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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  • 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:

    1. Congenital scoliosis. This type of scoliosis exists when the spinal curvature is present at birth.
    2. Idiopathic scoliosis. This type of scoliosis is the most common form, and is generally thought to be hereditary.
    3. 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.
    4. 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:

    1. Nerve root compression causing pain, muscle weakness, or limiting your ability to move your legs
    2. Inflammation of the membrane surrounding the spine causing pain that requires you to change position more than once every two hours
    3. 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:

    1. Results from medical imaging tests, such as x-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans.
    2. Results from a physical examination including a detailed description of your limitations caused by the spinal condition.
    3. 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:


    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:

    1. Drug abuse
    2. Problems with family and other relationships
    3. Frequent and repeated job losses
    4. Suicide attempts
    5. 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:

    1. 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.
    2. You find it extremely difficult to get along with other people.
    3. You find it extremely difficult to complete tasks within a reasonable time period.
    4. 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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:

    1. 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.
    2. Review your medical record to determine how the polymyositis impacts your mental functioning.
    3. Record your abilities and limitations on a Residual Functional Capacity form.
    4. 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:

    1. Weakness or loss of muscle in the hips and shoulder
    2. Difficulty going up stairs
    3. Difficulty standing up from a chair
    4. Difficulty raising your arms above your head
    5. Muscle weakness in the mouth, throat, and lungs that make it difficult to speak or breathe
    6. Pain
    7. Joint and muscle tenderness
    8. Fatigue
    9. Thickening of the skin in the fingers and the hands
    10. Calcium deposits in the joints that make it difficult to move
    11. Weight loss
    12. Malnutrition
    13. Pneumonia
    14. 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.

  • Can I obtain disability benefits if I have scleroderma?

    If you are suffering from scleroderma, you may be experiencing a great deal of pain. It can be difficult for those living with this condition to carry out even the simplest of everyday tasks. This makes it challenging or impossible for scleroderma patients to work in order to support themselves. Fortunately, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits as a result of your condition.

    Symptoms of Scleroderma and Disability Benefits

    What are some of the symptoms associated with scleroderma that may prevent you from being able to work? The following is an overview:

    1. Extremities may turn blue or white in response to temperature changes
    2. Hair loss
    3. Hardening of the skin
    4. Abnormal skin coloration
    5. Thickening of the skin
    6. Small white lumps under the skin that can ooze a white substance
    7. Ulcers on the fingers or toes
    8. Joint pain
    9. Numbness and pain in the feet
    10. Swelling of the joints
    11. Wrist pain
    12. Dry cough
    13. Shortness of breath
    14. Wheezing
    15. Constipation
    16. Diarrhea
    17. Heartburn
    18. Fecal incontinence
    19. Difficulty swallowing
       

    The type and number of symptoms that you experience typically varies depending on the severity of the disease and how far the condition has progressed. The more severe cases can impact the entire body. Unfortunately, there is no cure and no specific treatment for this condition. As a result, a person suffering from scleroderma may require disability benefits in order to obtain some relief from the financial burden imposed by this disease.

    Since qualifying for disability benefits is typically not a simple process, it is important to seek legal guidance. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

     

  • Can I obtain disability benefits if I suffer from a pituitary gland disorder?

    When an individual suffers from a pituitary gland disorder, he or she may suffer from symptoms that make it difficult or impossible to carry out daily tasks, including holding down a job. This can create significant financial stress. Fortunately, victims may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. To maximize your chance for obtaining the benefits that you deserve, it is important to get assistance from a knowledgeable legal professional.

    8 Common Symptoms of Pituitary Gland Disorders

    The pituitary gland is an organ that is located at the base of the brain. This gland produces and releases many of the hormones that travel through your system, including prolactin, growth hormone, and thyroid-stimulating hormone. When someone suffers from a pituitary gland disorder, these hormones are not produced or secreted properly. The following symptoms may occur as a result:

    1. Sexual dysfunction
    2. Hot flashes
    3. Irregular menstrual cycles
    4. Dry skin
    5. Hair loss
    6. Memory loss
    7. Fatigue
    8. Weakness

    Depending on the cause of these symptoms, various types of treatment may be necessary. Individuals suffering from a pituitary gland disorder may suffer substantial financial distress created by the need for this treatment as well as the inability to work in order to earn a living and support themselves and their families.

    To obtain disability benefits to help alleviate some of the financial burden created by a pituitary gland disorder, it is important to take swift action. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

  • Am I eligible for disability benefits if I have a soft tissue burn injury?

    If you suffered a soft tissue burn injury, you may be facing significant disabilities. These injuries are often very painful and may require extensive and ongoing medical treatment. As a result, victims sometimes find themselves unable to work or support themselves and their families. Fortunately, some victims of soft tissue burn injuries may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can help to alleviate some of the financial burden associated with the injury. It is therefore important for victims to maximize their chance for obtaining the benefits they deserve by seeking assistance from a knowledgeable legal professional.

    5 Facts About Filing for Disability Benefits Due to a Soft Tissue Burn Injury

    Unless you have prior experience, applying for disability benefits can feel like an intimidating process. The following are five helpful facts about benefits and soft tissue burn injuries:

    1. Soft tissue burn injuries are covered under the listing of impairments contained in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.
    2. To qualify for benefits, you must suffer from a loss of mobility, major limb function, or fine muscle movements.
    3. The loss of function must be expected to last at least 12 months.
    4. Loss of function may occur from the damage to the soft tissue or from the pain that results.
    5. Pain must be the result of the burn. Medical evaluations by your doctor will be used to establish whether the pain caused by your soft tissue burn injury severely limits your ability to function and perform daily activities.

    The good news for victims is that an attorney can assist with the disability benefits application process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

     

  • What are the symptoms of aplastic anemia that may qualify me for disability benefits?

    When the body fails to produce sufficient red blood cells, this may be caused by a serious condition known as aplastic anemia. The condition can result in dangerous bleeding that is difficult to control. Victims may need extensive treatment and may also be unable to work as a result. People suffering from this blood condition may be entitled to disability benefits. Aplastic anemia is listed as a covered condition in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which contains a list of conditions that are commonly approved for benefits.

    9 Symptoms of Aplastic Anemia

    In order to obtain disability benefits for this condition, it is crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms. The following are nine common symptoms of aplastic anemia:

    1. Shortness of breath, especially after physical exertion
    2. Irregular, rapid heartbeat
    3. Paleness of the skin
    4. Unexplained bruising
    5. Headaches
    6. Rashes
    7. Dizziness
    8. Bleeding gums
    9. Frequent nose bleeds

    People suffering from aplastic anemia may need to undergo frequent blood transfusions or stem cell transplants. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to earn a living. In addition to dealing with the difficulties of aplastic anemia, sufferers may also face significant stress due to the financial struggle that may result.

    Fortunately, social security disability benefits can provide the financial assistance victims need. Since these benefits are so important, maximizing your chances for obtaining the benefits you deserve is crucial. Obtaining assistance from an experienced attorney can greatly improve the likelihood for success during this process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

  • How can I prove that I am unable to work as a result of my bronchiectasis?

    Suffering from a debilitating lung condition like bronchiectasis may leave you with difficulty breathing. This difficulty may also make it impossible for you to work, placing significant financial strain on yourself and your family. Victims may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits in order to alleviate some of this burden.

    4 Questions to Consider When Determining Whether You Are Able to Work With Bronchiectasis

    In order to qualify for disability benefits, you may need to demonstrate that you are unable to work as a result of your condition. The following are some of the questions that will be considered when the Social Security Administration makes this assessment:

    1. Does your inability to breathe properly make it difficult for you to perform physical activities? Examples would include moving items or walking up and down stairs.
    2. Are you suffering from fatigue as a result of your shortness of breath that makes it difficult for you to perform desk work?
    3. Do irritants in the air increase your breathing difficulties? If so, this may impact your ability to perform any job where dust is a factor, for example.
    4. Does your age, education level, and work history make it impossible for you to perform any job? It is important to note that when determining whether or not you qualify for disability benefits as a result of your inability to work, the Social Security Administration will look at more than just whether you are able to perform your specific previous job.

    Since disability benefits are so important to most victims, maximizing your chances for obtaining the benefits you deserve is crucial. Seeking representation from an experienced attorney can provide significant help throughout this process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation at 888-904-6847.

  • Does Myasthenia Gravis qualify as a Social Security disability?

    Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness of the voluntary muscle group and can be debilitating. It is listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) under the Neurological - Medical Listing 11.12. This means that if you meet their very specific and stringent standards your condition may be approved for disability benefits.

    The Evidence You'll Need to Present

    The SSA does not grant benefits based solely on the diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis. Like so many disabilities, Myasthenia Gravis is difficult to qualify for. Detailed medical records from your physicians and specialists will be crucial to being approved for benefits. In addition, it is very important that you speak with both your doctor and attorney about getting a specialized medical source statement before you being the process. Doing so is often the determining factor in being denied or approved for disability benefits.

    The Process for Applying for SSA Disability Benefits for Myasthenia Gravis

    The process for gaining SSA disability benefits for Myasthenia Gravis takes place in stages. Each stage must be passed before the next will be examined. If at any point during this process the SSA determines that the claimant doesn't meet the criteria, the application for disability benefits will be denied. The steps for approval are as follows:

    1. Establish if the MG sufferer is currently working. If he or she is working and is earning more than $1,040 a month, he or she may be disqualified from benefits.
    2. Determine if the Myasthenia Gravis symptoms are severe enough to impact the ability to complete work-related activities.
    3. Since this condition is episodic, the SSA will need to determine the frequency and duration of the crises as well as how long remissions typically last. That being said, if either of the following conditions is present it's likely that the person will be determined disabled:
      • Significant motor weakness, rapid fatigue of muscles of the arms and legs when performing repetitive resistance activity while on prescribed therapy.
      • Significant difficulty in speaking, swallowing or breathing while on prescribed therapy.
    4. A review of age, education, prior work experience and both physical and mental conditions will be performed. This is done to determine what disability rating will be given and is based on medical-vocational guidelines.

    Have Your Disability Benefits Been Denied? Do Not Give up Hope!

    This doesn't have to be the end of your fight for Social Security benefits in Massachusetts; far from it! If you need to appeal please call 888-904-6847and talk to one of our attorneys, chat live on the site, or fill out the contact form on this page.

  • Since my disability claim was rejected, I am struggling to pay bills and get medical care. Could my case now be considered critical?

    You haven’t been able to work for nearly eight months, your doctor has told you repeatedly that you can’t stand for more than a few minutes at a time, and you can barely pay for your medication, let alone make house payments. How could your disability application have been denied?

    What can you do now?

    Factors for a “Critical” Appeal

    When your disability claim has been denied, you have the right to file an appeal to get the decision overturned. Once you file your appeal with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, the hearing office will review your claim and classify its appeal priority based on the HALLEX system for critical cases. Your case will be considered critical if one of the following factors exists:

    • You have a terminal illness.
    • You are a veteran who has been determined to have a 100% permanent and total disability (VPAT).
    • You have earned Military Casualty or Wounded Warrior status (MCWW).
    • You have symptoms or disease that qualifies for compassionate allowance standings.
    • Your situation shows evidence of dire need of food, shelter, or medical care.
    • You are potentially violent, suicidal, or homicidal.

    If your claim is found to be a critical case it will be expedited for immediate determination.

    Increasing Your Claim’s Odds for a Faster Approval

    Although every claim is different, having an experienced disability lawyer on your side will always drastically improve your odds of a success. A good attorney can not only help provide evidence to aid and facilitate a speedy decision, but he’ll also be able to present the evidence in such a way that shows the necessity of an approval.

    Let us help make sure that you take full advantage of your second chance. Contact us today for a free consultation and allow us to help increase your chances for an approval. Call us at 508-283-5500 for the help you deserve!

  • If I’m pursuing a disability appeal in Boston, how long will I have to wait? What are my chances of getting approved?

    When you’re depending on disability benefits to help support your family, opening a rejection letter after several months of waiting can be heartbreaking. Those benefits mean the difference between surviving and bankruptcy. Fortunately, you still have a chance to appeal the SSA’s decision, but you’re wondering what the odds are for your approval.

    Boston ODAR Wait Times and Case Results

    When your disability claim is rejected, you have the right to file an appeal with your local Office of Disability Adjudication Review (ODAR). Although the home office of the ODAR is located in Virginia, there are three satellite offices in Massachusetts. Those offices are located in Boston, Lawrence, and Springfield. The Boston office is the largest with 13 presiding administrative law judges (ALJs).

    Because the Boston office has twice as many ALJs as Lawrence and Springfield, it has a slightly faster turn-around and is able to review more cases in a shorter period of time. The average wait time for a hearing at the Boston office is 11 months, which is about two months shorter than the national average. The average processing time in Boston is just over a year, but is shorter than the national average by about 50 days.

    Case results at the Boston office are on par with national averages, as the following SSA statistics indicate:

    • Cases dismissed.   Boston: 22%       National average: 18%
    • Cases approved.    Boston: 42%        National average: 44%
    • Cases denied.         Boston 36%        National average: 38%

    Improving Your Odds of a Successful Appeal

    Although every claim is different, and each judge has his or her own way of determining whether a denied claim should be reconsidered, you can improve your odds dramatically by accepting the help of an experienced lawyer. We know how to improve your claim for an appeal. Let us help make sure that you take full advantage of your second chance. Contact us today for a free consultation. Call 508-283-5500 now for the help you deserve!

  • I earn some money with a part-time job. How will that affect my SSI payment amount?

    When filling out the forms for disability consideration, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires you to provide a lot of financial information, including details of your earned income (wages) and unearned income (benefits, pensions, interest income, etc.). For non-blind individuals, if your income exceeds $1090 in 2015, you most likely will not be eligible for SSI benefits. If you earn less than $1090, you may be eligible, but the amount you receive will be in direct proportion to your earnings.

    Calculating SSI Benefits

    When determining how much money you will receive each month, the SSA starts with the total of your current earned and unearned monthly income, but then subtracts a fixed amount as well as certain additional forms of income. Called exclusions, these subtractions can be difficult to figure out on your own. The SSA provides an extensive list of exclusions on its website, but you can get a general idea of how the calculations work with the following example.

    If your gross monthly income from a part-time job is $520 you will make deductions as follows:

    Step One: Calculating Countable Income

     

    Total

    Earned Income

    $520

    $520

    Subtract General Income Exclusion

    -$20.00

    $500

    Subtract Earned Income Exclusion

    -$65

    $435

    Countable Earned Income

     

    $435

    Divide Countable Income in Half

    $435 / 2

    $217.50

    Total Countable Income

     

    $217.50

    Once the countable income is determined, it is subtracted from this year’s federal benefit payment standard rate.​

    Step Two: Using Your Countable Income to Determine Your SSI Pay

     

     

    Federal Benefit Rate (2015)

    $733

     

    Subtract Adjusted Countable Income

    -$217.50

     

    Adjusted SSI Payment Amount Total

     

    $515.50

    Therefore, if your working monthly income is $520, your total monthly income with disability should be $1,035.50. Need more information on how your disability is calculated? Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help answer your questions and address your concerns. Remember, it’s our job to help you! ​

  • What is “substantial gainful activity” and how will it affect my disability application?

    Before your accident you made a decent living. However, now that you have limited mobility, you can only work half the hours you used to work and your family’s income has been drastically reduced. So, instead of saving for family vacations, you’re now counting pennies to pay for your mortgage.

    To make matters worse, you applied for disability as soon as you got out of the hospital, and you received a letter from the SSA yesterday. DENIED.

    Denied? How can that be? The reason given by the SSA was “doesn’t meet income qualifications.” What does that mean? Your income has been drastically affected as a result of your injury—shouldn’t that qualify for disability benefits? You can no longer make your house payments, let alone pay for your physical therapy. Shouldn’t that mean something to the SSA?

    You are left wondering: how is income eligibility calculated?

    Substantial Gainful Activity: Not Enough to Live On, But Enough to Deny Your Claim

    The term substantial gainful activity (SGA) applies to the notion that you are still able to work enough to earn a “substantial” income. In other words, if your monthly earnings exceed the SGA cap, then the Social Security Administration will conclude that your disability doesn’t need additional financial aid. 

    According to SSA regulations, the specified amount allowed for SGA depends on the nature of your disability. Legally blind individuals are given a higher SGA cap than non-blind individuals as specified by the Social Security Act. SGA amounts generally increase each year according to federal cost of living increases. For 2015, the SGA amount for blind workers is $1820 and for non-blind workers, it is $1090. That means if you are not blind and are able to work enough to earn more than $1090 each month, you will not be eligible for disability payments.

    Downsizing to Live

    It’s an unfortunate fact that those who make more money before an accident tend to lose more money afterward. If your income is greater than the SGA amount, and you’re denied disability benefits, you have no choice but to downsize your lifestyle in order to budget wisely while recovering. Either way, when you’re facing disability issues, it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with an experienced disability lawyer.

    Need more information about your rights? Download our free guide on understanding disability: Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. You’ll not only learn more about your options, but you’ll also see how our knowledge and experience can help you.

  • Does the SSA really spend that much on disability that they have to put a cap on how much I get?

    There are two types of people who receive Social Security Disability—those who are grateful for any support they can get and those who believe that the government should give them more. However, considering that the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t have unlimited funds at its disposal, it tries to budget disability benefits based on need.

    Is this fair? Shouldn’t the SSA be able to support all who need assistance? There can’t be that many people who are physically unable to work. So why can’t they give you enough to fully support your family?

    2014 Average Disability Payment Amounts 

    Over the past 30 years, the number of people receiving supplemental income and  disability from the SSA has nearly tripled. According to the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program Report, there are currently more than eight million families on disability with a projected increase to over 10 million by 2030.  This means that one out of every 30 people living in the U.S. is dependent on some sort of disability support.

    Although these families require aid for treatment and living expenses, you can see how quickly the funds add up. In fact, the budget has gotten so out of control that the SSA Commissioner has requested an additional $12 billion in order to cover costs for 2015.

    $12 billion?? Where does all that money go? You know that you’re not getting that much. So who is?

    Below is the average monthly budget for SSI payments throughout 2014:

    Month Total Payout

    Average Individual Payout

    February $4,702,000,000 $535
    March $4,742,000,000 $535
    April $4,822,000,000 $537
    May $4,741,000,000 $535
    June $4,785,000,000 $536
    July $4,704,000,000 $535
    August $4,724,000,000 $536
    September $4,785,000,000 $535
    October $4,660,000,000 $532
    November $4,662,000,000 $532
    December $4,686,000,000 $532
    January $4,687,000,000 $541
    YearlyTotal $56,700,000,000 $6,421

    Although $6,400 a year is way below poverty level and doesn’t seem like a lot of assistance, the $56 billion the SSA spends overall is definitely a lot for the government to spend on disability. This is why disability approval has become increasingly difficult. Applications need to be perfect and disability must be severe in order to get approved, and even then the SSA can only provide limited benefits each month. This is where an experienced disability lawyer like Keefe comes in.

    Help You Deserve to Get the Aid You Need

    When you need disability benefits you can’t chance being one of the thousands of applicants who get denied. The SSA has limited funding, which means it is extremely strict when it comes to application approval. Make sure your claim gets noticed by contacting us before you file. We can help ensure that every aspect of your application is prepared correctly to avoid delays, as well as make sure your application gets the proper attention it deserves.

    Allow us to help you benefit from the SSA budget. Call (508) 283-5500 now, and get the help you need, the support you deserve, and peace of mind that comes with knowing we have your back.

  • When filing a claim for my child’s disability, what documentation and evidence do I need to include to prove the severity of his disorder?

    Once you’ve decided to pursue a disability claim on behalf of your child for her skin condition, filling out the proper forms is only a small step toward getting it approved. Although accuracy and thoroughness can help your claim be taken seriously, in order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if your claim is eligible, proper evidence and documentation must also be included.

    The SSA evaluates applicants’ claims based on the severity of each health condition. Therefore the SSA requires that medical documentation and evidence of severity be provided with each claim. If the documentation clearly shows that your child is unable to function normally and that his condition is bad enough to require extensive treatment, benefits will likely be approved.

    However, a simple note from his doctor isn’t going to cut it. In order to be taken seriously and have the best chance for approval your claim needs to be overflowing with evidence.

    Too Much Information Is Better Than Not Enough: Paperwork to Include in Your Claim

    When it comes to childhood skin issues the SSA requires several types of documentation, evidential proof, and testimonies to make sure that the condition is severe enough to fulfill disability requirements. The SSA recommends that before filing, you and your disability attorney make sure the documentation is strong enough to back up your need for aid.

    The three main documentation categories needed are: laboratory findings, testimonials, and hospital reports. Evidence taken from these three sources should include documented findings of the following:

    • Onset and duration: When did the condition first start and how long has it been going on?
    • Frequency of flare-ups: How often does it occur?
    • Prognosis of your skin disorder: Doctor’s diagnosis, specialists’ insights, etc.
    • Location. What part of the body does it affect?
    • Size. Do the lesions change size? How large are they?
    • Appearance of lesions: Descriptions or photographs of condition. 
    • History of exposure: Was he exposed to toxins, allergens, or irritants?
    • Familial incidence: Is the condition genetic? Does anyone else in the family suffer from it?
    • Seasonal variation: Does the issue change depending on the weather or season?
    • Stress factors: Does the condition worsen with stress or anxiety?
    • Ability to function outside of a highly protective environment: Statements from caregivers, teachers, etc., about the child’s behavior in social situations.

    Perfecting Your Claim for the Benefits You Deserve

    Although the SSA can help assist you with getting some of this evidence, it will still be up to you to arrange it and file it correctly. This is why it is important to have help accessing it and streamlining it into your application to make sure the SSA can understand it. That’s where we come in! We have extensive experience with accurately filing disability claims as well as the knowledge needed to ensure that your application isn’t lost in the shuffle.

    Need more information about your disability rights? Please feel free to download our free guide on understanding disability, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. You’ll learn more about your rights and claim options and also see how our knowledge and experience can help you get the justice you deserve.

  • What types of skin disorders are covered under child disability?

    Skin disorders affect millions of children throughout the United States. Anything from acne and eczema to genetic abnormalities can cause a child to not only lose confidence in himself, but can also cause debilitating pain and suffering. As a result, the Social Security Administration (SSA), recognizes certain skin disorders for child disability benefits.  

    Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize that their child could qualify for disability, let alone what to do to get it for him. Therefore, many children who need and deserve SSA help for treatment, don’t get it. Is your child getting what he needs, or is he one of many who continue to feel uncomfortable in their own skin without the medical care they deserve?

    Recognized Debilitating Skin Disorders

    “Skin disorder” is an extremely vague term which can easily be assumed to cover minor irritations. However, in order for a skin condition to be considered for disability, it has to be severe enough to be debilitating. To eliminate unwarranted applications, the SSA has compiled a list of skin ailments which could satisfy disability requirements. The list includes the following skin conditions:

    • Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, such as:
      • Cellulitis: bacterial infection affecting the deeper layers of the skin
      • Erysipelas: bacterial infection affecting the top layers of the skin
      • Folliculitis: an infection of the hair follicle
      • Erythrasma: infection most commonly found where skin rubs together, such as between the toes, in armpits, and in the groin
    • Dermatitis: severe inflammation of the skin which can cause blistering, oozing, flaking of the skin or the appearance and feel of a hard crust. Although examples of dermatitis include eczema, dandruff, and certain rashes, in order to get disability your child’s condition must be severe and cause some sort of functional inability.
    • Hidradenitis suppurativa: chronic skin condition that causes pea-sized to marble-sized lumps under the skin that typically develop where skin rubs together (armpits, groin, between the buttocks, under the breasts, etc.), causing severe pain. In some cases, the rubbing of the skin can cause the lumps to spontaneously burst, releasing foul smelling puss and fluid.
    • Genetic photosensitivity disorders: disorders that prevent the skin from being able to withstand sun or ultraviolet light, including phenylketonuria, albinism, familial porphyria, cutanea tarda, xeroderma, erythropoietic protoporphyria and Kindler syndrome. This type of disorder not only prevents access to normal treatments, but it can also limit social interaction and the ability to work as the child gets older.
    • Second and third degree burns: excessive scarring and nerve damage caused by burn injuries that can cause psychological withdrawal as well as excessive pain or the inability to stretch the skin around certain areas of the body.

    For any of these disorders to qualify, they must have shown resistance to treatment for at least three months and must prevent the sufferer from normal daily functions.

    Securing Your Child’s Future with a Simple Call

    Don’t waste your time, energy and patience hoping that your child’s application will be approved. If he is suffering from one of the aforementioned conditions, he may deserve disability benefits. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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