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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Is my employer required to have workers’ compensation insurance?
State law requires that almost all Massachusetts employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. A Massachusetts employer is defined as an employer who does business in the Commonwealth regardless of whether the employer’s headquarters is located in Massachusetts.
For the vast majority of Massachusetts employers, the requirement to carry workers’ compensation insurance applies regardless of the number of employees or the number of hours that the employees work.
Exceptions to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Requirement
While almost all Massachusetts employers must have workers’ compensation, there are a few exceptions to the law. Specifically:
- Employers of domestic employees only need to carry workers’ compensation insurance if the domestic employee works at least 16 hours a week.
- Members of a limited liability company (LLC) or limited liability partnership (LLP) do not need to have workers’ comp insurance if they are the only ones working for the LLC or LLP and they do not have any other employees.
Additionally, corporate officers may request an exemption for themselves if they own at least a 25 percent interest in the corporation. This exemption would apply only to the qualifying corporate officers and not to any employees of the corporation.
How to Verify Your Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance
As an employee, you likely want to know whether your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance. In Massachusetts, you can do this easily. All you need is the name of your employer’s business, the city or town where it is located, and the zip code. You can then check for workers’ comp insurance:
- Online. You can search for your employer’s insurance coverage online. However, your employer may have insurance, and it may not show up in an online search in some cases. If it does not show up, then you should verify coverage in another way.
- By phone. You can call the Office of Insurance, Department of Accidents at (617) 626-5480 or (617) 626-5481.
- By mail. You can download the insurance inquiry form and mail it to the Office of Insurance, Department of Industrial Accidents, 19 Staniford Street, 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02114.
- By fax. You can fax your insurance inquiry form to the Office of Insurance, Department of Accidents at (617) 624-0985.
- In person at the Department of Industrial Accidents in Boston. You will need to do this if you are searching for proof of insurance from 1986 or earlier.
Penalties for Employers Who Do Not Have Workers’ Compensation
Whether or not someone is hurt on the job, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts may impose penalties on any employers who do not have the required workers’ compensation insurance. The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) Office of Investigations may:
- Issue a stop work order (SWO) to the employer.
- Impose a fine of $100 a day (including weekends and holidays) beginning on the date the SWO was issued and ending on the date that workers’ compensation insurance starts and the fine is paid in full.
Employers who receive an SWO have a choice to make. They may appeal the SWO and remain open during the appeal. However, employers who choose this option will have their fine increased to $250 a day.
Further penalties may include being excluded from consideration for public contracts for three years and criminal penalties that include up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,500.
What to Do If You are Hurt at Work
There are specific steps that you should take if you’ve been injured at work in Massachusetts. In addition to checking to see if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you should seek immediate medical attention and you should promptly report your injury to your employer. Your time to report your injury is limited and if you fail to make the report then your claim could be denied.
Additionally, it is important to consult with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer. Whether or not your employer had the required insurance, an attorney can make sure that all of your rights and your workers’ compensation benefits are protected. Call us or reach out to us via this website today to schedule a free and confidential consultation and to learn more about getting your medical expenses paid and a portion of your lost income reimbursed.
Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Deserve After an Auto Accident
You were hurt in a horrific car crash. You think that you were hurt in the course of your employment and that workers’ compensation should pay for your injuries, but your employer and the workers’ comp insurance company disagree. Who is right? When are auto accident injuries covered by workers’ compensation, what can you receive in workers’ comp benefits, and how can you make sure your rights are protected?
Auto Accident Injuries Must Be Work Related
You can only recover workers’ compensation benefits for your car crash injuries if you were in the car for work-related purposes at the time of the accident.
In most cases, commuting to and from work does not count as a work-related purpose and you will not have a valid workers’ compensation claim if you are hurt in a crash on your way to work or after you have left work for the day. There are exceptions to this general rule, however. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation if you were hurt during your commute and:
- You were hurt on your employer’s premises.
- You were hurt in a parking facility owned by your employer.
- You were traveling home after an off-site meeting or work event.
- You were hurt in a vehicle that was owned by your employer.
- Your employer pays you for your commuting time.
- You do not have a fixed office and you begin work as soon as you leave your home.
Additionally, there are many situations where you may be in your car for a work-related reason during your working hours. Some examples of these situations include being a driver or a passenger:
- On the way to or from a meeting.
- On the way to or from a work-related errand.
- Making a delivery.
If you are hurt in any of these situations—or in any other situation where you were in the car for work-related reasons, then you may be able to pursue a workers’ compensation claim if you suffered an injury that kept you out of work. Some common car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones.
- Internal injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Muscle or ligament injuries.
Any one of these injuries will result in medical expenses and likely in time off of work.
Workers’ Comp Benefits for Work-Related Car Crash Injuries
Once it has been determined that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because you were hurt in a car crash during the course of your employment, then you will need to know what kinds of benefits you may recover. In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits may include compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Vocational rehabilitation services
- Loss of bodily function or disfigurement
While all of your medical costs should be covered, the amount of other compensation that you receive depends on the unique injuries that you’ve suffered.
Workers’ compensation will not compensate you in the same way that a personal injury lawsuit would after a car crash. For example, you cannot recover for your pain and suffering by making a workers’ compensation claim. In some cases, you may be able to pursue a personal injury case and file a workers’ compensation claim.
How to Get the Workers’ Comp Benefits You Deserve
Whether or not you have a potential third-party personal injury case, it is important to talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand whether you have claim and help you fight for the fair and just benefits that you’ve earned.
Your time for notifying your employer of your injury is limited. If you wait too long, then you may be unable to get workers’ compensation benefits that you might have otherwise been able to receive. Accordingly, our workers’ compensation lawyers encourage you to contact your employer as soon as possible and to call us to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation about your rights and about how to protect your potential workers’ compensation benefits today.
I was hurt at work in Massachusetts. What should workers’ compensation include?
Massachusetts workers’ compensation law covers medical benefits for all injured workers. Beyond that, the answer to your question depends on your specific injury. Massachusetts law provides for different benefits depending on whether your injury is temporary or permanent and whether your injury is partially or totally incapacitating. Additionally, Massachusetts law may provide other benefits if you suffer permanent scarring or disfigurement or if your loved one has died because of a workplace injury or illness.
All Injured Workers Should Receive Medical Benefits
You have the right to receive adequate and reasonable medical care for as long as you require healthcare services. This includes doctors’ appointments, hospitalizations, surgeries, prescription medications, and even mileage reimbursement for travel to and from medical appointments. Your employer may decide which healthcare provider you see for your first appointment. After that, you have the right to decide on your own healthcare providers.
While these benefits may be very important to you, they will not compensate you for your lost income.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Based on Your Injury
Compensation for your lost income will depend on whether your injury was permanent or temporary and whether your injury was complete or partial. Specifically, you may recover the following benefits for a:
- Temporary Total Incapacity Injury. If you are unable to work for six or more days, then you may be eligible to receive 60 percent of your gross average weekly wage for the 52 weeks prior to your injury. The maximum amount you can receive is equal to the state’s average weekly wage. Benefits may continue for up to 156 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Incapacity Injury. If you are able to work, but you can’t earn the same amount that you did prior to your injury, then you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits may equal 75 percent of what you would be eligible for if you had a temporary total incapacity injury. Benefits may continue for up to 260 weeks.
- Permanent Total Incapacity Injury. If you are permanently and completely unable to work, then you may be eligible to receive 66 percent of your gross average weekly wage. The minimum amount you can collect is equal to 20 percent of the state’s average weekly wage and the maximum amount you can collect is equal to the state’s average weekly wage. Benefits may continue for as long as you are disabled.
If you suffer a permanent injury, then you may also be eligible for vocational benefits. Once you are medically stable, you may request a meeting with the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation to request vocational services so that you can return to meaningful employment.
Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits May Be Possible for Specific Injuries
In some cases, Massachusetts law allows for the additional recovery of benefits such as when:
- You suffer scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily functions. If the injury occurs on your face, neck, or hands, then you may be able to receive a one-time payment for your injury in addition to the benefits described above. The specific amount of your payment depends on the location and severity of your injury.
- Your loved one has died from a work-related illness or injury. You may be able to recover survivor benefits if your spouse died because of a work-related illness or injury or if your parent died because of a work-related illness or injury and you are under the age of 18, you are a full-time student, or you unable to work because of a disability. Generally, the benefits include up to 66 percent of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage up to the maximum state average weekly wage. Burial costs may also be covered by workers’ compensation. Restrictions on these benefits do apply and it is important to talk to a workers’ comp lawyer about how the benefits apply to you.
Understanding your workers’ comp benefits is only the first step in your recovery.
The Next Step Is to Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help
The workers’ compensation insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your claim. You cannot trust that you will be treated fairly if you negotiate directly with the insurance company. However, if you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to represent you, then you can be sure that your rights will be protected and that a skilled advocate will be working hard to get you the benefits that you deserve.
We understand that money can be tight while you are out of work due to an injury or illness. Our lawyers do not want this to stand in the way of your benefits. Accordingly, we encourage you to contact our experienced disability lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation about your rights and about how to protect the benefits you’ve earned.
When will my long-term disability benefits end?
You’ve jumped through all the hoops and you’ve done everything that was asked of you. Whether the insurance company relented and granted your request for long-term disability (LTD) benefits or you won benefits after a hard-fought appeal, you got the benefits that you deserved.
Now You Want to Know When LTD Benefits May End
There are a number of reasons that an insurance company can justifiably stop your long-term disability benefits. These reasons include:
- A change in the definition of disability after 24 months. Many employer-sponsored group long-term disability insurance contracts change the definition of disability after 24 months. For the first 24 months you may be considered to be disabled if you are unable to work in your “own occupation.” After 24 months you may only be considered disabled if you are unable to work in “any occupation.”
- Limited benefits for mental or psychological disabilities. Some group long-term disability contracts limit benefits for mental or psychological disabilities to 24 months. That means that if your claimed disability is for something like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder then you likely have 24 months worth of benefits. In some cases, these benefits may be extended if you are hospitalized. Additionally, some disorders such as schizophrenia may be specifically excluded from the 24-month limitation.
- Medical improvement to the point where you are no longer disabled. If the medical evidence or video surveillance indicates that your health has improved to the point where you can return to work, then the insurance company may find that you are no longer disabled and it may terminate your benefits.
- Failure to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Most long-term disability plans will require you to apply for Social Security disability benefits and will offset your long-term disability benefits by the amount of Social Security disability benefits that you receive. The failure to apply for Social Security disability benefits may give the insurance company a reason to stop paying your long-term disability benefits.
- Failure to continue getting medical care. The terms of your long-term disability contract will likely require you to get continued medical care and to provide the insurance company with medical evidence of your continued disability at regular intervals. The failure to do so can jeopardize your benefits.
- Reaching retirement age. Retirement age should be defined in your contract. It is often found in the maximum benefit period section or chart. Once you reach that age, it is assumed that you would no longer be working and, therefore, your long-term disability benefits will end.
- Going back to work. Different long-term disability contracts address going back to work in different ways. Your contract may say that your benefits end if you do any work at all or only if you work a certain number of hours or if you earn a certain amount of money, for example.
If the language in your insurance contract supports ending benefits for any one of these reasons and the facts of your case support the termination of benefits then there may be little that you can do to keep receiving benefits.
But You Can Protect Yourself From Wrongful Termination of LTD Benefits
While there are legitimate reasons to end long-term disability benefits, insurance companies may try to end your benefits prematurely. If you have received notice of the insurance company’s intent to terminate your benefits or if you have any suspicion that your benefits may end, then it is important to familiarize yourself with the terms of your long-term disability contract and to contact an experienced long-term disability insurance lawyer today.
Our attorneys are committed to helping people with disabilities get the long-term disability benefits that they have earned through their employers. Please contact us today via this website or by phone if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced disability lawyer to learn more about protecting your right to receive all of the long-term disability benefits you should pursuant to your insurance contract.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit if I was hurt by a dangerous drug?
Prescription drug injury lawsuits—like all lawsuits—are subject to laws known as statutes of limitations. Each state has its own statute of limitation laws. These laws provide a certain time by which a person must file a lawsuit in court or forego a claim. The time varies depending on the type of case that you are filing. For example, a personal injury statute of limitations may be different from the statute of limitations for a breach of contract.
Drug injury cases are subject to state statutes of limitation. However, statutes of limitations issues can be complicated in these types of cases because it isn’t always possible to know that you were hurt immediately after taking a medication. Accordingly, it is important to understand the general statute of limitation law, how to comply with the law in a prescription drug injury case, and why you can’t let the statute of limitations expire without filing a case in court.
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island Prescription Drug Injury Statutes of Limitations
The following statutes of limitations apply if you were hurt by a defective drug:
- The Massachusetts Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
- The New Hampshire Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
- The Rhode Island Statute of Limitations provides you with three years to file a lawsuit.
Typically, this means that you must file a formal complaint with the court before the three-year statute of limitations expires. While statutes of limitations typically start running on the date that the action took place that caused your injury, that is not always possible to determine in a defective drug case. Furthermore, your injury may not develop or may not be diagnosed for some time after you take the medication. For this reason, the statute of limitations will begin to run when you knew that you were hurt or when you should have reasonably discovered your injury.
How to Make Sure You Don’t Miss the Statute of Limitations
While every case is different, there are important things that you can do to make sure that you don’t miss the statute of limitations. Specifically, you can:
- See your doctor as soon as you begin to exhibit any symptoms of illness or injury. When you see your doctor, it is important to report all of the medications that you have used, your dosage, and the date that you began and stopped the medications.
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan. This is important both to your health and to your potential legal case if there is a connection between your symptoms and the medication that you took. It can help create a medical record showing causation and show that you took the recommended medical steps to get better.
- Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can determine both whether you have a potential case and when the statute of limitations began to run.
These steps will help you file your case on time and make a fair recovery.
What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations in Your Drug Injury Case
If you miss the statute of limitations and you file a complaint in court after the statute of limitations has expired, then you can expect the pharmaceutical company to motion the court to dismiss your case. If the court agrees that the statute of limitations has expired, then your case will be dismissed without you recovering anything. The pharmaceutical company will not negotiate a settlement with you because they know that you have no recourse in court.
Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, contact a mass tort lawyer as soon as you think that you might have suffered a prescription drug injury. Our lawyers would be pleased to provide you with a free, no-obligation initial consultation so that you can learn more about your rights and about how to protect them. Simply call us or reach out to us via this website to schedule your meeting.
Is it financially beneficial for me to pursue a mass tort lawsuit after being hurt by a defective medical device?
We understand your question. Filing or joining a mass tort lawsuit is an important decision. Like all of life’s important decisions, it is important to consider the pros and cons, or benefits and costs, before you decide what course of action to take. Even if you were hurt by a medical device and your injury was caused by the pharmaceutical company that made the medical device, it only makes sense to pursue legal action if the potential benefits of a legal action outweigh the costs.
Possible Damages in a Defective Medical Device Mass Tort Lawsuit
The benefits of a medical device injury case are the damages that you may recover if your case is successfully settled or if the court returns a verdict in your favor. We can’t tell you the value of your potential damages in the answer to a frequently asked question—and you should be wary of any lawyer who claims to be able to give you a fast online quote. The simple reason for this is that each recovery is based on unique circumstances such as:
- The extent of your injury.
- The quality of the evidence that you have that links the design, marketing, or manufacturing of the medical device to your injury.
- The strength of the arguments that you make to the insurance company or the court.
These factors will impact the dollar value of your recovery. In general, however, you should be able to recover for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. All of your health care costs including, but not limited to, hospitalizations, surgeries, doctors’ appointments, medications, physical therapy, and other rehabilitation therapies should be part of your recovery.
- Lost income. If you are unable to work because of your medical device injury, then you should be able to recover for the income that you were or will be unable to earn. This may include wages, benefits, bonuses, and income from self-employment, for example.
- Out-of-pocket costs. Any bills that you have that you would not have had but for your medical device injury should be part of your recovery. Depending on your unique circumstances, this could include things like modifications to your home or help around the house.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering. The physical pain and emotional suffering that you experience from your medical device injury may be your most significant damages. While it is impossible to put a precise price tag on these damages, an attorney can help you value them based on your unique injuries and the impact of those injuries on your life.
- Other damages. In some cases, for example, punitive damages that are designed to punish the pharmaceutical company may also be possible.
Additionally, you may feel a moral obligation and a sense that justice has been done by holding the pharmaceutical company accountable for its negligence. Your action will hopefully prevent the pharmaceutical company, and other pharmaceutical companies, from acting without due care for patient safety in the future.
What About the Costs of a Mass Tort Lawsuit?
While every lawsuit has costs—such as court costs, discovery expenses, and lawyer fees—mass tort actions are typically more financially efficient than individual lawsuits. You will be able to share in the costs with other people who join you in the mass tort action. At the same time, you retain control of your own individual claim, and you won’t have to divide or share the settlement or verdict with other plaintiffs the way you would have to do in a class action case.
Call a Mass Tort Lawyer for a Free Personal Case Evaluation
Since every medical device injury case is unique, it is important to understand what you have at stake so that you can weigh your own benefits and costs and decide whether or not to pursue a mass tort action.
Our experienced lawyers can help you with that. We can review your claim and your injuries and advise you of your rights so that you can make an educated decision. Call us or contact us via this website at any time to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with us.
What is a prescription medication manufacturing defect?
Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to design, manufacture, and market safe medications. If something goes wrong at any of these three stages, then the consequences can be devastating for many people who take the medication.
What Can Go Wrong During the Manufacturing Stage of a Prescription Medication?
A manufacturing defect happens after the medication has already been safely designed. If the medication had been made according to the specifications of the design and then marketed accordingly, then the prescription drug would not be defective.
In the case of a manufacturing defect, something went wrong while the medication was being made. In other words, the medication was not made according to the specifications in the design. This could happen if, for example:
- An ingredient that was included in the design was left out of the drug during the manufacturing process.
- An ingredient that was not included in the design was added to the product during the manufacturing process.
- The right ingredients were used but at the wrong dosages. This will result in a mediation that is stronger or weaker than expected.
- There were unsanitary or contaminated conditions that tainted one or more batches of the medication.
- The wrong label was attached to the medication.
Since the medication that was created was more dangerous than consumers expected it to be given its design and marketing, it is considered to be defective.
Evidence of a Manufacturing Defect
In order to win a defective manufacturing claim, you will need to prove that:
- The medication was defective and became defective during the manufacturing stage.
- You suffered injuries that occurred because of the medication’s defect.
This will require evidence. Much of the evidence that you need will be in the control of the pharmaceutical company that is trying to defend itself. This may include:
- Design plans for the medication. In order to know if the medication was manufactured incorrectly, you need to know if it was made according to the approved design.
- Samples of the medication. The samples can be tested to determine what is in them.
- Quality assurance reports or witness testimony. This can help you determine if anything happened during the manufacturing process that should not have happened.
Obviously, the pharmaceutical company is not going to hand this evidence over to you unless they are legally required to do so. An experienced mass tort lawyer can help you get the evidence you need through the legal discovery process. This may include requests for production of documents, interrogatories, depositions, and other requests that the pharmaceutical company is legally bound to answer.
Get the Damages You Deserve If You Have Been Hurt by a Manufacturing Defect
When a mistake is made in the manufacturing of a medication, serious injuries or death can result. Many people who took the medication, or a batch of the medication, may suffer similar side effects. Together, the injured parties or the loved ones of those who have died may join together in a mass tort action to hold the pharmaceutical company accountable for its negligence.
The pharmaceutical company may aggressively defend itself against your allegations. If you are alone in your attempt to make a legal recovery, then the pharmaceutical company may overwhelm you with its defense.
However, in a mass tort case you and other similarly affected plaintiffs can join forces in discovery and in seeking justice. While you will work together on the legal case, your recovery will be unique. You may recover financial damages for the specific injuries that you suffered.
To learn more about your rights, your recovery, and how a mass tort case works, please contact our mass tort drug injury lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation today. We would be pleased to review the facts of your case, to provide you with our honest opinions, and, if appropriate, to fight for your full and just legal and financial recovery.
The pharmaceutical company did not warn me about the potential side effects of my medication. Is the pharmaceutical company liable for the injuries I suffered?
The pharmaceutical company may be legally responsible for the injuries that you suffered if it knew, or should have known, about the potential injuries and if it failed to warn you about those injuries.
Two Ways a Pharmaceutical Company May Fail to Warn
A pharmaceutical company may have failed to warn you about potential injuries if it:
- Did not mention potential side effects while advertising or marketing the medication. Pharmaceutical companies are not required to advertise their products. However, if they choose to advertise by sending representatives to doctor’s offices, by promoting their medication on social media, or by running television, radio, internet, or print ads, then they must be truthful in their advertisements or marketing efforts. This means that they must disclose the risks of the medication along with the benefits of the medication.
- Did not include information about side effects in the warnings or instructions that accompanied the medication. Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to include known side effects in the prescribing information that accompanies a prescription drug.
Copies of advertisements, information about marketing strategies, copies of drug inserts, information about what the drug company knew about potential side effects, and other information that may be important to your claim.
You Deserve to Make a Fair Recovery If the Pharmaceutical Company’s Failure to Warn Resulted in Your Injury
You can only rely on the information that you are given. If the pharmaceutical company fails to provide you with complete or accurate information, then you are forced to make a decision about using a medication without the facts that you need.
This can cause you to make a decision about using a drug that you would not have otherwise made and it can cause you to suffer significant injuries. The failure to warn about a potential side effect can be as dangerous as designing a defective drug or manufacturing a defective drug.
You may not be the only one who was hurt by the pharmaceutical company’s failure to warn. Other people may have suffered similar injuries and together you may be able to join in a mass tort action against the pharmaceutical company—so that you can recover the individual damages that you deserve. To learn more, please contact our prescription drug injury lawyers directly via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your rights and possible recovery.
What should I do if I’ve been injured by a medical device?
Many of the actions that you take after suffering a defective medical device injury can impact your potential recovery. Some of the actions may help your recovery while other actions may hurt your recovery. You need to know about both the actions that can help you and the actions that can hurt you so that you can make sure your rights and potential financial damages are protected.
Four Things You Should Do If You Suffer a Defective Medical Device Injury
As soon as you notice a symptom, side effect, or medical condition that could be related to your medical device it is important to take action. Your actions may include:
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible. The primary purpose of seeing a doctor whom you trust is to get an accurate diagnosis and to begin medical treatment. However, seeing a doctor may also have a significant impact on your potential recovery because it will document your injury and your attempts to recover from your injury.
- Documenting your symptoms and how they impact your life. Right now you might think that you will remember every bit of pain and every way in which your injury impacts your everyday life. However, as time goes on, the details may become fuzzy. Accordingly, it is important to keep a journal or calendar that documents how you are feeling and how your injury impacted your daily activities.
- Doing a little research. A simple internet search with the name of your medical device and the word injury may reveal whether or not other people are suffering similar injuries because of the same device and whether a mass tort action has been filed.
- Contacting a medical device injury lawyer. An attorney can review your claim with you and advise you of all of your legal options so that you can make an informed decision about protecting your rights.
These actions can help you better understand what happened to you, manage your medical condition, and protect your financial recovery.
Four Things You Should Not Do If You Suffer a Defective Medical Device Injury
The actions that you don’t take are just as important as the actions that you take. Accordingly, it is important that you do not:
- Try to treat your symptoms yourself. This can interfere with both your physical recovery and your legal recovery. You may end up making your injury worse or failing to make it better. Likewise, you may complicate issues of liability if you do make your physical condition worse by failing to get medical care.
- Negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical company or its lawyers. The pharmaceutical companies do not want to accept liability nor do they want to pay you for your injuries. Accordingly, they may try to deny or minimize your claim to protect themselves. Anything that you say to the pharmaceutical company may be misconstrued and may make your fair recovery more difficult.
- Post on social media. Anything that you put on social media may also be misunderstood and used against you when you pursue a recovery. For example, if you post a picture of yourself at a party, then it may be interpreted to mean that you are not as hurt as you claim.
- Wait too long to do anything. You only have a set amount of time to pursue a legal claim. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitation expires then you should expect the pharmaceutical company to file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Any of these mistakes could interfere with the recovery that you deserve.
Let a Defective Medical Device Injury Lawyer Advise You on Your Next Steps
You shouldn’t have to guess about what to do, or not to do, after you suffer an injury. The potential consequences of your actions are complicated, and the potential impacts of your actions are serious.
Our experienced medical device injury lawyers can advise you every step of the way. We can weigh the pros and cons of each action you might take with you and provide you with valuable advice about protecting your rights after a defective medical device injury. To learn more about whether you may have a claim, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
How long will it take to get long-term disability benefits after I become disabled?
Your disability is keeping you from working. Without an income, you are likely eager to start receiving the long-term disability benefits from the insurance policy that was part of your employment compensation package. Unfortunately, those benefits may not start immediately.
The Waiting Period for LTD ERISA Benefits
The majority of group long-term disability plans have something known as an “elimination period” or a waiting period. Typically, the elimination period lasts 90 or 180 days. During this time you may not receive long-term disability benefits.
However, you may still be receiving some kind of income. That income may include:
- Sick days. You may be eligible for sick time benefits and you may be able to take the sick days that you accrued.
- Short-term disability insurance benefits. Most long-term disability elimination periods are the same length as your short-term disability coverage. Therefore, you may be receiving short-term disability benefits while you wait for your long-term disability coverage to take effect.
Generally, long-term disability insurance plans are written to require you to exhaust your sick days and short-term disability insurance benefits before your long-term disability insurance benefits take effect.
Waiting for the benefits that you’ve earned can be frustrating. However, the wait is not unique to long-term disability plans. For example:
- Other programs that provide benefits to people with disabilities also have waiting periods. For example, Social Security disability benefits only start after you’ve been disabled for at least five months.
- Other types of insurance plans have deductibles. Your home and auto insurance likely have deductibles that you pay out of pocket. Your health insurance may also have a deductible, co-pays, or both. The wait for long-term disability benefits is similar to the concept of a deductible in that you are not compensated immediately and must wait until the elimination period is completed to receive benefits.
While the waiting period is required and may be expected, you can still take action to make sure that it is no longer than necessary and that you get your benefits as soon as possible.
How to Avoid Unnecessary Delays of Your Long-Term Disability Benefits
Insurance companies maximize their profits by paying out as little as possible in claims. One way an insurance policy may try to pay you as little as possible is to delay the approval of your claim. This may be happening to you if:
- The insurance company is repeatedly requesting small amounts of information from you. Each time the insurance company sends a letter requesting information, the clock stops on the insurance company’s deadline to decide your claim. Therefore, if you are repeatedly getting letters that ask for one or two non-critical pieces of information then the insurance company may be attempting to draw out the time that it has to make a decision.
- The insurance company denies getting the information that you sent. Make sure you keep copies of everything that you send so that you can quickly get a second copy to an insurance company that claims not to receive your mail, email, or faxes.
Insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith in deciding claims. Typically, the insurance company should make a decision about your claim within 45 days and your payments should begin within 90 or 180 days, as stated in your plan. While these deadlines may be extended in certain circumstances, they may not be extended because of unnecessary delays.
Our experienced ERISA attorneys are here to help you recover the long-term disability benefits that you’ve earned in a fair and timely manner. We will not let the insurance company violate the terms of your policy or violate ERISA law without facing legal consequences. To find out more about how we can help you get the benefits that you’ve earned, please contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I’ve been diagnosed with an affective disorder?
Yes, if you suffer from an affective disorder and you can prove that you meet the eligibility criteria for Social Security disability then you may be able to recover monthly benefits.
The First Question Is Whether You Have an Affective Disorder
An affective disorder is not one specific disease. Instead, it is a term used to describe a set of psychiatric diseases that can range from mild to severe, with symptoms varying between individuals. Affective disorders are also sometimes referred to as mood disorders. There are three main types of affective disorders, including the following:
- Depression. Also known as major depressive disorder, this condition typically causes people to feel extreme sadness and hopelessness. Episodes can last for several days or can continue for weeks or months.
- Bipolar disorder. This condition results in people experiencing periods of depression followed by periods of mania. Mania occurs when you feel extremely positive and active. Unfortunately, mania is not always good. Instead, it can make you feel irritable, aggressive, impulsive, and even delusional. Bipolar disorders can be further broken down into different classes of the disease according to the severity of the depression and mania, as well as how often the swing between the two moods occurs.
- Anxiety disorders. Like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders come in many different forms. These include social anxiety caused by social situations, post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a traumatic event, generalized anxiety disorder which does not have one particular cause, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
While anxiety is a type of affective disorder, the Social Security Administration categorizes anxiety disorders differently than depression and bipolar disorders. If you are applying for benefits then it is important to know which Social Security disability listing of impairment may be relevant to your claim.
The Next Question Is Whether You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Because of Your Affective Disorder
Unfortunately, when affective disorders are severe enough, it can become difficult or impossible for a person to carry out activities of daily living and to work. Social Security disability benefits may be available to provide some relief from this financial burden—if you qualify.
Just as there are different types of affective disorders, there are different ways to qualify for Social Security disability if you are diagnosed with an affective disorder. For example, you may qualify for disability benefits if:
You Meet the Requirements in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
Affective disorders are included in Section 12.00 of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments which covers mental disorders. You may satisfy the requirements for an affective disorder pursuant to a specific listing if one of the following is true:
- You have depressive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(1). To do this, you must have medical documentation that shows that you experience five or more of the following symptoms: depressed mood, diminished interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbance with a change in your weight, sleep disturbance, observable psychomotor agitation or retardation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking, and thoughts of suicide or death.
- You have bipolar disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(2). To meet this requirement, you must have medical documentation that proves that you experience three or more of the following symptoms: pressured speech, flight of ideas, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized, or an increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.
- You have anxiety disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(1). To qualify pursuant to this listing, you must have medical documentation that proves that you have at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness, tiring easily, having difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbance.
- You have panic disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(2). To qualify for benefits under this listing, you must have medical documentation that one of the following is true: you have panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about having more panic attacks or the consequences of panic attacks, or you have a disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations.
- You have obsessive-compulsive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(3). You will qualify for benefits under this listing if you have medical documentation to prove that one of the following is true: you have an involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts or you have repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.
In order to qualify for benefits pursuant to any of these listings, you must also prove that one of the following is true:
- You have an extreme limitation in one, or a marked limitation in two, of the following four areas of mental functioning: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and (4) adapting or managing yourself.
- Your affective disorder is serious and persistent. That means that you have a medically documented history of the disorder for a period of at least two years and there is evidence—that despite ongoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, and a highly structured setting that diminishes your symptoms—you still have a minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or demands that are not part of your daily life.
These are tough requirements to meet and you may be unable to work because of your disability—even if you do not meet the technical requirements in the Listing of Impairments.
You May Qualify for Benefits Because of the Severity of Your Affective Disorder
Even if you do not meet the requirements in one of the listings described above, you may still qualify for benefits if your symptoms are equal in severity to another listing or if you are unable to work because of the significant way that your condition impacts your ability to work.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Benefits
Obtaining Social Security disability benefits is important for many people suffering from affective disorders. You may need these benefits if you are unable to earn a living. Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you through this process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation and to download our free report, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more.
I got a call from Texas Disability Determination Services asking me to see a doctor before a decision is made on my Social Security disability application. Do I have to attend this appointment?
Generally, yes, if you want your application for Social Security disability benefits to be approved then you need to comply with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) request that you attend a consultative medical exam. This exam will not cost you any money, but before you see any doctor for any reason, it is important to understand the purpose of the appointment and your rights.
Who Performs a Consultative Exam?
The doctor who you usually see may be the one who performs your consultative exam. It is the Social Security Administration’s policy that the treating source (or your regular doctor) perform the consultative exam if the doctor is:
- Qualified and able to perform the exam or tests requested.
- Willing to do the exam or tests for the fee schedule payment provided by the Social Security Administration.
- One who generally furnishes complete and timely reports.
However, in some cases DDS may request that an independent medical provider conduct the consultative exam or test. This may occur if one of the following things is true:
- Your regular doctor does not want to perform the exam.
- There are conflicts or inconsistencies in your file that can’t be resolved by your regular doctor.
- You prefer to have someone else perform the exam and you have a good reason for having this preference.
- Prior experience indicates that your regular doctor may not be a productive source for getting the information sought in the consultative exam.
If a doctor other than your own is selected to perform your consultative exam, then that selection should be based on the doctor’s ability to perform the requested tests or specific exam, the doctor’s appointment availability, and the distance you must travel to get to the doctor.
What Happens at a Consultative Exam
DDS must be clear about the additional medical evidence that it needs to make a determination about your eligibility. In some cases a full exam may be needed. However, in other cases one test (such as an X-ray or EKG) may be all that is needed. You should understand the scope of the consultative exam before you attend your scheduled appointment.
Even though the scope of the consultative exam may be limited, the consultative exam report must contain specific information. Specifically, the Social Security Administration requires the report to include:
- Your claim number and a physical description of you.
- Your medical history.
- The results of your physical examination and laboratory findings.
- The examiner’s medical conclusions.
The report must be complete enough to allow a reviewer to determine what your disability is, how severe it is, how long it is expected to last, and how it impacts your ability to work. Additionally, it must be consistent. However, it should not include an opinion as to whether you are disabled as that term is defined by Social Security disability law. If the report is found to be incomplete or inconsistent then it will be sent back to the doctor and a determination about your Social Security disability claim may be delayed.
What to Know Before You Go to a Consultative Exam
The failure to attend a consultative exam may result in your Social Security disability claim being denied. While you need to attend the appointment, you also deserve to understand what is happening with your claim before, during, and after a consultative exam.
During the exam, all of your questions should be answered. The doctor treating you should explain what he is doing and why. If you do not speak English then an interpreter will be provided to you during your exam. You will not have to pay for the interpreter’s services.
Before you attend the consultative exam, and afterward, your Social Security disability lawyer will be available to help you with your application for benefits. The consultative exam is just one part of the application process. We will use the information from your exam, and all other applicable information, to help you get the benefits that you deserve. Please contact us today via this website or by phone to learn more about protecting your rights.
What is the Activities of Daily Living questionnaire?
The Social Security Administration wants to know if your disability prevents you from working. In order to make this critical assessment that will significantly impact your Social Security disability eligibility, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask that you fill out an Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to better assess how your physical and mental impairments impact your daily life. While your medical records allow the SSA to evaluate your medical diagnoses, this questionnaire allows them to assess how the diagnoses impact your life on a day-to-day basis. Your answers will help determine whether you have functional limitations that impact your ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. Learn more about substantial gainful activity in our other article.
What Is Included in the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire?
The Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire is more formally known as Function Report – Adult – Form SSA-3373-BK. This form asks about your abilities and limitations in performing tasks such as caring for yourself and your household.
Some of the questions that you can expect on the form include:
- Do you live alone or with other people?
- How does your disability limit your ability to work?
- What do you do on a typical day, starting from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?
- Do you take care of other people—such as children, a spouse, parents, other relatives, or pets? What do you do for them? Do you have any help from anyone else?
- What were you able to do before you became disabled that you cannot do now?
- Does your disability affect your sleep?
- Does your disability affect your ability to get dressed, bathe yourself, shave, use the toilet, or otherwise take care of yourself?
- Do you need help or reminders to take medication?
- Do you prepare your own meals?
- Are you able to do household chores? Are there any household chores that you need help with?
- How often do you go outside?
- Do you drive?
- Can you go out alone?
- Can you shop? Can you do it independently?
- Are you able to pay your own bills and manage your own money?
- Do you have hobbies, interests, and activities that you enjoy on a regular basis?
- Do you spend time with others? In what situations? Do you have trouble getting along with people?
- What abilities does your disability impact? Examples include lifting, walking, concentrating, using hands, talking, sitting, and other important abilities.
- How far can you walk before you need to rest?
- How long can you pay attention?
- Do you finish what you start?
- Can you follow verbal or written instructions?
- Do you get along with authority figures?
- Have you ever been fired because you had trouble getting along with others?
- How well do you handle stress and changes in routine?
- Do you use any assistive devices (such as hearing aids or crutches, for example)?
- Do you take any medications? What are the side effects of those medications?
If you answer yes, or in such a way as to indicate that you are disabled, then you will be asked to further explain your limitations or condition in a short answer format. Additionally, there is space at the bottom of the questionnaire for you to add in information that was not included in the routine questions.
Tips for Completing the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire
The good news is that you are the person in the best position to answer questions about what you do on a typical day. When you complete the form it is important to:
- Be honest. You do not want to exaggerate or understate your limitations and abilities.
- Give as many details as you can so that the person reading the questionnaire gets an accurate idea of what your life is like on a daily basis.
Technically, this form is voluntary. However, if you fail to fill it out, then the SSA may not be able to find you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. While you are the one who must fill out the form, it should be done in consultation with your Social Security disability lawyer who can help you complete your entire Social Security disability application.
For more information, or to get started with your own Social Security disability claim, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your initial consultation. Additionally, we encourage you to download a FREE copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more today.
I have a slipped disk and I am in excruciating pain. Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?
You have been through physical therapy and you have followed your doctor’s recommendations concerning back surgery. You have done everything that you are supposed to do, but you are still in pain, you are still unable to work, and you are still living with a disability.
A slipped disc is one of the most painful back problems you can experience. The sharp pain, limited range of mobility in your shoulders and hips, and the radiating tenderness that shoots down your arms or legs are enough to hold even the healthiest people back from work. It can make manual labor and sitting for long periods of time impossible—it can leave you unable to do your job.
Obtaining Social Security Disability for a Slipped Disc
You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your condition is expected to last for more than one year, if you have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability and if one of the following is true:
- You meet one of the conditions in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments. In some cases, you may meet the requirements of Section 1.04: Disorders of the Spine. Most often, the slipped, bulging, or herniated disc must compromise a nerve root in the spinal cord and result in: (a) pain, limitation of motion of the spine, or motor loss with sensory or reflex loss, or (b) spinal arachnoiditis, or (c) lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication.
- Your condition is equal in severity to a specific condition in the Listing of Impairments. If you do not meet any specific requirement in the Blue Book, but your medical condition has the same effect on your life as another condition in the Blue Book, then you may qualify for benefits.
- You are unable to work. If your condition leaves you with a residual functional capacity that makes you unable to work then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical condition, work experience, education level, age, and job skills when deciding whether you can work a sedentary or manual job.
If you believe that you qualify for benefits in an any of these ways, then you may want to pursue Social Security disability benefits.
Helpful Tips for Getting the Benefits That You Deserve
The majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. We say that not to scare you, but instead to highlight the importance of being prepared before you file a claim. Before you send anything to the Social Security Administration, it is important to:
- Gather evidence. Pull together as much evidence as you can about your condition and the impact it is having on your life. This evidence can include doctor’s notes, imaging tests, a journal of your symptoms, work records that cite how your injury stopped you from working, and more.
- Talk to an attorney. Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable in federal disability law can save you time and help you increase your chances of getting your application approved. An attorney can make sure that your application is complete so that you submit a strong claim that has a good chance of being approved.
- Put your application together. With all of the evidence in hand, put your application together to show specifics about how your injury stops you from working. The Social Security Administration must see that you are disabled to the point that you cannot perform sedentary or manual labor tasks. Your lawyer can help you with this task.
When it comes to serious back pain from a slipped or bulging disc, having a Social Security disability attorney on your side gives you invaluable support. You do not have to do this alone. Instead, we encourage you to learn more about your rights and about how to protect your disability benefits by reading our free book, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, and by contacting us directly for a confidential consultation.
Will I get a Social Security hearing decision on the day of my hearing?
In all likelihood, you will not get a decision on the day of your Social Security disability hearing.
In order to understand why you are unlikely to get a decision on the day of your hearing, it is important to understand how a hearing works.
Before your hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will review your file. The file can be quite lengthy—from 500 to over 1,000 pages long. Most of the file is made up of detailed medical records that document the impairments and the treatment you have received for those impairments.
Unfortunately, those records only tell part of the story. You have been granted a hearing so that the ALJ can meet you and get to know you. The testimony during the hearing can provide the ALJ with a detailed picture of your daily life—something that the medical records alone cannot do. This helps the ALJ learn the whole story so he can piece together what you have been going through and how your medical condition impacts your ability to work.
After the hearing, the ALJ will consider your testimony, together with the medical records, and write up a decision that addresses all of the evidence in the claim. Most of the time, it is important for the ALJ to go back and take a fresh look at the file after hearing your testimony so that a final decision can be made.
Once all of these steps are completed, the ALJ will draft a written decision that is typically about 10 pages long and mail a copy to the claimant and the attorney. Although there is no deadline for the decision, it is our experience that decisions are typically received within 30 to 60 days after the hearing.
Getting Benefits After a Successful Hearing
If the ALJ rules in your favor then your file will be sent to a payment processing center. It is here that the amount of your benefits and your back pay will be calculated. The amount of time that your file will be with the payment processing center before you receive benefits can vary.
In order to get the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve in a timely manner, please contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer to learn more about your rights and about getting the benefits that you deserve. We will stay on top of your appeal and keep you apprised of its status.
My Social Security disability application was denied, and I do not understand the appeals process. Should I contact a lawyer?
Yes. In many cases, it makes sense to appeal a denial of Social Security disability benefits. The majority of initial Social Security disability claims are denied, and many deserving claimants are left deciding whether they should give up on their application or file an appeal. If you decide to file an appeal and to pursue the benefits that you deserve, then an experienced disability lawyer can improve your chances of success.
How to Know If an Appeal Is Right for You
If you received a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) saying you are not eligible for disability benefits, it is not the end of the road. In our experience, it may be worth the trouble to appeal what may be an unfair decision after you answer the following questions:
- Is your disability included on the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments? The Listing of Impairments provides an index of disabling conditions and explains how severe a condition must be to qualify for disability benefits.
- Will your disability keep you from working for at least a year or result in your death? One of these things must be true in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
- Are you over age 55 or is your disability severe? These factors can greatly influence your chances of winning an appeal.
- Are you truly unable to work at any job? The Social Security Administration will look at your condition and decide if you are skilled enough to do some kind of work.
- Did you find any incorrect information in your denial letter? You can challenge anything that is not factual.
Being denied Social Security disability benefits may not be the end of the road. If you want help with making the decision about whether to appeal your disability benefits denial, call the experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law today. We can help you sort out the sometimes confusing Social Security disability appeals process and get you on the right track to getting the benefits that you have earned.
When will my Social Security disability benefits end?
You qualify for Social Security disability benefits because you have a terminal illness or a medical condition that has resulted in your permanent disability. Some Social Security disability recipients believe that because their condition is terminal or permanent that they will receive Social Security disability benefits for the rest of their life. However, this is not always true.
The Social Security Administration Can Terminate Disability Benefits in Certain Situations
The federal laws and regulations that govern Social Security disability allow the Social Security Administration to end a recipient’s benefits when:
- Your health improves and you are no longer disabled. Sometimes medical conditions improve. Whether that is due to luck, medical advancements, or the natural progression of your condition, you may no longer be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if your health has improved to the point where you no longer qualify.
- You are able to go back to work. Even if your health condition is permanent, there may come a time when you are able to go back to work. You may find a medication that allows you to work, there could be a breakthrough in treatment for your condition, or you may find that you can work with certain accommodations. If this happens, and you are able to earn enough to engage in substantial gainful activity, then your benefits will stop. If you are unsure about whether you can earn enough to stay in the workforce or to earn enough money to qualify as engaging in substantial gainful activity then you may be able to go back to work on a trial basis until you know for sure. The exact amount that is considered substantial gainful activity is subject to change annually. In 2017, substantial gainful activity was defined as $1,170 a month for non-blind individuals and $1,950 a month for blind individuals.
- You reach retirement age. You cannot receive both Social Security disability and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. Thus, the Social Security Administration will stop your disability benefits when you reach retirement age and you begin receiving retirement benefits.
Before the Social Security Administration can take away your benefits, however, the agency must be aware that one of the conditions described above has occurred.
How Will the Social Security Administration Know?
The Social Security Administration may know that your benefits will be terminated because of:
- Your report to the agency. You may need to proactively report changes of your medical condition or your work status to the Social Security Administration.
- The agency’s periodic review of your claim. The Social Security Administration periodically reviews all disability cases. During these reviews, the agency may decide whether or not you continue to qualify for benefits. Periodic reviews may happen as frequently as every few months or as infrequently as every seven years, depending on the unique disability that you suffer. The Social Security Administration should let you know when a periodic review is occurring and the status of the agency’s findings.
However, the Social Security Administration does not always come to the right conclusion based on the information that it collects when you self-report or it conducts a periodic review.
Sometimes the Agency Wrongfully Decides That Your Benefits Should Be Terminated
If you receive a notice of termination then it is important to take action quickly to avoid an unnecessary disruption in your disability benefit payments. While it may seem like a hassle now, it is actually easier to stop benefits from ending than to go through the entire process of applying for Social Security disability benefits again.
For this reason, we encourage you to contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer as soon as you think that your benefits may be in jeopardy. We will investigate your claim and work hard to convince the Social Security Administration of your continued eligibility if you remain disabled.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits for asthma?
It depends on the severity of your asthma. Only those who suffer from frequent and severe asthma attacks that cannot be controlled with medication are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Understanding Asthma: When Is it Severe?
Asthma is a chronic obstructive condition of the respiratory system. During an asthma attack, the airways become inflamed and cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pain
There are many triggers for asthma which include:
- Dust, mold, pollen, and animal fur.
- Cigarette smoke, workplace chemicals or dust, home spray products, and air pollution.
- Some medicines, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers.
- Sulfites found in food and beverages.
- Respiratory infections, including colds.
- Physical exercise.
Asthma is generally treated with two types of medications: quick relief and long-term control. These are usually effective in controlling symptoms. However, your asthma may affect your ability to work if:
- Your symptoms are causing you to lose sleep, occurring more often, or are more severe.
- You are missing work because of asthma attacks.
- Your peak flow number (established with your doctor) is low or swings from day to day.
- Your asthma medicines are not working.
- You need your quick-relief inhaler more than usual.
- An asthma attack sends you to the emergency room.
If an asthma attack can be stopped by moving away from the trigger, with an inhaler, or with another medication, then it is not considered severe.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the qualifications in the Listing of Impairments or if your condition is so severe that you are unable to work.
Asthma is specifically listed in Section 3.03 of the Listing of Impairments. According to this listing, you may qualify for benefits if you meet both of the following requirements:
- The results of your lung function test (FEV1) are low for your age, gender and height. What’s defined as “low” is provided in a chart in Section 3.03A.
- You have had three asthma-related hospitalizations within the last 12 months. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours and each hospitalization must occur at least 30 days apart.
If you have chronic asthmatic bronchitis, then you may qualify for Social Security disability if you can meet the requirements of the Listing of Impairments for COPD.
Additionally, you may qualify for benefits even if you do not meet any of the listings in the Listing of Impairments if you can prove that your condition is equal in severity to any listing in the Listing of Impairments or if you are unable to work due to your medical condition.
Regardless of which way you qualify, you will need documentation to prove that you are eligible for benefits. You should have a record of each episode, how long it lasted, the treatment that was administered, and how well you responded to treatment. You should also have results of spirometry tests and arterial blood gas studies (ABGS) from each attack. Additionally, your medical records must show that you are following the treatment plan ordered by your doctor unless you have a valid reason not to do so.
Not Everyone With Asthma Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits
Approximately 18.4 million people over the age of 18 suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but not all of them qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you can control your asthma by avoiding environmental triggers and by using medication, then you will not be eligible for benefits. However, if you experience frequent, sudden, and severe asthma attacks despite treatment then you may be unable to work and you may qualify for benefits.
The Social Security disability application process is confusing, but you can be prepared. Learn more about applying for benefits by reading Attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process or by contacting our firm directly by phone or via this website to schedule an initial meeting.
I have severe osteoarthritis that is affecting my ability to work. Will I qualify for Social Security disability?
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, is a painful joint disorder that often occurs as people age and the cartilage that protects the bone begins to wear down. The symptoms of osteoarthritis will depend on which joints are affected. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness in the joints that make it difficult to move and to work.
Will You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
When you apply for Social Security disability, you will have to go through the disability evaluation process established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first five steps are the same for every applicant. The Social Security Administration will want to know if:
Your condition is on the Social Security Administration’s List of Impairments.
Your condition is severe and expected to last for 12 months or longer.
You are still working.
You cannot work at your current job and if you are able to do any other work that you have done in the past.
There is any other type of work that you can do, given your age, education, past experience, and physical limitations.
Depending on your answers to these questions and the body part that is affected by osteoarthritis, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability.
Osteoarthritis of the Spine
If you have osteoarthritis in your spine, you might qualify for disability benefits under the listing for Disorders of the Spine (Listing of Impairments Section 1.04). To receive Social Security disability for osteoarthritis of the spine, the disorder must be diagnosed by a doctor and meet one of the following conditions:
Compression of the spinal nerve root that limits your ability to move your spine.
A narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back that makes it very difficult to walk.
Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that requires you to change position frequently.
You will need medical evidence of your condition and treatment plan if you apply for benefits pursuant to this listing, any other listing, or if you apply based on the severity of your condition.
Osteoarthritis in Other Parts of the Body
If your osteoarthritis affects a body part other than your spine, then you might be able to qualify for disability benefits under the category of Major Dysfunction of a Joint (Listing of Impairments Section 1.02). To be approved for Social Security disability under this category, you must have an obvious joint deformity or bone destruction. You must have a documented history of pain and stiffness in the joint, as well as lack of motion. The osteoarthritis must affect a hip, a knee, or an ankle joint, or a hand, a wrist, an elbow, or a shoulder in each arm, making it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks.
You Can Still Qualify for Social Security Disability If Your Osteoarthritis Doesn’t Meet the Blue Book Standards
If you do not meet the criteria for either of the blue book categories described above, you might still qualify for Social Security disability. You will need to prove that your osteoarthritis causes you to have reduced functional capacity that is equal in severity to one of the blue book standards and that makes you unable to work. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical limitations and determine the type of work you are capable of doing, if any.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
The majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. It is important to understand how you should apply, the documentation that you need to apply, and to submit your application correctly so that you can start getting the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve for osteoarthritis as soon as possible.
To learn more about your rights, please request a FREE copy of our book, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, today. Additionally, we invite you to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can help you get the fair benefits that you have earned.
I was denied Social Security disability benefits because of problems with my medical evidence. What do I do now?
You will not qualify for Social Security disability benefits unless you can prove that you are disabled. This requires complete, correct, and current medical evidence that you can present with your application to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
What Must Your Medical Evidence Prove?
As a Social Security disability applicant, it is your responsibility to provide medical evidence that proves that:
- You have one or more health impairments. You must prove that you have a health impairment by providing objective medical evidence from an acceptable medical source.
- The severity of your impairment qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits. After you prove that you have a health impairment, then the SSA will look at medical evidence (and non-medical evidence) to determine how the impairment impacts your ability to work.
Who Can Provide Medical Evidence?
You should provide all of your medical records from all of the medical providers who have seen you for the condition for which you are seeking benefits. Acceptable medical sources include:
- Hospitals, clinics, or other health facilities where you have been treated—even if only for a brief time.
- Medical or osteopathic licensed physicians.
- Licensed or certified psychologists.
- Licensed optometrists who can prove that you have a qualifying visual disorder.
- Licensed podiatrists.
- Speech-language pathologists who are qualified to establish a speech or language impairment.
While you may provide the information yourself, the SSA will also help you get the medical reports you need from your own medical providers.
The Social Security Administration guidelines refer to “treating sources.” These are medical professionals who have treated you for some length of time and who are likely to be able to provide medical evidence that shows the history, severity, and future prognosis of your impairment.
Treating sources are considered to be strong advocates for you and may provide useful medical evidence to the Social Security Administration. Therefore, if you have a medical provider who can be considered a treating source, then it may improve your chances of receiving Social Security disability benefits.
What Kinds of Medical Evidence Do You Have to Provide?
You must provide enough medical evidence to prove that you are unable to work; otherwise, the SSA will deny your application. Generally, this includes the following types of evidence from the professionals described above:
- A complete record of all the medical treatment you have received in connection with your condition.
- A medical determination that you cannot work as a direct result of your medical condition.
- A medical opinion that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months or that your condition will result in death.
- A detailed account of your treatment plan and evidence that you are following that treatment plan. You are expected to follow your doctor’s orders for treating your condition. You should be taking the medicine that you are prescribed and participating in any recommended physical therapy.
The SSA will also be looking to see if you are keeping all of your scheduled medical appointments.
If the Social Security Administration determines that the medical evidence that you have provided is insufficient, then the agency may request a consultative examination, or it may deny your application.
Don’t Give Up If Your Social Security Disability Application Has Been Denied
One of the main reasons Social Security disability claims are denied is because of a lack of medical evidence. Even if you think that you are providing full and accurate records to the Social Security Administration, you may not be providing everything that the agency requires because the requirements are complicated and often confusing.
An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you sort out the many pieces of evidence that you need, help you get the necessary paperwork you do not already have, and help you get the benefits that you deserve by filing the right kind of appeal. Contact our experienced attorneys today via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation about your rights.