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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Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I’ve been diagnosed with an affective disorder?
Yes, if you suffer from an affective disorder and you can prove that you meet the eligibility criteria for Social Security disability then you may be able to recover monthly benefits.
The First Question Is Whether You Have an Affective Disorder
An affective disorder is not one specific disease. Instead, it is a term used to describe a set of psychiatric diseases that can range from mild to severe, with symptoms varying between individuals. Affective disorders are also sometimes referred to as mood disorders. There are three main types of affective disorders, including the following:
- Depression. Also known as major depressive disorder, this condition typically causes people to feel extreme sadness and hopelessness. Episodes can last for several days or can continue for weeks or months.
- Bipolar disorder. This condition results in people experiencing periods of depression followed by periods of mania. Mania occurs when you feel extremely positive and active. Unfortunately, mania is not always good. Instead, it can make you feel irritable, aggressive, impulsive, and even delusional. Bipolar disorders can be further broken down into different classes of the disease according to the severity of the depression and mania, as well as how often the swing between the two moods occurs.
- Anxiety disorders. Like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders come in many different forms. These include social anxiety caused by social situations, post-traumatic stress disorder caused by a traumatic event, generalized anxiety disorder which does not have one particular cause, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
While anxiety is a type of affective disorder, the Social Security Administration categorizes anxiety disorders differently than depression and bipolar disorders. If you are applying for benefits then it is important to know which Social Security disability listing of impairment may be relevant to your claim.
The Next Question Is Whether You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Because of Your Affective Disorder
Unfortunately, when affective disorders are severe enough, it can become difficult or impossible for a person to carry out activities of daily living and to work. Social Security disability benefits may be available to provide some relief from this financial burden—if you qualify.
Just as there are different types of affective disorders, there are different ways to qualify for Social Security disability if you are diagnosed with an affective disorder. For example, you may qualify for disability benefits if:
You Meet the Requirements in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments
Affective disorders are included in Section 12.00 of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments which covers mental disorders. You may satisfy the requirements for an affective disorder pursuant to a specific listing if one of the following is true:
- You have depressive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(1). To do this, you must have medical documentation that shows that you experience five or more of the following symptoms: depressed mood, diminished interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbance with a change in your weight, sleep disturbance, observable psychomotor agitation or retardation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating or thinking, and thoughts of suicide or death.
- You have bipolar disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.04A(2). To meet this requirement, you must have medical documentation that proves that you experience three or more of the following symptoms: pressured speech, flight of ideas, inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, involvement in activities that have a high probability of painful consequences that are not recognized, or an increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation.
- You have anxiety disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(1). To qualify pursuant to this listing, you must have medical documentation that proves that you have at least three of the following symptoms: restlessness, tiring easily, having difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep disturbance.
- You have panic disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(2). To qualify for benefits under this listing, you must have medical documentation that one of the following is true: you have panic attacks followed by a persistent concern or worry about having more panic attacks or the consequences of panic attacks, or you have a disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations.
- You have obsessive-compulsive disorder and you meet the requirements in Section 12.06A(3). You will qualify for benefits under this listing if you have medical documentation to prove that one of the following is true: you have an involuntary, time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, unwanted thoughts or you have repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety.
In order to qualify for benefits pursuant to any of these listings, you must also prove that one of the following is true:
- You have an extreme limitation in one, or a marked limitation in two, of the following four areas of mental functioning: (1) understanding, remembering, or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3) concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and (4) adapting or managing yourself.
- Your affective disorder is serious and persistent. That means that you have a medically documented history of the disorder for a period of at least two years and there is evidence—that despite ongoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, and a highly structured setting that diminishes your symptoms—you still have a minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or demands that are not part of your daily life.
These are tough requirements to meet and you may be unable to work because of your disability—even if you do not meet the technical requirements in the Listing of Impairments.
You May Qualify for Benefits Because of the Severity of Your Affective Disorder
Even if you do not meet the requirements in one of the listings described above, you may still qualify for benefits if your symptoms are equal in severity to another listing or if you are unable to work because of the significant way that your condition impacts your ability to work.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Benefits
Obtaining Social Security disability benefits is important for many people suffering from affective disorders. You may need these benefits if you are unable to earn a living. Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you through this process. We encourage you to contact us today for a free consultation and to download our free report, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more.
I got a call from Texas Disability Determination Services asking me to see a doctor before a decision is made on my Social Security disability application. Do I have to attend this appointment?
Generally, yes, if you want your application for Social Security disability benefits to be approved then you need to comply with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) request that you attend a consultative medical exam. This exam will not cost you any money, but before you see any doctor for any reason, it is important to understand the purpose of the appointment and your rights.
Who Performs a Consultative Exam?
The doctor who you usually see may be the one who performs your consultative exam. It is the Social Security Administration’s policy that the treating source (or your regular doctor) perform the consultative exam if the doctor is:
- Qualified and able to perform the exam or tests requested.
- Willing to do the exam or tests for the fee schedule payment provided by the Social Security Administration.
- One who generally furnishes complete and timely reports.
However, in some cases DDS may request that an independent medical provider conduct the consultative exam or test. This may occur if one of the following things is true:
- Your regular doctor does not want to perform the exam.
- There are conflicts or inconsistencies in your file that can’t be resolved by your regular doctor.
- You prefer to have someone else perform the exam and you have a good reason for having this preference.
- Prior experience indicates that your regular doctor may not be a productive source for getting the information sought in the consultative exam.
If a doctor other than your own is selected to perform your consultative exam, then that selection should be based on the doctor’s ability to perform the requested tests or specific exam, the doctor’s appointment availability, and the distance you must travel to get to the doctor.
What Happens at a Consultative Exam
DDS must be clear about the additional medical evidence that it needs to make a determination about your eligibility. In some cases a full exam may be needed. However, in other cases one test (such as an X-ray or EKG) may be all that is needed. You should understand the scope of the consultative exam before you attend your scheduled appointment.
Even though the scope of the consultative exam may be limited, the consultative exam report must contain specific information. Specifically, the Social Security Administration requires the report to include:
- Your claim number and a physical description of you.
- Your medical history.
- The results of your physical examination and laboratory findings.
- The examiner’s medical conclusions.
The report must be complete enough to allow a reviewer to determine what your disability is, how severe it is, how long it is expected to last, and how it impacts your ability to work. Additionally, it must be consistent. However, it should not include an opinion as to whether you are disabled as that term is defined by Social Security disability law. If the report is found to be incomplete or inconsistent then it will be sent back to the doctor and a determination about your Social Security disability claim may be delayed.
What to Know Before You Go to a Consultative Exam
The failure to attend a consultative exam may result in your Social Security disability claim being denied. While you need to attend the appointment, you also deserve to understand what is happening with your claim before, during, and after a consultative exam.
During the exam, all of your questions should be answered. The doctor treating you should explain what he is doing and why. If you do not speak English then an interpreter will be provided to you during your exam. You will not have to pay for the interpreter’s services.
Before you attend the consultative exam, and afterward, your Social Security disability lawyer will be available to help you with your application for benefits. The consultative exam is just one part of the application process. We will use the information from your exam, and all other applicable information, to help you get the benefits that you deserve. Please contact us today via this website or by phone to learn more about protecting your rights.
What is the Activities of Daily Living questionnaire?
The Social Security Administration wants to know if your disability prevents you from working. In order to make this critical assessment that will significantly impact your Social Security disability eligibility, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may ask that you fill out an Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire.
The purpose of the questionnaire is to better assess how your physical and mental impairments impact your daily life. While your medical records allow the SSA to evaluate your medical diagnoses, this questionnaire allows them to assess how the diagnoses impact your life on a day-to-day basis. Your answers will help determine whether you have functional limitations that impact your ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. Learn more about substantial gainful activity in our other article.
What Is Included in the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire?
The Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire is more formally known as Function Report – Adult – Form SSA-3373-BK. This form asks about your abilities and limitations in performing tasks such as caring for yourself and your household.
Some of the questions that you can expect on the form include:
- Do you live alone or with other people?
- How does your disability limit your ability to work?
- What do you do on a typical day, starting from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed?
- Do you take care of other people—such as children, a spouse, parents, other relatives, or pets? What do you do for them? Do you have any help from anyone else?
- What were you able to do before you became disabled that you cannot do now?
- Does your disability affect your sleep?
- Does your disability affect your ability to get dressed, bathe yourself, shave, use the toilet, or otherwise take care of yourself?
- Do you need help or reminders to take medication?
- Do you prepare your own meals?
- Are you able to do household chores? Are there any household chores that you need help with?
- How often do you go outside?
- Do you drive?
- Can you go out alone?
- Can you shop? Can you do it independently?
- Are you able to pay your own bills and manage your own money?
- Do you have hobbies, interests, and activities that you enjoy on a regular basis?
- Do you spend time with others? In what situations? Do you have trouble getting along with people?
- What abilities does your disability impact? Examples include lifting, walking, concentrating, using hands, talking, sitting, and other important abilities.
- How far can you walk before you need to rest?
- How long can you pay attention?
- Do you finish what you start?
- Can you follow verbal or written instructions?
- Do you get along with authority figures?
- Have you ever been fired because you had trouble getting along with others?
- How well do you handle stress and changes in routine?
- Do you use any assistive devices (such as hearing aids or crutches, for example)?
- Do you take any medications? What are the side effects of those medications?
If you answer yes, or in such a way as to indicate that you are disabled, then you will be asked to further explain your limitations or condition in a short answer format. Additionally, there is space at the bottom of the questionnaire for you to add in information that was not included in the routine questions.
Tips for Completing the Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire
The good news is that you are the person in the best position to answer questions about what you do on a typical day. When you complete the form it is important to:
- Be honest. You do not want to exaggerate or understate your limitations and abilities.
- Give as many details as you can so that the person reading the questionnaire gets an accurate idea of what your life is like on a daily basis.
Technically, this form is voluntary. However, if you fail to fill it out, then the SSA may not be able to find you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. While you are the one who must fill out the form, it should be done in consultation with your Social Security disability lawyer who can help you complete your entire Social Security disability application.
For more information, or to get started with your own Social Security disability claim, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your initial consultation. Additionally, we encourage you to download a FREE copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process, to learn more today.
I have a slipped disk and I am in excruciating pain. Am I eligible for Social Security disability benefits?
You have been through physical therapy and you have followed your doctor’s recommendations concerning back surgery. You have done everything that you are supposed to do, but you are still in pain, you are still unable to work, and you are still living with a disability.
A slipped disc is one of the most painful back problems you can experience. The sharp pain, limited range of mobility in your shoulders and hips, and the radiating tenderness that shoots down your arms or legs are enough to hold even the healthiest people back from work. It can make manual labor and sitting for long periods of time impossible—it can leave you unable to do your job.
Obtaining Social Security Disability for a Slipped Disc
You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if your condition is expected to last for more than one year, if you have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability and if one of the following is true:
- You meet one of the conditions in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments. In some cases, you may meet the requirements of Section 1.04: Disorders of the Spine. Most often, the slipped, bulging, or herniated disc must compromise a nerve root in the spinal cord and result in: (a) pain, limitation of motion of the spine, or motor loss with sensory or reflex loss, or (b) spinal arachnoiditis, or (c) lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in pseudoclaudication.
- Your condition is equal in severity to a specific condition in the Listing of Impairments. If you do not meet any specific requirement in the Blue Book, but your medical condition has the same effect on your life as another condition in the Blue Book, then you may qualify for benefits.
- You are unable to work. If your condition leaves you with a residual functional capacity that makes you unable to work then you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical condition, work experience, education level, age, and job skills when deciding whether you can work a sedentary or manual job.
If you believe that you qualify for benefits in an any of these ways, then you may want to pursue Social Security disability benefits.
Helpful Tips for Getting the Benefits That You Deserve
The majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. We say that not to scare you, but instead to highlight the importance of being prepared before you file a claim. Before you send anything to the Social Security Administration, it is important to:
- Gather evidence. Pull together as much evidence as you can about your condition and the impact it is having on your life. This evidence can include doctor’s notes, imaging tests, a journal of your symptoms, work records that cite how your injury stopped you from working, and more.
- Talk to an attorney. Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable in federal disability law can save you time and help you increase your chances of getting your application approved. An attorney can make sure that your application is complete so that you submit a strong claim that has a good chance of being approved.
- Put your application together. With all of the evidence in hand, put your application together to show specifics about how your injury stops you from working. The Social Security Administration must see that you are disabled to the point that you cannot perform sedentary or manual labor tasks. Your lawyer can help you with this task.
When it comes to serious back pain from a slipped or bulging disc, having a Social Security disability attorney on your side gives you invaluable support. You do not have to do this alone. Instead, we encourage you to learn more about your rights and about how to protect your disability benefits by reading our free book, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, and by contacting us directly for a confidential consultation.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits for asthma?
It depends on the severity of your asthma. Only those who suffer from frequent and severe asthma attacks that cannot be controlled with medication are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Understanding Asthma: When Is it Severe?
Asthma is a chronic obstructive condition of the respiratory system. During an asthma attack, the airways become inflamed and cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pain
There are many triggers for asthma which include:
- Dust, mold, pollen, and animal fur.
- Cigarette smoke, workplace chemicals or dust, home spray products, and air pollution.
- Some medicines, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and beta-blockers.
- Sulfites found in food and beverages.
- Respiratory infections, including colds.
- Physical exercise.
Asthma is generally treated with two types of medications: quick relief and long-term control. These are usually effective in controlling symptoms. However, your asthma may affect your ability to work if:
- Your symptoms are causing you to lose sleep, occurring more often, or are more severe.
- You are missing work because of asthma attacks.
- Your peak flow number (established with your doctor) is low or swings from day to day.
- Your asthma medicines are not working.
- You need your quick-relief inhaler more than usual.
- An asthma attack sends you to the emergency room.
If an asthma attack can be stopped by moving away from the trigger, with an inhaler, or with another medication, then it is not considered severe.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you meet the qualifications in the Listing of Impairments or if your condition is so severe that you are unable to work.
Asthma is specifically listed in Section 3.03 of the Listing of Impairments. According to this listing, you may qualify for benefits if you meet both of the following requirements:
- The results of your lung function test (FEV1) are low for your age, gender and height. What’s defined as “low” is provided in a chart in Section 3.03A.
- You have had three asthma-related hospitalizations within the last 12 months. Each hospitalization must last at least 48 hours and each hospitalization must occur at least 30 days apart.
If you have chronic asthmatic bronchitis, then you may qualify for Social Security disability if you can meet the requirements of the Listing of Impairments for COPD.
Additionally, you may qualify for benefits even if you do not meet any of the listings in the Listing of Impairments if you can prove that your condition is equal in severity to any listing in the Listing of Impairments or if you are unable to work due to your medical condition.
Regardless of which way you qualify, you will need documentation to prove that you are eligible for benefits. You should have a record of each episode, how long it lasted, the treatment that was administered, and how well you responded to treatment. You should also have results of spirometry tests and arterial blood gas studies (ABGS) from each attack. Additionally, your medical records must show that you are following the treatment plan ordered by your doctor unless you have a valid reason not to do so.
Not Everyone With Asthma Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits
Approximately 18.4 million people over the age of 18 suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but not all of them qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you can control your asthma by avoiding environmental triggers and by using medication, then you will not be eligible for benefits. However, if you experience frequent, sudden, and severe asthma attacks despite treatment then you may be unable to work and you may qualify for benefits.
The Social Security disability application process is confusing, but you can be prepared. Learn more about applying for benefits by reading Attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process or by contacting our firm directly by phone or via this website to schedule an initial meeting.
I have severe osteoarthritis that is affecting my ability to work. Will I qualify for Social Security disability?
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, is a painful joint disorder that often occurs as people age and the cartilage that protects the bone begins to wear down. The symptoms of osteoarthritis will depend on which joints are affected. Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness in the joints that make it difficult to move and to work.
Will You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
When you apply for Social Security disability, you will have to go through the disability evaluation process established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first five steps are the same for every applicant. The Social Security Administration will want to know if:
Your condition is on the Social Security Administration’s List of Impairments.
Your condition is severe and expected to last for 12 months or longer.
You are still working.
You cannot work at your current job and if you are able to do any other work that you have done in the past.
There is any other type of work that you can do, given your age, education, past experience, and physical limitations.
Depending on your answers to these questions and the body part that is affected by osteoarthritis, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability.
Osteoarthritis of the Spine
If you have osteoarthritis in your spine, you might qualify for disability benefits under the listing for Disorders of the Spine (Listing of Impairments Section 1.04). To receive Social Security disability for osteoarthritis of the spine, the disorder must be diagnosed by a doctor and meet one of the following conditions:
Compression of the spinal nerve root that limits your ability to move your spine.
A narrowing of the spinal canal in your lower back that makes it very difficult to walk.
Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane that requires you to change position frequently.
You will need medical evidence of your condition and treatment plan if you apply for benefits pursuant to this listing, any other listing, or if you apply based on the severity of your condition.
Osteoarthritis in Other Parts of the Body
If your osteoarthritis affects a body part other than your spine, then you might be able to qualify for disability benefits under the category of Major Dysfunction of a Joint (Listing of Impairments Section 1.02). To be approved for Social Security disability under this category, you must have an obvious joint deformity or bone destruction. You must have a documented history of pain and stiffness in the joint, as well as lack of motion. The osteoarthritis must affect a hip, a knee, or an ankle joint, or a hand, a wrist, an elbow, or a shoulder in each arm, making it difficult for you to complete everyday tasks.
You Can Still Qualify for Social Security Disability If Your Osteoarthritis Doesn’t Meet the Blue Book Standards
If you do not meet the criteria for either of the blue book categories described above, you might still qualify for Social Security disability. You will need to prove that your osteoarthritis causes you to have reduced functional capacity that is equal in severity to one of the blue book standards and that makes you unable to work. The Social Security Administration will consider your physical limitations and determine the type of work you are capable of doing, if any.
Get the Help You Need Before You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
The majority of initial Social Security disability applications are denied. It is important to understand how you should apply, the documentation that you need to apply, and to submit your application correctly so that you can start getting the Social Security disability benefits that you deserve for osteoarthritis as soon as possible.
To learn more about your rights, please request a FREE copy of our book, The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability, today. Additionally, we invite you to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can help you get the fair benefits that you have earned.
What happens if I become disabled before I reach retirement age?
You are not yet eligible for Social Security retirement benefits; however, if you have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, then you may be able to recover such benefits if you qualify. In 2016, more than 8.8 million people received disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.
Your Eligibility Is Not Automatic
Instead, you must apply for Social Security disability benefits. If your disability has lasted or will last for at least one year, your condition makes it impossible to do your job or another job, and you have worked at least five of the last ten years, then you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. The average benefit ranges from $1,100 to $1,200 per month.
What Happens When You Reach Retirement Age?
When you reach the age of full retirement, as defined by the Social Security Administration, then your benefits will be converted from disability benefits to retirement benefits. The age of full retirement depends on the year in which you were born. If you were born in 1937 or earlier, then your full retirement age is 65. If you were born in 1960 or later, then your age of full retirement is 67. People born between 1937 and 1960 have full retirement dates between the ages of 65 and 67.
You should not have to take any action to have your Social Security disability benefits converted to Social Security retirement benefits, and you should continue to receive monthly payments without interruption.
However, you will have to take action to get your initial Social Security disability benefits. If you believe that you qualify for such benefits, then you will need to complete a Social Security disability application and you will need to have it approved. This can be a difficult and frustrating process, but you do not need to do it on your own. Instead, an experienced disability lawyer can help you through the application process and can help you get the benefits that you deserve. For more information, please download a free copy of our book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.
What are the most common eye-related symptoms of sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis is a disorder that causes the growth of granulomas throughout the body. These clumps of cells may develop slowly over time, often producing no symptoms until the condition has progressed considerably. Depending on where the growths have formed, a patient can suffer symptoms in many different body systems—and over 25 percent of sarcoidosis patients experience symptoms that affect the eyes.
Complications and Symptoms of Sarcoidosis of the Eyes
In addition to fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and weight loss, patients with sarcoidosis can also have trouble seeing and experience visual disturbances that can lead to blindness. It is vital for patients who have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis to undergo comprehensive eye examinations every year, and to report any vision changes to their doctors to begin treatment as soon as possible.
The most commonly-reported eye complications of sarcoidosis include:
- Eye pain. Patients with sarcoidosis may have chronic eye problems, including burning, itching, stinging, redness, tearing, or severe dry eyes. Light sensitivity is also common, causing pain in the eyes as well as chronic headaches. Patients who are experiencing these symptoms may get some relief through prescription eye drops, dilation of the pupils, or prescription eyewear. Doctors may also numb the eyes to reduce spasms in the pupillary muscles, or prescribe medications to lower blood pressure to relieve pain in the eyes.
- Uveitis. Inflammation of the uvea, or uveitis, in one of the most dangerous eye problems sarcoidosis can cause. The uvea sits between the sclera and the retina in the center of the eye. In patients with sarcoidosis, white blood cells may collect on the inside of the eye, causing the iris, lens, and other structures of the eye to stick together. This can cause a number of problems, including increased ocular pressure, pain, redness, extreme light sensitivity, and even blindness. The longer uveitis is left untreated, the more likely it is that the condition will cause vision problems. Treatments for uveitis are typically painless, and involve steroid drops, injections to relieve pressure, or oral medications to bring down the inflammation.
- Vision problems. Ocular sarcoidosis can cause a wide range of visual problems, such as blurred vision, floaters (small particles inside the eye that “float” in a person’s field of vision), color blindness, or even total loss of eyesight. Some sarcoidosis patients also have small yellow bumps on their eyes that cause visual distractions and eye irritation. These conditions may be reversible if treated quickly, so sarcoidosis patients should see a doctor immediately if they experience changes in their vision.
Collecting Disability for the Effects of Sarcoidosis
The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows claimants to collect Social Security disability for sarcoidosis if they are no longer able to earn a living. Patients who have suffered total blindness will likely qualify for automatic benefits, but others may have to prove the extent of their conditions to the SSA before they can collect payment.
If your sarcoidosis symptoms do not meet the Blue Book disability listing, you may still qualify for benefits based on your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). One of the biggest benefits of getting disability based on RFC is that Social Security considers the full scope of your physical condition when assessing your work limitations. This means that a person who is experiencing symptoms of a variety of conditions and treatments could be considered disabled even if he or she does not meet the criteria for any disability listing by itself. You will have to provide extensive medical proof of your diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment, as well as any work-related difficulties you are facing due to your disability.
If you are unable to work due to the limitations of your sarcoidosis, we can help. Please fill out the form on this page today to speak to an attorney about your disability benefits, or download our free report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Could I collect Social Security disability benefits for gestational diabetes?
The health effects of diabetes can significantly impact a person’s ability to earn a living. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are recognized as potentially disabling conditions by the Social Security Administration (SSA), as the illnesses are likely to last for a person’s entire life. However, there is another form of diabetes that could qualify a woman for benefits: a serious condition called gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes causes blood sugar imbalances due to insufficient insulin and hormonal changes during pregnancy. Women who suffer from gestational diabetes are more likely to have difficult pregnancies and experience birthing complications, and are likelier to develop type 2 diabetes in the years following pregnancy.
Social Security Requirements for Women With Gestational Diabetes
Even though it is not a permanent condition, gestational diabetes is compensable under the Social Security listing for diabetes However, the listing requires that diabetes sufferers must be diagnosed with at least one other of the following disabling conditions in conjunction with diabetes mellitus:
- Neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a numbness, tingling, or burning in the extremities, usually the feet and toes. The SSA will consider a claimant disabled if neuropathy significantly affects the arms, the legs, or one arm and one leg to the extent that movement is impaired. Patients can be considered “impaired” if they have trouble sitting, walking, standing, or changing positions.
- Acidosis. Diabetes can change the acidity of the blood, causing potentially fatal effects for the patient. Disabling acidosis must be documented by blood tests and occur at least once every two months.
- Retinopathy. Diabetes can damage blood vessels inside the eye, causing blurred vision or even blindness. Claimants must be suffering from a significant loss of vision (or loss of peripheral vision) in the better of their two eyes, with overall vision so impaired that the person is practically blind.
What If I Do Not Meet the Blue Book Requirements?
Many people who do not meet the listing for diabetes can still collect benefits if they are unable to work. Claimants must be able to demonstrate that gestational diabetes has a marked impact on their ability to earn a living, their independence, or their performance of daily life activities.
If you do not meet the qualifications above, you could still receive benefits for gestational diabetes depending on:
- Your medical records. Social Security disability benefits are often approved in the form of a medical vocational allowance. This means that you can be considered disabled if you are unable to return to your old job or perform any other kinds of sustainable work due to a condition or treatment of a condition. This approval is granted only after the SSA has reviewed your medical records to assess your limitations and ability to perform everyday activities and work tasks.
- Your specific symptoms. Treatment of gestational diabetes requires constant monitoring and maintaining blood sugar levels throughout the day. Patients may need to eat smaller meals more often, have special dietary requirements, need to inject insulin, have lifting restrictions, or need frequent breaks due to fatigue. All of these may cause work disruptions or require the claimant to have accommodations in the workplace.
- Length of condition. While many women see the condition subside after the child is born, many suffer persistent effects of gestational diabetes for several weeks or even months. In addition, women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes usually suffer the condition in subsequent pregnancies. In some cases, women with gestational diabetes will remain diabetic after pregnancy is over.
- Residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA will determine whether an applicant is able to reasonably perform work by assigning a residual functional capacity rating. The evaluation takes into account all of your limitations, as well as the type and exertion level of work you are capable of performing.
If you are unable to work due to the limitations of your diabetes, we can help. Please feel free to contact our law firm today to get started on your disability application, or download our free report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.
Why Am I At Risk of Developing PTSD If I Suffer a Head Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can greatly affect the way a person lives his or her life. The frustration as a victim struggles to recover adds overwhelming stress to his or her daily life, making a bad condition even worse. The stress of the injury can even cause victims to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adding mental and emotional trauma to the physical head injury.
Researchers Find Evidence Linking PTSD to Traumatic Brain Injury
Several researchers have found evidence that TBI increases the risk of PTSD. While many of the studies involve military personnel, it is important to note that civilians who suffer falls, violent acts, and car accidents are equally vulnerable to both TBI and PTSD. Over the course of many studies, scientists have discovered some interesting interactions between PTSD and brain injuries, including:
- One study at the VA San Diego Healthcare System followed over 1,600 Marine and Navy service members from Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. All of the service members were assessed by psychologists both before and after deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. They found that troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries due to trauma and blast injuries were twice as likely to develop PTSD. Half of a battalion deployed to Helmand province in Afghanistan showed evidence of TBI and PTSD due to blast exposures.
- A coordinating experiment performed at the University of California Los Angeles compared healthy lab rats with rats that had suffered TBIs. When the rats were given behavioral conditioning to induce fear, the rats with TBIs showed greater fear responses than healthy rats. The UCLA researchers examined cells in the amygdala, a part of the rats’ brains that responds to sensory information and experiences emotions. The rats with TBI showed changes in these cells that amplified the brain’s response to situations involving fear.
- A brain study of 20,000 people has found a new way to separate diagnoses of TBI and PTSD. The patients were scanned with single-photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) to measure blood flow to different regions of the brain. While patients with TBI showed slowed activity in the areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, memory formation, and body movements. However, patients with PTSD showed increased activity in the regions involving recognition of threat and dangers, fear processing, and regulation of emotional responses. Computer-driven analysis of the brain scans allowed scientists to correctly diagnose PTSD, TBI, both or neither with 100% accuracy.
Studies Are Key to Treating PTSD
It is vital that patients have a proper diagnosis of their conditions in order to treat their TBI or PTSD effectively. The treatment plan for PTSD can be vastly different than treatment for TBI, and the treatments can even be harmful for people with the other. For instance, people with PTSD are often prescribed tranquilizers and anti-anxiety medications that slow down activity in an overactive brain, something that can be dangerous for people suffering diminished brain activity due to TBI. Similarly, techniques used to stimulate a brain with TBI can cause a person with PTSD to become even more stressed and hyperactive. People with both conditions will need a delicate mix of therapies to ensure that both of their ailments are progressing in the right direction.
If you have suffered a traumatic event that has left you unable to work, you may be able to get payment for your lost wages and medical treatment by filing for Social Security disability. Your benefits can support you as you undergo treatment for your condition, easing you slowly back into the workforce only after you are cleared to work by a medical professional. Please feel free to contact our law firm today to get started on your disability application, or download our free report, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.
How does the Social Security Administration use functional capacity to evaluate my asthma disability claim?
Asthma is a serious disease that causes obstructed breathing. When a person with asthma suffers an “episode,” or an asthma attack, his airways constrict and become inflamed. This inflammation narrows the passageway, making it difficult to breathe. Depending on the severity of an attack, the victim is at risk for a variety of dangers, including mild to severe chest pains, breathing difficulties, hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain), blackouts, and even death.
An asthma attack can be disruptive in the workplace. It may frighten customers and limit the ability of a worker to function. As a result of functional capacity limitations, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers severe cases of asthma potentially disabling.
Asthma Requirements for Consideration
In order to qualify for disability, your condition must affect your ability to work. If your condition physically prevents you from doing your job or places you at risk for suffering an attack, you may need to rely on disability benefits to support your family. However, it’s important to note that only severe cases are considered for approval. Occasional bouts of inflammation or minor attacks that can be controlled by using medication such as inhalers aren’t considered to limit functional capacity enough to warrant disability.
For the SSA to recognize your condition as severe, your claim must adequately show the results of respiratory function tests. These tests can evaluate…
- Spirometry: the measure of how much air you take into the lungs with each breath.
- Peak flow: the measure of your ability to push air out of your lungs.
- ABG (arterial blood gas): the measure of carbon dioxide and its pressure within the blood.
- DLCO (diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide): the measurements of the gas exchange (oxygen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide) across cell membranes in your lungs.
- Pulse oximetry: the measure of oxygen saturation within the blood.
If your test results fall within the SSA limitations for respiratory disability, your claim will be considered for approval. If your results don’t qualify under the limitations, you may still be eligible for benefits if you can convince the SSA that your condition significantly affects your functional capacity.
Proving Functional Capacity Limitations
The measured ability to complete tasks in spite of your condition is referred to as your “functional capacity.” When your condition causes frequent and extreme attacks, your ability to be a reliable employee greatly diminishes, which in turn, can compromise your employment. To convince the SSA that your functional capacity is low enough to warrant disability, you must be able to show that your condition will not allow you to sustain employment. You can help illustrate your decreased functional capacity by including the following with your claim:
- A symptom journal. A detailed journal of your symptoms, including what you were doing when the attack occurred and what happened as a result of the episode, can help you and the SSA follow the deterioration of your condition. Rather than including a statement that you regularly experience attacks at work, your journal can recount the exact dates, frequency, and effects of those attacks. The SSA is more likely to understand your condition’s severity and need for disability if they can see it in black and white.
- Personal PEF records. If you’ve ever had to make a graph or grid, you know that one data point isn’t enough to show anything. However, if you routinely record your peak flow measurements over an extended period, you can use those data points to show the SSA how your breathing fluctuates. Again, the SSA is persuaded by data and evidence that they can see and analyze themselves. Including your records along with physician records can help them better relate to why you feel you can’t work.
Help With Your Disability Application
Do you have questions about applying for asthma-related disability? Request a complimentary copy of attorney John Keefe’s book, Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process. For a more direct approach, contact our office directly at 508-283-5500 to schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your claim. The meeting is FREE, so you have nothing to lose.
Does adrenal cancer qualify me for Social Security disability benefits?
Cancer, or malignant neoplastic disease, is one of the 14 disability classifications that the Social Security Administration (SSA) acknowledges for benefit consideration. Depending on the type of cancer, as well as the severity and long-term diagnosis, sufferers may even warrant an expedited approval process—known as a compassionate allowance—to ensure benefits are awarded as quickly as possible. Adrenal cancer is one condition that the SSA not only considers viable for disability but, in many cases, also worthy of compassionate allowance.
What Is Adrenal Cancer?
The adrenal glands are located at the very top of each kidney and work to maintain hormone levels in the body. The steroidal hormones these glands secrete—cortisol, aldosterone, androgens—help the body to:
- Stabilize blood sugar and blood pressure
- Properly burn protein and fat
- Maintain metabolic rate
- React to illnesses and injuries
- Control sexual drive and performance
When tumors grow on these glands, they fail to secrete the adequate levels of hormones that your body needs to function. Over time, the fluctuation of hormones can cause serious and even fatal medical issues. In fact, localized adrenal cancer has a five-year fatality rate of 35 percent and regionalized disease has a five-year fatality rate of 56 percent. Distant adrenal cancer, where the cancer is inoperable and has spread to other sites, has an alarming mortality rate of 97 percent.
Symptoms of Adrenal Cancer
Common debilitating symptoms of this form of cancer, which can affect your ability to work, include:
- Increased weight gain—most noticeably above the collar bone and around the abdomen
- Fat deposits behind the neck and shoulders
- Stretch mark scarring or stretch marks with deepening shades of purple on the abdomen
- Hair growth on the face, chest, and back (most noticeably in women)
- Menstrual irregularities
- Leg weakness or muscle loss
- Mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Weakness in bones (osteoporosis)
- Increased blood sugar or blood pressure
All of the above symptoms, in addition to reactions to surgery and chemotherapy, can have a detrimental effect on your ability to work. Considering these effects, as well as the fatality risks involved with this disease, the SSA understands the rapid need for disability benefits when you become unable to provide for your family. However, understanding the need isn’t the same thing as granting benefits without any questions asked. To receive disability for adrenal cancer, you still must obey the rules and follow the procedures for filing a claim.
Applying for Compassionate Allowance Benefits
Compassionate Allowances (CAL) are ways for the SSA to identify diseases and other medical conditions that qualify under their qualifications quickly, with the need for only minimal information. Although adrenal cancer is recognized by the SSA as being a qualifying condition, to receive benefits you still must be able to prove your condition’s eligibility. However, through CAL, this process is quicker and requires less evidence than with the standard disability claims. That being said, you’ll still need to secure your claim with the following:
- Medical evidence and diagnoses. When collecting evidence for your claim, you must show your eligibility by providing pathology reports confirming the presence of cancer and your long-term prognosis. You may also want to secure a physician's opinion that indicates the cancer is inoperable or unable to be completely removed.
- Proof of severity and long-term prognosis. In addition to showing your condition, you must also be able to show its severity. To be eligible for an expedited review, you must be able to provide evidence that your condition is inoperable, unresectable, or recurrent, with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.
- A reliable attorney. Securing the guidance and support of a credible disability attorney is one of the best ways to ensure your claim is handled correctly. Furthermore, an attorney can help explain the process in detail so you’ll know what to expect from your claim.
Contact our office today to speak with an experienced and highly dedicated disability attorney. It’s our job to help you get the disability you need—it’s our pleasure to do so while causing you the least amount of stress possible. Call 508-283-5500 to schedule your FREE consultation.
Am I eligible to receive disability if I have dilated cardiomyopathy? What do I have to do to file a claim?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a categorized list of medical conditions and injuries that it feels could qualify for disability benefits. This list is broken down into 14 separate groups, each dealing with a specific area of the body. Number four in this list deals specifically with cardiovascular ailments—which includes dilated cardiomyopathy (DC).
What Is Dilated Cardiomyopathy?
The term cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle. Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy present, portions of the heart muscle can thicken, enlarge, or become rigid, making it extremely difficult for the heart to pump blood. The four types of cardiomyopathy include:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Muscle cells thicken and block blood flow.
- Restrictive cardiomyopathy. Abnormal tissue replaces healthy muscle cells, causing the muscle to become hard or rigid.
- Unclassified cardiomyopathy. Muscle inexplicably fails to pump necessary blood throughout the body.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy. Muscle chambers stretch and become thin.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common form of cardiomyopathy, and causes the inside of the heart’s left ventricle and atrium to enlarge. As the chambers dilate, the heart muscle can’t contract or pump blood effectively. As the condition worsens, it can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, heart valve problems, arrhythmias, blood clots, and ultimately complete heart failure.
If you suffer from dilated cardiomyopathy, the SSA understands that working can not only be tough, but life-threatening. As a result, depending on the severity of your condition, filing for disability may be your best option.
Applying for Disability for Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Before applying for disability, it’s important to know that just because you have a debilitating condition, doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to receive aid. Requirements for consideration include the following:
- A thorough understanding of the SSD process. The disability claim process is complicated and can be extremely confusing. The SSA wants to ensure that every precaution is made to avoid fraudulent claims. This diligence is expected from the U.S. government, and may even be beneficial to those whose claims are legitimate because it weeds out undeserving candidates, which could improve your chances for approval. However, this convoluted process can be overwhelming without the right tools and resources, especially when you’re already dealing with a heart condition.
- A thorough confirmation of your condition by qualified medical professionals. Simply telling the board that you have dilated cardiomyopathy isn’t enough to be approved for disability—you must be able to prove it. Restrictions on severity, type of condition, and ability to provide for oneself all come into play when determining government aid. Consequently, for your claim to even be considered, you must show that the effects of your condition have a direct impact on your ability to financially provide for yourself and family. Medical records, physician statements, and diagnostics from your hospital can all be used as evidence of your ailment to help persuade the SSD board to give your claim the attention it needs for approval.
- A thorough description of the severity of your condition. The SSA not only requires that you have dilated cardiomyopathy but also that the condition is severe enough to warrant disability. Therefore, you must be able to convince the SSD board that you’re unable to continue working as a result of your condition. Employer statements and doctors’ notes that detail your limitations can go a long way in persuading the board of the severity of your condition.
The Edge You Need
At Keefe Disability Law, we believe that your claim deserves to be as strong as possible, so the disability board has no other option but to approve it. Contact our office today to see how our knowledge, experience, and resources can help you build a case worthy of the benefits you need. Call 508-283-5500 to schedule an appointment.
How do I become a representative payee to help a loved one manage her SS disability benefits?
The majority of people who receive Social Security (SS) disability benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have payments made to them directly. However, if your loved one is a minor, has been declared legally incompetent, or has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may decide that a third party, known as a representative payee, should manage payments on behalf of your loved one. Becoming a representative payee is a simple, straightforward process, provided you're able to meet the SSA's stringent requirements.
Who Can Be a Representative Payee?
Most representative payees are a friend or family member of the beneficiary, but lawyers and other legal guardians can also apply to fill the role. The representative payee cannot have any felony convictions on his record, and the SSA gives preference to applicants who live with the beneficiary and are aware of their day-to-day needs.
Serving as a representative payee is a substantial undertaking. Individuals in this role must:
- Spend the beneficiary's disability payments to provide for needs such as food, clothing, housing and utilities, medical expenses, and miscellaneous personal items.
- Use remaining funds to pay for things such as rehabilitative therapies, bills and other family expenses, and entertainment or education for the beneficiary.
- Save any leftover money in an interest-bearing bank account.
- Report the beneficiary's life changes to the SSA. These include marriage, medical changes, or death.
- Keep track of how all of the beneficiary's payments are spent and file an annual report with the SSA.
To apply to become a representative payee, you must complete Form SSA-11, provide your Social Security Number for a background check, and be interviewed by someone with the SSA.
If You Need Help Becoming a Representative Payee
Although the process of becoming a representative payee is fairly straightforward, it can be daunting for those who have no experience dealing with the SSA. A knowledgeable disability attorney can help you simplify the process by ensuring that you provide all of the information the SSA requires when you submit your initial application. Contact the seasoned disability attorneys with Keefe Disability Law to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss becoming a representative payee.
Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney or an Advocate When Applying for SS Benefits?
While it doesn't matter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you use an attorney or an advocate to help you apply for Social Security (SS) Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, being represented by a seasoned disability attorney offers clients clear advantages. For example, disability attorneys undergo years of education and training to ensure that they completely understand the SS application process. Additional benefits of hiring a skilled disability attorney include:
- Attorney-client privilege. When working with a licensed disability attorney, applicants enjoy attorney-client privilege. Your attorney is required to keep all of your information personal and confidential.
- Strict ethical guidelines. Attorneys are required to abide by strict ethical guidelines when representing their clients.
- Easier appeal process. If your application for SS or SSI benefits is denied, a disability attorney can help you appeal that decision to the federal district court. Non-attorney disability advocates are unable to do this.
- Option to file a grievance. Should you have a problem with your disability attorney, you have the option of filing a grievance with the state bar regulatory commission; you do not have the same recourse when working with a non-attorney disability advocate.
Also, while disability attorneys and non-attorney disability advocates receive the same fee—paid by the SSA out of an applicant's back payment benefits—a non-attorney disability advocate does not have to meet the same educational requirements as a lawyer. While disability attorneys are required to have a four-year bachelor's degree, a three-year juris doctorate degree, and pass the exacting state bar exam, non-attorney disability advocates are only required to have a bachelor's degree or equivalent work experience, pass a criminal background check, have liability insurance, and complete a written exam. For the same price, you can work with someone with much more impressive credentials.
Do You Need Help Applying for Social Security Benefits?
The knowledgeable legal team at Keefe Disability Law has extensive experience helping applicants apply for and obtain the SS Disability benefits they need and deserve. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Will my wife’s income affect my Social Security disability claim?
No, because Social Security (SS) Disability is not based on income, so your wife's income will not be considered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) when reviewing your claim. Instead, the SSA will determine your eligibility for SS benefits based on the severity of your disability, its expected duration, and whether it prevents you from holding a job and engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). So, if your medical condition has rendered you totally disabled and unable to work for a period of 12 consecutive months or more, you may qualify for SS benefits, even if your wife continues to work and make a good income.
However, this is not the case when applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Because SSI is a needs-based program for disabled individuals with low income, a wife's income is used when determining eligibility. If you were applying for SSI and your wife's income exceeded a certain amount, the SSA would consider a portion of that income available to you.
Do You Need Help Applying for SS?
Applying for SS benefits can be tricky for those who are unfamiliar with the SSA's application process—particularly if you're applying for a condition that's not included in the “Blue Book” Listing of Impairments. Even a minor mistake can cause frustrating delays or application denials that require you to wait even longer for the financial benefits you so desperately need. A seasoned team of knowledgeable disability attorneys can help make sure that your application is complete and ready to go before you send it in. And in the event that your claim is denied, your legal representative can go to work to help overturn that decision. Contact the skilled attorneys at Keefe Disability Law today for a free evaluation of your SS claim, or request a free copy of our book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Do I have to be permanently disabled to receive SS Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not require applicants to be permanently disabled in order to receive Social Security (SS) Disability benefits. To be eligible for SS Disability, applicants must have a medical condition that renders them totally disabled and unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity for 12 months or longer.
However, depending on the medical condition and its potential for improvement, the applicant may be subject to periodic eligibility reviews, usually after one, three, or seven years. During these reviews, applicants can submit medical documentation from the doctor who treats their condition that discusses their diagnosis and prognosis.
Even if the applicant's medical condition has improved to the point that the SSA no longer considers him totally disabled, the applicant may still be eligible to receive benefits for the time period he was totally disabled, under the SSA's “closed period” benefits policy. SS Disability applicants who meet the closed period criteria may be entitled to a lump-sum payment from the SSA that covers the time frame during which they were totally disabled.
If You Need Help Applying for SS Disability Benefits
If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to receive SS benefits from the SSA. Working with an experienced disability attorney when you apply can help save you both time and effort by ensuring that your application contains all the necessary information before you submit it. And, in the event that your application is denied, a knowledgeable attorney can help you appeal that decision and fight for the benefits you need and deserve. Contact Keefe Disability Law today to schedule a no-cost case evaluation, or request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability.
Does owning a home make me ineligible to receive SS benefits?
No. If you are applying for Social Security (SS) disability benefits, owning a home will not negatively affect your eligibility for benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines an applicant's eligibility based on the severity of his medical condition and ability to work, rather than any assets or resources he may have in his name. This means that it is possible for applicants to qualify for SS benefits even if they own multiple homes or vehicles, provided they meet the SSA's medical criteria for total disability.
However, the same cannot be said for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the other disability-related program administered by the SSA. This needs-based program is only available to low-income applicants with limited assets and resources. The SSA currently caps the assets for SSI applicants at $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, but not all assets are counted toward this limit. For example, the home you live in and the vehicle you use for regular transportation may be exempted, making it possible for some applicants to qualify for SSI even if they own their home or have their own vehicle.
In select instances known as concurrent disability claims, applicants may be eligible to receive both SS disability and SSI benefits, provided they meet the criteria for both programs.
Do You Need Help Applying for SS or SSI?
The SSA uses very specific criteria to determine SS and SSI eligibility, and applicants must include detailed medical information when applying. If this information is not included, the application may be rejected. Don't allow a small mistake or oversight to delay the approval of your benefits. Contact the experienced legal team at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Our knowledgeable attorneys understand the disability application process and are ready to help you every step of the way.
Do All Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Having a disability doesn't automatically mean that a person is eligible for Social Security (SS) disability benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability based on a person's ability to work and doesn’t view having a disability the same as being totally disabled.
To meet the SSA's definition of total disability, a person must be unable to do the type of work he did prior to the disability and be unable to adjust to other types of work due to the severity of his medical condition. The disability in question must also be expected to last for a year or longer, or result in death.
In most cases, SS applications submitted by people who are working full time will not be approved. Even working part time can hurt your chances for receiving SS benefits if the SSA determines you're capable of substantial gainful activity (SGA)—work that involves significant physical or mental activity, or a combination of the two. The SSA uses a dollar amount to determine SGA, so people who work full- or part-time hours but whose gross earnings average less than $1,130 per month may still be eligible for benefits. A higher SGA threshold of $1,820 applies to blind applicants.
If you're disabled, there are two ways to secure SS benefits. The first is by having a disability on the SSA's list of “Blue Book” conditions—these disabilities are considered severe enough to automatically qualify an applicant for benefits. The second is by proving that your condition prevents you from working—even if you don't have one of the qualifying, disabling conditions listed by the SSA.
If You Need Help
Applying for SS benefits can be a complex and lengthy process. Having a knowledgeable disability attorney by your side to help guide you through each step of the journey can be invaluable. An attorney who knows the specific SS process may increase the likelihood of your application being approved and help you if your application is denied. Contact the experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law for a free case evaluation or to request a free copy of the book, "Seven Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim."
How Can a Residual Functional Capacity Form Help Me Prove PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that's caused by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event that usually involves physical harm or the threat of physical harm. People who suffer from PTSD can experience a wide range of symptoms that make everyday life difficult, including:
- Severe anxiety
- Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event
- Poor self-esteem
- Emotional numbness
- Memory and concentration problems
- Feelings of irritability, anger, guilt, and shame
- Trouble sleeping
- Self-destructive behavior
Although PTSD is most commonly associated with combat veterans, anyone who has experienced a particularly traumatic event such as a serious car accident, abuse, assault, or a natural disaster can develop the disorder. Most people experience at least one traumatic event in their lives, and many recover with time. However, when serious mental health symptoms linger for months or years and disrupt daily life, they may be a sign of PTSD.
Applying for SS Disability Benefits
When you apply for SS disability due to your PTSD, the medical professional treating you should fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form. If you hire a SS disability attorney, he’s likely to use this form when presenting your case to the SSA adjudicator or the judge. Once your doctor fills out the form, it will help give the judge specific information relative to your claim, and your attorney will use it to try and prove that your PTSD makes it impossible for you to work and earn a living
Additionally, the RFC form helps your doctor use specific work capacity language that judges look for when determining your case. That language helps provide important information about your performance on the job and how reliable you are as an employee.
An RFC form should include your diagnosis and symptoms and discuss your ability to:
- Carry out a regular routine without supervision
- Concentrate on work-related tasks
- Understand and follow simple and complex instructions as they relate to your job
- Interact and communicate appropriately with others, including supervisors and co-workers
- Have suitable workplace attendance, be punctual, and avoid unscheduled breaks
- Make simple occupation-related decisions
If you don't include an RFC form filled out by your medical provider with your application for benefits, an SSA medical examiner will complete one using the documentation supplied in your application. However, because physician-completed RFC forms carry more weight, including one with your application is essential to proving your PTSD claim.
Keefe Disability Law Can Help
Applying for SS disability benefits can be a complex and frustrating process. Let the knowledgeable, experienced attorneys at Keefe Disability Law help you secure the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us today for more information or to request a free copy of our eBook, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security.