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 suffer from an average of two seizures a month. I work in construction, and every day that I am forced to work, I worry that a seizure will put others and myself at risk. I applied for Massachusetts disability for seizures, but I was just denied. Can you help?

    When you suffer from seizures, disability in Massachusetts can provide you valuable income. This income can help you deal with the need to limit your job functions so that your co-workers and yourself are not put at risk of something going wrong on a job site if you have a seizure. The Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program in Massachusetts is meant to help limit these risks and provide you the income you need to live.

    Receiving a denial letter in the mail can be frustrating and heartbreaking, but it is important to know that you still have options. You first action should be to appeal the decision against you. When you submit your appeal, it is critical that you include all of the necessary pieces of paperwork and documentation. Here are a few things you will need to make your appeal stronger:

    • A statement from your doctor
    • Proof that you have followed all treatments and prescriptions (this can include blood tests to show that your medication levels remained constant)
    • Documentation of your frequency and severity of seizures
    • Statements from your family and friends or any third party that has seen your seizures
       

    The majority of people who apply for Social Security disability are denied the first time they submit their application. Now that you have been denied, it is important that you work with a Social Security disability lawyer in Massachusetts to submit your appeal. With his help, you can be confident that you submit a complete and accurate appeal that will increase your chances at being approved. Call us today at 888-904-6847 or 508-283-5500 to learn more.

     

  • It’s been a year since I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and I still have a very hard time doing my job like I once used to. I applied for SSDI in Boston but was denied. Now I’m ready to appeal. What medical records do I have to show for my Meniere’s disease to get Social Security disability in Boston?

    Meniere’s disease can significantly limit your ability to do your job. When an episode strikes, you may become sick and unable to work at your computer, talk to your co-workers, or think clearly. Although the Meniere’s disease disables your abilities on the job, it can be difficult to show that to the Social Security office and get approved for Boston Social Security for Meniere’s disease.

    When you file your appeal, it is important to include medical paperwork and documentation that show the frequency and duration of your Meniere’s disease episodes. This includes showing:

    • How frequently you get episodes of vertigo
    • The extent of tinnitus or the ringing in your ears that you suffer from
    • Vestibular test results showing any damage to the inner ear
    • Any loss of hearing you have experienced shown through tone and speech audiometry
       

    To have your Meniere’s disease qualify for Social Security disability in Boston, a lot of factors will have to be taken into consideration. Making a compelling case for the Social Security to approve you for SSDI in Boston can be difficult.

    We can help. Contact a Boston Social Security disability lawyer at Keefe Disability Law to learn how you can file an appeal that will maximize your chances at being approved. Call us at 888-904-6847 or 508-283-5500 to learn more.

  • I suffer from severe carpal tunnel syndrome, which makes it almost impossible for me to pick items up or focus because of the pain. I was just denied SSDI in New Hampshire. Help! What can I do to show them that this is a real disability?

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is enormously painful and frustrating. The pain from the swelling around your nerves makes it difficult to concentrate. The numbness caused by your nerve being pinched can limit your ability to do basic workplace tasks. Even picking up a phone can be intolerable.

    Although disabling, carpal tunnel syndrome is not listed by Social Security as a qualifying disability. However, there are still options that may help you be approved to receive SSDI. Here is some of the medical evidence you will need to provide in your appeal to increase your chances of being approved.

    • Measures of your thumb weakness. This can be done by your doctor by measuring your ability to raise your thumb upward when it is flat on the table, or your ability to touch your pinky with your thumb.
       
    • Pahlen’s test. This test checks for symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome while your hands are dangled off the table.
       
    • Tinel’s sign. Your doctor will check for Tinel’s sign, which is when your median nerve tingles or is shocked when touched.
       
    • Nerve conduction study. This will measure how fast signals are sent through the affected nerves.
       

    There may be other tests and pieces of medical evidence to demonstrate your disability.

    It is important that when filing your appeal that you work with a New Hampshire disability attorney. At Keefe Disability Law, we understand what Social Security is looking for and needs in order to approve you to receive the SSDI you are entitled to. Call us toll-free at 888-904-6847 and request a FREE copy of our book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.

  • My shoulder was injured in a bad car accident. Now, I’m unable to return to work. The problem is I do not qualify for any of the specific Social Security Administration listings for joint damage. Can a Providence Social Security attorney help me get access to SSDI?

    Many conditions do not meet the very specific categories that the Social Security Administration has established. However, you can still qualify for SSDI in Rhode Island—regardless of whether your condition meets a listing—if you are unable to return to any type of work.

    Determining your ability to work requires an extensive evaluation by the Social Security Administration. There is a special form, called the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form, that analyzes your mental and physical abilities. In completing this assessment, the following factors are considered:

    • Age
    • Education
    • Work experience
    • If you can perform sedentary or light work
       

    For severe shoulder injuries, heavy lifting or highly physically demanding jobs are likely out of the question. In many cases, sedentary work may also be unsuitable for your injury if you must still use your arm to perform regular tasks such as answering the phone or reaching overhead. In rare cases, your injury may also impact your ability to concentrate or focus, which can have a long-lasting impact on your productivity.

    With help from a Rhode Island Social Security lawyer, you can fill out the RFC completely and accurately to maximize your chances at getting the SSDI you need. At Keefe Disability Law we understand what the Social Security Administration must see, and we can use this to help you with your application. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get the Rhode Island disability income you need.

     

  • After submitting my application for Massachusetts Social Security Disability, I was denied right away. The letter called it a technical denial. What does this mean?

    If you are given a technical denial for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the Social Security Administration did not review any medical evidence in your application. Instead, an SSA employee determined your application to be ineligible for benefits for non-medical reasons.

    Some of the most common reasons for a technical denial include:

    • Your income exceeds the “Substantial Gainful Activity” limit put in place by the SSA.
    • You have not earned enough Social Security credits to be eligible to apply for SSDI.
    • You did not prove that you were related to the person that the application was filed on behalf of, if you were filing for another person such as an adult child or spouse.
    • You did not submit all of the medical records needed.
    • There was a general lack of detail or information necessary to determine your eligibility for SSDI in Massachusetts.

    The technicalities of an application for Social Security Disability are overwhelming. For this reason, it is important to fill out your application together with a Boston Social Security Disability attorney. Although many technical denials cannot be appealed, you may be able to file an appeal if there was an error in processing your application. To do this, it is a good idea to get the help of an Massachusetts Social Security Disability attorney.

    Call us today to go over your technical denial together. We will go through your claim with you and find out if there is an opportunity for an appeal. Then, we will work with you to ensure you do not receive a technical denial again.

  • Help! My daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic disorder. I thought I would be able to work, but I need to stay at home and care for my child. I applied for SSI in Boston but I was denied. What can I do now?

    Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Massachusetts on behalf of a child can be enormously difficult. There are many factors that you must demonstrate to the Social Security Administration in order for it to approve your application. Juggling all of these factors can be confusing. One small mistake on your application, and you may be denied.

    Some of the factors that go into consideration when deciding whether or not to provide your family with SSI are the following:

    • Your family income limitations
    • The resources available to your family
    • Your child’s abilities in acquiring and using information, completing tasks, social interaction, moving about on her own, caring for herself, and her overall physical health and well-being.

    Although it may seem like you should automatically be provided SSI in this situation, the SSA may find a reason to deny your application. This is when working with a Boston SSI lawyer is so critical.

    With help from an attorney experienced in disability law, you can review your application to find any errors or reasons for the denial. In addition, having attorney help allows you to file an appeal within the time limit that will increase your chances at having the denial overturned.

    Contact a Boston SSI attorney at Keefe Disability Law to get started as quickly as possible on filing your appeal.

  • PTSD Anxiety and SSD Benefits

    PTSD is a condition caused by going through a serious and traumatic life event, such as an auto accident, abuse, natural disaster, or a scary emergency health condition. There are a number of experiences that can trigger PTSD. Once you have the disorder, you may frequently experience flashbacks, nightmares, or other forms of anxiety that disrupt your ability to live the daily life you once did.

    Unlike some other mental disorders, PTSD actually triggers a chemical reaction in your brain, changing your behavior. This can be extremely debilitating, leaving you unable to work at the same job you held before the traumatic incident. This can cause you to need Boston Social Security disability to help cover your expenses.

    To receive benefits for your PTSD, you must have one or more severe symptoms, such as:

    • Recurring nightmares
    • Frequent flashbacks
    • Extreme anxiety or emotional disturbance from regular memories
    • Inability to concentrate
    • Inability to maintain a normal social life
    • Inability to perform daily activities

    Showing each of these items can be difficult. To document your disability, you must have a detailed description of a regular PTSD episode that you experience. This should include the duration and symptoms of the episodes. You must also have a description from your doctor of your symptoms. Finally, your medical records must determine that you are unable to perform your tasks at home and at work as normal.

    This can be very difficult to show. Contact a Massachusetts Social Security Disability lawyer at Keefe Disability Law for help with your application. Call us today toll-free at 888-904-6847 and request a FREE copy of our book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.

  • What types of neurological conditions receive Social Security disability benefits in Massachusetts?

    When an accident or chronic disease impacts the brain or nervous system, it can leave you unable to live as you once did. Suddenly, daily chores and tasks become painfully difficult, leaving you disabled and out of a job. When you cannot work, you cannot earn the income you once did which can be enormously stressful on your bank account, and on you and your family.

    Many neurological conditions are covered under Social Security disability benefits, but many people are denied benefits simply because their application was not filled out correctly. The following are a few examples of neurological conditions that are usually serious enough to be considered eligible to receive benefits:

    • Brain tumors
    • Central nervous system vascular accidents (such as a stroke)
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Brain injury or trauma
    • Degenerative diseases (such as Huntington’s Chorea)
    • Epilepsy
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Muscular Dystrophy
    • Parkinson’s Disease
    • Spinal cord lesions on the nerve roots
    • And more

    Because the list is so lengthy and there is a lot that goes into qualifying for benefits, it is critical that you talk to a Massachusetts Social Security disability attorney before filling out your application. We will work with you to help you understand the complexities of the application process and maximize your opportunity for acceptance.

  • Is a diagnosis of lung cancer enough for me to be approved for SSDI benefits in Massachusetts?

    Any cancer diagnosis is traumatic, but even a diagnosis of lung cancer does not guarantee approval for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). If the cancer is in the early stages, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not likely to approve a request for benefits.

    However, one type of lung cancer does qualify an applicant for automatic approval of SSDI benefits regardless of stage. Patients with a diagnosis of small-cell (oat cell) cancer of the lungs will automatically qualify for approval of benefits if their medical records support their diagnosis. Proper medical documentation includes doctors’ notes, hospital records, and results of blood test, breathing tests, and imaging studies (x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs).

    Patients with small-cell lung cancer also qualify for expedited approval under the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance Program. This means that they can get benefits within a few weeks rather than waiting months.

    A patient whose lung cancer has spread beyond the regional lymph nodes or to other parts of the body will also qualify for SSDI regardless of the type of lung cancer. When the cancer has not spread, the decision will depend on how easily the cancer can be treated and how the cancer (and its treatment) affects the applicant’s ability to work.

    Your medical records will show whether or not your cancer can be removed with surgery. If the cancer cannot be surgically removed (inoperable) or can only be partly removed (unresectable), the patient must undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments. These treatments have debilitating side effects, so patients with inoperable or unresectable lung cancer also qualify for SSDI.

    When a lung cancer returns after removal or other treatment, it is said to be recurrent. The SSA will approve SSDI benefits for patients with recurrent lung cancer.

    If you do not have small-cell lung cancer, or recurrent, unresectable, or inoperable lung cancer, the SSA will evaluate your claim based on your ability to do work. Your case manager will make this decision based on your medical records, age, education, and work history. If your health changes during the SSDI application process, it is important that you send the SSA your updated medical records. Those who don’t initially qualify for SSDI often qualify if their condition worsens.

    Do you have additional questions about applying for SSDI in Massachusetts? Get your free copy of Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, or contact the disability lawyers at Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • Can I get a compassionate allowance for advanced prostate cancer?

    The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program provides fast-track claim processing for applicants who are diagnosed with one of 200 qualifying disabilities. Prostate cancer is not on the list of disabilities. This means that even a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer is not considered severe enough to qualify for a compassionate allowance.

    There is one exception: a compassionate allowance is available for applicants diagnosed with small cell cancer of the prostate. Small cell cancer or carcinoma accounts for no more than one percent of all prostate cancers. The tumors in small cell prostate cancer are formed from the hormone-producing cells of the prostate rather than from glandular cells. While most prostate cancers grow slowly, small cell prostate cancers are very aggressive and metastasize quickly.

    There is another important difference between small cell prostate cancer and other prostate cancers. Small cell carcinomas do not affect prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. This means that the cancer is rarely detected in its early stages.

    The five-year survival rate for most prostate cancers is near 100 percent. The five year survival rate for small cell cancer of the prostate is 20 percent in its limited stage and less than 5 percent after the cancer has metastasized.

    While the Compassionate Allowance Program is reserved for applicants with the most serious disabilities, there are other ways to get a quick decision regarding SSA benefits. If you have Stage 4 cancer, you may qualify for a Quick Disability Determination. To learn more or to discuss your claim, contact the New England Social Security benefits attorneys at Keefe Disability Law by calling 888-904-6847.

  • I am applying for SSDI for Parkinson’s disease. What evidence do I need to provide in order to prove that my disability prevents me from working?

    Many people assume that a diagnosis with a chronic, progressive disability like Parkinson’s disease automatically entitles them to Social Security disability benefits (SSDI); however, a diagnosis is not enough. You must prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from regularly engaging in any work activity. Here is a list of evidence that will support your claim:

    • Your medical records: Your medical records should include your diagnosis, documentation of your current symptoms and how they affect your ability to perform daily activities, and the results of any diagnostic tests that support your diagnosis. Your records should also contain information about treatment you have tried and any negative effects from your medication.
    • A psychological evaluation: Many who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease suffer from depression or anxiety due to their condition. Documentation of mental health conditions associated with your diagnosis will help your claim. 
    • A recommendation from your doctor: It can help to have a separate letter from your doctor discussing the nature and frequency of your symptoms and his thoughts on your ability to work.
    • A symptom diary: A symptom diary will show the SSA how your symptoms affect your ability to perform life activities. Take notes about your symptoms and how they limit your activities.  If you have trouble writing because of tremors, make a note. Your diary does not have to be written. You can use a computer or a tape recorder.

    For more information about applying for SSDI, request a free copy of Massachusetts disability lawyer John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Keefe Disability Law at 973-595-8900.

  • Can I Get Disability For My Multiple Sclerosis Even If I Don't Experience Symptoms Everyday?

    It is not unusual for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to have good days and bad days. While a good day may be symptom-free, a bad day can be debilitating. Symptoms such as fatigue, blurred vision, numbness, pain, incontinence, and mental changes can affect your ability to walk, talk, follow directions and otherwise engage in work activities. When bad days make it impossible to earn a living, you may want to consider Social Security disability benefits (SSDI).

    There are a few qualifications you must meet in order to be approved for SSDI for MS:

    • It is OK if you are working when you apply for SSDI. However, in order to be considered disabled, you cannot earn more than $1,040 a month.
    • Your disability must have lasted for one year or longer or be expected to last for one year or longer. Since there is no cure for MS, you will meet this qualification.

     

    If you meet these qualifications, your next step will be to show that you cannot work because of your symptoms. This will be easy if you meet the disability criteria of Social Security Blue Book listing 11.09. If you don’t, you will have to rely on medical documentation to explain how your disability affects your ability to hold a job.

    Still not sure if you qualify? Contact the New Hampshire disability lawyers at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation. Call us at 8I88-904-6847, and we’ll let you know if you qualify for SSDI. If you can’t work because of the symptoms of MS, our Nashua SSDI attorneys can help you obtain the documentation you need to support your SSDI claim.

  • Can I receive Social Security disability benefits if I have skin cancer?

    Yes, Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) are available for those with advanced skin cancer. The Social Security Administration’s Blue Book listing 13.03 outlines the guidelines for approval of applicants with skin cancers. 

    Most SSDI claims for skin cancer involve melanoma. Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, but it is the most serious. It spreads very quickly and can affect the skin, eyes, and internal organs. You can receive SSDI for melanoma if any of the following are true:

    • Your melanoma has returned even after the cancer and skin surrounding the cancer was surgically removed.
    • Your melanoma has spread to one or more lymph nodes that can be seen through medical imaging.
    • Your melanoma has spread to four or more lymph nodes.
    • Your melanoma has spread to adjacent skin or other sites on your body.

    If you have squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell skin cancer, a skin sarcoma, or another skin cancer, you are eligible for SSDI if the cancer spreads beyond the local lymph nodes.

    It is possible to get SSDI if you don’t meet these requirements, but you must show that the cancer or the effects of the cancer are equal in severity to another listing, or that you are unable to work because of your condition. For example, you may qualify for SSDI if your chemotherapy treatments leave you exhausted and in pain. You will have to have medical documentation that shows your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year.

    In order for the Social Security Administration to approve your application, you must provide medical records that show your diagnosis, outline your treatment plan, and document how the cancer has spread. Any medical imaging of the cancer, including computed tomography scans, radiographic studies, ultrasounds, nuclear scans, and magnetic resonance imaging will help to support your claim.

    Applying for disability can be overwhelming when you are fighting cancer. Our Boston disability benefits lawyers can help. We can fill out the paperwork, obtain your medical records, and get the additional evidence needed to support your SSDI application. You can focus on getting well.

    To learn more about applying for disability benefits in Massachusetts, request a free copy of our book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I suffered a stroke that has left me completely paralyzed on one side. I applied for SSDI, but my claim was deferred. I am obviously not able to work, so why is the Social Security Administration waiting to make the decision?

    A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident, occurs when there is a blockage of blood flow to an area of the brain. This deprives the brain of oxygen and causes brain damage that may affect other parts of the body. Your paralysis is a result of that type of damage.

    Some of the effects of stroke are permanent; others are temporary. Symptoms are most severe immediately after the stroke. Over the next few months, the brain tries to rewire itself and repair the damage. This usually leads to improvement. Many stroke survivors will completely recover within six months after the stroke. Although you are completely paralyzed now, you may gain significant function in the next few months. Everyone recovers differently, and doctors are not always able to predict the level of improvement

    When a stroke victim is left unable to work he may apply for SSDI, if he meets certain requirements.

    One of these requirements is that the disability must last for at least 12 months. You have a serious disability, but you may not be as disabled in six months. The Social Security Administration defers all SSDI applications for stroke for at least three months. This gives your doctors time to assess how much of the damage from the stroke will be permanent.

    Do you have more questions about applying for SSDI after a stroke? Our Nashua Social Security disability lawyers have written a book that may help. Request your free copy of Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. If you don’t see the answers you need, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847. We’ll be happy to help.

  • I have celiac disease. Can I get Social Security disability benefits?

    It is difficult, but not impossible, to get Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) for celiac disease.

    Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the system.  When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, a protein that can be found in wheat, rye, and barley, the body responds by attacking the villi of the small intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing nutrients and can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, canker sores, and depression. 

    Celiac disease is diagnosed with a blood test. It is usually treated with a gluten-free diet. Because the symptoms of celiac disease disappear when there is no exposure to gluten, most people with celiac disease do not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.

    In order to receive SSI or SSDI for celiac disease, you must be unable to work for a year or longer as a result of your condition. Very few people meet this requirement because the symptoms of celiac disease go away when the patient gives up gluten-rich foods. However, there are exceptions. In cases where it takes years to be diagnosed with celiac disease, an applicant may request benefits for the time that he was unable to work because of the disability. The applicant must have documentation that his symptoms lasted one year or longer and that the symptoms were severe enough to prevent him from being able to work for pay. He must also present documentation showing that he was following all doctors’ orders for medical treatment at that time.

    Celiac disease is not listed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) “Blue Book” listing of impairments, so an application for SSDI must include a medical statement showing that your condition is severe enough to be considered equivalent to a disability that has a listing, such as inflammatory bowel disease (5.06) or weight loss (5.08) due to any digestive disorder.  

    When considering whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI, the SSA will also consider whether you have any other medical conditions, such as depression. 

    Do you have additional questions? Find the answers in your free copy of Boston SSDI attorney John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. To schedule an appointment with a Massachusetts disability advocate, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I am applying for SSDI for cor pulmonale. Which tests do I need?

    When you apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), it is important that you provide a copy of your medical records showing your diagnosis, any treatments that have been prescribed, and the outcome of those treatments. You should also provide the results of any medical tests used to diagnose and evaluate your condition. 

    The following tests are used to diagnose and assess cor pulmonale:

    • Physical exam: Your doctor should provide notes about all your health problems. He should comment on any unusual sounds in the heart and lungs, the amount of swelling in the abdomen, ankles, and feet, your energy level, the amount of physical activity that you can safely perform, and any restrictions or limitations caused by your condition.
    • Blood tests: You should have test results showing the amount of oxygen, acids, and carbon dioxide in the blood. 
    • EKG: An electrocardiogram checks the heart rhythm for indications of heart damage and heart disease.
    • Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create an image of the heart as it beats and pumps blood.
    • Chest X-ray: A chest x-ray will show the size of your heart and any fluid in the heart and lungs.
    • CT scan: A CT or CAT scan uses a computer-operated x-ray to take pictures of the heart.
    • MRI: An MRI is another way to create an image of the heart. An MRI can show how the heart is functioning.
    • VQ scan: A ventilation (V) and perfusion (Q) test shows the airways and blood vessels in the lungs and provides information about how well your lungs are working.
    • Spirometry: A spirometer measures the volume of air in the lungs and the speed at which the air is inhaled and exhaled.

    You may not need every test, but our disability lawyers recommend that you provide as much supporting information as possible with your SSDI application.

    Learn more about applying for SSDI in Massachusetts; request a free copy of disability benefits attorney John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. If you have questions about your individual situation, please call Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • Does sleep apnea qualify for Social Security Disability?

    More than 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, although most are undiagnosed and untreated. 

    Types of Sleep Apnea

    There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.  Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is characterized by loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. It occurs when the throat muscles relax and interfere with air flow. In a single hour, a person can have more than 30 interruptions in breathing. These are called "apneic events.” 

    Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain neglects to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Some people have a combination of both types of sleep apnea. 

    Sleep Apnea Symptoms

    Sleep apnea can cause early-morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and sleepiness. The biggest risk is falling asleep while driving. Most people can manage sleep apnea by losing weight, avoiding alcohol, stopping smoking, and using a breathing machine called a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure device.

    However, there are people whose apnea cannot be treated. Those people may qualify for SSDI if their symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from working.

    Severe sleep apnea symptoms that may qualify for disability benefits:

    • Personality changes
    • Memory problems
    • Severe mood swings, extreme irritability, and other disturbances in mood
    • Hallucinations, delusions and other cognitive disturbances 
    • Emotional instability 
    • Poor impulse control 
    • A loss of 15 I.Q. points or more
    • Cor Pulmonale, a heart condition caused by years of untreated sleep apnea

    Applying for Disability Benefits for Sleep Apnea

    When you apply for SSDI, the Social Security Administration will conduct an assessment of your “residual functional capacity,” or “RFC.” Your RFC details what you are capable of doing despite your impairment and is used to determine what kind of work you can do. It will include your doctor’s opinion of your capabilities and restrictions, including comments on how the sleep apnea affects your mental abilities. You should document any other health problems in your application. Your RFC considers ALL your disabilities.

    If you have questions about your own situation, please contact the New Hampshire SSDI attorneys at Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I have vertigo from Meniere’s disease. Are Social Security disability benefits available for Meniere’s disease?

    Meniere’s disease is a medical condition that affects the inner ear. It occurs when the pressure of the fluid in the canals of the inner ear gets too high. The four main symptoms are:

    • Loss of hearing
    • Pressure in the ear
    • Tinnitus (ringing or other sound in the ear)
    • Vertigo

    Disability Benefits for Meniere's Disease

    The Social Security Administration includes Meniere’s disease under category 2.07, Disturbance of Labyrinthine-vestibular Function. To qualify for SSDI benefits for Meniere's disease, one must have frequent attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, and progressive loss of hearing as established by audiometry. You must show the results of a comprehensive neuro-otolaryngologic (ear/nose/throat) examination that includes caloric or other vestibular tests of the inner ear and hearing tests. If you meet the criteria of the SSA’s vestibular balance disability listing, you will automatically be granted disability benefits, as long as you meet the other requirements for approval for SSDI.

    • You do not earn more than $1,040 per month from employment.
    • Your condition interferes with your ability to hold a job.
    • You can no longer do the jobs you did in the past.
    • You cannot do any other type of work.

    Qualify with a Medical-Vocational Allowance

    If you don’t meet the requirements for SSDI for Meniere’s disease, you may still qualify with a “medical-vocational allowance.”  A medical-vocational allowance is used when a disability does not meet the SSA’s criteria for approval, but is still serious enough to prevent the applicant from engaging in substantial gainful employment (earning more than $1,040 per month). Any other disabilities or symptoms can be included in your evaluation.

    Consult a Disability Benefit Lawyer

    Learn more about the SSDI application process in Boston disability attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. To discuss your claim with one of our New England SSDI lawyers, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • What is meant by "legally blind"?

    Have you ever heard someone say that they are legally blind because they cannot see to drive without glasses or contact lenses? Have you wondered how someone can be blind if they can see? 

    In fact, “legally blind” refers to one’s best, corrected vision. The Social Security Administration and other government agencies consider a person legally blind when he or she has a best, corrected vision of no more than 20/200 in their best seeing eye. As long as your vision can be corrected to 20/200 with any type of visual aid, you are not considered legally blind.

    To be legally blind, one of the following must be true:

    • You must have a corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in your best seeing eye.
    • Your visual field must be limited to only 20 degrees.

    What does this mean?

    A person with perfect, 20/20 vision can see a certain amount of detail in an object when standing 200 feet away. A person with 20/200 vision must stand 20 feet away to see the same level of detail. A legally blind person has problems seeing objects that are far away or very close.

    A normal person has a visual field of 180 degrees. If you have a normal visual field, you can see what is in front of you, even if it is to one side. A person with a visual field of only 20 degrees has tunnel vision.  He who can be considered legally blind cannot see someone standing next to their shoulder. Someone with tunnel vision may be able to read, but will not be able to drive. 

    Only ten percent of those who are legally blind have no vision.

    The definition of legal blindness determines who is able to drive and who is able to receive Social Security disability benefits. 

    If you have additional questions about disability benefits for visual impairments, request a free copy of Boston disability lawyer John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847. The initial consultation is free.

  • I have heart failure and cannot do strenuous work. My work history is mostly office jobs. Does this mean I will not qualify for SSDI?

    Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body and the muscles and organs don’t receive enough oxygen to perform as they should. People with heart failure often find it difficult to work. They tire easily and may lack the stamina and endurance to perform even sedentary work. Social Security Disability (SSDI) often is a good option for those who no longer can work for pay because of heart failure.

    To qualify for SSDI for heart failure, you need to prove that your condition makes it impossible for you to perform any of the jobs you have done for pay in the last 15 years. If you have mostly held jobs that required physical labor, it will be relatively easy to document that you no longer can do those jobs. However, it won’t be as easy to show that you can’t perform any sedentary jobs.

    While sedentary jobs are not as physical as other work situations, you may be required to lift boxes of files or stand and walk on a regular basis. Your job may involve a lot of stress, a condition that may worsen your heart disease.

    Many sedentary jobs require:

    • The ability to lift at least 10 pounds
    • The ability to carry files, documents, and office supplies
    • The ability to stand for 2 hours in an 8 hour work day
    • The ability to sit for 6 hours in an 8 hour work day
    • The ability to attend work regularly


    You will need to speak with your doctor about the demands of your job. Ask your doctor for a letter that explicitly states all restrictions on your physical activity, including your ability to lift, carry, sit, stand, and walk. Ask your doctor to state how much stress you can handle and whether he believes stress contributed to your heart condition.

    It is always a good idea to have a Boston Social Security Disability attorney review your application before you file it. Most people are denied the first time they apply, even if they qualify for benefits. If you are denied SSDI, a Massachusetts SSDI lawyer can help you file an appeal and obtain the documentation needed to support your disability claim. To learn more, request a free copy of our book, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.