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 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 recent Iraq war veteran and have had both legs amputated below the knee after being hit by an IED. I need some help paying my bills as I recover, both physically and financially, here in Boston. How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

    First, let us begin by thanking you for your service to our country. Second, we must warn you that applying for Massachusetts SSA disability benefits can be tricky. Let’s begin with the requirements for amputees. 

    Just like any other disability case, you must be able to prove that you are unable to perform the types of movement needed for a job like lifting, bending, and walking. The kind of work you do will determine exactly what you need to prove. For example, if you work primarily at a desk, the guidelines will be different than if you build houses.

    Amputations, according to the SSA guidelines, require that you have:

    • Lost both hands, or;
    • Lost either lower limb above the ankle and be experiencing complications that make it impossible to use prosthetic devices to walk, or;
    • Lost one hand and one lower limb above the ankle and be unable to use a prosthetic device, or;
    • Lost an entire leg with the amputation at the hip or pelvis.

    It is important to note that if you do not meet the requirements listed above, you may still be able to qualify, even if it means being denied and appealing your SSA disability case.

    In addition, you will need medical records documenting your treatment to prove to the SSA that you have been or will be disabled (by their definition) for at least one year.

    As Massachusetts disability lawyers, we specialize in helping people like you pursue SSA disability benefits cases. Give us a call toll free today at 888-904-6847 to discuss your options. 

    You might also want to order a copy of our free report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. We look forward to talking with you.

  • I recently returned home to Boston following three tours of duty in Iraq. During the last tour, I was seriously injured and became disabled. I am going to apply for Social Security disability benefits. What personal information will I need?

    First, we would like to sincerely thank you for your service to our country. We respect your sacrifice. In order to start the Massachusetts SSA disability application process, you will need to file an application as soon as possible with the documents you do have. If you do not have all the following information, you should still begin the process.

    To file a successful application, the SSA requires veterans to have:

    • The original or a certified copy of your birth certificate, OR 
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship if you were foreign born.
    • Form DD 214, if you have been discharged from the military.
    • W-2 form or income tax return for last year.
    • Proof of military pay or worker’s compensation.
    • The Social Security numbers of your spouse and any minor children. 
    • Information for a contact person when you are unavailable.
    • Any/all medical records you have or can easily obtain.

    After the initial application is in, the SSA offers you a special “Wounded Warriors” SSA disability program, which is designed to speed your application process. To be sure your application is considered quickly, make sure to let the SSA know that your disability occurred while on active military duty.

    As Boston Social Security disability lawyers, we can help you with this process. At Keefe Disability Law, we specialize in all aspects of SSA disability, from the initial application to acceptance. Please call us today toll free at 888-904-6847 if you have any further questions.

  • 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 am a Boston resident living with the HIV virus. I am worried about what happens if I cant work. How will I live? Does the Social Security Administration ever award disability benefits to HIV/AIDS patients?

    Yes, HIV/AIDS is one of the qualifying conditions found on the SSA disability “Listing of Impairments,” Adult Listings (Part A), which can be found on their website. It is covered under “Immune System Disorders.”

    The SSA disability system defines these disorders as those that “cause dysfunction in one or more components of your immune system.” Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is listed as one of three categories of immune system disorders.

    If you plan to apply for SSA disability benefits for your condition, we advise you to plan ahead. It can take a long time, sometimes months, to get your initial response once you have applied. And if you are denied, you will need to appeal to get a favorable decision. Appeals can take even longer to process and many give up.

    We would like to talk to you about your options. Keefe Disability Law has helped many Boston area residents with their claims. Massachusetts disability attorney John Keefe and his team can advise you on exactly when to file your claim and help you with the application process. And if you are denied, we can continue to fight your battle for you.

    You can call us toll free at 888-904-6847 to speak to an expert today.

  • I live in Boston and have epilepsy. I was working in a factory, but had to quit. So I retrained and am looking for work. But it seems like employers ignore me as soon as they find out about my condition. Is this legal? I cant afford not to work.

    NO! It is absolutely illegal to discriminate against anyone because of his or her disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act made it illegal to discriminate against you in any of the following areas:

    • Recruiting workers.
    • Hiring workers.
    • Promoting employees.
    • Training employees.
    • Level of pay.
    • Social activities sponsored by the employer.

    In addition, employers are also bound to make accommodations for any disabled employee and they cannot ask questions about an applicant’s disability unless they have made a job offer. Your rights are quite clear.

    Ask yourself the following questions:
    • When you quit the factory you worked in, and did you do so because of your disability? Did your employer ask you to leave or make it impossible to continue? If so, your rights might have been violated.
    • It is also illegal for your potential employers to turn you away because of epilepsy. However difficult this is to prove, it is wrong.
    • When you retrained, did you plan to go immediately to work? If you are having difficulty finding work because of the tough job market, and not discrimination, you may want to consider getting help by applying for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits to keep you going.

    If you do decide to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you might want to talk to a lawyer so your claim is considered and accepted more quickly. Call the Boston Social Security disability lawyers at Keefe Disability Law toll free at 888-904-6847 for a free case review, and order our free SSA disability report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, on this page.

  • 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.

  • I live in Boston and was denied SSA disability benefits even though I have complications from sickle cell anemia and cannot work. What do I do now?

    Do not give up! This is the best and truest advice we can give you.
    Here in Massachusetts many disability applicants are denied on their first try for Social Security disability. We always counsel our clients to continue to fight for their rights through an appeal.
    While the appeals process can be complicated and frustrating, your chances of being accepted are much greater the second time around. At Keefe Disability Law, we take pride in our knowledge and skill in the appeals process.
    We have many happy clients who also thought their denial was the end of the line. Yet each of them is now living more comfortably thanks to their successful Massachusetts disability appeals.
    Please call us toll free today at 888-904-6847 for a free case review. And we urge you to order a copy of one of our free books so you can begin to fight for your future.

  • 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.

  • Will I lose my Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits if I take a part-time job?

    Not necessarily. The Social Security Administration wants you to live as full a life as possible. That said, there are some disabled Americans who will never return to the workforce. But most disability beneficiaries want to work.

    First, it is difficult to live on the typically small benefit you may receive. Second, working can bring a sense of self-worth and greater wellbeing than remaining at home all the time.

    If you have found a job that suits your abilities and want to pursue it, you will probably be able to do it. You can work for nine months with no questions or interruptions in your benefits. This is plenty of time to see if you are able to continue.

    After this, you can continue to work for three more years if you are making less than $1000 per month. And many people do not realize that they can retain their Medicare coverage for up to eight-and-a-half years and still work.

    So, if you decide to try going back to work, you can do it. And if you still have questions, please call Keefe Disability Law in Massachusetts for answers. Our toll free number is 888-904-6847 and we serve clients throughout the New England area.

  • I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and am still working at my Massachusetts job. Is there anything I can do to keep working longer and stay off disability?

    Yes! There is. Exercise. While there is no known cure for arthritis, many patients have found that physical activity is helpful in managing their disease.

    Most arthritis sufferers fear exercise because they feel that it will damage their joints and cause more pain. Actually, lack of exercise can make RA worse and even affect your cardiac health. Exercise can help to maintain mobility and ward off cardiovascular disease. It has even been linked to prevention of RA.

    How much and what type of physical activity you do should be decided between you and your doctor or a physical therapist. However, the Arthritis Foundation recommends three general types, You can visit their website for more information:

    • Flexibility (stretching, range-of-motion) exercises
    • Strengthening (Resistance) exercises
    • Cardiovascular (aerobic) exercises

    So get out and get moving! Medical science and common sense are both behind you. You really can manage your condition by moving more.

    Keefe Disability Law wants you to keep working at your Massachusetts job just as long as you can. If your condition has made it more and more difficult for you to work, contact us for information on filing for Social Security disability benefits. You can call us toll free at 888-904-6847 or fill in the form on this page for a free case review.

  • If I apply for Massachusetts Social Security disability benefits and am receiving other benefits, can my claim be denied?

    If you are receiving benefits from a private disability insurance company, your eligibility will not be affected. However, if you are receiving other public funds for your disability, you may have some trouble.

    Workers' compensation is usually paid out through a public fund. It is designed to help workers with a job-related injury or illness. Because this type of benefit may be paid by federal or state agencies, employers or insurance companies, your Social Security benefit can be affected. The SSA website explains it like this:

    • If you receive workers' compensation or other public disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled.

    Generally speaking, if you receive payments from any federal, state, or local government source, you should ask questions of a good disability lawyer or other professional. Keefe Disability Law in Boston handles cases like yours every day. Call us toll free at 888-904-6847 to schedule a free case review.

  • I was approved for state welfare benefits. Why is Social Security denying me?

    Programs like Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children (EAEDC) in Massachusetts or Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled (APTD) in New Hampshire are state welfare programs.

    State disability programs use different criteria to evaluate disability than Social Security does, and often this standard is easier to meet. Social Security's definition of disability involves multiple steps and the claimant must meet the criteria at each step along the way.  This means that qualifying for state disability programs doesn't always mean the claimant will qualify for Social Security disability.

    That said, records from your state disability approval can be helpful in your Social Security claim. If you were approved for state disability benefits, let your attorney know so that these records can be requested and submitted to Social Security.

  • I applied for Social Security disability benefits months ago, and I don't know what is going on in my case. How long will it take to get a decision?

    Applying for Social Security benefits can be a long, drawn out process, with periods of waiting where it seems as if nothing is happening. Social Security has a big backlog of cases to review at the initial and reconsideration levels. Typically, people experience a four to six month wait to receive a decision at the initial and reconsideration stages. Once you request a hearing before an administrative law judge, it will take, on average, twelve to fifteen months for your hearing to schedule.

  • My family member knows everything that I go through. Can he testify during my hearing?

    We always encourage claimants to bring family members or friends to the hearing for support.  That family member can sit down with the claimant and the attorney before the hearing to discuss the case and help the claimant feel comfortable leading up to the hearing. 

    Believe it or not, there are only rare instances when a judge feels it is necessary to hear from someone other than the claimant.  During the hearing, the ALJ wants to get to know the claimant and understand the difficulties she is facing because of her impairments.  Often, testimony from an additional person only clouds the issues and takes attention away from the claimant's personal experiences.  Also, it is inevitable that the family member's testimony will differ, at least slightly, from the claimant's testimony and an ALJ is permitted to use those inconsistencies to evaluate the claimant's credibility. That's why it is almost always best to focus the testimony on the claimant and bring family members or friends for support before and after the hearing.