event that your claim is denied or that your benefits are revoked. 

 

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Over 75% of Social Security Disability Claims Appealed to Appeals Council are Denied

The Social Security Disability Administration’s Appeals Council released their approval and denial numbers for the fiscal year 2013.  The numbers show that 76.87% of Social Security Disability claims appealed to the Appeals Council were denied. Only 17.11% were remanded back to the Administrative Law Judge and about 1.45% were overturned for a favorable decision.  These statistics demonstrate how vitally important it is for Social Security Disability claimants to ensure that they present their best case before the Social Security Administration and the Administrative Law Judge.  This can help Social Security Disability claimants win earlier in the process or, at the very least, establish the best case for any future appeals.  Hiring an attorney experienced in representing Social Security Disability claimants can help ensure that you win your Social Security Disability case.

“When you hire an attorney to represent you in your Social Security Disability claim, they should make sure that your forms are completed properly and on time, that your medical records are ordered and properly submitted, and that you are completely prepared for your hearing,” said Michelle Shvarts, Managing Attorney at Disability Advocates Group.  “If your case is properly prepared, the chance of having your case remanded or receiving a favorable decision from the Appeals Council is much higher.”

Seeking representation from an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help ensure your chances for winning your Social Security Disability case.  An attorney should answer any questions you may have about the process of obtaining Social Security Disability, assist you with completing all Social Security documentation properly and timely, request and obtain all your medical documentation, properly prepare you for your hearing, and prepare the case for an appeal if one is necessary.

“Getting Social Security Disability takes time and persistence,” said Shvarts, “and at Disability Advocates Group we are with you at every step of the process.”

For more information on Social Security Disability benefits and what an experienced attorney can do for you, click here.

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How many doctors should send supporting evidence for my SSDI claim?

If you regularly meet with several doctors about the issue for which you are seeking disability payments, it may be to your benefit to get documentation from each of them about your condition. It's worth knowing that you can send as many letters to Social Security as you would like.

Every doctor who is treating you in some way for the medical condition tied to your disability application should write a statement to help support your case. Especially if there are two components to your application, you should have a minimum of two letters sent on your behalf. Applying, for example, with a mental condition and a physical impairment, would use a letter from every doctor who is treating you for each of those conditions. A primary care doctor should also send a letter, but make sure you speak to all the specialists you work with as well. In this case, more evidence is better, as it backs up the true nature of your claim. 

In the event of a mental condition, your psychiatrist or psychologist should sent a detailed letter in to Social Security. If you have only seen a doctor once or a handful of times, think about including letters from physicians you see more regularly. Medical evidence from your own treating doctors has to be weighed more heavily in your application when compared with Social Security doctors since your own physicians likely have more information about your condition and a longer time working with it. 

Your doctors should send a medical source state about your exact limitations. A brief letter won't be very helpful in your application. Information about your diagnosis, treatments that have been attempted, and a professional opinion about what you are able to do with your limitations should all be included. Sending more information about your condition is always helpful in the total evaluation. Doctor statements from physicians that have been helping treat your condition for some time can be extremely valuable in the evaluation of your disability claim. Ask physicians sooner rather than later to write an evaluation for you so that you are prepared with a complete application. 

 

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The Stages of an SSDI Appeal

Do not reapply if you have been denied SSDI benefits. Instead, the best course of action is to submit an appeal. Appeals are available at all levels of decisions except for federal district court. If you lose in federal district court, you can decide to pass on fighting for benefits or to start a new claim for benefits. 

For most states, your first stop is reconsideration. Within sixty days after the date of denial, you can go through the reconsideration review. This step has been eliminated in several states, including Alabama, Alaska, parts of California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. 

The next stage, or the first if you live in one of the states above, is a hearing before an administrative law judge. If you went through reconsideration and were denied, you can request a hearing within 60 days after that decision is handed down. At this stage, it' strongly recommended you have legal representation. 

Finally, if you are denied at this hearing, you can enter a review by the Appeals Council. A judge's decision is evaluated for mistakes that are either substantial or technical. At this stage, the Appeals Council can take one of a few actions: reversing a judge's decision, ordering that a second hearing be scheduled, or issuing another denial. 

Finally, the last stage of appeal for someone applying for disability benefits is to go to federal district court. At this point, you should have retained an experienced SSDI attorney to help you navigate this process. It can be time-consuming and frustrating to attempt figuring all of this out on your own. Especially since it can be irritating to be continuously denied at each level of the process when you believe that you meet all the qualifications for SSDI benefits, having an attorney is also helpful in putting together a best strategy for your case. 

Being denied for benefits is certainly frustrating, but you don't have to give up there. There are several levels to the appeals process, and hiring a qualified SSDI attorney to help you from the get go is one way to reduce your stress and ensure that your case is handled professionally. 

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What Evidence Do I Need For A Mental Disability Claim?

In determining whether a mental disability claim will be approved, Social Security considers several different types of information. The agency is specifically looking at whether you have evidence of a "medically determinable impairment" that has either lasted or is expected to last for a year. The mental condition must be so severe that it impairs your ability to work. 

You must submit an application to begin with that includes all of your conditions and the various ways that it affects your ability to work. You will also need to submit an ADL questionnaire that discusses your activities of daily living that are affected by your impairment.

You will also need medical records that back up your claim. Social Security has to review all medical records for 12 months prior to the date of your benefits application. On your application, you'll submit names of all treatment providers. With mental conditions, you may be required to go through psychiatric or neurological testing, too. 

One of the most critical components of your evidence is treatment notes from the mental health professionals you see. These notes will include information about your medication prescribed, your treatment plan, and your prognosis. You may also want to ask your doctor about filling out a mental residual functional capacity form, too, since Social Security has to give some consideration to your own doctor's comments about your condition. In putting your application together, spend some time thinking about any other people who may be able to comment on the extent of your application. 

Social Security may consider other evidence that you submit or you may be asked to submit additional documentation. The more information you provide up front, the better the chances that Social Security will be able to review your application in full more quickly. 

Working with an SSDI lawyer can greatly help you in the process of sending in your disability application. You'll be able to get all your questions answered and understand the overall procedure better when working with an experienced attorney. Contact an SSDI attorney today to ensure the most efficient submission and processing of your SSDI application for mental disability. 

 

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Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorney Weighs in on New Study Regarding Bipolar and Alcohol Use

As anyone who is familiar with the Social Security Administration’s rules regarding alcohol use and disability will tell you, a claimant’s use of alcohol or other illegal substances will make it much harder to win a Social Security Disability claim based on a mental illness such as bipolar.  Indeed, the Social Security Administration can use evidence of alcohol use to demonstrate that your symptoms are a result of alcoholism and, therefore, that you are not disabled.  A new study demonstrates, however, that individuals with bipolar disorder who consume alcohol do not actually experience significant changes in their self-reported mood states with increased consumption of alcohol.  While this study is not likely enough to dissuade a decision maker from making a particular decision, hopefully it will begin to change the discussion to show that alcoholism doesn’t necessarily interfere or increase bipolar disorder symptomatology.  Indeed, many individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder use alcohol or other substances in an effort to self-medicate.
 
 
For more information, click here: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140403/Excessive-alcohol-use-does-not-alter-course-of-bipolar-mood-states.aspx

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The Effect of Back Pain – Los Angeles Social Security Disability Attorneys

A new study suggests that doctors should take into account the social ramifications that back pain can have on an individual.  A team of researchers at Warwick Medical School found that low back pain can lead to problematic relationships, people withdrawing from society and isolation and depression.  These external effects must also be taken into account by the Social Security Administration and the judges when assessing an Social Security Disability claimant’s case. Indeed, the ramifications from experiencing pain are much greater than the pain itself.  As attorneys practicing Social Security Disability, we have seen these consequences and have heard your stories.  We understand that pain can affect so many aspects of your life.  That’s why we fight for you to get the Social Security Disability benefits you need and deserve.  It is also why we understand that you may not be able to complete this process without assistance and advocacy and we help you through each step of the process.  If you have severe low back pain that keeps you from working, contact us or any experienced attorney to determine if they can help you receive Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSI) benefits.
 
For more information, click here: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-03-doctors-greater-weight-effects-pain.html

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Can I Get Back Payments for Social Security Disability?

The good news is that in many cases when a claimant is awarded Social Security benefits as a result of disability, back payments are very likely in order. The bad news is that the reason for such back payments is due to the length of time it can take to process a disability claim. There are three primary factors that will influence your back payments. 

To start with, you'll need to know when you applied for disability benefits. You may be entitled to receive benefits dated back to your application day. In addition, you may be entitled to retroactive payments for the year before your application date. Bear in mind that retroactive payments are only applicable for SSDI and not SSI. In cases where the disability is based on SSI, back benefits can go as far back as the first of the month in which the applicant submitted the claim. 

The second vital factor regarding your entitlement to back pay is the date of your disability. This is the date on which your disability started. When you submit your claim application, you need to enter the "alleged onset date" that you believe is the day when the disability began. If you have already been approved, you'll be given an "established onset date" that is handed down by an administrative law judge or disability examiner after a review of your records. Your back payments will depend on the established onset date, bearing in mind the influence of a waiting period. 

After you have been approved for SSDI and given an established date of onset, five months of benefits will be eliminated. This is because of a procedural five month waiting periods. This is important to remember, especially if your established date of onset is later than what you expected. If you are awarded back payments under your SSDI claim, be prepared for that to be paid in one lump sum. SSI back payments are split up depending on the amount. 

It is not only possible, but rather common, to receive SSDI back payments. To learn more about the process and what to expect, consult with your SSDI attorney. 

 

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Depression and Your Genes

A new study suggests that the cause of depression may be linked to a variant of the genes for a brain chemical called galanin.  A few studies suggest that galanin may play a role in stress and anxiety.

Read the full story at: http://www.livescience.com/44324-genes-make-people-prone-to-depression.html

If you are dealing with a severe mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety, and medication and treatment is not effectively controlling your mental health issues, you may be unable to work.  If that is the case, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.  Social Security Disability benefits can not only provide an income when you are unable to work but can also provide you with medical benefits when you can no longer afford medical insurance.  If you are struggling with a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety, contact an experienced attorney to determine whether you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.  

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A New Study Finds that 1 in 10 People Suffer From Lower Back Pain

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on lower back pain.  Lower back pain is now the No. 1 cause of job disability around the world.  For some people, lower back pain can be controlled but for others treatment proves more difficult.   If you are dealing with severe lower back pain, you know how difficult that can be.  If it prevents you from working, you should consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI or SSI).  These benefits can provide a vital life line while you are unable to work and medical benefits to help you get the necessary medical treatment.  Applying for SSDI or SSI benefits based on your back condition can be complicated.  Contacting an attorney experienced with dealing with Social Security Disability cases can significantly help improve your chances of receiving these benefits.

For more information, click here: http://time.com/36242/lower-back-pain-is-no-1-cause-of-disability-worldwide/

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Getting Both SSI and SSDI

You may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits if you meet certain qualifications. This is known as concurrent benefits. If you are a disability recipient who is currently getting a low monthly payment (which typically happens if you have made low wages or haven't worked in recent years), you may be eligible to get concurrent benefits.

To receive SSI on top of SSDI, the applicant's unearned income must be less than $721 per month. The income limits can be very complex, and that's why it's so important to retain a disability attorney with experience in the field. In addition to income limits, SSI has asset limits. If you have worked in a job that paid taxes into Social Security which qualified you for SSDI and your assets and income are low enough to get SSI, it's likely you will be able to receive concurrent benefits.

Bear in mind that to calculate your eligibility for SSI, your monthly disability payment is factored in. In some cases, that payment is high enough to disqualify you from getting concurrent benefits. If you are getting a disability payment less than $721 a month, however, you can get both benefits at the same time.

The application and evaluation process for getting benefits is the same whether you are applying for SSI, SSDI, or both. Your income and assets will be reviewing in the same manner and the category of your claim has no impact on the claim processing. The definition of disability remains the same for both programs.

There are a few benefits to getting concurrent payments. If you are receiving disability less than $721 a month, your benefit could be increased up to this amount. You also may be eligible for Medicare as an SSDI recipient, but you should know that taking advantage of this requires waiting two years after you became eligible for SSDI. Most SSI recipients are only eligible for Medicaid. Although Medicaid tends to cover, on the surface, more services than Medicare, more doctors are open to taking payments from Medicare, making it easier to find a health professional. As you can tell, the process can be complicated. Obtain an SSDI attorney sooner rather than later to get your questions answered.

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Some Same Sex Couples Can Now Get Widow or Widower’s Benefits

The Social Security Administration has announced that they will now begin processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages.  The program is still currently being worked on so there are no definite guidelines at this time.  In a statement, the Social Security Administration announced the following: "I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.”

For more information, click here:  http://www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

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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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