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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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
Subtract General Income Exclusion
Subtract Earned Income Exclusion
Countable Earned Income
Divide Countable Income in Half
$435 / 2
Total Countable Income
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)
Subtract Adjusted Countable Income
Adjusted SSI Payment Amount Total
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+.
- Chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes, such as:
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?
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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I have bills to pay now! If I decide to file a disability claim, how long will it take to get the first payment?
You were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last summer and since then, your world has basically been falling apart. Between treatment, medications, and medical bills, you’re bank account is quickly becoming depleted. In addition to that, the shaking has gotten worse over the past six months, and it has gotten harder and harder for you to do your job properly.
You desperately need your paycheck, so you try to control your tremors as best you can. However, lately it hasn’t been going that well. Your family is constantly suggesting that you apply for disability, but with the number of bills coming in, you don’t think you can afford to quit your job and wait for the benefits.
If you file for disability, will it really take years to receive the benefits?
Do You Have the Time to Wait for Benefits?
The entire process of filing, getting approved, and eventually receiving your benefits can be long and frustrating. According to the Disability Determination Service, normal claims can take at least six months to determine. The decision process to determine whether your condition even qualifies for disability can take several months alone. If you’re approved, and the judge agrees that your condition is severe enough to qualify, it could take several additional months for your claim to pass through eligibility standards.
However, although the timeframe may seem daunting, there are ways to speed up the outcome. Having experienced legal representation to argue your case can be an important asset. When you have representation, the timeframes are drastically reduced, as seen below:
It generally at least three months for processing a claim. The majority of claims filed by applicants without representation are denied. If the applicant requests reconsideration of a rejected claim, that typically requires at least three months longer. An Appeals Court hearing could take an additional 18 months to schedule, with another two to six months before the decision is rendered. Even if the decision is favorable at this point, it can take 18 to 24 months longer for the appeal to be processed before the first benefit check arrives. The total potential time to receive benefits: two to five years
Even individuals with legal representation can expect to wait three months for processing their initial claim. The majority of claims filed by applicants with representation are approved. It may take an addition six months of processing before monthly benefits begin, but the recipient can expect to be paid for any back benefits he is owed. Total time under this best-case scenario: under one year.
If the claim was one of the minority that is denied despite legal representation, it can take up to six months for reconsideration and Appeals Court hearing; another three months for the decision to be rendered; and 12 months for processing and receiving benefits. The total waiting period for benefits: the majority is approved and received within nine months, while refuted claims are generally settled within two years.
Don’t Waste Your Time
When you physically can’t work to support yourself and family due to a debilitating disease, Social Security disability is your best option for sustainability. Once you’ve made the decision to apply, your best option for timely success is representation from an experienced disability lawyer. Don’t waste time filing yourself or taking your chances with inexperienced attorneys. Call us today for a free consultation and let us convince you why we’re the right choice. Our 20-plus years of experience will work to make sure that you can give up your job with a clear conscience.
Call now to begin the process and get your benefits that much sooner. You deserve it!
Need more information on disability claims? We don’t blame you! Social Security can be an extremely frustrating system to understand. Learn more about the intricacies of SS and disability by requesting our book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Don’t allow confusion to affect your benefit rights. The download is free, but the knowledge you will learn is priceless.
What can I do to secure my fibromyalgia disability claim?
You’ve been living with excruciating pain for most of your adult life. However, over the past few months, the pain has worsened to the point where you can barely get out of bed, let alone go to work. Your doctor has diagnosed you with fibromyalgia and has attempted several different treatments to get you back on your feet. Unfortunately, none of them are working that well. As a result, your employer has decided to “let you go” for missing too many days of work.
Now, medical bills, rent, and living expenses are piling up and you’re not sure what to do about them. Your family suggested that you apply for disability, but you’re not sure if your disorder is covered by Social Security.
What can you do? Will your claim be denied if you file? How can you ensure your claim is solid enough for approval?
Strengthening Your Claim
Due to the lack of proper research into the causes and consequences of fibromyalgia, the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t have a specific disability listing for the disorder. As such, filing a claim solely based on having fibromyalgia can prove to be difficult. However, although no specific listing exists, the SSA has recently published a ruling for administrative law judges—the judges who determine disability acceptance)—to help determine and assess fibromyalgia claims on a case-by-case basis.
Although this publication has drastically increased the number of approved fibromyalgia claims, many suffers are still being declined benefits. To help ensure that your claim receives the proper attention it deserves, make sure you have the following items included in your case.
- Accurate medical reports. For disability approval, the severity of your disorder must be proven.
- Documentation of severity. Merely claiming that you have the disorder isn’t enough. You must have documented proof showing how badly the disorder is affecting your everyday life, and how it keeps you from working.
- Signed documentation from a rheumatologist (specialized doctor in joint and tissue pain). The SSA is more inclined to discuss a fibromyalgia claim if the disorder has been verified by a specialist.
- A straightforward explanation of how your case qualifies for disability. Personal accounts of pain and inabilities can help shed light on why you need disability benefits as a result of being unable to work.
- Legal representation. An experienced disability attorney can increase your chances of approval, not only by arguing on your behalf, but also by clearly stating your case to the judge as well as gathering the necessary documentation you need.
Improving Your Chances for Approval
Before filing your disability claim for severe fibromyalgia, contact us first. We’ll make sure that you have all the necessary documentation, requirements, knowledge, and confidence to ensure increased odds of approval. We know how to argue your case, and we won’t rest until you get the benefits you deserve. Call now for a free consultation and review of your claim. We’re waiting to help you!
Share this page on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus to help spread the word about fibromyalgia disability rights. Your friends and loved ones may need this information, too. Help them find it by clicking the media icons to share instantly. Don’t allow your loved ones to needlessly work in excruciating pain; let them know that they have other options. You’ll be glad you did.
I just had spinal fusion surgery. Now I’m worried something might go wrong during recovery. What are the top risks of spinal fusion surgery and how can I avoid them?
Like any major surgery, spinal fusion surgery comes with a few risks. In spite of these risks, this type of surgery can also change your life for the better. Staying vigilant and aware of what could go wrong is the best way to avoid anything from happening following your surgery.
Common Risks of a Spinal Fusion Surgery
Back surgeries come with inherent challenges during recovery. These go beyond the immediate risks you face when going under anesthesia. Here are some of the most common risks associated with spinal fusion surgeries:
- Infection in the incision
- Infection in the vertebrae bone
- Spinal nerve damage
- Instability in other parts of your spine
- Degeneration of the bone below or above the fused vertebrae
Although these risks can happen and cause you further pain after your surgery, they are not common enough to avoid having a spinal fusion surgery. If you are worried about something going wrong, it is important that you talk to your doctor. Attend all of your regular follow-up appointments and follow all treatment plans.
If something does go wrong, you might qualify to receive Social Security disability benefits until you make a full recovery. While this will not remedy the pain you experience, it might help to know that you have a financial backup plan available.
Before you go into surgery, we encourage you to print this article and take it to your doctor. Talk to him or her about these risks and get detailed instructions about what you can do to be on the lookout for them after your surgery.
I received a heart transplant 11 months ago and have had a few complications with the medication. I’ve had SSDI for my heart transplant for a year, but the benefits run out soon. What can I do?
Getting a heart transplant is a major procedure. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes how important it is that you make a full recovery, which is why it automatically approves heart transplant recipients to receive Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) for the first year. Now that your first year is coming to an end, you must reapply by showing the SSA how the complications will stop you from being able to return to work.
Complications Due to Medication After a Heart Transplant
In the first year following a heart transplant, you are placed on certain medications to help your new organ adapt to your body. These medications are essential to your recovery, but they can sometimes lead to other health problems. Some of the most common health problems may qualify you to receive SSDI under other disability listings:
- Kidney damage (Listing 6.02)
- Thin bones, which may cause bone fractures (Listing 1.06 and 1.07)
- High blood pressure (Listing 4.02 or 4.04)
- Diabetes (Listing 9.00)
- Cancer, especially skin cancer or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (listing 13.03 or 13.05)
To know if you qualify to receive benefits after your first year of having a heart transplant, you must determine if you are eligible. By looking at each of these listings and talking to a Social Security disability lawyer in Massachusetts, you will know whether you are able to apply to extend how long you receive SSDI benefits.
If you found this helpful, we encourage you to share it with anyone else that you know who recently received a heart transplant.
I’m scared! I just found out that I have arteriosclerosis and I need to apply for Social Security disability in Boston. Will I be approved?
Arteriosclerosis, also known as the “hardening of the arteries.” occurs when calcium builds up in the artery walls causing them to get thicker and stiffer. It happens to some people as they age. After your doctor told you that you have arteriosclerosis, it’s normal that you’re concerned about what will happen next.
Getting Disability Benefits for Arteriosclerosis
If your doctor recommended that you apply for SSDI in Boston because of arteriosclerosis, you have probably experienced some sort of health condition that has made it difficult for you to work. In order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to approve your application, you must show that you cannot perform physical or sedentary work.
To be approved, you must have at least one of the following symptoms:
- You must have chest discomfort triggered by stress or physical activity.
- You must have pain or discomfort in other parts of your body, such as your arms or legs.
- You must get short of breath when you exert yourself.
- You must have experienced a coronary artery spasm at rest.
To show the SSA that you have one of these symptoms, you must submit a wealth of evidence with your application. For example, you must show that you had an abnormal stress test and abnormal imaging results. Include these results with your application. You must also have a note from your doctor that describes how your condition impacts your ability to work.
Another important piece of your application is your personal experience with arteriosclerosis. Keep a journal to document how this condition affects you on-the-job both in desk work and in manual labor.
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