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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  • What types of musculoskeletal disorders can qualify for disability?

    According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 130 million people are seen by medical professionals for some sort of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) every year. Although many of these MSDs are minor sprains and injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 20 percent of them are severe enough to qualify for at least partial disability.

    Types of Musculoskeletal Disorders That Are Eligible for Disability

    Even though the Social Security Administration considers MSDs as potentially qualifying individuals for disability benefits, it still makes determinations based on severity, function loss, and ailment type on a case-by-case basis. Simple sprains, for example, aren’t considered severe enough to warrant disability. However, more severe disorders—like muscular dystrophy—rightfully qualify for benefits. Therefore, the SSA has created a classification system for MSD types to help determine severity. This system includes the following MSD types for disability consideration:

    • Joint problems. Your joints are essential for proper mobility, and—depending on your job—essential to properly perform your duties. If you’re unable to move your joints without severe pain, you may be unable to work. No one should be forced to work through pain, so the Social Security Administration accepts certain types of joint problems for disability consideration. Some of these include: osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, hip fractures or degenerative hip disease, bursitis, and shoulder problems.
    • Problems affecting muscles. Muscles throughout your body help control movement, support bones, and hold weight. When a muscle is injured, deteriorates, or is otherwise impaired, mobility and strength can be severely affected. These effects can cause you to be unable to physically perform a job, thus making you eligible for disability benefits. Some muscle problems included in the Social Security musculoskeletal category are carpal tunnel syndrome, torn ligaments, sciatica, muscular dystrophy, hiatal hernia, third degree burns that affect nerves, and spinal cord injuries.
    • Problems affecting your bones. It’s obvious that your skeletal system is the supporting framework for your entire body. It preserves your structural integrity as well as provides stability and protection for your muscles, organs, and tissues. However, if your bones are somehow damaged, weakened, or otherwise injured, mobility and body function can be severely affected, causing excruciating pain. Therefore, severe bone injuries and disorders can qualify you for partial or complete disability as a result of debilitating pain and your inability to move. Recognized bone problems include: avascular necrosis, bone spurs, broken limbs, amputations, coccyx (tailbone) damage, and clubbed foot.

    Taking the Confusion Out of Filing

    Once you’ve been diagnosed with a debilitating injury and can no longer physically work, filing for disability quickly becomes your best option for a stable future. Unfortunately disability claims can be confusing, stressful, and scary (if denied), and that is the last thing you need when dealing with an ailment.

    Let us help take the confusion and worry out of your claim. Our experience, knowledge, and fortitude will not only help you understand your rights and options, but also help encourage your claim through the SSA process faster than if you filed alone. Call today for a free consultation and see how our representation is right for you.

    Know someone who is having a rough time getting their disability claim benefits? Please, feel free to share this page with her via email, Facebook, or Twitter. You can also recommend us to your friends, family and coworkers on Google Plus. It’s our job to help our clients get the support and justice they need; so let us help your loved ones get what they deserve. Click the media icons on this page to instantly show your support.





  • I have bills to pay now! If I decide to file a disability claim, how long will it take to get the first payment?

    You were diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease last summer and since then, your world has basically been falling apart. Between treatment, medications, and medical bills, you’re bank account is quickly becoming depleted. In addition to that, the shaking has gotten worse over the past six months, and it has gotten harder and harder for you to do your job properly.

    You desperately need your paycheck, so you try to control your tremors as best you can. However, lately it hasn’t been going that well. Your family is constantly suggesting that you apply for disability, but with the number of bills coming in, you don’t think you can afford to quit your job and wait for the benefits.

    If you file for disability, will it really take years to receive the benefits?

    Do You Have the Time to Wait for Benefits?

    The entire process of filing, getting approved, and eventually receiving your benefits can be long and frustrating. According to the Disability Determination Service, normal claims can take at least six months to determine. The decision process to determine whether your condition even qualifies for disability can take several months alone. If you’re approved, and the judge agrees that your condition is severe enough to qualify, it could take several additional months for your claim to pass through eligibility standards.

    However, although the timeframe may seem daunting, there are ways to speed up the outcome. Having experienced legal representation to argue your case can be an important asset. When you have representation, the timeframes are drastically reduced, as seen below:


    It generally at least three months for processing a claim. The majority of claims filed by applicants without representation are denied. If the applicant requests reconsideration of a rejected claim, that typically requires at least three months longer. An Appeals Court hearing could take an additional 18 months to schedule, with another two to six months before the decision is rendered. Even if the decision is favorable at this point, it can take 18 to 24 months longer for the appeal to be processed before the first benefit check arrives. The total potential time to receive benefits: two to five years


    Even individuals with legal representation can expect to wait three months for processing their initial claim. The majority of claims filed by applicants with representation are approved. It may take an addition six months of processing before monthly benefits begin, but the recipient can expect to be paid for any back benefits he is owed. Total time under this best-case scenario: under one year.

    If the claim was one of the minority that is denied despite legal representation, it can take up to six months for reconsideration and Appeals Court hearing; another three months for the decision to be rendered; and 12 months for processing and receiving benefits. The total waiting period for benefits: the majority is approved and received within nine months, while refuted claims are generally settled within two years.

    Don’t Waste Your Time

    When you physically can’t work to support yourself and family due to a debilitating disease, Social Security disability is your best option for sustainability. Once you’ve made the decision to apply, your best option for timely success is representation from an experienced disability lawyer. Don’t waste time filing yourself or taking your chances with inexperienced attorneys. Call us today for a free consultation and let us convince you why we’re the right choice. Our 20-plus years of experience will work to make sure that you can give up your job with a clear conscience.

    Call now to begin the process and get your benefits that much sooner. You deserve it!

    Need more information on disability claims? We don’t blame you! Social Security can be an extremely frustrating system to understand. Learn more about the intricacies of SS and disability by requesting our book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability. Don’t allow confusion to affect your benefit rights. The download is free, but the knowledge you will learn is priceless.

  • I’m scared! I just found out that I have arteriosclerosis and I need to apply for Social Security disability in Boston. Will I be approved?

    Arteriosclerosis, also known as the “hardening of the arteries.” occurs when calcium builds up in the artery walls causing them to get thicker and stiffer. It happens to some people as they age. After your doctor told you that you have arteriosclerosis, it’s normal that you’re concerned about what will happen next.

    Getting Disability Benefits for Arteriosclerosis

    If your doctor recommended that you apply for SSDI in Boston because of arteriosclerosis, you have probably experienced some sort of health condition that has made it difficult for you to work. In order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to approve your application, you must show that you cannot perform physical or sedentary work.

    To be approved, you must have at least one of the following symptoms:

    • You must have chest discomfort triggered by stress or physical activity.
    • You must have pain or discomfort in other parts of your body, such as your arms or legs.
    • You must get short of breath when you exert yourself.
    • You must have experienced a coronary artery spasm at rest.

    To show the SSA that you have one of these symptoms, you must submit a wealth of evidence with your application. For example, you must show that you had an abnormal stress test and abnormal imaging results. Include these results with your application. You must also have a note from your doctor that describes how your condition impacts your ability to work.

    Another important piece of your application is your personal experience with arteriosclerosis. Keep a journal to document how this condition affects you on-the-job both in desk work and in manual labor.

    Did you find this interesting? We encourage you to share this article on Facebook. You never know who might be suffering from a heart condition and could benefit from knowing how to receive Social Security disability.

  • I’m fairly new to the workforce but an accident has left me permanently disabled. How much time do I need to have put in at work in order to qualify for Social Security disability insurance in Massachusetts?

    When it comes to applying and qualifying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), there are many factors that are taken into consideration. Your time in the workplace is one of them.

    The first thing you must do is check whether or not you qualify under the Social Security Administration (SSA) disability listing. Some people who are permanently disabled are still able to perform other job functions, such as sedentary work. If you are, you may continue to work and cannot receive SSDI.

    The Role Length of Time in the Workforce Plays in Your Massachusetts SSDI Application

    The SSA uses a credit system to determine whether or not you qualify for SSDI. The longer you spend in the workforce, the more credits you earn. Credits are earned from annual income. That income can come from either annual wages or self-employment.

    Here are a few more important facts about how the credit system works:

    • Each year, you can earn as many as four credits. One credit is the equivalent of $1,200 of income. Under the current system, once you’ve earned over $4,800 in one year, you’ve earned the maximum number of credits available for that year.
    • Usually you need at least 40 credits to apply. Twenty of these credits must have been earned over the past 10 years to qualify.
    • Younger people may qualify with fewer credits. The SSA knows that disabilities sometimes happen before enough credits have been earned. That’s why some younger people may not need as many credits. For example, if you’re under 24 years old, you only need six credits earned over a three-year period. People aged 24 to 31 only need twelve credits over the past six years.


    The credit system gets very confusing. If you’re still not sure whether or not you qualify based on your years in the workforce, we encourage you to reach out to our Boston Social Security disability lawyers for more guidance on your specific case.

  • I just found out that I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and will probably have to eventually go on Social Security disability. I’ve heard it’s hard to get. Can you tell me what kind of symptoms will qualify me?

    When it comes to qualifying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), the application process is not always easy. Even though you know how difficult it is for you to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires extensive amounts of evidence and the proper paperwork to approve your application.

    With Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, qualifying for SSDI in Boston can be a challenge. The SSA has not created a specific listing or category for this disease. In addition, because it is a genetic syndrome, you cannot qualify for SSDI based on the arthritis listing, even if arthritis is one of your symptoms.

    Qualifying Symptoms for Boston SSDI Benefits for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

    To qualify, you must have severe symptoms from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. These symptoms can include:

    • Severe joint pain or joint dislocation
    • Skin damage and infections
    • Difficulty healing wounds
    • Back pain
    • Foot problems, including flat feet
    • Loss of some or all vision
    • Rupturing of the eyeball
    • Rupturing of a major artery or arteries in the organs or intestines


    Each of these symptoms can greatly limit your ability to work either in a physical or sedentary position.

    When you’re at a point when you need to apply, talk to your doctor as well as your Boston Social Security disability lawyer. Both of these professionals will help you put together your application in a way that shows the SSA what it needs to see to approve you for SSDI.

    Do you know someone who was recently diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome? We encourage you to pass this article on to her so it can help her while applying for SSDI in Boston.

  • I have a severe back injury that continues to get worse over time. My doctors can’t pinpoint the cause of it. Can I still get SSDI in Rhode Island for back pain?

    Back pain is one of the most common reasons people are unable to continue their jobs. From the moans and groans you make when getting up out of your chair after sitting for a long period of time, to the excruciating pain you feel anytime you lift something heavy, back pain is no laughing matter.

    Understanding Back Pain

    Your back is filled with small ligaments and tendons that hold your body together. When something goes wrong and your bones or muscles weaken, the pain you feel could limit your ability to perform the same tasks you once were responsible in your job.

    One of the most common reasons people give for missing work is back pain. It is not a condition to take lightly. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that you have a specific diagnosis for why you are in pain.

    Here are some of the top causes of back pain that may impact your ability to work:

    • Nerve root irritation that carries the signal from your brain to your legs and arms
    • Strained back muscles
    • Injured joints, ligaments, or bones
    • Degenerative disc disease
    • Injured vertebrae


    These injuries are often caused by strain on your muscles and ligaments, which can make it difficult to pinpoint a specific triggering incident. Regardless, your doctor should give you a diagnosis of why you are in such pain. This diagnosis will then determine whether you qualify for SSDI in Rhode Island.

    If you need more help with your specific application and symptoms, contact our office for a free consultation. We will go through your case and give you suggestions on how you can increase your chances of being approved.

  • Help! I recently lost a lot of my vision and now I’m considered legally blind. I’m no longer able to work. How do I show my vision loss on my Social Security disability application so I can get approved?

    No one can see what you see. As advanced as modern medicine has become, there are still limitations to how much a machine, test, or doctor can understand how you view the world. When it comes to convincing the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your vision impairment is so severe that it makes it difficult for you to work, it is difficult to know what you can show to help the person reviewing your application see the world through your eyes.

    In spite of this, the SSA has a few items that they use to help try to understand how severe your visual impairment is and how it impacts your life.

    What to Include in Your Application for SSDI in Boston

    Here are a few items that you must submit on your application to increase your chances of being approved:

    • An exam by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. This exam will measure your visual acuity. Based on your exam, your doctor will rate how well they think you can see. This rating plays a significant role in determining whether you qualify to receive SSDI.
    • A peripheral vision exam. This test is done without help of eyeglasses or contact lenses. In it, you will be asked to read letters from a chart. The results of this show the SSA the extent of your vision loss.
    • A visual evoked response test. If the SSA believes your loss is not as severe as you say it is, you might have to undergo extra testing. During a visual evoked response test, your brainwave responses will be matched to visual stimuli. This test is not common, but if you have undergone the test, submitting the results might help improve your chances at being approved.
    • Any diagnoses. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or other types of diseases, you should include that in your application. This will help the SSA agent reviewing your application get a good feel for your medical history and what you have been through in terms of visual impairments in the past.


    The goal of your application is to help the person deciding whether you are approved or denied see the world through your eyes. By submitting all of your tests and medical diagnoses, you will paint a clearer picture of your health. Doing so makes it easier for the reviewer to understand the extent to which your vision loss impacts your ability to work.

    For more information about applying for and receiving SSDI in Boston for vision loss, we encourage you to read the related articles on this page.

  • I was recently diagnosed with a mood disorder. My symptoms can be pretty severe, but I’m not sure if I should apply under the schizoaffective disorder listing. Can you help?

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes the application process for SSDI in New England very difficult. They require you to meet specific listings. However, no two people have the same exact symptoms, job, work situation, or reaction to treatments. With that in mind, it is no wonder you are confused about which listing you should apply under.

    The first step in understanding how to apply is to determine what your symptoms are. By writing these down, you will have a clearer idea of which listing you meet, and how to fill out your application.

    Symptoms of a Schizoaffective Disorder

    The following are some of the most common symptoms of mood disorders that are considered disabling by the SSA. These are the symptoms that stand in the way of you performing your job to the best of your abilities.

    • Disorganized communication
    • Rapid speech that is difficult for others to understand
    • Extreme paranoia where you worry others might try to hurt you
    • Delusions of special messages hidden in various places
    • Difficulty focusing or remembering important details
    • Hallucinations
    • Severe mood swings
    • Trouble sleeping or concentrating on a regular basis

    Applying for Social Security disability insurance in New England is a tedious process. It is one that many people struggle with. Don’t forget that if you get denied the first time, you are not alone. Working with a lawyer can minimize your risk of being denied and help you get the benefits you need on your application.

    We encourage you to read our book, The Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability, to help guide you during the application process even further. If you need any extra help, we are always available to answer questions and work with you to help you get the benefits you deserve.

  • I recently found out that I’m severely anemic. My anemia has made it difficult for me to go to work or to remain on the job throughout the day. I feel exhausted and have constantly had to call in sick. One of my coworkers told me that I might qualify for SSDI in New Hampshire for anemia. Is this true?

    Anemia can have a serious impact on your ability to work. From being extremely fatigued to having shortness of breath and not feeling well, it makes sense that you are not be able to perform the job you once used to.

    As with any illness, the symptoms affect every person differently. In order to qualify for SSDI in New Hampshire for anemia, you must meet the criteria put in place by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    How to Qualify for New Hampshire SSDI With Anemia

    The SSA lists anemia as a disability. Under their requirements, you must meet the following criteria in order for your application to be approved:

    • Consistent red blood cell count of 30 percent or less
    • An average of at least one blood transfusion every two months

    If you are unable to meet those criteria, you may also qualify based on other impairments caused by anemia. These impairments include any heart disease complications that are impacted by your anemia, or any difficulties you have with breathing that may be listed under respiratory listings.

    Knowing whether or not you qualify can be very difficult. It is strongly advised that you seek the help and guidance of a New Hampshire Social Security disability attorney for help with your application. By working with a lawyer from Keefe Disability Law, you can maximize your chances at being approved for Social Security disability. We will help you put together your application and find out which listings you qualify under so that you can give the most clear and detailed information to the SSA as possible making it easier for you to be approved.

    Call us today at our toll-free number, 888-904-6847, to get started.

  • SSA Tips: How to Show a Disability in Massachusetts

    Every person is unique. The Social Security Administration knows this, and understands that not every disabled person will meet a specific impairment listing. That’s why Social Security officials developed a form called the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form.

    When applying for SSDI, you must use this form to show your disability in Massachusetts. With the information you provide on this form, the person reviewing your application at the Social Security Administration (SSA) can determine what you are still able to do based on your disability.

    What To Include on the RFC Form

    The person examining your application will search for work that you’ve done over the past 15 years. They will then determine the level of activity that you are capable of doing. Here are a few important things to remember when filling out an RFC:

    • Include all physical restrictions. If you cannot lift, carry, walk, or move as you once used to and this has stopped you from being able to perform the duties of your job, you must show this on the RFC. If you cannot work full-time, work regularly, or be productive on the job, then you may qualify for SSDI.
    • Include all mental restrictions. If you are no longer able to perform any sedentary work, such as working at a desk, then you must show this in your RFC. To do this, you should include anything that restricts you mentally, such as memory problems, inability to concentrate, emotional difficulties, or any other mental restriction that could prevent you from doing your job.

    Schedule a Free Consultation

    Filling out an RFC can be difficult. We can help. Call us at 888-904-6847 to learn more about what a Massachusetts Social Security disability attorney at Keefe Disability Law may be able to do for you.

  • Can I Qualify For Benefits With Hypothyroidism?

    Hypothyroidism is a disorder in your thyroid gland that causes you to produce too little hormone. This can have a significant impact on your ability to work, including causing extreme fatigue or mental sluggishness, muscle weakness, or a slowed heart rate. All of these can have a major effect on your ability to perform a variety of types of jobs, including sedentary work.

    Qualifying For Benefits

    Although the Social Security Administration does not provide a specific for hypothyroidism as a disability, there are many ways you may still qualify to receive benefits when you are no longer able to work. You can apply to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in Massachusetts for the symptoms rather than for your thyroid disorder. Here are a few disability benefits that may be available to you depending on your symptoms:

    • If your hypothyroidism causes heart related conditions, you can apply under listing 4.00, cardiovascular system disabilities.
    • If your hypothyroidism causes depression, anxiety, or any other cognitive disorders, you may apply under listing 12.00, mood disorders.
    • If your hypothyroidism causes unexplained weight gain, you may qualify under listing 5.08, digestive systems.

    Contact Keefe Disability Law Today

    Although there are numerous ways to qualify, applying and being approved for Massachusetts SSDI for hypothyroidism can be difficult. It is a good idea to put the help of a skilled Social Security disability attorney on your side; that way, you can be confident you filled out your application fully and accurately to help you increase your chances at being accepted. Call us today at 888-904-6847 to learn more about how a Massachusetts Social Security disability attorney at Keefe Disability Law may be able to help.

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  • Should I Mention Alcoholism In My Disability Application?

    Although you should be honest on your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in New Hampshire, mentioning alcoholism is always something you should be careful about doing. Social Security Administration officials could deny you the benefits you need if they believe that alcohol causes your impairment.

    How You May Be Able To Receive Benefits

    There are ways around this. If you need New Hampshire SSDI, alcoholism may not prevent your ability to receive benefits. For example, you may be able to receive benefits in the following situations:

    • If you no longer drink and have been sober for over 30 days, and your disability still limits you from working.
    • If drinking has no impact on your disability.
    • If you are in recovery and still suffer from your disability even in sobriety.

    The Social Security Administration denies approximately 80 percent of all initial claims. Putting alcohol use in your application can raise red flags and increase your chances of being denied. When you reach the drug or alcohol question, it is important to take care in how you answer. Still, it is critical that you answer your doctor’s questions and the examiners’ questions honestly.

    Schedule a Free Consultation

    Because filling out an application with for SSDI is already so difficult, it is important that you work with a skilled New Hampshire Social Security disability lawyer on how to approach this topic in a way that will maximize your chances at approval. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you with your application so that you can increase your chances of getting the benefits you need.


  • How Do I Complete the Residual Functional Capacity Form?

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

    What Is The Residual Functional Capacity Form?

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

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

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

    Contact Keefe Disability Law

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


  • PTSD Anxiety and SSD Benefits

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

    Effects of PTSD

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

    Receiving Disability Benefits For PTSD

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

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

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

    Contact Keefe Disability Law

    This can be very difficult to show. Contact a Massachusetts Social Security Disability lawyer at Keefe Disability Law for help with your application. Call us today toll-free at 888-904-6847.

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

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

    Neurological Conditions Covered By Disability

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

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

    Talk To a Disability Lawyer Today

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

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

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

    Specific Lung Cancer Can Qualify You For SSDI

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

    Small-Cell Lung Cancer and Compassionate Allowance

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

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

    Keep Detailed Medical Records

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

    What About Recurrent Lung Cancer?

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

    Qualifying For Benefits

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

    Contact Keefe Disability Law

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

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

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

    Compassionate Allowance For Certain Prostate Cancer

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

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

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

    Contact Keefe Disability Law

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

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

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

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

    Questions About Receiving SSDI?

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

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

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

    Receiving SSDI For MS

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

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

    Proving That You Are Unable To Work

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

    Find Out If You Qualify

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

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

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

    SSDI and Skin Cancer

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

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

    Other Types of Skin Cancer Eligible For SSDI

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

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

    Keep Detailed Medical Records

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

    Contact a Disability Attorney Today

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

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