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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What Happens When an Applicant Dies While Waiting for Claim Approval?
Unfortunately, with approval for Social Security disability applications taking anywhere from a few months to a few years, it's not uncommon for applicants to die while their application is still under review by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When this happens, a family member of the deceased—such as their spouse, children, or parents—can continue the claim on their behalf. However, it's important to note that continuing a Social Security disability claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is determined by the applicant's work history, is easier than continuing a claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a need-based program determined by income.
SSDI applicants who are eventually approved for benefits must endure a five-month waiting period following the onset of their disability before they actually begin receiving payments. In the case of deceased applicants, the benefits would begin accumulating at the end of that waiting period and end the month of their death.
Additionally, the spouse, children, or parents of disabled individuals can also start a new application for Social Security disability benefits on behalf of their loved one—even if they didn't apply for benefits prior to their death.
Do You Need Help Pursuing Social Security Disability Benefits?
If your loved one died while their SSDI or SSI application was still pending, or you'd like to apply and start a posthumous claim on their behalf, working with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney gives you the best chance for a successful resolution. The skilled attorneys with Keefe Disability Law know the ins and outs of the SSA's application process and can guide you each and every step of the way, providing you with the compassionate and thoughtful representation you need during what is sure to be a difficult and emotional time. Call us today to schedule your free initial consultation or to request a copy of our free eBook, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.
How do I become a representative payee to help a loved one manage her SS disability benefits?
The majority of people who receive Social Security (SS) disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have payments made to them directly. However, if your loved one is a minor, has been declared legally incompetent, or has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may decide that a third party, known as a representative payee, should manage payments on behalf of your loved one. Becoming a representative payee is a simple, straightforward process, provided you're able to meet the SSA's stringent requirements.
Who Can Be a Representative Payee?
Most representative payees are a friend or family member of the beneficiary, but lawyers and other legal guardians can also apply to fill the role. The representative payee cannot have any felony convictions on his record, and the SSA gives preference to applicants who live with the beneficiary and are aware of their day-to-day needs.
Serving as a representative payee is a substantial undertaking. Individuals in this role must:
- Spend the beneficiary's disability payments to provide for needs such as food, clothing, housing and utilities, medical expenses, and miscellaneous personal items.
- Use remaining funds to pay for things such as rehabilitative therapies, bills and other family expenses, and entertainment or education for the beneficiary.
- Save any leftover money in an interest-bearing bank account.
- Report the beneficiary's life changes to the SSA. These include marriage, medical changes, or death.
- Keep track of how all of the beneficiary's payments are spent and file an annual report with the SSA.
To apply to become a representative payee, you must complete Form SSA-11, provide your Social Security Number for a background check, and be interviewed by someone with the SSA.
If You Need Help Becoming a Representative Payee
Although the process of becoming a representative payee is fairly straightforward, it can be daunting for those who have no experience dealing with the SSA. A knowledgeable disability attorney can help you simplify the process by ensuring that you provide all of the information the SSA requires when you submit your initial application. Contact the seasoned disability attorneys with Keefe Disability Law to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss becoming a representative payee.
If I Move Into a Nursing Home, Will I Lose My SSI Benefits?
Changes in your living situation, such as moving into a nursing home, can dramatically affect your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and, in some cases, may even cause your benefits to be terminated.
If you enter a medical facility such as a nursing home or hospital where Medicaid covers the cost for more than half your care, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may reduce your monthly SSI payment to $30. Additionally, the monthly $30 SSI benefit may be further reduced based on your income. However, some states will supplement the amount you receive from the federal government.
Adults who move into a medical facility not paid for by Medicaid are not eligible for SSI benefits. Likewise, children (age 18 and younger) who move into medical facilities not paid for by Medicaid or private insurance are also ineligible for SSI benefits.
Thanks to a special rule, the SSA generally does not terminate SSI benefits for recipients who will only be residing in a nursing home or other medical facility for 90 days or less. To preserve your SSI benefits during short-term nursing home stays, you must provide the SSA with the following information:
- A written statement from your doctor verifying that you will be in the medical facility in question for no more than 90 consecutive days
- A written statement from you, a family member, or other caregiver stating that you need your current SSI benefits to maintain your permanent home during your short-term stay in the nursing home
This information must be provided to the SSA as soon as possible to avoid forfeiting your SSI benefits. The SSA requires SSI beneficiaries to submit the necessary information before leaving the nursing home.
Is Your Social Security Disability Case Under Review?
If your living situation changes, the SSA may put your case under review. Don't risk losing your SSI benefits. Contact a knowledgeable and experienced disability attorney for help navigating the case review process. The skilled disability attorneys at Keefe Disability Law will work with you to address your questions and concerns. Call our law office, or complete our online contact form.
If my disability worsens, will I receive increased SS benefits?
If you receive Social Security (SS) Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a disabling condition, you may wonder if you're entitled to an increase in benefits if your condition worsens. Unfortunately, a worsening condition doesn't usually entitle an SS beneficiary to receive a larger monthly payment. This is because the amount of SS Disability you receive is related to your previous earning record rather than the severity of your condition.
However, there are a few situations in which a worsening condition may entitle you to additional benefits. For example:
- If you were receiving SS payments for a condition such as low vision, you may be able to receive additional benefits if the condition progresses to legal or full blindness that prevents you from working.
- If you were approved for SS benefits for a kidney disease, you may become eligible for Medicare coverage more quickly if your condition results in complete kidney failure, requiring a kidney transplant or daily dialysis.
- If you develop a new disabling condition, in addition to the condition for which you were approved, you may be eligible for additional benefits through a different assistance program.
Do You Need Help With Your Social Security Disability Claim?
Applying for SS benefits can be a lengthy and complex journey. Failing to provide all the necessary information in the initial application can result in frustrating delays or denials. Additionally, even after you're approved, you may not know the best way to communicate your needs to the SSA. Fortunately, an experienced disability attorney can help. Seasoned disability attorneys can advocate for you every step of the way—from your initial application, to changes in your condition, to a denial. Don't go it alone. Contact the attorneys with Keefe Disability Law today for a free evaluation of your case. We're happy to answer any questions and concerns you may have. You can also request a free copy of our book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney or an Advocate When Applying for SS Benefits?
While it doesn't matter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you use an attorney or an advocate to help you apply for Social Security (SS) Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, being represented by a seasoned disability attorney offers clients clear advantages. For example, disability attorneys undergo years of education and training to ensure that they completely understand the SS application process. Additional benefits of hiring a skilled disability attorney include:
- Attorney-client privilege. When working with a licensed disability attorney, applicants enjoy attorney-client privilege. Your attorney is required to keep all of your information personal and confidential.
- Strict ethical guidelines. Attorneys are required to abide by strict ethical guidelines when representing their clients.
- Easier appeal process. If your application for SS or SSI benefits is denied, a disability attorney can help you appeal that decision to the federal district court. Non-attorney disability advocates are unable to do this.
- Option to file a grievance. Should you have a problem with your disability attorney, you have the option of filing a grievance with the state bar regulatory commission; you do not have the same recourse when working with a non-attorney disability advocate.
Also, while disability attorneys and non-attorney disability advocates receive the same fee—paid by the SSA out of an applicant's back payment benefits—a non-attorney disability advocate does not have to meet the same educational requirements as a lawyer. While disability attorneys are required to have a four-year bachelor's degree, a three-year juris doctorate degree, and pass the exacting state bar exam, non-attorney disability advocates are only required to have a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience, pass a criminal background check, have liability insurance, and complete a written exam. For the same price, you can work with someone with much more impressive credentials.
Do You Need Help Applying for Social Security Benefits?
The knowledgeable legal team at Keefe Disability Law has extensive experience helping applicants apply for and obtain the SS Disability benefits they need and deserve. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Will my wife’s income affect my Social Security disability claim?
No, because Social Security (SS) Disability is not based on income, so your wife's income will not be considered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when reviewing your claim. Instead, the SSA will determine your eligibility for SS benefits based on the severity of your disability, its expected duration, and whether it prevents you from holding a job and engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). So, if your medical condition has rendered you totally disabled and unable to work for a period of 12 consecutive months or more, you may qualify for SS benefits, even if your wife continues to work and make a good income.
However, this is not the case when applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Because SSI is a needs-based program for disabled individuals with low income, a wife's income is used when determining eligibility. If you were applying for SSI and your wife's income exceeded a certain amount, the SSA would consider a portion of that income available to you.
Do You Need Help Applying for SS?
Applying for SS benefits can be tricky for those who are unfamiliar with the SSA's application process—particularly if you're applying for a condition that's not included in the “Blue Book” Listing of Impairments. Even a minor mistake can cause frustrating delays or application denials that require you to wait even longer for the financial benefits you so desperately need. A seasoned team of knowledgeable disability attorneys can help make sure that your application is complete and ready to go before you send it in. And in the event that your claim is denied, your legal representative can go to work to help overturn that decision. Contact the skilled attorneys at Keefe Disability Law today for a free evaluation of your SS claim, or request a free copy of our book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Do I have to be permanently disabled to receive SS Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not require applicants to be permanently disabled in order to receive Social Security (SS) Disability benefits. To be eligible for SS Disability, applicants must have a medical condition that renders them totally disabled and unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity for 12 months or longer.
However, depending on the medical condition and its potential for improvement, the applicant may be subject to periodic eligibility reviews, usually after one, three, or seven years. During these reviews, applicants can submit medical documentation from the doctor who treats their condition that discusses their diagnosis and prognosis.
Even if the applicant's medical condition has improved to the point that the SSA no longer considers him totally disabled, the applicant may still be eligible to receive benefits for the time period he was totally disabled, under the SSA's “closed period” benefits policy. SS Disability applicants who meet the closed period criteria may be entitled to a lump-sum payment from the SSA that covers the time frame during which they were totally disabled.
If You Need Help Applying for SS Disability Benefits
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to receive SS benefits from the SSA. Working with an experienced disability attorney when you apply can help save you both time and effort by ensuring that your application contains all the necessary information before you submit it. And, in the event that your application is denied, a knowledgeable attorney can help you appeal that decision and fight for the benefits you need and deserve. Contact Keefe Disability Law today to schedule a no-cost case evaluation, or request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Does owning a home make me ineligible to receive SS benefits?
No. If you are applying for Social Security (SS) disability benefits, owning a home will not negatively affect your eligibility for benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines an applicant's eligibility based on the severity of his medical condition and ability to work, rather than any assets or resources he may have in his name. This means that it is possible for applicants to qualify for SS benefits even if they own multiple homes or vehicles, provided they meet the SSA's medical criteria for total disability.
However, the same cannot be said for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the other disability-related program administered by the SSA. This needs-based program is only available to low-income applicants with limited assets and resources. The SSA currently caps the assets for SSI applicants at $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, but not all assets are counted toward this limit. For example, the home you live in and the vehicle you use for regular transportation may be exempted, making it possible for some applicants to qualify for SSI even if they own their home or have their own vehicle.
In select instances known as concurrent disability claims, applicants may be eligible to receive both SS disability and SSI benefits, provided they meet the criteria for both programs.
Do You Need Help Applying for SS or SSI?
The SSA uses very specific criteria to determine SS and SSI eligibility, and applicants must include detailed medical information when applying. If this information is not included, the application may be rejected. Don't allow a small mistake or oversight to delay the approval of your benefits. Contact the experienced legal team at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand the disability application process and are ready to help you every step of the way.
Do All Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Having a disability doesn't automatically mean that a person is eligible for Social Security (SS) disability benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability based on a person's ability to work and doesn’t view having a disability the same as being totally disabled.
To meet the SSA's definition of total disability, a person must be unable to do the type of work he did prior to the disability and be unable to adjust to other types of work due to the severity of his medical condition. The disability in question must also be expected to last for a year or longer, or result in death.
In most cases, SS applications submitted by people who are working full time will not be approved. Even working part time can hurt your chances for receiving SS benefits if the SSA determines you're capable of substantial gainful activity (SGA)—work that involves significant physical or mental activity, or a combination of the two. The SSA uses a dollar amount to determine SGA, so people who work full- or part-time hours but whose gross earnings average less than $1,130 per month may still be eligible for benefits. A higher SGA threshold of $1,820 applies to blind applicants.
If you're disabled, there are two ways to secure SS benefits. The first is by having a disability on the SSA's list of “Blue Book” conditions—these disabilities are considered severe enough to automatically qualify an applicant for benefits. The second is by proving that your condition prevents you from working—even if you don't have one of the qualifying, disabling conditions listed by the SSA.
If You Need Help
Applying for SS benefits can be a complex and lengthy process. Having a knowledgeable disability attorney by your side to help guide you through each step of the journey can be invaluable. An attorney who knows the specific SS process may increase the likelihood of your application being approved and help you if your application is denied. Contact the experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, "Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim."
How Can a Residual Functional Capacity Form Help Me Prove PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that's caused by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event that usually involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm. People who suffer from PTSD can experience a wide range of symptoms that make everyday life difficult, including:
- Severe anxiety
- Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event
- Poor self-esteem
- Emotional numbness
- Memory and concentration problems
- Feelings of irritability, anger, guilt, and shame
- Trouble sleeping
- Self-destructive behavior
Although PTSD is most commonly associated with combat veterans, anyone who has experienced a particularly traumatic event such as a serious car accident, abuse, assault, or a natural disaster can develop the disorder. Most people experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, and many recover with time. However, when serious mental health symptoms linger for months or years and disrupt daily life, they may be a sign of PTSD.
Applying for SS Disability Benefits
When you apply for SS disability due to your PTSD, the medical professional treating you should fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. If you hire a SS disability attorney, he’s likely to use this form when presenting your case to the SSA adjudicator or the judge. Once your doctor fills out the form, it will help give the judge specific information relative to your claim, and your attorney will use it to try and prove that your PTSD makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living
Additionally, the RFC form helps your doctor use specific work capacity language that judges look for when determining your case. That language helps provide important information about your performance on the job and how reliable you are as an employee.
An RFC form should include your diagnosis and symptoms and discuss your ability to:
- Carry out a regular routine without supervision
- Concentrate on work-related tasks
- Understand and follow simple and complex instructions as they relate to your job
- Interact and communicate appropriately with others, including supervisors and co-workers
- Have suitable workplace attendance, be punctual, and avoid unscheduled breaks
- Make simple occupation-related decisions
If you don't include an RFC form filled out by your medical provider with your application for benefits, an SSA medical examiner will complete one using the documentation supplied in your application. However, because physician-completed RFC forms carry more weight, including one with your application is essential to proving your PTSD claim.
Keefe Disability Law Can Help
Applying for SS disability benefits can be a complex and frustrating process. Let the knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law help you secure the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us today for more information or to request a free copy of our eBook, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security.
I was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, can I qualify for disability benefits?
After a diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma, you may find it difficult or impossible to hold a job. Soft tissue sarcoma is a type of cancer that originates in the soft tissues of the body. These soft tissues may include the muscles, tendons, fat, lymph vessels, blood vessels, nerves, and tissue surrounding joints. The resulting tumors can be found in many areas, including the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen. Unfortunately, many people suffering from this condition do not have signs or symptoms until the disease has already progressed.
Types of Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcoma comes in many different forms. The different types of this condition depend upon the type of soft tissue cell in which the cancer formed. These types may include:
- Rhabdomyosarcoma. This is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma, often diagnosed in children. It originates in muscles that attach to bones.
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumors. This type of soft tissue sarcoma forms in soft tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. It is most often seen in the stomach or small intestine and effects adults much more frequently than children. Unfortunately, this type of soft tissue sarcoma may not have any early symptoms.
- Ewing sarcoma. These tumors are more commonly formed in the bones of children and adolescents, but may also form in the soft tissue surrounding bone.
- Kaposi sarcoma. Lesions made of cancer cells grow in the skin, lymph nodes, or lining of the mouth, nose, or throat in this type of soft tissue sarcoma. It is most common in people with weakened immune systems.
- Uterine sarcoma. Forming in the muscle and tissue that support the uterus, this is an uncommon form of uterine cancer.
Regardless of the type, if you have soft tissue sarcoma you may potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can provide a badly needed financial lifeline as you focus your time and energy on fighting the disease.
3 Situations Where You May Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Soft Tissue Sarcoma
You might qualify for disability benefits with soft tissue sarcoma in the following situations:
- You are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in an early stage but can demonstrate an inability to work as a result of your condition.
- You are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma that has metastasized, or spread, and meets the eligibility requirements of the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments.
- You are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma for the second time, having first been diagnosed and then having had the condition return after your initial treatment.
In addition, if your soft tissue sarcoma is metastatic or recurrent, it may qualify you for a rapid review under the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances program. This means that your claim will likely be reviewed and either approved or denied within a few weeks of submitting your application.
Meeting the Blue Book Requirements for Soft Tissue Sarcoma
If your soft tissue sarcoma meets the requirements outlined by the Social Security Administration in the Blue Book’s listing of impairments, you may be able to qualify for benefits more easily. Meeting the criteria for this condition under the Blue Book requires some or all of the following:
- A diagnosis of soft tissue sarcoma.
- Evidence of regional metastasis.
- Evidence of distant metastasis.
- A medical history that shows the cancer is persistent or recurrent following initial treatment.
There are various types of medical evidence that must be demonstrated in your file in order to prove that you suffer from a disability as a result of your soft tissue sarcoma. Records that every applicant should present include the following:
- A clinical history report that details the features of your disease.
- Results from imaging test results that document the tumor locations and sizes.
- A copy of the notes from your surgical procedures. Patients with soft tissue sarcoma may need to undergo surgical resections, exploratory surgeries, or biopsies.
- Results from pathology reports that verify your diagnosis.
- Results from pathology reports that stage your tumors.
Applying for disability benefits is not an easy process for those who have been through this experience in the past. Fortunately, we are here to help you navigate. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
I was diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease. Can I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
While your physician may be unable to pinpoint just one specific connective tissue disorder that you suffer from, the good news is that you may still qualify for disability benefits. These benefits are often very important because they provide much-needed financial assistance. This financial help can be critical when your connective tissue disorder is so severe that you are unable to work to support yourself.
How to Qualify for Disability Benefits With Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
Qualifying for disability benefits due to connective tissue disease is not always easy. Your first hurdle in the process it to provide medical proof that symptoms support a diagnosis of one of the following conditions:
- Undifferentiated connective tissue disease. In these cases, your symptoms are associated with connective tissue disease but do not specifically meet the criteria for one specific condition. Since your symptoms cannot be narrowed to one specific disease, you may receive a diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
- Mixed connective tissue disease. In these cases, your symptoms and blood tests indicate that you have more than one type of connective tissue disease.
The second hurdle is to prove to the Social Security Administration that you have one of the following:
- Two or more areas of your body are affected by the disease, with at least one of these areas showing severe symptoms. You also must prove that you have two symptoms that indicate severe illness. These symptoms may include fever, weight loss, or severe weakness.
- You have frequent symptoms of the disease, with at least two signs of severe illness, and you are unable to perform daily tasks as a result. You are also unable to interact with others and function properly both mentally and physically in order to perform job tasks.
If you suffer from undifferentiated connective tissue disease or mixed connective tissue disease, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced attorney. We are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
I received notice that my disability benefits are about to stop, what should I do?
For many disabled individuals, Social Security disability benefits are a financial lifeline crucial to overall well-being. These benefits can help to make up for the income that the person is unable to earn as a result of his or her condition. For this reason, receiving notice that disability benefits are about to cease can be a terrifying prospect for many people.
What Will Cause Disability Benefits to Stop?
Once you qualify for disability benefits, certain events can trigger these benefits to terminate. Examples of reasons for disability benefits to be cut off include the following:
- Improvement of your medical or psychiatric condition. The Social Security Administration conducts continuing disability reviews, usually in either 3- or 7-year increments. During this process, the Social Security Administration evaluates whether your condition has improved such that you are no longer eligible for disability benefits.
- You returned to work. This is the most common reason for disability benefits to cease. In most cases, you cannot work and continue to receive disability benefits. There are some cases in which this is permitted; however, specific provisions must be complied with. The Social Security Administration will evaluate whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity, and if it is determined that you are, you may have your benefits terminated.
- You reached retirement age. People receiving disability benefits are no longer eligible once they reach full retirement age. This is because you cannot receive both Social Security disability benefits and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time. People who were previously receiving disability benefits will instead receive retirement benefits.
- You are incarcerated or institutionalized. If you are in jail, your disability benefits will stop for the period of time during which you are incarcerated. You may also see your benefits terminated if you are convicted of certain types of felonies.
- You receive too much income. This is another common reason for disability benefits to be terminated. To continue to be eligible for benefits, you must fall within the income or asset limits.
- You were a child when you first began receiving disability benefits and have since turned 18. When this happens, you will be reevaluated to see if your condition matches Social Security Administration standards for adults.
- Your living situation has changed. If you enter or leave an institution such as a nursing home or a halfway house, you may see your disability benefits terminated. Similarly, if you leave the country for more than 30 days, benefits can cease.
If your benefits have been terminated or about to terminate, it is crucial to take the proper steps in order to prevent the loss of benefits.
What to Do If Your Disability Benefits Stop
Any person receiving disability benefits will be subjected to periodic reviews to determine if they remain eligible. First, the Social Security Administration will contact you to request updates on your status as well as the treatment you are receiving for your condition. They will also look at your medical records to evaluate whether you are still deemed to be disabled. It is important to be responsive and cooperative with the Social Security Administration during this process.
If the Social Security Administration decides that you are no longer eligible for benefits, you will receive a letter stating that your benefits are being terminated. From this point forward, you have two months to continue receiving benefits. It is important to consider filing an appeal. It is important to begin the appeal process as quickly as possible and with the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.
If you decide to file an appeal and you do so within ten days after receiving notice of termination, you can choose whether to continue receiving benefits while the Social Security Administration processes your disability appeal. If the judge overseeing the appeal sides with you, your benefits will continue. If the judge rules against you, however, the Social Security Administration can declare that you have been overpaid. If you file an appeal outside of that 100-day window, your benefits will be suspended until a judge rules on the appeal. In this case, the Social Security Administration must receive notice of your appeal within 60 days of your receipt of the disability benefits termination letter.
The first task on the to-do list for any person whose disability benefits are about to terminate is to contact an attorney. He or she can provide the guidance you need to have your benefits continue. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
Can I obtain Social Security disability benefits if I have scoliosis?
If you suffer from scoliosis, you may find yourself suffering on a daily basis from pain and other discomfort that makes it difficult to carry out everyday tasks, including the ability to work to support yourself. This can create significant stress and strain not only on yourself, but also on your loved ones. It is important to focus on getting healthy rather than worrying about financial pressures. Fortunately, Social Security disability benefits can provide sufferers of scoliosis with the support they need.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal curve in the spine. People with scoliosis have a spine that curves in either a “C” or an “S” shape. The severity of the condition tends to vary greatly among individual sufferers. To be diagnosed with scoliosis, the spinal curvature must extend more than 10 degrees laterally when viewed from the front. There are four main types of this condition, as outlined below:
- Congenital scoliosis. This type of scoliosis exists when the spinal curvature is present at birth.
- Idiopathic scoliosis. This type of scoliosis is the most common form, and is generally thought to be hereditary.
- Degenerative scoliosis. This type of scoliosis occurs after a bone collapse caused by a traumatic injury. It can also be caused by osteoporosis or develop after a major back surgery.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis. This type of scoliosis stems from nerve or muscle abnormalities. It is often accompanied by conditions affecting the neuromuscular junction, such as spina bifida.
Some people suffering from scoliosis may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Why do People With Scoliosis Need Disability Benefits?
While some people experience only minor effects as a result of their scoliosis, others who have a more severe case may find it difficult or impossible to work. Severe scoliosis can lead to significant physical limitations, including reduced lung capacity and breathing function. The curvature of the spine may put pressure on the nerves that results in slower functioning. Sufferers may deal with persistent pain as well as spinal and nerve damage. In the most severe cases, patients may need spinal surgery to insert metal poles in the spine to straighten it out. The effects of severe scoliosis can make it impossible to work, leading to significant financial strain for sufferers and their families.
How to Qualify for Disability Benefits When You Have Scoliosis
Fortunately for people with scoliosis, the Social Security Administration does recognize the condition among its listing of impairments. Scoliosis itself does not have its own listing. However, if the condition is severe enough, victims may meet the requirements for the listing of “disorders of the spine.” In addition, people with severe scoliosis that affects the ability to breathe or the functioning of the heart may qualify for disability benefits under the listings for respiratory disorders or cardiovascular disorders.
Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits as a disorder of the spine requires that you have at least one of the following:
- Nerve root compression causing pain, muscle weakness, or limiting your ability to move your legs
- Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine causing pain that requires you to change position more than once every two hours
- Narrowing of the spine causing chronic pain and weakness and limiting your ability to walk
In addition, there are certain criteria for nerve root compression, inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine, and narrowing the spine that must be met as well.
In order to be approved for benefits, you must demonstrate to the Social Security Administration that you have sufficient medical evidence proving you have the above spinal disorders. There are various types of medical evidence that you may use to support your claims. This evidence may include the following:
- Results from medical imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans.
- Results from a physical examination including a detailed description of your limitations caused by the spinal condition.
- Records of ongoing treatment that shows that the impairment is not improving despite undergoing therapy to try and treat it.
While applying for disability benefits may feel like an overwhelming process for those who have not done so in the past, it is important to get started quickly. The faster you start the application process, the quicker you will begin to receive Social Security disability benefits. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
Who makes the decision about whether I am eligible for Social Security disability benefits?
Probably not the people you expect.
You may have submitted your initial SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) application online, or perhaps you mailed it in. It’s even possible that you handed it over the counter to the pleasant clerk at your local Social Security office. In any case, you naturally assume that somebody from the Social Security Administration will look at all your work carefully, apply her best judgment, and give you an answer in a day or two. Maybe—you hope—a week at the outside.
Many, Many People Will Look At Your Application
Right now, there are many more applications for Social Security disability benefits than personnel to examine them. The result is a long backlog of cases. You can expect it will take a few weeks before anyone begins evaluation of your application. Delays of several months are not uncommon.
During that time, two different groups of people will examine your application for errors, omissions, and disqualifying details. Each group has the independent power to deny your benefits.
The Social Security Administration
Your file will be examined by one or more account caseworkers at a Social Security Administration field office. This review will look only at whether you qualify under the work rules established for disability benefits. That means your application will be checked to make sure:
- You have documented a work history that extends over many years, so you have contributed to the Social Security trust funds.
- You have shown a recent period of work.
- You have supplied proof that you are no longer earning a substantial amount of money from work.
Failure on any of these points means your application will be rejected.
The Disability Determination Service
Your file will also come under review at by a special office set up by your state government but funded by federal money; most states call these offices the Disability Determination Service (DDS).
Caseworkers at the DDS must follow Social Security Administration rules and procedures in deciding whether the information submitted proves the applicant meets the criteria for disability. Examiners perform disability evaluations for both SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. They can also request that applicants undergo a medical examination to verify details about the person’s health.
In our region, the following DDS offices process all claims originating in their respective states:
- The Disability Determination Services of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has offices located in Boston and Worcester.
- Rhode Island’s Disability Determination Services has its office in Providence.
- In Vermont, Disability Determination Services is part of the Department for Children and Families, and has its office in Waterbury.
- New Hampshire’s Disability Determination Service is based in Concord.
If your local DDS determines that your medical evidence is not complete or fails to prove you meet the standards for a disability, your application will be rejected.
A Rejected Application Is Not the End
Over two-thirds of all initial SSDI applications are rejected. Many applicants give up at this point; others decide to begin the application process all over again. Most of the time, those decisions are both mistakes. In almost every case, the best answer is to begin the appeals process by requesting your case be reconsidered. You are allowed to supply additional evidence at this point, but your time-frame to respond is very limited.
We’re here to help. We recommend you start by reading our free book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. Then, follow up by using the live chat button on this page to start a conversation with our team to get your specific questions answered. You’ll be glad you did!
Can complications from borderline personality disorder qualify me for disability benefits?
When you suffer from a mental illness that is characterized by emotional instability and significant changes in personality over short periods of time, you may have borderline personality disorder. This condition has many potential complications that can make earning a living very difficult. Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits may be the only way to alleviate the financial burden that comes along with this condition.
5 Complications Resulting From Borderline Personality Disorder
What are some of the common complications associated with borderline personality disorder? The following are five examples:
- Drug abuse
- Problems with family and other relationships
- Frequent and repeated job losses
- Suicide attempts
- Engaging in risky behaviors, including car accidents
In addition, borderline personality disorder is often accompanied by other mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and bipolar disorders. These complications can make it very difficult to find and hold a job. In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must either meet the Social Security Administration’s blue book listing for an impairment, or you must show that you are unable to do any job. The blue book does have a specific listing for personality disorders. In addition, you must provide sufficient medical evidence of your specific symptoms as well as your diagnosis.
Proving your disability based on a mental condition is not always easy. We are here to help you navigate the Social Security disability benefits process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
What types of functional limitations must I show in order to get disability benefits for my somatoform disorder?
Few things are as frightening as living with pain or other physical symptoms that have no discernable cause and cannot be adequately treated or cured. Unfortunately, people suffering from somatoform disorders must live with this reality on a daily basis. The good news, however, is that the Social Security Administration recognizes somatoform disorders as an impairment. This means that victims may be eligible for disability benefits as a result of their condition.
4 Types of Functional Limitations for Disability Benefits Due to Somatoform Disorders
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must show that your symptoms create sufficient functional limitations on your life. Specifically, you must demonstrate at least two of the following:
- You are severely restricted in the things that you do every day. For example, you may be unable to go to the store or drive a car.
- You find it extremely difficult to get along with other people.
- You find it extremely difficult to complete tasks within a reasonable time period.
- You experience at least three episodes per year where your symptoms get significantly worse. Each of these episodes lasts for at least two weeks at a time.
Providing the proper medical documentation to prove these limitations is a crucial aspect of obtaining benefits. It is therefore important for sufferers to seek assistance from their medical team as well as their attorney.
Mental illnesses can cause disabilities that are just as severe as physical conditions. Somatoform disorders are one such example. We can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
What medical documentation will I need to obtain disability benefits for my somatoform disorder?
People who suffer from pain and other physical symptoms with no identifiable cause are said to suffer from a somatoform disorder. Sadly, this condition often makes it very difficult to carry out activities of daily living, including working. Without the ability to work, victims often experience significant financial suffering. The Social Security Administration does recognize somatoform disorders as impairments that are eligible for disability benefits.
Symptoms of Somatoform Disorder You Must Document to Qualify for Disability
In order to qualify for benefits under the disability listing, you must present sufficient medically-documented evidence. This evidence must show that you have experienced one of the following:
- Multiple physical symptoms that have lasted several years. To treat these symptoms, you must take medication frequently or be seen by a doctor regularly. The condition has significantly altered your life patterns. The symptoms of the condition began before you turned 30.
- You are suffering from an ongoing disturbance of vision, speech, hearing, use of an arm or leg, movement, or heightened or diminished sensations, and there is no physical cause.
- You are obsessed with thinking that you have a serious disease or injury. As a result, you are interpreting physical signs or sensations in an unrealistic or irrational manner.
If you are able to produce this evidence, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The application process may seem overwhelming and stressful for those who have not applied in the past. Fortunately, we can help. Hiring an attorney to represent you through this process can maximize your chances for obtaining the benefits you deserve. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
I have polymyositis and am unable to work. Will I qualify for disability benefits?
Living with polymyositis is not an easy task. The condition is caused by chronic inflammation of the muscles in the body that weakens the skeletal muscles. These muscles control movement in the body, so the weakening can make it very difficult to carry out basic daily activities. In addition, the condition is progressive, meaning it will get worse over time. As a result, many victims find they are unable to work in order to support themselves.
4 Tasks of the Social Security Administration During a Disability Benefits Review
Fortunately, disability benefits may be available to help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with the condition. Some sufferers may qualify for Social Security disability benefits by meeting the criteria outlined in the Social Security Administration’s listing for the impairment. Other sufferers may not meet the criteria, but may still qualify by showing that they are unable to return to work. After applying, the Social Security Administration will do the following:
- Review your medical record to determine how the polymyositis impacts your ability to carry out basic functions in the workplace. For example, the Social Security Administration will assess your ability to stand, walk, and carry or lift objects. The muscle weakness, muscle loss, calcium deposits, pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath associated with polymyositis can all have a significant impact on your physical abilities in the workplace. You may also find that the thickening of skin that often occurs on the fingers and hands make it difficult to carry out tasks that require fine motor skills, such as filing, typing, or placing small pieces together.
- Review your medical record to determine how the polymyositis impacts your mental functioning.
- Record your abilities and limitations on a Residual Functional Capacity form.
- Consider all of your limitations in conjunction with your job experience, education, and age in order to determine whether you are able to return to work.
While benefits are crucial for many people, qualifying for disability benefits is often not a simple process. Fortunately, we are here to help walk you through the process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.
What symptoms may qualify me for disability benefits for my polymyositis?
For many people, a diagnosis of polymyositis can mean a future of chronic muscle weakening that gets worse as time goes on. As a result, you may find yourself able to do fewer and fewer of the necessary daily activities. This may include your ability to work in order to support yourself financially. The positive news, however, is that the Social Security Administration recognizes the condition as an impairment. Sufferers may be eligible for disability benefits as a result.
Common Symptoms of Polymyositis
If you are suffering from polymyositis, you may qualify for disability benefits if your symptoms are severe enough that they meet the requirements of the disability listing for this condition set out by the Social Security Administration. Common symptoms of the condition include the following:
- Weakness or loss of muscle in the hips and shoulder
- Difficulty going up stairs
- Difficulty standing up from a chair
- Difficulty raising your arms above your head
- Muscle weakness in the mouth, throat, and lungs that make it difficult to speak or breathe
- Joint and muscle tenderness
- Thickening of the skin in the fingers and the hands
- Calcium deposits in the joints that make it difficult to move
- Weight loss
- Respiratory failure
Even though polymyositis is a recognized impairment by the Social Security Administration, qualifying for disability benefits is still not a simple process. Fortunately, we are here to provide valuable legal guidance. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.