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 heard it is very hard to receive SSDI for fibromyalgia. Many people in my support group say they have been denied Social Security benefits. Is SSDI as hard to obtain as it sounds?

    Fibromyalgia is the second most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis. Persons with fibromyalgia suffer widespread muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. Because fibromyalgia can make it difficult for a person to engage in many life activities, it can lead to depression and social isolation.

    In the past, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied most applications in which the only diagnosis was fibromyalgia. In part, this was because of conflicts within the medical community. While fibromyalgia certainly can be debilitating, the label “fibromyalgia” refers to a list of symptoms that can vary from person to person. Many family doctors used fibromyalgia as a catch-all diagnosis, when no cause for symptoms could be found.

    Because of this, disability examiners were not sure how to classify the disorder. Applications were more likely to be approved if the applicant had a second diagnosis, especially a musculoskeletal disability such as rheumatoid arthritis or degenerative disc disease.

    Fibromyalgia is becoming better understood. While the cause of fibromyalgia still is unknown, doctors have found differences in the blood work and brain chemistry of those with fibromyalgia. This allows a more certain diagnosis.

    In July 2012, the Social Security issued a ruling allowing fibromyalgia to be a medically determinable impairment (MDI) if the applicant meets certain conditions.

    In order for fibromyalgia to qualify as an MDI, the following must be true:

    • There must be medical documentation of chronic widespread pain, including pain in the back, neck, or chest. 
    • The doctor must document that he has ruled out other diseases that may cause the same symptoms through lab tests and other medical exams.

    In addition, one of the following must be true and well-documented:

    • There is pain in at least 11 of 18 possible tender point areas of the body. The tender points must occur on both sides of the body. There must be tender points both above and below the waist. Or,
    • The patient must exhibit a minimum of six fibromyalgia symptoms, including: fatigue, non-restorative sleep, cognitive or memory problems, depression, anxiety, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

    Need help? Our SSDI attorneys can help you fill out your application and gather the documentation you need to support your SSDI claim. To learn more, request a free copy of Massachusetts disability attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery - The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I recently found out I have breast cancer. It looks like my treatment will take a lot of time over the next three months. Is it possible to keep working while undergoing treatment for breast cancer?

    It is amazing how many appointments can be needed to treat cancer. While you need your paycheck and your insurance, you may wonder how you can undergo chemotherapy and radiation and still keep your job. You may also be concerned that the side effects of chemotherapy will prevent you from working. You might be surprised to learn that many women do continue to work even while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

    You've probably seen movies in which the chemotherapy made the patient more ill than the cancer did. The side effects that you will experience will depend on the types of medications you are given, their dosages, and the length of treatment. The most common side effects of chemotherapy include:

    • Fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Lack of appetite
    • Hair loss
    • Mouth sores
    • Increased risk of infection
    • Bruising or bleeding
    • Changes in menstrual cycles

    Ask your doctor about the side effects associated with your specific chemotherapy medications and how they can best be managed. Schedule accordingly. For instance, if you will be undergoing weekly chemotherapy that will leave you tired and nauseated for about 24 hours after treatment, you might want to consider scheduling your treatments for Friday nights. Then you would have the weekend to rest.

    If you have severe side effects from chemotherapy, you will need to temporarily adjust your schedule. You may even have to take time off from work. This is a big deal, especially if you are dependent on your job for health care benefits and to make ends meet.

    Before talking to your supervisor, make sure you know your employer's sick leave policy. Employers are required by federal law to provide “reasonable accommodations” for anyone with a disability. When cancer affects your ability to participate in life activities, it qualifies as a disability. Reasonable accommodation for cancer can include:

    • Providing an altered work schedule or flextime
    • Granting time off for doctor visits, treatment, and recovery from treatment
    • Allowing short breaks during the workday so you can rest
    • Temporarily reassigning some of your tasks to another employee
    • Allowing job sharing
    • Making changes to the workplace environment (such as turning up the heat or offering a padded chair) to increase comfort
    • Allowing an employee to work from home
    • Allowing a leave of absence

    When you tell your boss about your diagnosis, be clear that you want to keep working. Make a list of reasonable accommodations that will help you do your job while you recover. The request cannot cause your employer “undue hardship”; however, most accommodations cost less than $500.

    If the effects of the cancer or its treatment become severe, you may need to take time off. People who receive a cancer diagnosis are protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. The FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work for medical reasons. The 12 weeks do not have to be continuous.

    To qualify for FMLA, you must meet the following conditions:

    • You must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months before the FMLA request.
    • You must have worked more than 1,250 hours in that calendar year.
    • Your employer must have at least 50 employees.

    If you have to take leave, short-term disability insurance can help you make ends meet. If your cancer keeps you out of work for a year or longer, you may want to look into Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). For more information about applying for SSDI for breast cancer, request a free copy of Boston Social Security attorney John Keefe’s book titled Unlocking the Mystery – The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I have severe rheumatoid arthritis in my hands, hips, and knees. I have a lot of pain and it’s hard for me to walk. I can no longer work. I applied for SSDI and I was denied. Why?

    Almost 70 percent of applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. But, this doesn’t mean that 70 percent of disability applicants aren’t eligible for SSI or SSDI. Most denials occur because applicants do not adequately prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the symptoms of their disability are severe enough to prevent them from working at a “substantial and gainful” level.

    To be employed at a “substantial and gainful” level, applicants must earn more than $1,040 a month (or $1,740 if blind). Anyone who earns more than this amount is not eligible for SSI/SSDI benefits, regardless of disability.

    The SSA is very concerned with how your disability affects your ability to function both at work and in daily life. More than half of all adults over the age of 40 have from some form of arthritis, but most are still able to work. A diagnosis is not enough. Your doctor needs to document your level of pain and the amount of disability in each affected joint. Your medical records should include your limitations. Are you unable to stand for long periods of time? Are you unable to walk without a cane? Are you unable to dress yourself? These details are necessary to prove your level of disability.

    You must also be able to show that your symptoms are not likely to improve for a period of 12 months or more. This may sound easy. After all, there is no cure for arthritis. However, there are ways to relieve your symptoms. You must show that your symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working despite following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. If you aren’t taking your medications and following your doctor’s orders, your Social Security claim may be denied.

    Denied disability? If you are unable to work and believe that you qualify for SSI/SSDI, you have the right to appeal your denial. Let our Boston disability law attorneys help you get the documentation you need to get the benefits you have earned. To learn more, request a free copy of our book titled Unlocking the Mystery – The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I have autism. Can I apply for SSI or SSDI?

    Autism is listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of qualifying conditions. To receive disability benefits for autism, you must meet certain medical requirements.

    • You must not be working. If you earn more than $1,000 a month, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
    • Your autism must be severe enough to limit your ability to work for pay.
    • You must meet certain requirements listed on the Social Security Administration’s list of disabilities under section 12.10 Autistic disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders, including medical documentation of your diagnosis showing:
    1. Difficulties in social interaction
    2. Difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication and in imaginative activity
    3. Restricted range of activities and interests
    4. Any episodes of decompensation
    • You must have documentation that demonstrates how these symptoms restrict your activities of daily living, social functioning, ability to maintain concentration, persistence, or pace

    Many young adults with autism qualify for SSI. If you received SSI for autism as a child, you will need to reapply on your 18th birthday. If you did not receive SSI as a child because your family’s income was too high, you will be able to apply based on your assets once you turn 18.

    Most people with autism do not qualify for SSDI. To apply for SSDI, you must have held a job for a significant period in the past. Since autism is present at birth, having a work history would make it hard to prove that your autism affects your ability to work.

    Getting the documentation you need to support an SSI or SSDI claim can be a challenge. Most people are rejected the first time they apply for disability benefits. Don’t give up. Get the facts in Massachusetts disability lawyer John Keefe’s book Unlocking the Mystery – The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I recently learned that I have schizophrenia. My boss said I can no longer do my job and suggested that I apply for SSDI. Can schizophrenia keep me from getting a job?

    Schizophrenia is a lifelong psychological disorder that generally manifests in early adulthood. The symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, but can include:

    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Paranoia
    • Odd ways of speaking
    • Strange behavior
    • Lack of emotional expression
    • Disorganized behavior
    • Loss of interest in everyday activities
    • Difficulties with cognitive function, including problems with memory, thought, and speech

    Some symptoms can make it difficult to keep a job because they make employers, co-workers and customers uncomfortable. Other symptoms, such as loss of memory, can make it difficult to do a job effectively, even if you did that job for many years before the onset of your schizophrenia. Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations can sometimes make it very difficult, if not impossible, for a person with schizophrenia to function in the outside world.

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a benefit that is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI is available only when a person becomes disabled and is no longer able to work for pay. SSDI is available for those with physical or mental disabilities.

    If you are suffering from schizophrenia and have lost your job or you’re experiencing difficulty finding a job because of your symptoms, you might qualify for SSDI for schizophrenia. However, the application process can be overwhelming. Don’t despair. Help is available. The Social Security disability attorneys at Keefe Disability Law can help you with the SSDI application process. To learn more, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847 and ask to schedule a free consultation.

  • I am applying for SSDI for a mental illness and have been asked to see a psychologist for a mental examination. What should I do to prepare?

    To approve your application for SSDI, the Social Security Administration must be able to show that you have a disability and that the disability is preventing you from being able to work for pay. If your medical records are incomplete or there just isn’t enough information about your disability in your medical record, the SSA will send you to an independent doctor for additional testing.

    You know that you have a problem. You may have listed the symptoms of your mental illness on your application, but you need medical documentation. Whether you saw a doctor in the past but it’s been more than 60 days since you’ve sought treatment, or you never had treatment because of a lack of insurance, the purpose of the examination is to obtain the medical documentation necessary to determine whether you have a disability and to inform the Social Security Administration about your current mental state. Without a recent medical evaluation, your case cannot be decided.

    A mental examination is a one-time visit with a psychologist or psychiatrist. There is no cost to you. The SSA pays all expenses related to the examination.

    There are three possible types of examinations:

    1. IQ testing or memory testing: This type of testing is used for learning disabilities, organic brain disorders, brain injuries, and mental retardation.
    2. Psychiatric testing: Psychiatric testing is often used to evaluate an applicant for personality and mood disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
    3. Mental status examination: This test is used to evaluate the mental condition of those suffering from depression, anxiety, or panic attacks.

    During the examination, be honest and give the test your best effort. If you are dishonest or try to fake a disability, the doctor is required report his suspicions to the SSA.

    After the examination, the doctor who performed the test will have 10 days to send the results to the SSA. The doctor’s report will contain information about your ability to follow directions and remember instructions and your ability to deal with coworkers, supervisors, and the stress of work.

    Do you have additional questions about applying for SSDI for a mental disability? Request a free copy of disability attorney John Keefe’s book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.

  • I applied for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits over a month ago, but have heard nothing. How long will it take for them to make a decision?

    We really do wish we had a simple answer to your question. However, there are so many variables and complexities in the SSA disability determination process, there is no such thing as a simple answer.

    According to the SSA disability website, a decision on your claim will take three to five months. The site says a number of variables factor into how long it takes to decide, including:

    • The type of disability you suffer. 
    • The length of time it takes to obtain your medical evidence. 
    • The possibility of sending you for an independent medical examination.
    • Whether your claim is selected randomly for an internal review.

    That said, there are many stumbling blocks and obstacles embedded in this seemingly simple list of variables. So, if you have questions about the process or need someone to look into your case, the SSA disability specialists at Keefe Disability Law can help. We offer: 

    • A free case consultation. Just call us, toll free, at 888-904-6847 or fill in the confidential form on this page to get your questions answered—free.
    • Free special reports to help you understand your case, including: The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim, and Unlocking the Mystery — The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. Order one or all absolutely free today.

  • I was in a Boston car accident and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. What kinds of therapy are offered to help me once I get out of the hospital?

    Your medical team will assess your injuries and symptoms and then come up with a treatment plan to help you achieve the best recovery possible. There are many types of brain injury therapies available to you. Which ones you will use depends on what you need in terms of your injury.

    Here are some of the most common therapies available to patients with a TBI:

    • Physical therapy: A physical therapist understands how the body and brain relate to each other and how to repair damaged connections between the two through relearning movement, balance, and other physical skills. 
    • Speech therapy: A speech and language pathologist deals with improving communication skills if they have been affected by a TBI. 
    • Cognitive therapy. This form of therapy, which focuses on increasing your alertness and ability to pay attention if they have been affected, could begin while you are still in the hospital.
    • Psychological therapy: Sometimes a psychologist or neuropsychologist is recommended to help with your emotional well-being. The stresses of a TBI can put tremendous pressure on your relationships and mental state. 
    • Occupational therapy: Experts in this field can help you to recover and practice the skills you use in everyday life. 
    • Therapeutic recreation: A recreational therapist might be assigned to your case to help you find fun and stimulating leisure activities to participate in.

    In addition to the above therapy alternatives, you might also be offered a vocational counselor, a traumatic brain injury nurse specialist, and/or a social worker or case manager to help you. 

    If you find, as time goes by, that you will be unable to return to work for the foreseeable future, you might want to consider applying for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits to see you through the rough times. 

    Contact the Boston area SSA disability specialists at Keefe Disability Law to see what we can do for you. Our toll-free number is 888-904-6847. We offer free case evaluations, so call today.

  • I was recently diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia. I understand that the treatment can take a long time and am wondering about applying for Social Security disability benefits. What can I expect in the treatment, and should I apply now?

    As New England Social Security disability specialists, we always urge our clients to begin the application process as soon as they possibly can. Approval can take months, and many initial claims are denied the first time around.

    You are correct in assuming that the treatment for your leukemia can be lengthy. If you are in early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia, you might not begin treatment for a while. Your doctors will closely monitor you for signs of progression of the disease.

    However, if you have reached the intermediate or advanced stages, your treatment will probably be immediate and aggressive. Most patients with leukemia will be given chemotherapy, which can be debilitating during its course.

    In addition, you may be treated with radiation therapy, targeted therapy, biological therapy, and even a stem cell transplant. Each, of course, has its own timeline and recovery period.

    While some patients continue treatment indefinitely, some receive the “all clear” to go back to work at the end of the treatment period. Either way, months and even sometimes years will pass as the leukemia battle is waged and you will be unable to work.

    For these reasons, we urge you to start educating yourself now about your disease and the possible outcomes. We also suggest that you begin the SSA disability application process now.

    Keefe Disability Law has helped many people with their New England SSA disability applications and appeals. Give us a call toll free at 888-904-6847 to discuss your options. We also offer a free report, “The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.” Order yours today by clicking the sidebar link on this page.

  • I was bitten by a tick in Massachusetts a month ago and since then have been feeling unwell. Do I have Lyme disease? What should I do?

    Just because you were bitten does not mean you have Lyme disease, and the fact that you are feeling bad may or may not be related to your bite.

    First, the tick had to be a blacklegged tick, the only kind that transmits the bacteria to humans and causes the disease. Also, most commonly, the tick must have remained attached to your skin for more than 24 hours to infect you.

    Because you live in Massachusetts, one of the 12 states with the most cases of Lyme disease, you do have cause for concern. You do not mention your symptoms, but a rash, aching muscles or joints, a fever, fatigue, chills, headache, and swollen lymph nodes are common Lyme disease symptoms.

    We suggest that you see a medical professional as soon as possible. Because the disease is more successfully treated in the early stages, you should not delay a visit to the doctor. He or she can diagnose your condition using several different methods.

    In addition to a physical examination, your doctor will likely ask you questions about your medical history. Because Lyme disease shares many of the nonspecific symptoms of other conditions like viral infections, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. 

    It is also important to know that the blacklegged tick can also spread other diseases at the same time it transmits Lyme disease.

    The bottom line is to seek medical attention before you do anything else to avoid becoming so sick you cannot participate in your normal life activities including work. And, if you do become disabled, don’t wait to contact a Massachusetts SSA disability lawyer to discover your options.

    At Keefe Disability Law, we have helped many people apply for New England SSA disability benefits successfully. Call us today toll free at 888-904-6847 with any questions you have.

  • What should I do if I was denied SSD benefits for my osteoporosis?

    Osteoporosis can cause disability and in your case, it has. A broken hip is a very serious injury and, of course, you are living with the possibility of other broken bones.

    As a Rhode Island disability attorney, I see many New England disability application denials. And nothing is much more frustrating than this when you really need the financial help these benefits can provide.

    Usually, you have about 60 days to appeal a denial and you do not mention how long it has been since you received your determination letter. So, you have two scenarios open to you, both of which may cause you to become discouraged.

    • If the time for an appeal has lapsed, you can file a new application with the information about your current medical condition included.
    • If you still have time to appeal, do so right away! We work on appeals every day and know exactly what the Social Security Administration expects in order to approve your request.

    Call Keefe Disability Law toll free today at 888-904-6847 for a free disability case consultation. Or, simply fill out the confidential form on this page and we will contact you. We also urge you to order a FREE copy of our special report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.

    Don’t get discouraged. We can help.

  • I have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Is there anything I can do to improve my condition and avoid having to apply for New England SSA disability benefits?

    Although your diagnosis is frightening and can lead to disability, there are many things you can do to slow the rate at which your coronary heart disease progresses. 

    Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, leads to many serious heart problems. But the good news is that you can slow, stop, or even reversing the narrowing of your arteries by making major changes in your lifestyle choices. While doing this is not easy, if you are motivated enough, you can avoid becoming dependent on other people and the government to go on living. 

    Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:

    • Stop smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts the blood vessels in your body, forcing your heart to work much harder than it needs to. In addition, carbon monoxide damages blood vessels and cuts the amount of oxygen in your blood.
    • Control your blood pressure. You should have regular blood pressure checks. Hypertension and the risk for heart attacks are very closely related.
    • Keep your cholesterol levels low.
    • Control your diabetes.
    • Exercise regularly. We all know the benefits of exercise, but do not always take advantage of this cost free way to avoid many serious diseases. Mayo Clinic recommends 30 to 60 minutes a day, with your doctor’s permission.
    • Eat healthy foods. This is another way to avoid many health problems and to lose weight. Obesity can lead to heart disease and diabetes. A heart healthy diet will include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
    • Keep stress managed. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and exercise can all help you maintain a healthy mental attitude and reduce the damaging physical effects of stress.

    Because 9.5 percent of all Social Security Administration disability benefits went to disabled workers suffering from circulatory system diseases in 2010, the risk of being unable to work are very real. But by making changes in how you live your life, you may avoid becoming one of those disability cases.

    If you do need help with New England SSA disability questions, call a disability lawyer in Rhode Island to get them answered. Keefe Disability Law has helped many people just like you. Call us toll free today at 888-904-6847 to get the facts.

  • If I have an angina attack, does that mean I am about to have a heart attack?

    When you have an episode of angina, it means that one of the muscles in your heart is temporarily not getting enough blood. Usually, this happens when you are exercising or going up a set of stairs. While you should never be complacent about chest pain, angina itself is not a heart attack.

    Angina does, however, mean that you are suffering from coronary artery disease and being aware of the symptoms and feelings of your stable angina episodes will help you to recognize if something more serious is going on. 

    A heart attack is different from angina and means that the blood flow to some part of your heart is suddenly cut off. While symptoms can vary greatly among people, with a heart attack, the chest pain lasts longer, is more severe, and previously prescribed medications do not help.

    If you have angina, you are at a greater risk of heart attack than those who don’t. Also, the risk of a heart attack increases if your angina patterns change.  If your episodes become longer, happen without any exercise, or are more frequent, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

    Knowing your condition and having it treated are the best precautions against heart attack. And if you are having trouble working, or have had to quit your job, you may want to consider applying for disability in Massachusetts.

    Contact Keefe Disability Law in the Boston area for advice and help with your disability needs. You can reach our Massachusetts disability benefit attorneys toll-free at 888-904-6847 or fill out the confidential form online for a quick response.

  • I was recently injured at work in Boston and expect to be disabled for at least the next year. Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of getting my SSA disability claim approved?

    Yes, there are definitely ways to improve your chances of being approved for SSA disability benefits. In theory, the Social Security Administration maintains the disability program to help people just like you. But, as we hear on the news and from friends, this program is cumbersome, and applicants often wait long periods of time to be approved.

    In order to help yourself, you might consider the following suggestions:

    • Don’t wait another minute to apply. Because it may take some time to get your case approved, you need to get into the system just as soon as possible.
    • Be absolutely honest and complete about the condition(s) that disable(s) you. Some people are embarrassed to mention psychiatric problems or learning disabilities. This is a mistake, as the SSA disability program will consider more than one condition in making a determination. For instance, if you suffer from depression and have a spinal cord injury, both conditions will be taken into consideration.
    • Most important, get some help. Hiring an attorney either to help you apply or to work through the appeals process will give you the edge. You do not understand the complicated workings of the system, but an experienced disability attorney does. 

    The Massachusetts disability attorneys at Keefe Disability Law have the reputation, experience and perseverance to take you through the entire SSA disability process. Call us today toll free at 888-904-6847 to schedule a free case consultation. Or, you can simply fill out the form on this page and we will contact you within 24 hours. 

  • I am legally blind and working at a very low paying job in Boston. I applied for and was denied benefits by the SSA disability program. I just can’t make it on this low salary. What can I do?

    We suggest that you should not give up! Many times, perfectly reasonable SSA disability claims are denied just because of a problem with the paperwork, such as inaccurate information or lack of documentation. You may well need the services of a Massachusetts disability attorney to look into your case and get you the benefits you need.

    Generally, if you are making less than $1,690 a month in 2012 and are legally blind, you qualify for SSA disability benefits. These earnings limits change from year to year, so it is possible that your earnings in 2011 exceeded the limit then, but qualify you now.

    Also, if you are self-employed, the SSA disability program does not evaluate the time you spend working in your business, while it does for the non-blind disabled. As long as you are making $1,690 or less a month in your business, you still qualify for disability benefits. 

    The SSA disability program provides a booklet, Working While DisabledHow We Can Help, that is available in Braille. 

    Meanwhile, please contact Keefe Disability Law with your questions about qualifying for SSA disability for the blind. We offer a free initial case consultation to let you know where you stand. You can call us toll free at 888-904-6847, fill out the confidential questionnaire on this page, and order our free book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Let us get started helping you.

  • I am a Boston resident and have recently been diagnosed with Lupus. I dont understand how I got it. What are the causes? Could I have avoided it?

    Most patients have the same concerns you do. And the answers are not easy, because the cause of lupus is still not understood. But there are some things researchers do know about this mysterious disease.



    • Lupus is not contagious. Many wonder if they got it from a stranger, but this is impossible.
    • Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to malfunction and the body to attack its own tissues.
    • Genetics may play a role in how you got lupus. Researchers are studying family histories of lupus patients to see if some people are more likely to get this disease.
    • Researchers are also studying environmental factors. Among these factors are exposure to ultraviolet light, stress, smoking and some toxins, such as trichloroethylene in water and silica dust.
    • The research is still very inconclusive, but the relationship of hormonal factors and lupus is being studied. They are looking for hormonal triggers like pregnancy.
    • Viruses and bacteria are also considered to be possible triggers, but no conclusions have been reached.
    • One type of lupus, drug-induced, is thought to be caused by the long-term use of some medications.
    • Most researchers feel that it is a combination of these factors that causes lupus, but as of now, there is no definite answer as to how this disease happens.

    If you have been diagnosed with lupus, there is a 90% chance that your disease can be managed with various therapies. But, if your symptoms become severe enough, you could become unable to work. 

    As Massachusetts disability lawyers, we can help people like you apply for SSA disability benefits if the need arises. Just give us a call toll free at 888-904-6847 to get your questions answered. Keefe Disability Law serves the residents of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.



  • I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Can I continue to work at my Massachusetts job?

    Many Massachusetts residents who suffer from fibromyalgia collect Social Security benefits because they are unable to continue working. However, others continue to work successfully. It comes down to your own personal situation.

    Many patients suffer frequent flare-ups of symptoms that cause them to miss work on a regular basis. Others may go long periods of time without problems. Still others find themselves unable to work at all, experiencing severe symptoms and frustrations.

    One test that can help determine your ability to work is a functional capacity evaluation (FCE). Unfortunately, if the test is administered on a “good day,” the patient can easily be misdiagnosed and unable to get disability benefits even if he or she experiences disabling pain on the “bad days.”

    The answer is to get a doctor experienced in fibromyalgia cases and get a true evaluation of what you can and can’t do.

    For help in applying for Social Security disability benefits, contact the Boston disability law firm Keefe Disability Law. We can help you find competent medical treatment and get your claim started. Call us today toll free at 888-904-6847.

    We also offer free reports for those wishing to learn more about the SSA disability process. Just fill out the convenient form on this page.

  • I suffer from bipolar disorder, which, even though I am being treated, has made it harder to work every day. My Boston employer wants me to resign, but I need the money to live. He is being patient with me, but I dont know how long I can continue to work. What can I do?

    You are not alone. Mood disorders like yours are among the top ten causes of disability all over the world. Because bipolar disorder is not something you can see, like crippling rheumatism or multiple sclerosis, people tend to question whether you are really disabled.

    However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability program awarded 11.2% of its total distribution to people like you in 2010. Because you are under a doctor’s care and your employer sees the problems you are having, you should consider applying for SSA Massachusetts disability benefits.

    The application form can be found on the SSA disability website. You can download it there and see what is required in the process.

    But we also want you to know that a great percentage of first-time applicants are denied SSA disability benefits initially. For that reason, it is a good idea to get help with the application process from someone who understands the complicated and sometimes discouraging system.

    The Boston disability lawyers at Keefe Disability Law handle cases like yours every day. Attorney John Keefe provides expert advice and services to clients in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Call toll free today at 888-904-6847 to request your free initial consultation.

  • How do people get away with Social Security disability fraud and how does this affect me?

    We are constantly encouraged by the people who are caught and prosecuted for Massachusetts disability fraud. These people may fake a disabling condition or exaggerate an existing one. Others recover medically but keep receiving benefits. And some continue to receive benefits while working. 

    The costs of disability fraud may have a direct effect on you if you are applying for benefits. Because of the SSA backlog in case reviews, some say they are paying out up to $11 billion to people who no longer qualify or never did. Our advice to you is to report anyone you suspect of receiving benefits illegally.

    If you need help with your own Boston disability case, we urge you to order our free Social Security disability report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Or, call us toll free today at our Boston area disability law office at 888-904-6847.

  • I have been denied Massachusetts SSA disability benefits. Should I hire a lawyer to represent me in the appeals process?

    Yes, you certainly should, and it is a very good idea not to wait too long to do it. Here's why:

    • The odds of winning at the reconsideration stage are not too good. Having an expert on your side at this stage greatly increases your chances of winning.
    • If you wait until your first reconsideration appeal is denied, you will be going straight to the hearing where you need representation. Better to have someone who knows your case from the beginning.
    • If you wait to get representation until your case is about to go to hearing, it is extremely difficult for your lawyer to get up to speed fast enough to best represent you.
    • And, if you wait too long, your claim can be delayed due to the time it takes to file paperwork.

    Remember, you only have two months to appeal a SSA disability denial. Get started with legal representation as soon as you are denied and increase your chances for success.

    Keefe Disability Law has a great track record in garnering SSA disability benefits for our New England clients. Call us toll free immediately at 888-904-6847 to schedule a free case review.