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 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.

    Know someone who is having a rough time getting their disability claim approved? Please feel free to share this page with her via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can also recommend us to your friends, family and coworkers on Google+.

  • How are growth impairments determined for SSA disability benefits?

    Although your child’s height may not seem like a huge concern for his overall well-being, significant delays or rapid growth could be signs of underlying health conditions. This does not mean that just because your child is shorter than his friends, he has a disorder. In fact, in most people, height is determined by parental height—so if you and your wife are on the shorter side, it stands to reason that your child will be also.

    However, extremely short stature or delayed puberty could be signs of pituitary problems, genetic disorders, or glandular conditions that could wind up affecting your child throughout his life. This is why it is important to recognize possible growth impairments in your child and to know what to do in order to get him the help he will need when growing to adulthood.

    Diagnosing Growth Impairments for Disability

    Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration can help make the difference between your child growing up healthy and suffering the consequences of growth defects. However, in order for your child’s disorder to be approved, it must be proven to be an actual disorder, not just the normal result of parental height genetics.

    This is why when determining growth impairments for disability, height factors are based upon comparisons of the following:

    • Current height with at least three previous determinations (including length at birth, if available)
    • Standard growth chart recordings (WHO growth standardsand CDC growth charts)
    • Adult heights of the child's natural parents as well as the heights and ages of siblings

    If these comparisons show a compelling difference in height and development, your child could be suffering from a growth impairment. Further tests should be used to diagnose the origin of the impairment in order to determine the severity of the issue and whether it can qualify for disability benefits.

    The Boost Your Child Needs to Get the Benefits He Deserves

    When your child is diagnosed with a growth disorder the next step you should take to protect his future is to file a disability claim. Disability can help pay for treatments as well as help you and your family care for him throughout his childhood. However, applying for disability and being accepted are too very different things.

    Dedicated legal representation, such as ourselves, can make sure you have the required tests and documentation before applying. So, before filing, contact us for a free consultation. You’ll see how we can help you and your family get the support and guidance you need to properly pursue your child’s disability claim. Trust us—he’ll be glad you did.

    Know someone who is having a rough time getting their disability claim benefits? Please feel free to share this page with her via email, Facebook or Twitter. It’s our job to help our clients get the support and justice they need, so let us help your loved ones get what they deserve. Click the media icons on this page to instantly show your support.

  • Should I apply for SSA benefits to support my child’s disability?

    Although the majority of disability claims are focused on adult conditions that prevent the claimant from being able to support himself, childhood disability payouts may be more common than you realize. The Social Security Administration estimates that 1.3 million disabled children received disability benefits in 2014. However, the number of disabled children in the U.S. who may be entitled to benefits is ten times that.

    Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize that their child may qualify for disability, let alone what to do to get it for him. Therefore, too many children who need and deserve SSA help, don’t get it. Is your child getting what he needs, or is he one of many who continues to struggle without the proper care he deserves?

    Disability by the Numbers

    In order to get a better understanding of how many children in the U.S. are affected by physical and mental disabilities, the National Center for Education Statistics researched the prevalence of different types of disorders affecting children. This research was based upon the 6.4 million disabled children currently enrolled in public school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Children under 5 and those too disabled to attend school aren’t factored, and could raise stats by several percentages.

    Findings show that within the IDEA program, the following conditions were prevalent:

    • Learning disabilities: 36% or 2.3 million
    • Speech impairments: 21% or 1.4 million
    • Autism: 7% or 450,000
    • Intellectual disabilities: 7% or 450,000
    • Emotional disturbance: 6% or 385,000
    • Developmental delay: 6% or 385,000
    • Multiple disabilities: 2% or 130,000 
    • Hearing impairments: 1% or 64,000
    • Orthopedic disorders: 1% or 64,000
    • Other health disorders (musculoskeletal, digestive, cardiovascular, cancer): 12% or 770,000

    Given these numbers and the financial burden addressing these conditions can place on families, it’s extremely important to know where to turn to get the help you need to secure your child’s future.

    Filing a Claim to Get the Benefits Your Child Deserves

    Every parent wants the best for their child. Unfortunately, ensuring your child gets the best can come at a high price when your child is diagnosed with a disability. Filing a disability claim on his behalf may be your best option to guarantee his financial security. Unfortunately filing a disability claim for a child can be confusing and difficult.

    If your child needs SSA benefits, don’t risk a denial due to improper paperwork or misunderstanding—your child deserves better than that. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your claim. Let us help you discover your child’s legal options for government assistance. Without representation your claim could easily be denied and take years for reconsideration. Don’t waste time. Call now!

    Know someone who is having a rough time getting disability claim benefits for a child? Please, feel free to share this page with her via email, Facebook or Twitter. It’s our job to help our clients get the support and justice they need; so let us help your loved ones get what they deserve. Click the media icons on this page to instantly show your support.

  • What is the SSA Blue Book and how does it affect my claim?

    When a medical condition or symptoms of a health issue make it hard to accomplish daily activities, supporting yourself and your family can be next to impossible. However, no matter how much pain you’re in or how difficult it is to function—you still need money to survive. Fortunately, the Federal Government understands this plight and empathizes with the gravity of such situations.

    To help those who are physically unable to help themselves, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits for qualifying applicants. However, in order to receive disability income, you must be able to prove that your condition does indeed keep you from being able to support your family.

    Now, the SSA understands that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ailments that can keep a person from being able to work. This is why they have created a disability approved condition guidebook (known as the bluebook), as a way to track ailments and the potential link between severity and work inability.

    The Blue Book: The Guide to Approving Your Disability Application

    The Blue Book is essentially a manual of how the SSA disability panel evaluates your application for approval or rejection. Although the guidebook doesn’t include every factor for eligibility, it is a good reference to help determine if filing for disability is a viable option. The book includes specific explanations on what the panel is looking for in an application. Types of conditions that are eligible for disability: the categories of disorders within the blue book are as follows:

    • 1.00 Musculoskeletal System
    • 2.00 Special Senses and Speech Disorders  
    • 3.00 Respiratory System
    • 4.00 Cardiovascular Disorders
    • 5.00 Digestive System
    • 6.00 Genitourinary Disorders
    • 7.00 Hematological Disorders
    • 8.00 Skin Disorders
    • 9.00 Endocrine System
    • 10.00 Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems
    • 11.00 Neurological Disorders
    • 12.00 Mental Disorders
    • 13.00 Neoplastic Disorders
    • 14.00 Immune System*
       

    The Blue Book also includes:

    • Qualifications – How long an applicant must have had the condition to qualify and what types of symptoms the applicant must show.
    • Definitions – Explanations on how the SSA defines certain conditions, symptoms, maladies, and diseases.
    • Evaluation – How conditions are evaluated, how and when the condition was diagnosed, and how the condition impairs the applicant from working.
    • Severity ratings – How symptoms are classified for severity and how disabling the condition is.
    • Evidence – What type of evidence or proof is needed for the application to be considered for approval.

    Making Your Case

    Although the Blue Book provides excellent resources to help you decided whether to pursue a claim, filing can still be extremely difficult and confusing. Don’t allow your claim to be jeopardized because of the complex jargon or misdirection. Contact us today to see how an experienced disability lawyer can help you better understand the application and help get the results you need out of your application.

    Our vast experience with disability claims, as well as our unique knowledge of the claim process, will help make sure that you have all the necessary documentation, requirements, knowledge, and confidence to ensure increased odds of approval. Don’t waste your time waiting for a rejection letter—let us fight to ensure that you get the consideration you deserve and the benefits you and your family need. Call us today for a free consultation, and take the first step toward getting your rightful disability.

     

  • If I have an endocrine disorder not listed in the SSA blue book, am I still eligible for disability?

    According to the National Institutes of Health’s review of endocrine and metabolic disorders, Americans suffer from 54 different disorders related to the endocrine system. However, the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments (Blue Book) only names a handful of specific endocrine disorders that meet their medical criteria for disability consideration. So, does this mean the other 40+ ailments caused by endocrine problems aren’t severe enough to warrant disability?

    Not necessarily.

    Additional Endocrine Disorders That Could Qualify for Disability

    The main factor that determines disability approval is whether the condition from which you suffer prevents you from physically, mentally, or emotionally being able to work. As long as you can prove that your endocrine condition prohibits you from financially supporting yourself and family, the disability panel is required to investigate the condition further to determine eligibility.

    Some common endocrine disorders (not specifically listed by the SSA) that can be severe enough to warrant investigation include:

    • Adrenal insufficiency. This condition occurs when the adrenal glands release too little of the hormone cortisol. This imbalance can cause dangerous drops in blood pressure, fatigue, stomach upset, and severe dehydration.
    • Cushing's disease. This disease is caused by the overproduction of a pituitary gland hormone, generally caused by a tumor, which leads to an overactive adrenal gland. Debilitating symptoms include backaches, bone pain, thinning of the bones (which leads to rib and spine fractures), and weak muscles.
    • Gigantism (acromegaly) and other growth hormone problems. If the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone, a child's bones and body parts may grow abnormally fast. This can put excessive pressure and strain on the bones and muscles, causing pain, bone damage, and heart strain.
    • Hyperthyroidism. This occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to excessive weight loss, fast heart rate, sweating, and nervousness.
    • Hypothyroidism. This occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression.
    • Multiple endocrine neoplasia I and II. These conditions are rare and are passed down through families. They cause tumors of the parathyroid, adrenal, and thyroid glands, leading to overproduction of hormones.  
    • Polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is the overproduction of androgens which interfere with the development of eggs and their release from the ovaries. PCOS can be extremely painful due to cysts pushing on the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, and can also cause emotional issues.

    Proving Your Right for Disability

    If you’ve been diagnosed with an endocrine condition and you feel that symptoms of that condition are interfering with your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits. However, before filing a claim, make sure you’re not wasting your time with incomplete forms. Our extensive knowledge and experience with disability claims will help ensure that your claim is properly filled out, filed, and justifiable in order to get the attention it deserves.

    We know how the panel works to determine eligibility and approval, and we’ll make sure your claim gets the attention and investigation it deserves. Don’t waste your time waiting for a decline letter; instead, let us help you file the best claim you can to get the benefits your condition deserves. Not only is the consultation free, but you’ll also save valuable time, effort, and stress. Call now!

  • How do I prove that my skin disorder is debilitating enough to receive disability benefits?

    Although most minor skin conditions such as acne and eczema are merely cosmetic frustrations, more serious conditions such as severe dermatitis and chronic infections can be life altering. According to the National Institute of Health, morbidity is significant with severe skin ailments through potential disfigurement, disability, or symptoms such as intractable itch. Severe skin conditions can also cause a reduction in quality of life by forcing isolation due to embarrassment and depression. Even worse, the pain of certain conditions can keep a sufferer from participating in day-to-day activities, including work.

    As a result of this debilitation, chronic and severe skin conditions are eligible for disability benefits to help aid those financially who are unable to support themselves. However, in order to be approved for benefits, you must be able to prove the severity of your ailment to the Social Security Administration (SSA), based on specific criteria.

    Evidential Requirements for Skin-Related Disability Approval    

    Although the SSA concedes that certain skin conditions can cause the need for disability assistance, in order to fairly judge this need, each claim is investigated to determine whether there is enough evidence to prove disability. Unfortunately, as a result of claimants being unable to prove that their conditions prevent them from working, only an average of 30% of claims are approved.

    The SSA estimates that nearly 60% of all disability claims are denied. Of these denials, 55% are related to insufficient medical proof, while the other 45% are denied based on technical issues. This is why it is extremely important to know what to include in your claim and to get the necessary help to make sure all requirements are fulfilled before you file. To prove the severity of your skin condition, you must collect the following evidence:

    • Information about the onset of the condition (how it started, when it started, etc.)
    • Duration and frequency of flare-ups (how long they last and how long you’ve been suffering)
    • Location, size, and appearance of lesions (to determine mobility issues)
    • Any history of exposure to toxins, allergens, or irritants
    • Seasonal variations (does the condition get better or worse at different times of the year?)
    • Flare-up factors (does anything make the condition worse—stress, movement, etc.)
    • Witness statements (discussing your ability to function outside of a highly protective environment)
    • Laboratory findings to prove diagnosis (results of a biopsy, blood tests, screenings, etc.)
    • Medical testimony describing severity
    • Symptoms and pain charts
    • Employer/coworker statements describing your ability (or lack thereof) to work
    • Evidence that the condition has lasted or will last more than three months

    No Need to Jump Out of Your Skin—We’re Here to Help!

    When you’re suffering from a condition that keeps you from doing the things you love in addition to the things you have to do to survive, having to justify your pain to others can be extremely taxing. Fortunately, when forced to justify it to the Social Security Administration, you don’t have to do it alone. Our experience, knowledge, and support can help you file without causing added stress which may agitate your condition.

    We know how confusing and frustrating filing a disability claim can be, especially when a single mistake could not only delay your ruling, but could deny it altogether. Let us help make sure your claim gets the attention and proper judgment it deserves. Call us today for a free consultation and review of your claim. You won’t be disappointed.

     

  • What complications are caused by the four types of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia? How will different symptoms affect my claim?

    Telangiectasia is an unusual dilation of blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This generally causes redness or flushing and can be caused by bruising, sunburns, or as an effect of Rosacea. However, Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) is a disorder that causes abnormalities in the dilation of blood vessels in vital organs, making it a much more serious disorder.

    As described by the National Library of Medicine, normal blood flow starts with the heart pumping blood into your arteries at high pressure. This pressure pushes the blood through the arteries to smaller vessels (arterioles and capillaries), which in turn supply oxygen to your body's tissues. By the time blood reaches the capillaries, the pressure is much lower than when it started. The blood then travels from the capillaries into veins and then back to the heart

    HHT, however, can cause disastrous disruptions in this normal blood flow. When you suffer from HHT, your arterial vessels bypass the capillaries and push blood directly into your veins at a much higher pressure than normal. Since your veins have thinner walls and are less elastic than your arteries, they can’t sustain the high pressure for very long, and become strained. This added strain can cause serious issues to your veins and can also lead to life-threatening vascular problems.

    Types of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia

    Although some forms of HHT are minor and will only result in the occasional nosebleed or flushing (reddening) of the skin where the affected blood vessels dilate, more aggressive forms of the disorder can be life threatening. More specifically:

    • Type 1. This disorder can cause pressure-induced hemorrhages in the eyes, lungs, or brain, which can lead to vision problems, pulmonary edema, brain injury, and death.
    • Types 2 and 3. In these types, hemorrhages center more in the lungs, heart, and liver causing shortness of breath, pain, and dizziness, potential cardiac arrest and higher risk of liver cirrhosis.
    • Ataxia Telangiectasia. A-T occurs when compromised blood flow causes the immune system to break down. When the immune system becomes affected, viruses, bacteria, and illnesses will become more aggressive. In addition, people with A-T are 20% more likely to develop cancer

    How This Affects Your Disability Claim

    As a result of these risks, the Social Security Administration recognizes severe cases of Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia as sufficient reason for disability qualification. Considering how excessive movement and activity can exacerbate the condition, the SSA concedes that working could potentially be life threatening. Therefore, if you’re diagnosed with this disorder, you should seriously consider speaking to an experienced attorney about filing a claim for disability.

    Contact us today to discuss how we can help you prove your disorder is worth disability benefits. Our extensive knowledge with the disability process will not only guarantee that your claim is filed correctly but also be given the attention it deserves. Contact us today for a free consultation and allow us to ease the pressure of filing.

  • Key Differences between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income

    According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), over 10 million people in the United States receive disability benefits each year. These benefits are allocated between Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, totaling roughly $11 billion worth of benefit payouts.

    If you have been injured or diagnosed with a disabling medical condition and are unable to sufficiently continue working, you may be eligible for SSD or SSI benefits. However, before filing, it’s important to know the difference between these two programs and which one you should apply for.

    So, what’s the difference? Should you file for SSD or SSI? Which is most likely to get you the benefits you need?

    Differences Between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income

    Although the majority of disability benefits are associated with SSD claims, SSI claims are a significant source of income for many disabled beneficiaries, allowing them to have additional financial support. However, although both programs are controlled by the SSA and provide financial support for disabled persons, the benefits and eligibility requirements for each program are significantly different.

    Social Security Disability

    SSD is funded through payroll taxes, so you are considered "insured" for SSD only if you have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund (better known as FICA Social Security taxes). Other important things to know:

    • You must be between the ages of 18 and 65. After two years of disability, or if you’re over the age of 65, you may be eligible for Medicare instead of SSD.
    • Your spouse and children are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits (as long as you’re over the age of 18), called auxiliary benefits
    • There is a required five-month waiting period after notification of disability. The SSA won't pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled and then the amount of your monthly benefits will depend on your previous earnings record

    Supplemental Security Income

    SSI is called a "means-tested program," meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. Since SSI is funded by general taxes, it is available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven't earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD. Other facts to be aware of:

    • SSI income requirements are based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and can change annually during cost of living adjustments. However, a good baseline for financial eligibility is if you have less than $2,000 worth of assets ($3,000 cumulative with a spouse) and a limited income (less than $12,000 a year) you should be eligible for SSI benefits.
    • You may be eligible under the income requirements for SSI to receive Medicaid. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps.
    • The amount you’ll receive is dependent on where you live, your average cost-of-living, and the amount of your regular, monthly income.
    • Unlike SSD, SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month after you submit your application.

    Determining Which Program Is Right for You

    Are you finding it increasingly difficult to work due to your cardiac disability? Need help getting social security benefits to survive? Let us help! Filing an SSD or SSI claim can be extremely confusing, especially when you’re not sure which one to pursue. However, with an experienced disability lawyer on your side, you don’t have to worry.

    Need more information about your medical rights? Please feel free to download our free report on Social Security Disabilities: Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. You’ll not only learn more about your rights and claim options, but you’ll also see how our knowledge and experience can help you get the justice you deserve.

     

  • How do I prove my mental disorder is incapacitating enough to deserve disability?

    Over the past few months your depression and anxiety has become completely out of control.  You’ve suffered these disorders your entire life—or at least as long as you can remember—but you’ve always been able to keep them under control with medication and therapy. However, for some reason, you’ve been experiencing severe panic attacks at work lately, and you’ve called in seven times in the past three months because you couldn’t make yourself get out of bed. Your boss has already warned you that if there is one more issue, he’ll have to fire you.

    After talking to your therapist, you decided to apply for disability. However, after waiting several months for a reply, you were denied. The letter claimed that you didn’t provide substantial evidence to prove that your disorder keeps you from working.

    What does that even mean? What kind of evidence were you supposed to include? What are your options now?  

    Proving Your Claim

    According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 2.5 million mental disability claims are filed to the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year in the United States. However, many of these claims are denied due to the improper documentation and evidence pertaining to the severity of the claimant’s disorder. Considering that serious mental illnesses are just as entitled to disability payments as serious physical illnesses, properly filled out claims are essential. Otherwise, sufferers could wind up being denied their rightful benefits of up to $900 a month and receiving Medicare.

    The SSA recommends that before filing, you and your disability attorney verify the following information: documentation and evidence of your disorder’s work-related functional limitations. Providing this data will help you avoid timely delays and wrongful claim denials.

    Data needed includes:

    • Specific symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings to prove your disability exists.
    • Assessment of the severity and degree of limitations the disorder imposes on your daily activities, social functions, and concentration, as well as your ability to work.
    • Proof that these limitations have lasted, or are expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
    • Analysis of impairments compared to normal sustainable anxiety issues.
    • Evidence of any physical dysfunction.
    • Documentation of degeneration or worsening of symptoms over time.
    • Medical testimonials verifying your disorder and the severity.
    • Witness statements and evaluations relating to deterioration of work.

     

    Collecting the above documentation and evidence can be frustrating. However, you don’t have to do it alone. Once you’re diagnosed with severe and debilitating anxiety, an experienced disability lawyer can help gather the necessary materials to help enhance your claim.

    Fighting Denial and Fear With Proper Representation

    Make sure your family and friends are aware of disability qualification guidelines to prevent needless claim denials and months of useless waiting. Click the media icons on this page to share this article via Facebook. You can also help by having them contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about their disability claims.

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  • What is Spirometry and how will it affect my respiratory claim for disability?

    You had your first asthma attack when you were 12 years old. For a kid that age, it was the scariest thing in the world. It felt like all of the oxygen in your lungs suddenly disappeared, and no matter how hard you tried to gulp for air—you still couldn’t breathe. Since that day, you’ve kept an inhaler on you at all times and a nebulizer breathing machine stowed in your bathroom. Even on your wedding day, you had an inhaler tucked in your dress and the breathing machine in the hotel room. You try to be prepared at all times, but over the past few months the attacks have been getting worse.

    On several occasions, your husband has had to puff the medication into your mouth because the attack happened while you were sleeping, and you awoke in a panic. Your boss is getting increasingly annoyed with you because you’ve had to excuse yourself on more than one occasion to catch your breath. The emergency room staff practically knows you by name, and you don’t know what to do. It’s getting worse and you’re scared to leave the house.

    Your doctor suggested that you take a leave of absence from work, but your boss told you that if you did, you may not have a job to come back to. You have filed for disability benefits, but the application wanted proof of your ailment through medical documentation and test results. One of the tests it mentioned for respiratory issues was a spirometry test.

    What is a spirometry test and how do you get one?

    Measuring Your Lung Capacity Through Spirometry

    In order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to decide whether or not you qualify for disability benefits you must be able to provide medical evidence to support your respiratory claim. One way of accomplishing this is to provide documentation taken from lung tests, specifically a spirometry test. If you’ve suffered from chronic asthma then you’ve probably taken a spirometry test, even if you didn’t know it by name.

    The Mayo Clinic defines spirometry as the first and most commonly done lung function test to determine how well your lungs work while inhaling and exhaling. It measures the capacity and time it takes for you to move air in and out of your lungs. The procedure consists of you breathing into a mouthpiece which is attached to a recording device. The device (the actual spirometer) will then record the variations of each breath and measure 10 different lung function values to determine the severity of your respiratory issue. These value functions include:

    • Forced vital capacity (FVC) – Measurement of the amount of air you can exhale after you inhale as deeply as possible.
    • Forced expiratory volume (FEV) – Measurement of the amount of air you can forcibly exhale in one continuous breath. An average person should be able to exhale between 80 – 100 percent in one second. However, those who suffer respiratory problems could take longer to fully exhale. Depending on how much you exhale, the FEV will be determined at one second (FEV1), two seconds (FEV2), or three seconds (FEV3).
    • Forced expiratory flow (FEF) – Measurement of air speed and percent of your FVC—25 percent, 50 percent, or 75 percent—halfway through your exhale.
    • Peak expiratory flow (PEF) – Measurement of how much air you can exhale when you try your hardest.
    • Maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV) – Measurement of the greatest amount of air you can breathe in and out during the span of one minute.
    • Slow vital capacity (SVC) – Measurement of the amount of air you can slowly exhale after you inhale as deep as possible.
    • Total lung capacity (TLC) – Measurement of the amount of air in your lungs after you inhale as deeply as possible.
    • Functional residual capacity (FRC) – Measurement of the amount of air in your lungs at the end of a normal exhaled breath.
    • Residual volume (RV) – Measurement of the amount of air in your lungs after you have exhaled completely. This procedure is generally done by having you breathe in helium or nitrogen gas and then seeing how much is exhaled.
    • Expiratory reserve volume (ERV) – Measurement of the difference between the amount of air in your lungs after a normal exhale (FRC) and the amount after you exhale with force (RV).

    Get the Test to Get the Approval

    In order to improve your odds for approval of your disability claim, ask your doctor to perform a spirometry test and make sure you get a copy of the results. The more information you give to the Social Security board, the better your odds of getting the disability you deserve.

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  • What types of musculoskeletal disorders can qualify for disability?

    According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 130 million people are seen by medical professionals for some sort of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) every year. Although many of these MSDs are minor sprains and injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 20 percent of them are severe enough to qualify for at least partial disability.

    Types of Musculoskeletal Disorders That Are Eligible for Disability

    Even though the Social Security Administration considers MSDs as potentially qualifying individuals for disability benefits, it still makes determinations based on severity, function loss, and ailment type on a case-by-case basis. Simple sprains, for example, aren’t considered severe enough to warrant disability. However, more severe disorders—like muscular dystrophy—rightfully qualify for benefits. Therefore, the SSA has created a classification system for MSD types to help determine severity. This system includes the following MSD types for disability consideration:

    • Joint problems. Your joints are essential for proper mobility, and—depending on your job—essential to properly perform your duties. If you’re unable to move your joints without severe pain, you may be unable to work. No one should be forced to work through pain, so the Social Security Administration accepts certain types of joint problems for disability consideration. Some of these include: osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, hip fractures or degenerative hip disease, bursitis, and shoulder problems.
    • Problems affecting muscles. Muscles throughout your body help control movement, support bones, and hold weight. When a muscle is injured, deteriorates, or is otherwise impaired, mobility and strength can be severely affected. These effects can cause you to be unable to physically perform a job, thus making you eligible for disability benefits. Some muscle problems included in the Social Security musculoskeletal category are carpal tunnel syndrome, torn ligaments, sciatica, muscular dystrophy, hiatal hernia, third degree burns that affect nerves, and spinal cord injuries.
    • Problems affecting your bones. It’s obvious that your skeletal system is the supporting framework for your entire body. It preserves your structural integrity as well as provides stability and protection for your muscles, organs, and tissues. However, if your bones are somehow damaged, weakened, or otherwise injured, mobility and body function can be severely affected, causing excruciating pain. Therefore, severe bone injuries and disorders can qualify you for partial or complete disability as a result of debilitating pain and your inability to move. Recognized bone problems include: avascular necrosis, bone spurs, broken limbs, amputations, coccyx (tailbone) damage, and clubbed foot.

    Taking the Confusion Out of Filing

    Once you’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating injury and can no longer physically work, filing for disability quickly becomes your best option for a stable future. Unfortunately disability claims can be confusing, stressful, and scary (if denied), and that is the last thing you need when dealing with an ailment.

    Let us help take the confusion and worry out of your claim. Our experience, knowledge, and fortitude will not only help you understand your rights and options, but also help encourage your claim through the SSA process faster than if you filed alone. Call today for a free consultation and see how our representation is right for you.

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