Are you unable to work because of a disability? Get the answers you need on Social Security Disability to protect your rights

Keefe Disability Law has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions in response to the overwhelming number of people who need help with the Social Security Disability process in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. If you are disabled and need help with disability benefits, read on to learn how to protect your legal rights.

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  • Who can file a Zantac lawsuit?

    People who took Zantac® for heartburn relief, ulcers, or GERD and develop cancer are filing Zantac injury lawsuits. Of course, not everyone who took Zantac and got cancer can pursue a successful Zantac case. Many people take Zantac and develop cancer that is not caused by Zantac use. However, some people develop cancer because of their Zantac exposure, and it’s these people who can file successful Zantac lawsuits.

    Zantac Cancer Risks

    Zantac MedicationZantac allegedly contained dangerous levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). NDMA is a known carcinogen. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits a daily NDMA intake of just 96 nanograms. Yet, each Zantac pill could contain as much as 3 million nanograms of NDMA.

    These high levels of NDMA could cause many different types of cancer, including but not limited to:

    • Brain cancer
    • Breast cancer
    • Lung cancer
    • Esophageal cancer
    • Gallbladder cancer
    • Intestinal cancer
    • Kidney cancer
    • Liver cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Stomach cancer
    • Bladder cancer
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Ovarian cancer
    • Prostate cancer
    • Testicular cancer
    • Uterine cancer
    • Leukemia
    • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

    Drugmakers allegedly knew that Zantac and other forms of ranitidine medication could contain dangerous NDMA levels. Various publications reportedly discussed the risk from 1982 to 2019. Yet, Sanofi, Boehringer Ingelheim, and other drug manufacturers failed to warn patients about the risks. Cancer was not included as a possible side effect on the drug’s warning label or insert. Accordingly, patients were deprived of the information they needed to make an informed decision about whether to take Zantac or another heartburn medication, and many patients unknowingly took the risk and developed cancer.

    Eligibility to File a Zantac Cancer Case

    Every case is unique. An experienced drug injury lawyer will consider every aspect of your potential claim to provide you with the pros and cons of pursuing a Zantac injury lawsuit. Some of the things your lawyer will consider include:

    • How long you took Zantac and at what dose. You may need documentation of your prescription or receipts from over-the-counter purchases to prove that you took Zantac.
    • Your cancer diagnosis. You must be diagnosed with cancer to pursue a Zantac case.
    • Whether the cancer was caused by Zantac NDMA exposure. Your medical team may help establish this connection.
    • You suffered damages. If you have cancer, then your quality of life has been affected.

    Alternatively, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death case if your loved one died from cancer after taking Zantac and would have qualified to file their own case against Zantac manufacturers had they survived.

    If you are eligible to pursue a Zantac cancer injury recovery, you may be able to join the existing Zantac Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).

    What to Discuss With a Zantac Injury Lawyer Before Filing a Lawsuit

    One of the first things you will discuss is eligibility. An experienced New England drug injury lawyer will thoroughly review your claim to determine if you have a Zantac injury case worth pursuing. Then, your attorney will advise you of your legal options.

    If you decide to move forward with your claim, your Zantac injury lawyer will explain:

    • How a case works
    • What your potential recovery could include
    • What you can do next to protect your recovery
    • Why you can afford to hire a drug injury lawyer
    • What you can expect from your legal team

    A successful Zantac injury case could result in compensation for your past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, and emotional suffering.

    You can’t go back and make a different decision about heartburn medication now, but you can stay in control of your future by learning more about your rights and taking action to hold Zantac manufacturers responsible for failing to warn you about the potential cancer risks from NDMA.

    We invite you to contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation with our experienced Greater Boston mass tort lawyers. You can reach us any time by phone, live chat, or completion of our contact form, and we would be happy to meet with you in our conveniently located Natick office or by phone.

     

  • Why should I consider pursuing a paraquat Parkinson’s disease case?

    A lawsuit won’t change your Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, but a successful legal claim may improve your life in two essential ways. First, a settlement or court verdict may provide you with the money you need to get medical treatment and live comfortably. Second, your recovery may hold paraquat’s manufacturers accountable for your injuries and encourage herbicide companies to consider the health effects of their products more carefully.

    The Connection Between Paraquat and Parkinson’s Disease

    The United States government, through the National Institutes of Health, and studies published in well-respected medical journals, including JAMA Neurology, have found Paraquat on a Computer Screenthat paraquat can change the human brain and cause Parkinson’s disease.

    New England farmers, groundskeepers, landscapers, and others may have been exposed to enough paraquat to interfere with dopamine in the mid-brain. Currently, the cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. However, environmental factors that decrease dopamine may cause changes in the brain that result in Parkinson’s disease.

    An experienced Massachusetts mass tort lawyer will consider your diagnosis, your paraquat exposure, whether you were warned about the risks of paraquat exposure, and other factors to determine whether you have a lawsuit against Chevron Chemical Company, Syngenta, or another paraquat manufacturer.

    The Cost of Living With Parkinson’s Disease

    Parkinson’s disease is a progressive medical condition. Your medical needs and living expenses will change as the disease progresses. During your lifetime, you may experience Parkinson’s disease symptoms, such as:

    • Tremors
    • Slow movement
    • Muscle stiffness
    • Changes in posture and balance
    • Changes in automatic movements, including blinking and swinging your arms while walking
    • Trouble speaking with inflection or at a typical pace
    • Difficulty writing
    • Changes in cognitive abilities or thinking
    • Emotional changes, such as depression or anxiety
    • Trouble chewing, eating, and swallowing
    • Sleep difficulties
    • Bladder issues and constipation
    • Fatigue
    • Pain
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Sudden drops in blood pressure
    • Loss of the sense of smell

    Your expenses may include past, present, and future:

    • Medical costs including imaging tests, doctors’ visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, occupational therapy, and other healthcare expenses
    • Lost income for any wages, bonuses, raises, benefits, and self-employment income you could not earn because of your illness. You may recover for lost income if you can’t work at all or if your income is reduced because of a job change or reduced hours
    • Out-of-pocket costs for things such as modifications to your home, exercise programs, and help with your activities of daily living

    Additionally, you must bear the significant and often difficult to quantify costs of your physical pain, emotional suffering, and quality of life changes.

    Now Is the Time to Protect Your Paraquat Recovery

    Other countries, including The European Union, China, and Switzerland, have banned paraquat. The United States has not banned paraquat, and paraquat manufacturers have chosen to leave this dangerous herbicide on the market. These companies profit while you and others suffer from their business decisions.

    You didn’t deserve to suffer an incurable disease such as Parkinson’s disease, but you do deserve to make a fair recovery from the manufacturers of the product that caused your condition.

    The law provides you with a limited amount of time to pursue a paraquat case that will provide you with the fair recovery you deserve and discourage herbicide manufacturers from risking human life in the future.

    Contact us today. Your case may make a difference for you, your family, and others like you. Our Boston area paraquat attorneys are here to help you. You don’t have to pursue legal action against a large corporation on your own, and you don’t have to worry about how to pay an attorney to represent you.

    Our paraquat injury lawyers will review your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation. If you have a case against any paraquat manufacturer, we will advise you of your legal options.

    You have a limited amount of time to pursue a paraquat Parkinson’s disease case. Please call us, chat with us, or complete our online contact form today to schedule your free initial consultation as soon as possible.

     

  • Could I have a Belviq lawsuit?

    Belviq lawsuits are making the news, and you may wonder if you should file a case. Not everyone who took Belviq for weight loss has a claim. However, everyone who took Belviq and has cancer should understand their legal rights and how to get a free consultation with an experienced drug injury lawyer.

    Belviq Cancer Lawsuits

    If you took Belviq, Belviq XR, or another type of lorcaserin and you were diagnosed with cancer after taking the medication, then you could Blue Belviq Medication on a Tablehave a case. Additionally, you could have a lawsuit if your loved one died from cancer after taking Belviq or a generic form of the medication.

    According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), safety clinical trials show “an increased occurrence of cancer” among people who take Belviq. The most common cancers associated with Belviq and other forms of lorcaserin are:

    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Colorectal cancer
    • Lung cancer

    Eisai, Inc., the company that marketed and distributed Belviq in the United States, voluntarily withdrew the drug from the U.S. market in February 2020.

    Unfortunately, it was too late for some Belviq users. Belviq had already been on the market since 2013, and many people had already used the medication to lose weight. Some of these people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, or lung cancer after taking Belviq for six months or longer.

    Both Eisai, Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactured Belviq, face potential litigation.

    Find Out If You Have a Belviq Cancer Case

    If you have pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, or another form of cancer and you took Belviq, Belviq XR, or any other form of lorcaserin, you deserve to know if you have a lawsuit worth pursuing. Your life has been changed forever. If you survive cancer, you may still deal with cancer treatments, suffer a loss of income, and experience physical and emotional pain.

    Not everyone who took Belviq and developed cancer will have a case, but many people will be able to pursue a legal recovery. An experienced mass tort attorney will review all of the factors in your potential claim, including but not limited to:

    • How long you took Belviq
    • What type of cancer you have
    • When you were diagnosed with cancer
    • Your age and health history

    After careful consideration, your lawyer will explain whether or not you have a Belviq injury case and your legal options for making a fair recovery.

    Don’t Spend Another Day Wondering If You Have a Belviq Cancer Lawsuit

    You have a limited amount of time to pursue a Belviq cancer case, and you can only recover damages if you take action.

    A successful Belviq cancer lawsuit could result in a financial recovery that includes past and future:

    • Medical expenses, including but not limited to cancer treatments, hospitalizations, and support care
    • Lost income if you lose wages, benefits, bonuses, or income from self-employment because of your cancer diagnosis or treatment
    • Physical pain and emotional suffering
    • Other expenses, including funeral expenses if your loved one died

    Additionally, a successful Belviq cancer case could:

    • Hold Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai Inc. accountable for the significant harm you suffered
    • Deter other pharmaceutical companies from making, distributing, and marketing dangerous drugs

    Now is the time to find out if you have a case. Our experienced Boston area drug injury lawyers are here to help you. If you have been diagnosed with cancer after taking Belviq and you live in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.

    We would be happy to meet with you in our conveniently located Natick office or by phone at any time. Our experienced attorneys will review all aspects of your case, answer all of your questions, and make sure that you no longer have to wonder if you have a case. Instead, you will have the certainty of knowing your legal options and what steps you may take to protect your legal rights.

     

  • Is there still time to contact a lawyer if I have a physiomesh injury?

    Physiomesh SampleYes, as of August 2021, litigation is still pending and there may still be time to file a physiomesh injury lawsuit.

    What Is Physiomesh?

    Physiomesh™ Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2010 and was voluntarily removed from the market by its maker, Ethicon, in 2016.

    During its six years of use in the United States, physiomesh was used in laparoscopic hernia repair surgeries. The product was made from a kind of plastic known as polypropylene that was put between two synthetic film layers. Within a few weeks of surgery, the film layers were absorbed and tissue could grow into the mesh.

    Physiomesh Complications

    Unfortunately, the physiomesh did not always work as intended and some hernia repair patients ended up suffering significant side effects. For example, sometimes:

    • The physiomesh adhered to organs
    • There was a higher than normal rate of hernia recurrence
    • Patients experienced pain and inflammatory reactions
    • The physiomesh failed to incorporate into the body

    Since Ethicon removed physiomesh from the market, several lawsuits have been filed in the United States.

    Physiomesh Lawsuits

    Physiomesh lawsuits allege that Ethicon put a defective medical device on the market and failed to warn people of the risks. As of 2021, more than 3,500 physiomesh injury lawsuits were pending in the United States.

    The first three bellwether cases were initially expected to be heard during the summer of 2020, but these cases were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The cases were rescheduled for March, June, and September 2021, but these cases have now been postponed. The 2021 litigation delay came after both parties submitted motions to the court about what evidence should be heard during litigation. While no settlement has been announced yet, there is speculation that the bellwether trials were delayed because of possible settlement talks.

    Don’t Wait Too Long to Pursue a Physiomesh Case

    You have a limited amount of time to file a physiomesh injury case. Accordingly, if you’ve been hurt by Ethicon’s physiomesh after a hernia repair surgery, we encourage you to contact an experienced mass tort lawyer today before the statute of limitations expires on your case and before a settlement is reached.

    You had the right to expect Ethicon to produce a reasonably safe hernia repair product and to warn you of any reasonably foreseeable complications before you consented to surgery. If those things did not happen and you were hurt by your hernia repair surgery, then you may pursue compensation for your past and future:

    • Medical costs including hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, doctors’ appointments, and other healthcare costs related to your hernia mesh complication
    • Lost income including any wages, bonuses, benefits, or income from self-employment that you could not earn because of your injuries
    • Out-of-pocket expenses that you would not have incurred but for your hernia mesh complication
    • Pain and suffering for the physical pain and emotional suffering the hernia mesh complication caused you

    Meeting with an experienced mass tort lawyer is the first step to getting the recovery you deserve. Our New England defective medical device lawyers would be happy to provide you a free, no-obligation consultation so that you can learn more about your rights and potential recovery.

    Before our meeting, we encourage you to gather the following information so that we can advise you of your legal options:

    • The date of your hernia surgery
    • The manufacturer of your hernia mesh
    • Where your surgery occurred and who performed it
    • Whether your mesh was removed and, if so, whether it was preserved
    • When you first began experiencing hernia mesh complications
    • What steps you took after you began experiencing hernia mesh complications
    • What treatment you’ve received for your hernia mesh complications, including any revision surgeries
    • How your hernia mesh complications impact your life

    Don’t let another day go by with you wondering what you should do to protect your rights after a hernia mesh injury. Contact Keefe Disability Law today by phone, live chat, or completing our online contact form to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.

     

  • Is it hard to receive Social Security disability for fibromyalgia?

    Yes, it can be challenging to qualify for the Social Security disability benefits you deserve if you have fibromyalgia.

    Fibromyalgia is the second most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis. People with fibromyalgia suffer significant muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work. Yet, fibromyalgia isn’t always well understood and it can be hard to get the benefits you deserve.

    The Social Security Administration Used to Deny Benefits for Many Fibromyalgia Sufferers

    In the past, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied most disability applications for fibromyalgia. In part, this was because of conflicts within the medical community. While fibromyalgia certainly can be debilitating, the label “fibromyalgia” refers to a list of Fibromyalgia Paperwork Under a Magnifying Glasssymptoms that can vary from person to person. Many family doctors used fibromyalgia as a catch-all diagnosis when no cause for symptoms could be found.

    Accordingly, disability examiners were not sure how to classify the disorder. Applications were more likely to be approved if the applicant had a second diagnosis, especially a musculoskeletal disability such as rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

    Now, fibromyalgia is better understood, and more people are able to get the Social Security disability benefits they need.

    Social Security Disability Eligibility for Fibromyalgia

    In 2012, the Social Security Administration issued a ruling allowing fibromyalgia to be a medically determinable impairment (MDI) if the applicant meets certain conditions. Specifically:

    • There must be medical documentation of widespread chronic pain, including back, neck, or chest pain. 
    • The doctor must rule out other diseases that may cause the same symptoms.

    Additionally, one of the following must be true and well-documented. The applicant must experience:

    • Pain in at least 11 of 18 possible tender point areas of the body. The tender points must occur on both sides of the body. There must be tender points both above and below the waist.
    • A minimum of six fibromyalgia symptoms, including repeated occurrences of fatigue, non-restorative sleep, cognitive or memory problems, depression, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), headaches, muscle weakness, seizures, dizziness, Raynaud’s phenomenon, or other symptoms.

    Tips for a Successful Social Security Disability Application

    Every Social Security disability applicant, including those applying with fibromyalgia, must submit a convincing application to get the benefits they deserve. If you apply for benefits, you can improve your chances of success by submitting:

    • Accurate medical reports. Your Social Security disability determination will be based primarily on your medical records. You should know what those records say. Make sure your records list your symptoms, your treatment plan, and your diagnosis.
    • Documentation of severity. Merely claiming that you have the disorder isn’t enough. You must have documented proof showing how badly the disorder affects your everyday life and how it keeps you from working.
    • Signed documentation from a rheumatologist (specialized doctor in joint and tissue pain). The SSA is more inclined to consider a fibromyalgia claim if a specialist has verified the disorder.
    • A straightforward explanation of how your case qualifies for disability. Personal accounts of pain and inabilities can help shed light on why you need disability benefits as a result of being unable to work.

    You may also seek legal representation. An experienced disability attorney can increase your chances of approval by gathering the necessary documentation, clearly stating your case to the SSA, and appealing any disability denials.

    Speak to a Social Security Disability Lawyer Today

    Social Security disability can provide you with monthly benefits if fibromyalgia prevents you from working. You’ve paid into the Social Security system and you deserve to receive these benefits if you can’t work because of a disability that is expected to last 12 months or longer.

    We encourage you to contact our experienced Massachusetts disability lawyers before you file your initial disability claim. We will ensure that your application is accurate, complete, honest, and easy to understand. We know how to argue your case, and we won’t rest until you get the Social Security disability benefits you deserve. Contact Keefe Disability Law now for a free consultation and review of your claim. We’re waiting to help you!

     

  • Can the Social Security Administration spy on me if I file a Social Security disability claim?

    In most cases, the Social Security Administration will not spy on you. Instead, your initial Social Security disability eligibility will depend on your application and supporting evidence. After you begin receiving Social Security disability, the agency may rely on continuing disability reviews to determine if you remain disabled Investigator With a Magnifying Glass and Computerand eligible for benefits.

    However, if the Social Security Administration notices any red flags with your application, then the agency may decide to look into whether you are really disabled through online and in-person surveillance.

    How the Social Security Administration May and May Not Investigate You

    If the Social Security Administration decides that there is any reason to doubt your claim, then it may have investigators:

    • Look at your social media accounts. If the Social Security Administration thinks that you are exaggerating or lying about your medical condition, investigators may check your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts to see what you are posting. If you are doing things that are inconsistent with your injury or illness, then the Social Security Administration may doubt your claim. What is posted on social media can be taken out of context or misinterpreted. Therefore, it is often a good idea to avoid posting on social media and regularly check your accounts to see what you are tagged in that could be misconstrued and interfere with your disability claim.
    • Follow you. In some cases, the Social Security Administration may send investigators to take photographs or video footage of you in public places. The goal is to catch you doing something that you should not be able to do because of your medical condition. For example, depending on your specific conditions, you may or may not be able to go out for a run or run errands and video of you doing either of things could damage your disability application.

    Even if the Social Security Administration suspects you are lying about your disability, the agency cannot take photos or video surveillance of you inside your home where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Be Prepared but Not Scared for a Social Security Investigation

    If you, your doctor, and your Social Security disability lawyer are honest, then you don’t need to worry. The Social Security Administration rarely uses surveillance. However, even if the Social Security Administration decides to spy on your social media accounts or follow you in person, the investigators won’t find anything inconsistent with your disability application. Therefore, the best way to prepare for a possible Social Security investigation is to tell the truth about your health and to always act consistently with the limitations your doctors suggest.

    You won’t be notified in advance of Social Security surveillance. The agency doesn’t want to warn you of its actions because it doesn’t want you to change your behavior. Instead, the Social Security Administration is looking for a reason to deny your disability claim. Surveillance is just one way for the agency to meet this goal.

    Our experienced Social Security lawyers have a different goal. We want to help you get the disability benefits that you’ve earned through your years of hard work and that you need because of your permanent illness or injury.

    Keefe Disability Law represents people applying for initial disability benefits or appealing Social Security disability denials in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. We answer the phone when people call our office, we believe in educating our clients and letting them know what to expect, and we fight hard to get them the benefits that they deserve.

    We encourage you to learn more about your rights and the Social Security disability benefits process by contacting our Massachusetts disability lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are happy to meet with you in our conveniently located Natick office or by phone. We look forward to sharing more information about how to get the disability benefits you might deserve.

     

  • I have more than one disability. Do I have to pick one to include on my Social Security disability application?

    Medical Condition Check ListNo, you should not limit your Social Security disability application to just one condition if you suffer from multiple disabilities.

    Your situation is common. You may have one, or more than one, primary medical condition. That condition may be significant but may not keep you from working. However, when you add in your other medical diagnoses, you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, and you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

    How to Apply for Social Security Disability With Multiple Medical Conditions

    Whether you have one disability or multiple disabilities, your goal is the same. You want your disability application approved as quickly and efficiently as possible. To this end, it is essential to make sure that:

    • Your application is complete and easy to understand. If you don’t submit a complete and easy to understand application, the Social Security Administration may deny your benefits application.
    • You include all relevant evidence. Medical records that clearly show all of your physical symptoms, pain, emotional symptoms, diagnoses, and treatments will be critical to your application’s approval.
    • All of your symptoms, including your pain, are documented. You may do this through your medical records and by keeping detailed logs of how you feel and how your symptoms impact your life.
    • You list all of your physical and mental conditions. Do not leave anything out because you think it is less important than something else. All of your medical conditions should be considered, including things like depression and anxiety.
    • You provide enough information about your education and work history. The Social Security Administration is trying to determine what, if any, work you can do. Accordingly, you need to provide accurate information about your education and work history.
    • You are honest. While you want to include all of your conditions, you don’t want to exaggerate your symptoms or be untruthful about any part of your application.

    Don’t Apply for Disability Benefits Alone—Let an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer Help

    Your medical conditions make everyday things hard, and you experience enough daily stress. It can be intimidating to go through the bureaucracy of applying for Social Security disability alone, even if you know that you qualify for benefits.

    Our Massachusetts Social Security disability lawyers are here to complete your application on your behalf, to communicate with the Social Security Administration, and to represent you through any necessary appeals.

    Our legal team understands the frustration of government bureaucracy and how critical Social Security disability benefits are for you and your family. Accordingly, we strive to:

    • Answer our client’s calls and questions when they call us. You won’t have to wait a long time to get your answer.
    • Provide you with realistic expectations. We want you to know how the Social Security disability application process works and what to expect at each step of the process.
    • Help our community. Our Boston-area Social Security disability lawyers only represent clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We are not a national disability firm. Instead, we’ve chosen to help our neighbors.
    • Make things as easy as possible for you. We know that getting to a lawyer’s office can be painful. Accordingly, we are set up to handle most cases by phone, internet, and mail.

    We know that money may be tight, but you don’t have to worry about the cost of hiring a Keefe Disability attorney. Our lawyers won’t charge you anything up front. Instead, we will be paid a percentage of any back benefits you receive after you apply for disability benefits.

    Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights. We would be happy to schedule a meeting with you to discuss your specific situation and whether Social Security disability may be an option given your multiple disabilities. You can reach us any time by phone, live chat, or completing our online contact form to learn more.

     

  • I don't want surgery. Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I refuse to have surgery?

    Hand Holding Up a Red X SignYou may have excellent reasons for refusing surgery. Ultimately, you get to choose your own healthcare. No one can force you to consent to surgery. However, there may be consequences to refusing surgery.

    Social Security Disability Eligibility May Be One of Those Consequences

    In some cases, the Social Security Administration may deny your benefit application if you refuse surgery that would have likely allowed you to return to work after treatment.

    The official reason for denying your application may be "failure to follow prescribed treatment" if the Social Security Administration finds that:

    • You have a disabling condition. A disabling condition is defined as a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.
    • Your treating physician prescribed surgery. The "failure to follow prescribed treatment" denial only applies if the doctor you typically see prescribed the treatment. The Social Security Administration should not deny surgery if another doctor, such as a medical consultant who performed a consultative exam on behalf of the Social Security Administration, recommended surgery.
    • The treating physician expects the surgery to allow you to return to work. Your doctor may have suggested surgery, but not all surgeries are expected to cure medical conditions. Instead, the surgery may have been recommended to help you manage pain, keep your condition from getting worse, or help you improve, but not to the extent that you would be able to work.
    • Your medical records include documentation of your treating physician's recommendation for surgery and that you refused surgery.

    The examiner assigned to your case should review your medical records. Additionally, if the examiner has any questions about your ability to work after surgery, then the Social Security representative should speak with your treating physician.

    Social Security Disability Eligibility Even If You Refuse Surgery

    In some cases, you remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits even if you refuse surgery. For example, your Social Security disability application should be approved if you satisfy eligibility criteria and:

    • The Social Security Administration can't establish a failure to follow prescribed treatment according to the requirements described above.
    • You are so afraid of having surgery that your treating physician considers your fear a contraindication to surgery. It's normal to be nervous about surgery, but if your fear is so intense that your doctor feels surgery will do more harm than good, you may refuse surgery and still get Social Security disability benefits.
    • You suffer another mental health condition that prevents you from having surgery. These conditions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
    • It would be against your religion to get the surgery. You will need to provide evidence that you are affiliated with a religious organization and documentation of the religion's official teachings as they relate to the surgery.
    • You can't afford the surgery. If you can't pay for surgery and can't find any affordable way to get the surgery, then you may be eligible for Social Security disability even if you don't get surgery.
    • You've received conflicting advice about surgery. If you have more than one treating physician and one of the doctors does not recommend the surgery, you may be able to refuse surgery and receive disability benefits.
    • The proposed surgery is a high-risk procedure. You may refuse the surgery if the potential harm associated with the surgery puts you at significant risk of further injury.
    • The proposed surgery is to amputate an extremity.
    • The proposed surgery is to fix cataracts in one eye, surgery carries a high risk of complications, and you already have significant vision loss in the other eye.

    The Social Security Administration also has the right to approve your application if you deny surgery for other reasons, as it deems appropriate.

    Protect Your Rights With the Help of an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer

    Our metro-Boston Social Security disability lawyers want to help you stay in control of your life and get the disability benefits you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your Social Security disability eligibility and how we may be able to help you get fair benefits.

     

  • Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I work from home?

    Man Working From Home on His ComputerYes, if you are eligible for Social Security disability, you may still receive disability benefits even if you work from home. Below, we will address common questions people who work from home ask about Social Security disability eligibility so that you know what to expect and how to protect your rights.

    Are You Disabled?

    Social Security disability helps people who can’t work for at least 12 months or who are likely to die because of their disability. If you can continue engaging in substantial gainful activity from home, then you are ineligible for Social Security disability benefits. However, if you can’t work or if you can only earn a modest amount—in 2021, that amount is less than $1,310 a month for people who are disabled but not blind—then you may be eligible for benefits if you can prove that you are disabled.

    The Social Security Administration may find you disabled if one of the following is true:

    • You meet the disability requirements included in one of the Blue Book Listing of Impairments sections.
    • Your condition is equal in severity to a listing in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments.
    • Your condition prevents you from working your job or adjusting to new work and is expected to last for at least one year or cause your death.

    Social Security disability is not an option if you suffer from a partial or temporary disability.

    Did You Pay Into the Social Security System While You Worked From Home?

    The Social Security Administration only pays Social Security disability benefits if you are disabled and you have paid enough into the Social Security system to qualify for benefits.

    Most people need 40 work credits to qualify for Social Security disability and 20 of those credits must have been earned in the 10 years immediately preceding your disability. Younger people may qualify with fewer credits.

    The criteria for earning a work credit change annually. In 2021, you earn one work credit for every $1,470 earned in wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year.

    In order for income to count as a work credit, it must have been reported to the government and subject to federal taxes. Any work that you did from home and did not report would not count as a work credit. For example, if you babysit in your home, sold art you created, tutored, or did other “under the table” work that was not reported to the government, then that work would not count toward your Social Security disability eligibility.

    Can You Still Do Your Work From Home Job?

    Some people with disabilities may continue to work from their home even if they wouldn’t be able to work in an office. You may be able to make more accommodations, including a more comfortable work setting, frequent breaks, and other modifications that allow you to continue to work.

    If you can still fulfill your job responsibilities, then the Social Security Administration may find that you are not disabled for purposes of Social Security disability benefits. However, if you cannot do your job, you should be found eligible for benefits regardless of where you work.

    Do I Need a Social Security Disability Attorney? 

    You don’t have to suffer without an income just because you worked from home before becoming disabled. Many people applying for Social Security disability benefit from hiring an experienced Social Security lawyer. Whether you work for an employer from your own home or are self-employed and work at home, our lawyers will protect your right to disability benefits.

    Our Social Security disability attorneys help people with initial claims and appeals in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We invite you to call us or to complete our contact form to have us contact you to schedule a free consultation in our conveniently located Natick office or by phone.

     

  • Are Covid-19 long-haulers eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

    The immediate medical crisis has passed. You survived the initial COVID-19 infection and you’ve tested negative for the virus. Yet, you continue to have symptoms that significantly impact your life. Your doctor has identified you as a COVID long-hauler, and you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

    Who Is a COVID-19 Long-Hauler?

    Covid-19 Long-Hauler With an Oxygen Monitor on Their FingerApproximately 10% of COVID-19 patients become long-haulers.

    So far, researchers don’t know why some people suffer from long COVID and other people make full recoveries. Everyone who contracts COVID-19 is at risk of becoming a long-hauler. It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you had a mild coronavirus infection or you were hospitalized with severe illness, or whether you have underlying conditions.

    Some of the ongoing symptoms experienced by COVID long-haulers include:

    • Brain fog. Many COVID long-haulers experience brain fog. Brain fog can be debilitating and make a person confused, forgetful, or unable to concentrate.
    • Coughing and shortness of breath. Some people with long COVID continue to suffer respiratory complications.
    • Joint and muscle aches. This type of pain may make it challenging to sit in one position, lift anything heavy, perform repetitive movements, or even sleep comfortably.
    • Debilitating fatigue. Extreme tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of long COVID. This type of fatigue can interfere with a person’s regular activities and ability to work.
    • Headaches. Frequent or intense headaches may be debilitating. People with these types of headaches may be unable to do their work or go about their daily activities.
    • Sleep difficulties. Sleep disruptions may make everything in your life more difficult. You may not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery safely, and you may be unable to concentrate on your work.
    • Temperature dysregulation. Some long COVID sufferers may have trouble regulating their own body temperature. Temperature dysregulation may interfere with a person’s ability to work.

    Medical experts don’t yet know whether long-haulers suffer permanent medical conditions from the novel coronavirus, but research is ongoing. Additionally, there isn’t much known about how to treat ongoing and persistent coronavirus symptoms. Long-haulers often go through neurological, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and respiratory tests, and they are often advised to rest, eat well, manage stress, and stay hydrated.

    COVID-19 Long-Haulers May Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

    Currently, the Social Security Administration is flagging electronically-submitted disability applications when an applicant alleges COVID-19 as a disability or the application gives the agency reason to believe the applicant has a medically determinable impairment of COVID-19. These flags exist to identify, track, and collect data on COVID-19 Social Security disability applications.

    Despite these flags, the Social Security Administration is handling long COVID claims the same way as all other Social Security disability claims. Social Security disability applicants must convince the Social Security Administration that they have disabilities that make them unable to work for at least 12 months or are likely to result in death.

    You may strengthen your disability application by:

    • Presenting objective medical evidence. Your medical records, including the results of any medical testing, are essential parts of your disability application.
    • Completing an honest and accurate Social Security disability application. Many initial disability applications are denied on technicalities. You may avoid a denial by submitting a complete and accurate application the first time you apply.
    • Talking to a Social Security disability lawyer. The Social Security disability application process can be overwhelming, but an experienced attorney can help you get the benefits you’ve earned.
    • Not giving up. If your initial application is denied, you may need to appeal your disability denial to get the Social Security disability benefits you deserve.

    Our New England Social Security disability lawyers are committed to helping all long COVID sufferers get fair disability benefits. If you live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire, we encourage you to contact us today, by phone or through this website, to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

     

  • Can a person who is homeless and disabled get Social Security disability benefits?

    Disabled Homeless Man in a WheelchairYes, people without a permanent address may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Individuals with disabilities must meet Social Security disability eligibility criteria and may work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer to make sure their rights and benefits are protected.

    Social Security Eligibility

    An applicant is eligible for Social Security disability benefits if:

    • The applicant worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability insurance
    • The applicant is disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s disability definition

    Disability is defined as a condition:

    • That is expected to last for at least 12 months or cause death
    • Limits your ability to work enough to engage in what the Social Security Administration calls “substantial gainful employment”

    The Social Security Administration will consider the following things to determine if a medical condition limits an applicant’s ability to work:

    • Whether the Blue Book Listing of Impairments includes the applicant’s condition
    • The severity of the applicant’s condition
    • If the applicant currently works or has recently worked
    • Whether the applicant is physically able to continue doing the work they used to do
    • If there are any other jobs that the applicant can do given their disability

    Complete, current, and accurate medical records are essential for strong Social Security disability applications. Unfortunately, many people who experience homelessness do not have health insurance and may not have recent medical records. Free medical clinics or medical providers that accept payment on a sliding scale may be critical to both the applicant’s healthcare needs and Social Security disability application.

    Special Considerations for People Who are Homeless

    While the Social Security eligibility criteria are the same for people with permanent addresses and people with housing insecurity, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you apply for Social Security disability benefits.

    First, let the Social Security Administration know that the applicant is homeless. The Disability Determination Services (DDS) has examiners experienced in issues facing homeless applicants. These DDS examiners can review the application.

    Next, you will need to identify a place for the Social Security Administration to send monthly disability payments. Without a stable home address, you may choose to have payments made by direct deposit if you have a bank account, sent to a P.O. Box, or sent to a trusted friend or relative’s home. Applicants who move between different shelters and homes should keep the Social Security Administration updated on their location so that they can be found easily.

    Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer for a Free Consultation

    People experiencing homelessness have the same right to Social Security disability benefits as people with permanent residences, and disability benefits may be especially useful to help with living expenses and other costs. Additionally, Social Security disability recipients may be eligible for Medicare coverage after a qualifying period. Medicare may be as important as monthly payments and allow people with disabilities to get much-needed medical care.

    Unfortunately, the majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied on technicalities. Our experienced Boston-area Social Security disability lawyers make sure that each application we submit is thoroughly completed and has strong medical evidence to help prevent any unnecessary denials or delays.

    You do not need any up-front money to hire us. We offer free consultations to Social Security disability applicants throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. If you hire us and the Social Security Administration refuses to find you eligible for benefits, you won’t owe us any money. If your claim is successful, then you still won’t have to worry about hourly legal fees. Instead, we are paid a percentage of your Social Security disability back benefits.

    We invite you to learn more about how our Social Security disability law firm can help any applicant through the disability eligibility process. Call us or start a live chat with us at your convenience to find out more about how we may be able to help you.

     

  • How do I send medical records to the Social Security Administration?

    There are various ways to submit health records to the Social Security Administration. However, you should not provide anything to the Social Security Administration or a Disability Determination Services (DDS) office on your own.

    Medical Records in an EnvelopeYour health records are essential parts of your Social Security disability application. The information in your medical records may establish your diagnosis, treatment plan, and compliance with your treatment plan. All of these things are critical to a disability finding.

    Once you submit your health records, they become part of your application and they may affect the outcome of your claim. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact an experienced disability lawyer before providing any information to the Social Security Administration or DDS.

    How to Submit Health Records

    Your medical records help the Social Security Administration understand your disability. Without this information, your Social Security disability application may be denied or unnecessarily delayed. While health records are essential, you do not want to provide unnecessary or confusing information to the Social Security Administration because that could also result in a denial or unnecessarily delay.

    Fortunately, you don’t need to make these decisions alone if you hire a Social Security disability attorney to represent you. Our experienced Boston area Social Security disability lawyers have been helping people in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire get the disability benefits they deserve since 1994.

    When the time comes to submit records in support of your Social Security disability application, our lawyers may submit the information:

    • Electronically or by fax. The Social Security Administration encourages attorneys and other representatives to submit health records electronically because it is more convenient, saves time, and saves postage, copying, ink, and paper costs. The agency maintains that follow-up communication may happen more quickly and that the Social Security Administration’s website is secure, so there is no need to worry about your health records falling into the wrong hands. Once you sign SSA Form 827, submitting your health information electronically will satisfy HIPAA requirements. Currently, health records may be submitted in .wpd, .doc, .docx, .mdi, .txt, .rtf, .xls, .xlsx, .pdf, .tiff, .tif, or .zip formats.
    • By U.S. mail. The Social Security Administration continues to accept medical records, applications, and other supporting materials by regular mail.

    Either way, we will ensure that the necessary medical information gets to the Social Security Administration so that DDS considers your claim fairly and avoidable delays are prevented. Additionally, we will provide other information, such as information about your work history and education, in an easy to understand way so that the Social Security Administration has all of the data it needs to make a fair determination about your eligibility.

    There Is No Financial Risk in Contacting a Social Security Disability Attorney

    Keefe Disability Law provides free Social Security disability claim evaluations. During your disability claim evaluation, we will review how we are paid. However, we want you to know now that we are only paid if we successfully secure disability benefits for you. Federal law regulates how we are paid. In many cases, we are paid a percentage of your back Social Security disability payments up to a maximum amount set up law. The Social Security Administration will pay our legal fees directly.

    The Social Security disability eligibility process is complicated. Many deserving applications are frustrated by unnecessary delays and unfair denials due to technical errors on their initial applications. Our disability lawyers will work hard to prevent these delays and denials or help you appeal if your initial application has already been denied.

    However, we can’t help you unless you take the first step and contact us to schedule your free consultation. Please call us, start a live chat, or complete our contact form to have us contact you as soon as possible. Together, we can work toward getting you the disability benefits you’ve earned with as little frustration and delay as possible.

     

  • Is a chiropractor an acceptable medical source?

    Patient at a Chiropractor AppointmentNo. A chiropractor may be an essential part of your medical team if you suffer back pain, neck pain, or other injuries. However, a chiropractor is not considered an acceptable medical source for purposes of Social Security disability eligibility.

    Will Information From Your Chiropractor Be Considered for Social Security Disability Eligibility?

    Since the Social Security Administration does not consider chiropractors acceptable medical sources, the disability examiner assigned to your case is unlikely to request your chiropractic records or to consider any chiropractic records you provide.

    However, if your chiropractor ordered any diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, the disability examiner may consider those test results. Since the chiropractor’s records won’t be part of your Social Security disability file, you will need to provide the results of the diagnostic tests for consideration.

    Who Is an Acceptable Medical Source?

    Federal regulations maintain a clear list of who is considered an acceptable medical source. As of January 2021, acceptable medical sources for adult Social Security disability applicants include:

    • Doctors, including licensed medical doctors and osteopathic doctors
    • Licensed or certified psychologists
    • Licensed optometrists (for visual disorders only)
    • Licensed podiatrists (for foot and ankle impairments only)
    • Qualified speech and language pathologists (for speech and language impairments only)
    • Licensed audiologists (for hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, and balance disorders only)
    • Licensed physician assistants (PAs)
    • Licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and clinic nursing specialists

    The disability examiner may consider objective medical evidence (such as diagnostic test results), medical opinions, and other medical evidence from acceptable medical sources when determining your Social Security disability eligibility.

    You Can See a Chiropractor and Get Social Security Disability Benefits

    You should not stop seeing a chiropractor just because the Social Security Administration doesn’t consider a chiropractor an acceptable medical source. If a chiropractor provides you with pain relief or prevents a disability from worsening, you may continue care.

    However, you should also make sure that you are under the treatment of at least one person who is considered an acceptable medical source. That acceptable medical source may be your primary care doctor, orthopedist, or another type of medical professional described above. These acceptable medical sources may provide you with additional information about your condition that helps you and provides essential information to the Social Security Administration so that your eligibility determination is made fairly. Additionally, you should let your doctor (or another acceptable medical source) know that you are seeing a chiropractor so that any relevant medical information can be documented in your record and shared with the Social Security Administration.

    How to Submit a Strong Social Security Disability Application

    Medical evidence is a critical component of your Social Security disability application. In addition to any chiropractor appointments you keep, it is essential to:

    • Attend regular appointments with your doctor or other acceptable medical sources
    • Get all of the tests recommended by your doctor or other acceptable medical sources
    • Comply with all treatment recommendations
    • Be honest with all of your medical providers and ask that all of your concerns and symptoms be documented in your medical record
    • Seek second opinions from other acceptable medical sources if you are uncertain about your diagnosis or treatment plan

    Additionally, if you are unable to work and your condition is expected to last for 12 months or longer, then now is also the right time to contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

    You have paid into the Social Security system, and you deserve to get disability benefits if you qualify. Our experienced lawyers can evaluate your claim, advise you of your chances of success, prepare your initial Social Security disability application, and represent you in any necessary appeals. Over the last 25+ years, we have helped thousands of people in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island get the Social Security disability benefits they’ve earned. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss how we may help you.

     

  • What is a Social Security disability TERI case?

    Disappearing Clock in a Terminal Illness Patient's HandsThe Social Security Administration handles medical conditions that are untreatable and likely to result in death differently than other permanent disabilities. Terminal illness cases, known as TERI cases for Social Security disability purposes, are processed faster so that the applicant may receive a disability determination sooner.

    Types of TERI Cases

    Any terminal illness may qualify for TERI processing. TERI cases include, but are not limited to:

    • ALS (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)
    • AIDS (also known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
    • Waiting for a heart, heart and lung, lung, liver, or bone marrow transplant
    • Chronic pulmonary or heart failure that requires continuous home oxygen and prevents a person from caring for their personal needs
    • Dependence on a cardiopulmonary life-sustaining device
    • Metastatic cancer
    • Stage IV cancer
    • Cancer that is persistent or recurrent following initial therapy
    • Inoperable or unresectable cancer
    • Esophageal cancer (cancer of the esophagus)
    • Liver cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer (cancer of the pancreas)
    • Gallbladder cancer
    • Mesothelioma
    • Small cell or oat cell lung cancer
    • Brain cancer
    • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
    • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
    • Being in a coma for 30 days or more

    Additionally, Social Security disability applicants who receive hospice care may have their disability applications expedited through the TERI program.

    How TERI Cases Work

    Disability applicants with terminal illnesses have the same eligibility requirements as applicants with other medical conditions. While eligibility remains the same, the processing of cases for terminally ill applicants is different than it is for other disability applicants.

    Social Security disability applicants cannot designate their own cases for expedited TERI processing, but they should make sure their application clearly states that they suffer from a terminal illness.

    The Social Security Administration does not inform applicants that their applicants are being processed through the TERI program. However, applicants with terminal illnesses may benefit from TERI processing, which begins when:

    • A field office identifies and flags an application as a TERI case. Review of the case should be expedited for no later than the following business day. The claim should be hand-carried to the disability examiner assigned to the case.
    • DDS identifies and flags an application as a TERI case. DDS controls must show the name of the examiner and DDS must notify the field office by telephone or electronic means so that the case may be expedited.

    The disability examiner assigned to the case must use telephone, fax, or electronic means to handle any follow up on the case so that a determination can be made as quickly as possible.

    Once a TERI designation is attached to a case, the designation remains unless a mistake has been made and specific procedures are followed to remove the TERI designation. The Social Security Administration cannot remove a TERI designation because of a failure to cooperate or for any other non-medical reason. Instead, all cases where an applicant has “a medical condition that is untreatable and expected to result in death” must retain the TERI designation.

    How to Keep Your Social Security Disability Case Moving

    Expedited and fast often mean different things. While the Social Security Administration may expedite the processing of cases for terminally ill applicants, delays and application denials still occur for people with terminal medical conditions.

    Experienced Social Security disability attorneys can help prevent application delays and denials by submitting complete and accurate disability applications that include a medical source statement, medical testing results, and progress notes that clearly establish your medical condition.

    Please contact our experienced Boston area Social Security disability lawyers today if you or a loved one are diagnosed with a terminal illness and you are seeking Social Security disability benefits. We represent clients in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, and we will fight to get you the Social Security disability benefits you’ve earned while you spend time with family and friends and on the things that are most important to you. Call us or reach out to us through this website today to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation.

     

  • Can I do volunteer work and qualify for Social Security disability?

    You ask an important question that’s essential to answer before you start volunteering. You may be looking for something to do with your time, or you may want to continue supporting a favorite cause, but before you volunteer, you need to know whether your unpaid work could impact your Social Security disability eligibility.

    What Type of Volunteer Work Will You Do?

    The Social Security Administration is only concerned with one thing when it comes to your philanthropic activities. The agency wants to know if the work that you are doing would Group of Volunteers Packing Foodbe considered substantial gainful activity if you were paid for it.

    Since you aren’t paid, the Social Security Administration must consider factors other than your income when deciding if the work rises to the level of substantial gainful activity. Some of the things the agency will consider when making this determination include:

    • How often you volunteer. If you volunteer more than a few hours a week, then the Social Security Administration may assume that you can get a paying job.
    • The value of your volunteer work. If you were paid a fair wage for volunteering and that wage would exceed the substantial gainful activity level, then the Social Security Administration may decide that you can work.
    • The physical requirements of your volunteer work. If the job requires a lot of lifting, walking, or other strenuous activity, then you may be able to work at a paying job.
    • Whether the work you do is typically paid work or volunteer work. Suppose you volunteer for a for-profit business or for a family member’s business and someone else would be paid for the work. In that case, the Social Security Administration may conclude that your lack of pay is only so that you can keep receiving disability benefits. However, if your work is typically done on a volunteer basis, then the Social Security Administration may come to a different conclusion.

    Is Your Volunteer Work Exempt?

    Certain types of volunteer work will not trigger a review by the Social Security Administration and may not be considered evidence that you can engage in substantial gainful activity.

    If you volunteer for a program included in the Domestic Volunteer Service Act, then the Social Security Administration may not consider your volunteer work when deciding whether you are disabled. Some of these exempt volunteer opportunities include:

    • Volunteers in Service to America
    • University Year for Action
    • Special Volunteer Program
    • Retired Senior Volunteer Program
    • Foster Grandparent Program
    • Service Corps of Retired Executives
    • Active Corps of Executives

    Similarly, if you serve on a board, advisory committee, or commission for a group created by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, then the Social Security Administration will not consider your volunteer work unless you are volunteering as part of a paid job.

    Generally, if you are volunteering for one of the groups described above or a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit group in a way that is consistent with your disabilities and that does not indicate to the Social Security Administration that you can work, then volunteering can be a great thing. You may be happier and less anxious if you are doing volunteer work that you enjoy.

    Do You Have Other Questions About Social Security Disability Eligibility?

    Your disability has changed so much about your life. Social Security disability provides important financial benefits if you have a permanent or life-ending disability, and you can’t work. Initial and continued Social Security disability eligibility is often confusing, and a simple mistake or miscommunication could put a stop to your benefits.

    Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers don’t want this to happen to you. Instead, we want to make sure that you continue to do your volunteer work while getting the Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned.

    If you have any questions about whether you are eligible for benefits or if you need to appeal the Social Security Administration’s denial of your benefits, please contact our Boston-area Social Security disability attorneys today for a free consultation.

     

  • I’m not a United States citizen. Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

    American Flag Background With PortraitsYou may be eligible for Social Security benefits even if you are not a United States citizen.

    Social Security Disability Eligibility

    Before you consider whether your citizenship impacts your disability eligibility, you need to determine whether you meet the basic qualifications for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security disability benefits are only an option for people who:

    • Have paid enough into the Social Security system. The Social Security Administration will consider the number of work credits you’ve earned and your age to determine whether you qualify for disability benefits. Generally, you earn one work credit for every three months that you work. Most people need at least 40 work credits, with at least 20 of those earned in the 10 years immediately before becoming disabled. However, this number is adjusted for younger workers since it takes at least ten years to earn 40 work credits.
    • Have a disability that will last at least 12 months or likely cause death within a year. Only people with permanent disabilities are eligible for Social Security disability.
    • Have a disability that limits functionality so much that you cannot work. Social Security disability benefits are only issued for complete disabilities. That means that you cannot engage in what the Social Security Administration calls substantial gainful activity. The amount of money that is considered substantial gainful activity changes annually. In 2020, substantial gainful activity was defined as $1,260 for most people with disabilities and $2,110 for people who are blind.

    If these three things apply to you, then you may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits.

    Special Social Security Disability Considerations for Non-U.S. Citizens

    Generally, non-U.S. citizens who work in the United States may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if they’ve paid into the Social Security system for the required amount of time. For example, you may receive Social Security disability benefits if you are:

    • A permanent resident of the United States
    • In the United States military or a Veteran of the United States military

    As a non-citizen who is authorized to work in the U.S., you should have a Social Security number to include on your Social Security disability application. However, you may need to provide additional information to the Social Security Administration. For example, you may need to provide certain Department of Homeland Security documents, such as your:

    • I-551 permanent resident card, or green card, which will verify your nine-digit alien registration number, or A number
    • I-94 form, or Admission-Departure record to verify your 11-digit admission number

    Eligibility Exceptions

    Even if you’ve worked in the United States, you may not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you are a:

    • Foreign student or exchange visitor who worked in the United States but was exempt from paying Social Security taxes
    • Citizen of Cuba, Vietnam, or North Korea

    Talk to a Social Security Disability Before You Apply for Benefits

    An experienced Social Security disability lawyer will:

    • Review your eligibility
    • Advise you of your rights
    • Make sure that you have all of the right documentation based on your specific situation so that your Social Security disability application isn’t denied because of missing information

    Additionally, a Social Security disability attorney will advise you about what happens to your Social Security disability benefits if you travel or reside outside of the United States. Your right to continue receiving Social Security disability benefits depends on the specific country you reside in, how long you are out of the country, and other factors.

    Applying for Social Security disability is usually tricky but can be even more complicated by your citizenship status. Our disability attorneys are here to help you through the process.

    Contact our experienced Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Social Security disability law firm today for a free consultation about your rights and for more information about how to get the Social Security disability benefits you’ve earned.

     

  • Am I eligible for Social Security disability if I was hurt in a car crash?

    Car Passenger Holding Her Neck After a WreckSome people who are hurt in a car accident are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, but many people who suffer significant injuries in car crashes do not qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

    If you are injured in a car wreck, your Social Security disability eligibility will depend on whether:

    • You have paid enough into the Social Security system to be eligible for benefits
    • You are disabled according to Social Security disability rules

    Car Crash Injuries That May Result in Social Security Disability Eligibility

    Car accident injuries are often painful and last for many months. You may be out of work during this time, but you won’t qualify for Social Security disability unless your injuries are permanent and expected to last more than 12 months or cause your death.

    Some of the car crash injuries that can be severe enough to qualify for Social Security disability, according to the Listing of Impairments, include:

    • Broken bones. If you suffer a fracture of the femur, tibia, pelvis, or a tarsal bone that keeps you from walking effectively for more than 12 months, then you may qualify for benefits pursuant to Section 1.06 of the Listing of Impairments. Likewise, if you suffer a fracture of an upper extremity, including the humerus, radius, or ulna, and you do not have functional use of your upper extremity for more than 12 months, you may qualify for benefits pursuant to Section 1.07 of the Listing of Impairments.
    • Soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries of an upper or lower extremity, trunk, or face under continuing surgical management to save or restore a major bodily function may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if the major function is not restored or expected to be restored within 12 months. Burns are included in soft tissue injuries. More information about eligibility for soft tissue injuries is included in Section 1.08 of the Listing of Impairments.
    • Traumatic brain injuries. Section 11.18 in the Listing of Impairments describes two ways that someone with a traumatic brain injury may qualify for disability benefits. First, you may qualify if you have disorganization of motor function in two extremities resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use of the upper extremities and the condition persists for at least three months after you are hurt. Alternatively, you may qualify for benefits if you have a marked limitation in physical function and at least one of the following areas of mental functioning: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or (4) adapting or managing yourself.
    • Spinal cord injuries. Two sections of the Listing of Impairments deal with spinal cord injuries. Section 1.04 allows people to recover if the spinal cord is damaged and causing nerve root compression that results in pain, weakness, or an inability to walk effectively. Section 11.08 also considers spinal cord disorders and may apply if you are paralyzed because of your injury.
    • Anxiety. If you have a severe and persistent anxiety disorder that affects you in three or more of the following ways: restlessness, getting easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbance, then you may have an anxiety disorder that qualifies for Social Security disability. To qualify pursuant to Listing 12.06, you must also have an extreme limitation of one or a marked limitation of two of the following: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or (4) adapting or managing yourself.

    You may suffer multiple car accident injuries. Any one of these injuries may not be enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits on its own, but when all of your injuries are considered together, they may be equal in severity to a Blue Book Listing.

    Alternatively, if your injuries do not qualify according to an individual listing or are not equal in severity to a Blue Book listing, then the Social Security Administration may consider your residual functional capacity. If the agency determines that your medical condition, age, education, and work experience prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, then you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. 

    Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer Before Applying for Benefits

    Whether you suffer a back injury, neck injury, broken bone, or another type of severe injury that is expected to last 12 months or longer, the action you take should be the same. Contact an experienced Boston area Social Security disability lawyer to discuss your potential eligibility.

    We help clients throughout New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts get the disability benefits they deserve, and we welcome you to call us or contact us through this website today to learn more.

     

  • What is included in a consultative examination report?

    Consultative Exam Paperwork for Social Security DisabilityDisability Determination Services (DDS) requested that you get a consultative exam. You complied with the request because you knew that the consultative exam was essential to your Social Security disability determination. Now, however, you may wonder what will be included in the consultative exam report.

    Required Consultative Exam Report Content

    The Social Security Administration’s Consultative Examination Guide, also known as the Green Book, requires consultative exam reports to include at least the following content:

    • The applicant’s Social Security number (or other case identifier)
    • Whether the applicant provided a photo ID
    • A physical description of the applicant
    • The applicant’s current medical history including symptoms, history of the start of the condition and its progression, treatment, and impact on daily living activities
    • The applicant’s past medical history, including things such as significant illnesses, injuries, and treatments
    • A list of the applicant’s current medications
    • A review of the applicant’s body systems and how the condition has or has not impacted them
    • The applicant’s social history, including alcohol use, tobacco use, and drug use
    • The applicant’s family history
    • A description of the physical examination conducted by the doctor
    • An interpretation of lab results for any tests conducted
    • The results of imaging tests, if authorized by DDS
    • Medical source statement that assesses the applicant’s abilities and limitations based on the applicant’s medical condition. In this section, the doctor should explain the medical condition that prevents the applicant from working. Some of the specific things the doctor should include are the applicant’s ability to lift, stand, sit, stand, walk, carry, push, pull, and other factors that would impact the applicant’s ability to work.

    Once the report is complete, the doctor who performed the exam should review and sign it. The doctor is responsible for the report’s contents. DDS will reject any report that is unsigned, signed with a disclaimer such as “dictated but not read,” rubber-stamped but not signed, or signed by someone other than the doctor.

    Additional Consultative Exam Report Content for Specific Disabilities

    Specific types of disabilities require additional information. For example, consultative exam reports require specific details about things such as diagnostic procedures, physical exams, symptoms, and more for the following types of conditions:

    • Musculoskeletal injuries
    • Visual impairments
    • Hearing impairments
    • Respiratory system conditions
    • Cardiovascular system conditions
    • Digestive system disorders
    • Genitourinary impairments
    • Hematological disorders
    • Skin disorders
    • Endocrine disorders
    • Neurological disorders
    • Mental disorders
    • Malignant neoplastic diseases
    • Immune system disorders

    The goal of all of this information is to help DDS decide whether you are disabled and whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Overall, the consultative report should explain your disability in enough detail for DDS to thoroughly understand how it impacts your life, how it affects your ability to work, and how long it is expected to last.

    You can help the doctor complete a full consultative exam report by being honest and cooperative. If you need an interpreter with you during the exam, then an interpreter should be provided to you at no cost so that the exam and resulting report are thoroughly and accurately completed.

    Incomplete consultative exam reports may be sent back to the doctor, and a determination on your Social Security disability application may be delayed until all the required information is provided to DDS.

    What Happens After You Receive a Consultative Exam Report

    Once a complete and signed consultative exam report is provided to DDS, the report should be considered by DDS and DDS should make a determination about your Social Security disability eligibility.

    While your consultative exam report is important to your disability determination, it is not the only factor that will be considered.

    Contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer today to discuss your application and the necessary steps to getting your disability application approved. Our Massachusetts Social Security disability lawyers would be pleased to provide you with a phone consultation. You don’t have to travel to our Natick office to get the disability benefits that you deserve. Call us today to learn more.

     

  • Can Social Security disability benefits be garnished?

    Wallet With Money and a Wooden GavelThere are different Social Security disability garnishment rules for various types of debt. If you owe money and a court has issued a garnishment order, then it is essential to understand which debts may be garnished and how garnishment is calculated. Then, you can estimate your monthly Social Security disability benefits.

    No Social Security Disability Garnishment for Private Debts

    Only the federal government can garnish your Social Security disability benefits. Therefore, even if you are behind on other significant debts and a legal garnishment order is in place, your Social Security disability benefits may not be garnished. Privately owned debts include:

    • Credit card debt
    • Mortgages
    • Auto loans
    • Bank loans
    • Private student loans

    While private lenders cannot garnish Social Security disability benefits, you should regularly check your bank account to make sure that no mistakes are made and that private lenders do not wrongfully garnish your disability benefits.

    Social Security Disability Garnishment for Other Debts

    While the Social Security Administration cannot withhold any portion of your disability payments to pay your private loans, the agency can withhold a portion of your disability payments if there is a legal garnishment order in place for other types of debts. These debts include:

    • Child support
    • Alimony or spousal support
    • Restitution, or payment that is required to be paid to a victim after a criminal conviction
    • Overdue federal taxes
    • Federal student loans
    • Non-tax debts owed to other federal agencies

    If you owe debts that may be legally garnished, then the garnishment should be calculated from your monthly benefit after other legal deductions. In most cases, your garnishment will be the weekly garnishment amount multiplied by 52 and then divided by 12 and rounded to the nearest dime. Typically, the garnishment is limited to either the state maximum or the federal maximum allowed under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, whichever is lower.

    For child support payments, the federal maximum provides that you owe:

    • 50% of eligible benefits if you support a spouse or child who is not subject to the court order
    • 60% of eligible benefits if you do not support a spouse or child who is not subject to the court order

    If you are more than 12 weeks late with your child support payments, then the percentage that you must pay rises to 55% if you support another child or spouse or 65% if you do not support another child or spouse.

    Make Sure You Get the Social Security Disability Benefits You’ve Earned

    Debt is a common part of life. Unfortunately, now that you are disabled and unable to work, it is more challenging than ever to make regular payments on your debts. That doesn’t mean that your disability payments should always go toward paying your debt, however.

    The first step in getting the disability benefits that you’ve earned and satisfying your legal garnishments is to apply for Social Security disability benefits. If your application is denied, then you won’t have the money to live on or to pay your garnishments.

    Accordingly, our experienced Social Security disability lawyers will work hard to get you the benefits that you’ve earned. We will thoroughly review your medical record and work history so that we can submit a strong and complete Social Security disability application on your behalf. If your application happens to be denied, we will fight hard on appeal to protect your rights.

    Don’t let a potential garnishment prevent you from applying for Social Security disability benefits. If you are eligible for benefits, then some of your monthly payments may go toward satisfying your debts, but the rest will be yours to use as you wish.

    Learn more about your rights for free. We invite you to contact our Boston area Social Security disability attorneys for a free consultation and to download a free copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.

     

  • Can I make money doing my hobby and continue to qualify for Social Security disability?

    Woman Paintng a Piece of PotteryYour medical condition prevents you from working. While your daily activities have changed significantly, you still have a hobby that you enjoy. Perhaps you enjoy crafts that you can do from the comfort of your home, maybe you are a gifted graphic designer and you can do a few projects at a time, or maybe you have a knack for fixing broken appliances.

    You can’t turn your hobby into a steady income because of your disability, but can you sell your goods or services on the side and earn a little money.

    How Much Money You Can Earn While Receiving Social Security Disability

    Typically, the Social Security Administration does not consider your hobbies when determining whether you can work. However, if you get paid for what you consider to be a hobby, then your hobby is relevant in the Social Security disability eligibility or continued disability eligibility determination.

    The Social Security Administration must find that you are completely disabled and unable to support yourself by working before it begins sending you Social Security disability benefits.

    More specifically, the Social Security Administration must find that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.

    The amount that you can earn and still qualify for Social Security disability benefits changes annually. For example, in 2020, substantial gainful activity, or the amount that you could earn and still qualify for benefits, was set at $1,260 per month for non-blind Social Security disability recipients and $2,110 per month for blind Social Security disability recipients.

    If you want to make money at your hobby, however, it is not enough to make sure that your earnings are below the substantial gainful activity threshold. While you can’t make more than the substantial gainful activity amount, you need to be careful that the Social Security Administration doesn’t think that you are purposefully holding back on earning an income so that you remain eligible for disability benefits.

    In making its determination, the Social Security Administration may consider things such as:

    • The circumstances under which you did the work. These circumstances could include but aren’t limited to whether you did the work at home and any special accommodations that you had at home to make doing the work easier.
    • Your “work” hours. If you work on your hobby during non-traditional work hours or require frequent breaks, then you may not be able to go back to work even if you can make some money with your hobby.
    • Special assistance you receive at home. Are you able to complete all of the work that it takes to make money at your hobby independently, or are other people involved in the making, advertising, selling, and managing of the endeavor?

    The Social Security Administration should consider all of the information that you provide when determining whether you can work and whether you are disabled.

    Is the Benefit of Earning Money Worth Risking SSDI Benefits?

    You, like many other Social Security disability recipients, may have trouble making ends meet with just your monthly disability payments and existing assets. Additionally, or alternatively, you may suffer emotionally if you are not working. Part-time self-employment from home doing a hobby that you enjoy may be just the answer for you.

    If you choose to pursue earning an income from your hobby and receive Social Security disability benefits, then we encourage you to make sure that all of your rights are protected. Our experienced Metro Boston Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you. We want you to lead the most fulfilling life that you can. If earning money from a hobby is part of your plan, then let’s talk about how you can do that without jeopardizing the fair Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned during your years of work.

    Call us or contact us through this website to learn more today. We would be happy to meet with you by phone or in person for a free, no-obligation consultation.