Jan 29th, 2018

Social Security Disability Advice

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

When you go through the Social Security Disability process, it can be intimidating. There are things that you can do to help get through this process easier. One of them is obtaining a qualified attorney to make sure that you address everything that you need to in your claim and have the highest chance of success. Most lawyers offer a free consultation for Social Security Disability cases, so you have nothing to lose by meeting with someone. As you move through the process, keep the things below in mind to have the greatest chance of success.

consultation for social security

Social Security Disability Advice:

- Don’t Wait to File.

As soon as you can you should get in your application for disability benefits. It is possible that your claim could take some time to process. This means that you may need to wait a while in order to start to receive benefits. When you’re not able to work, every day counts and diminishes your savings.

- If you have questions about the application, ask for help.

If you’re working through your application and have questions, it’s best to ask for advice. Filling out the application incorrectly can cause you to be denied when you should have been approved. You can get help from a lawyer in regards to your application.

- Work with an attorney that specializes in Social Security Disability.

You can obtain a lawyer right away, but it’s even more important if your claim is denied. It’s best to have representation as you go through the appeals process. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action and help you with your hearing. If you go to a hearing without a lawyer, it can be detrimental to your case.

- Keep up with your medical care.

When you’re going through the application process, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. It’s important to visit your doctor regularly as this will be evaluated when you apply. You also need to make sure that you’re following your doctor’s advice. If you’re not taking your medications, it will show that you’re not trying to improve your condition.

Make sure to follow the advice above and that of your lawyer. Remember that you can receive a free consultation for Social Security from us. Contact us with any questions.

Jan 25th, 2018

Getting Disability Based on Spinal Nerve Root Compression

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does provide benefits for spinal disorders. One of the main disorders that does qualify for benefits is the occurrence of a compression of a spinal column nerve root. Nerve root compressions result in constant pain, loss of feeling and muscle weakness. This type of nerve compression can be quite painful and quite disabling, severely limiting your daily activities.

disability benefits for spine disorder

Remember that SSA disability must be tied to your inability to complete job functions, so you must provide evidence to this effect. The SSA can provide disability support if the spinal disorder leaves you unable to work.

First, you must qualify medically. You must provide evidence of the reason that led to the nerve root compression—an injury, a disc issue, arthritis or another spinal diagnosis. The SSA maintains a list of impairments called the Blue Book; there is a section (1.04A) that lists disorders of the spine.

Basically, to qualify, you must experience significant pain associated with the nerve root compression and you must demonstrate that the pain, muscle weakness and loss of feeling causes a loss of motor function significant enough to prevent you from working.

You must show evidence that a doctor has examined you and done the required diagnostic tests to diagnose a nerve root compression. SSA needs several specific pieces of medical evidence:

· Physical exam evidence from your physician. His or her notes must show the cause of the nerve root compression as well as onset, how the issue has progressed, and a description and progression of your symptoms

· Evidence of muscle weakness, reflex issues, loss of feeling or muscle atrophy

· Descriptions of any complications to other systems, like neurological or circulatory

· Evidence of medical test results like imaging tests (MRI, CT, x-ray)

· Treatments prescribed (what worked, what didn’t work)

· Medications taken

· Prognosis from your doctor (both short-term and long-term), including a physician opinion about how long your period of disability will be

Also remember that when it comes to treatments your doctor prescribes, you must show evidence that you’ve followed the treatment plan. Failure to follow treatments is one of the main reasons people are denied benefits by the SSA.

If you have a lower back nerve root compression, the doctor must show results of the straight leg raise test, a measure of pain and other symptoms of lower leg function. SSA will not review your claim unless this test has been performed.

Disability claims and getting benefits for spine disorders is more complicated than other medical situations. Let us help you; we can be your advocate for a nerve root compression claim.

Jan 23rd, 2018

Non-Medical Requirements of Social Security Disability

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

There are other considerations besides medical paperwork and requirements that need to be considered when applying for disability benefits.

Qualify for Disability Benefits

There are two types of disability you can potentially apply for: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The two programs are different. SSI is a financial supplement designed to provide basic funding for individuals and families who earn low- or no income. SSDI is designed to provide disability benefits to people who have worked and paid into the social security system through their work history.

Each program has different eligibility requirements. Upon receiving your application, the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates the claim to determine your eligibility for either program. People aged 18 or over may qualify for SSDI benefits, but you have to have worked long enough to have contributed to social security to earn enough work credits, and you also must have a disability severe enough to prevent you from working. SSA will require that you submit your employment history as far back as you can. You must list all previous employers and your earnings history at each place of employment.

For SSDI, the main qualification is that you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes. Determining the number of work credits you have is the most important criteria. After you’re eligible, that’s when it is time to start pulling your medical documentation together to prove that your disability keeps you from being gainfully employed.

SSI is for people who likely don’t qualify for SSDI. As a federal program, it is paid for from general tax revenues and not from the social security fund. SSI helps low income, disabled and elderly people with basic funds for food, clothing and shelter. The program is needs-based, and it is important for you to know that you must meet very low income requirements in order to qualify. SSA counts any income, asset ownership, and any free services you are receiving (food or shelter donations, etc.)—there are very strict limitations. Under SSI, you are only allowed to own a single home and single automobile.

The SSA will evaluate your income and assets for this needs-based disability benefit. If you are not a U.S. citizen and you are applying for SSI, the SSA will first ensure that you are in a qualifying illegal alien category.

For both programs, most states do provide additional funds above the federal funds you will receive. Please note that some states–Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia—do not provide the additional funds.

For either program you apply to, the SSA will require that you submit the following information: Social Security ID (SSN), date and place of birth, and proof of US citizenship. You must also provide this information for present and past spouses and all dependent children.

After you submit your claim, a SSA claims representative will review the claim. The claim agent will first look at your non-medical eligibility—things like income, work credits and the other requirements we’ve outlined above. If you appear to be eligible for either SSDI or SSI, the claims representative will then transfer your file claim to your local Disability Determination Services (DDS) where another claim examiner specific to either SSDI or SSIs will take the reins and process it from there. From this point, the claim examiner will now start to review the medical evidence to decide whether you meet the eligibility for disability benefits from a medical point of view.

SSDI claims are denied if you don’t have enough work credits, meaning you haven’t worked long enough to draw social security disability; basically it means that you haven’t paid in enough to receive disability payments.

SSI applicants are typically denied because they earn too much money or have too many assets.

Both of these are considered technical denials, and in both cases, you get your notice fairly quickly.

For SSDI, the examiner will look at whether you are currently employed and earning an income. It is definitely a factor, because if you’re currently employed, you will likely be given a technical denial by SSA because your disability will appear not serious enough to keep you from working.

After you meet these initial non-medical requirements, both programs will require different medical information. SSI requires less information because it is in place to provide basic needs. SSDI does require detailed medical information because the benefit is based on your inability to work. As such, your SSDI application requires medical information such as records of medical diagnosis, tests performed, hospitalizations, medications prescribed, and any other pertinent detailed medical notes.

Any other benefits you might be receiving, such as military veteran benefits, worker’s compensation or any other similar benefit, will be factored into SSA’s evaluation of whether you will receive SSDI or SSI.

If you’re trying to determine which program you qualify for,give us a call today and we will help you determine your eligibility.

Jan 18th, 2018

Learn About Retroactive SSDI Benefits

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

Retroactive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments are monetary benefits that are paid to a disability applicant to cover the time that has passed between the onset of the disability and the date the application was accepted.These payments can cover up to one full year before the application was passed. Here is some important information for you to know about retroactive SSDI payments.

retroactive SSDI benefits

Factors for Retroactive Pay

The amount of money you would receive for your retroactive benefits is dependent on the following factors:

- Date your condition began

- Your application date

- The waiting period.

If you do not know the onset date of your condition, or if it cannot be determined, it will default to the date of your initial application. That date is then known as the alleged onset date (AOD). If your disability occurred a long time before you applied for benefits, then you will need to prove the onset date and then obtain a new established onset date (EOD).

Waiting Period

All applicants for retroactive pay must go through a mandatory five-month waiting period after the onset of the disability. During the waiting period, you will not receive benefits. So, your payments will begin on the first day of the sixth month after your application has been accepted.

Eligibility Requirements for Retroactive Payments

Not everyone is eligible for retroactive SSDI payments. To qualify for them, you must meet the following conditions:

- Your disability claim has been approved

- At least five months have passed since your EOD

- There are no reasons to withhold your payments.

Important Time Frames of Which to be Aware

If you are eligible for retroactive benefits, please be aware of the following time frames that can affect the receipt of your benefits.

- Payments are allowable for up to 12 months, subtracting the five-month waiting period. So, at least 17 months need to have passed from your EOD and approval date of your application.

- Payments can only be made for a maximum of one year. So you will not receive benefits for any time before that 17-month period.

Determining Your EOD

After you apply for your retroactive benefits, the judge will take your request into consideration. To determine if you can receive these benefits, the judge will look at your medical and employment records. After analyzing the data within this information, the judge will determine the EOD of your disability. This determination will dictate your eligibility for retroactive benefits.

The Difference Between Retroactive Pay and Backpay

Retroactive pay and backpay are similar. However, they are awarded under different circumstances. Retroactive benefits are meant to cover the time during which you were disabled, but had not yet submitted a claim. Only those who apply for SSDI benefits are eligible for retroactive pay. However, backpay is meant to cover the gap that exists between the time you applied for benefits and the time your application is accepted. So, receiving backpay makes it like you started receiving benefits from the first day you submitted an application. Backpay is available to both SSDI and SSI applicants.

Work With a Disability Lawyer

Getting retroactive SSDI benefits is not a simple process. It is not advisable to apply for retroactive benefits on your own. Instead, it is best to work with a qualified disability lawyer who can help you through the process. Not only can an experienced attorney help you through the legal aspects of getting your benefits, but he or she can also be an invaluable resource for answering all of your questions. Some other tasks an attorney can help you complete include:

- Ensuring the proper documents are submitted with your application

- Ensure a proper and effective case is presented to the judge

- Help you determine the amount of benefits you can request

- Knowing how to make the transition from EOD to AOD seamlessly and without errors.

If you have questions about applying for retroactive SSDI benefits or if you would like to start an application, contact Fred London Law today.

Jan 16th, 2018

Disability Benefits for Brain Injuries

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

People can qualify for Social Security disability benefits after suffering traumatic brain injuries that leave them incapacitated enough to no longer work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers many different types of traumatic brain injuries when considering a person for disability benefits.

brain injuries

Types and severity of TBI can vary. It is very typical immediately after the injury for the patient to have a headache, or be dizzy or nauseous or even vomiting. The person might even be unconscious. Blurry vision and problems with motor coordination is another classic sign.

When you seek medical treatment, a TBI diagnosis will be made based on clinical evidence of these signs. If you are able, the doctor will ask you to perform a neurological examination to check your pupils in your eyes for a normal response to light. Other motor coordination tests are done as part of this exam as well.

The doctor will also likely use an imaging method–x-ray, CT scan or MRI–to look for evidence of the brain injury. Later, the doctor will likely ask you to do cognitive tests to determine whether the TBI has had any long-term effects on your memory or your ability to normally process information. If the TBI is severe, you may need physical and cognitive rehabilitation therapy.

The SSA uses a manual called the Blue Book to assess disability claims; this book contains a list of qualifying impairments. While traumatic brain injury (TBI) does not have its own listing, TBI is considered as part of other disabilities like brain trauma, head trauma, stroke and seizures. The TBI listings in the Blue Book fall under the general category of neurological and mental disorders.

In the SSA Blue Book, you will likely see traumatic brain injury (TBI) also referred to as intracranial injury. SSA defines these injuries as an injury that results “when an external force causes brain trauma”. The older term “head injury” is often generally used, but refers to a much broader range of injuries that SSA uses to describe structural defects and congenital disorders rather than trauma.

SSA looks at the extent of brain injuries, as well as the severity of the injury and how debilitating it is, as well as the duration you’ve had the injury.

When the SSA reviews disability claims, they look in the Blue Book for the closest matching condition that fits your symptoms. SSA will generally classify your TBI under the following categories:

· Convulsive epilepsy

· Non-convulsive epilepsy

· Stroke or stroke-like complications

· Organic mental disorders

The SSA might classify you under multiple listings to fit all of your symptoms into their review.

Even if you don’t meet one of the above Blue Book listings, SSA can still review your claim for disability by performing a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment to gauge your ability to perform job tasks. Approval—or denial—of your claim largely depends on SSA’s determination of your RFC that remains after you’ve suffered a TBI.

The SSA always needs as much detailed medical evidence as you can provide when you file a claim. Specifically for brain injuries, there are several types of evidence the SSA will review: doctor’s diagnosis, detailed notes about medical tests performed, a list of prescribed medications, and doctors’ reports regarding his or her (or their) professional opinion about your functional limitations and the impacts of those limitations to your ability to adequately perform a job.

Your comprehensive medical evidence is important when submitting your disability claim to SSA for any injury but particularly for brain injuries because of the way SSA classifies it under the Blue Book listings. If you haven’t hired a disability attorney, consider calling Fred London Law today. Our firm will provide you with a qualified legal representative to gather your required TBI evidence and help you submit your disability claim.

Jan 11th, 2018

The Importance of Witness Letters to Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

If you have been denied Social Security Disability Benefits and are going through the appeals process, it’s important to have the best strategy in order for your appeal to be approved. A great way to add additional evidence to your case is by adding witness letters. These are letters written by family members, friends or coworkers and can have an impact on your Social Security Disability hearing.

social security disability hearing

Things to keep in mind about witness letters for your Social Security Disability hearing:

1.Feature only letters with first-hand accounts.

When you choose people to ask to write witness letters for you, you need to choose people how have first-hand accounts of how your injury or disability has affected you, your life or your work. Even though these people are not medical experts, they can still help to show the real consequences of your condition. These letters help to put your disability in perspective in terms of real life.

2.The letter should include the relationship of the witness to you.

The letter should state the witness’s relationship to you to put the letter in the correct context for the judge. Certain people will only be able to provide certain information.

3.The letter should include descriptions of your life before and after your disability began.

It’s important that the letter describe your life before as well as after the onset of the disability. This will show how life has changed for you and give a comparison to base any changes off of. It should describe things you used to be able to do versus things that you can no longer do. It should also talk about how your quality of life has changed. Your witness should stick to the facts and avoid embellishing their stories. If it comes out later that something was falsified, it will work against you.

4.The letter needs to have ways that your witness can be contacted.

Your witness must include contact information in the letter as well in case the judge needs to conduct a follow-up with your witness.. This can be a phone number or an email. Make sure that your witness knows that this is a possibility after your Social Security Disability hearing.

When going through an appeal, it’s important to include witness letters to help support your case. Make sure your witnesses are prepared and know what to include in the letter. Contact us with any questions.

Jan 10th, 2018

Are Withheld SSDI Benefits Returned to You?

Fred London Law 0 Comments Uncategorized

Withholding of Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits occurs for specific reasons, particularly related to monies owed the federal government, or child support or alimony payments. However, other situations arise which may appear to claimants that Social Security is keeping back funds due them. In any case, the question arises, Do I get those benefits returned to me?

SSDI benefits

Let’s look at a few scenarios.

Retroactive Payments

While not technically withholdings, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may owe you SSDI benefits which accumulate before an official approval. The benefits apply retroactively to the date of application. However, you may be eligible for 12 months of payments prior to that date. These unpaid benefits are due you and will be returned.

Taxed Benefits

Again, not an official withholding, SSDI benefits are taxed in some cases. Household incomes which rise above the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) limits may see part of their monthly benefit check taxed. A spouse’s salary or other sources raise this possibility. Paid SSDI taxes are not returned to you unless your end of the year tax return proves you overpaid in general.

Waiting Period Losses

The SSA withholds the first five months of SSDI benefits from claimants with few ways around it. Much like an insurance waiting period, the SSA assumes short-term disability insurance coverage during this time. Whether this assumption is accurate or not, the process does not allow for an appeal or repayment of this withholding.

Federal Withholdings

While your SSDI benefits come with protection from creditors, the federal government is the exception. Owing money to the IRS or other federal agencies puts you at risk of benefits being withheld.

Food stamp overpayments, federal student and mortgage loans, and unpaid federal taxes fall into this category. Unpaid child support and alimony payments may also negatively impact SSDI benefits.

Limits exist as to the allowable amount of withholdings. And, in cases of proven hardship, the SSA stops some of these withholdings. However, generally, the funds are not returned to you.

Return to Work and Benefits

The SSA provides incentives and offers return-to-work trials. Your benefits may continue under certain conditions and during an adjustment period. However, once your income exceeds the limits and the adjustment period is satisfied, benefits stop.

A 36-month extended period of eligibility begins after three transitional months. If your income drops or you become disabled again, you do not receive the benefits you missed while working. However, you do not need to endure another waiting period after approval.

Navigating the complexities of SSDI benefits and withholdings proves frustrating. An attorney experienced in SSDI gives you the knowledge you need to dissolve your stress.

Contact us today for a free consultation and peace of mind.

Jan 9th, 2018

Steps to Receiving Disability Benefits

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

Receiving disability for a physical or mental impairment is important to the livelihood of many Americans. Knowing the steps to receiving a favorable social security disability determination is key to the applicant’s success. If your medical condition prevents you from working for at least one year, or your medical condition is expected to result in death, you may qualify for disability. Patience and perseverance is important through the application process.

social security disability determination

The Blue Book

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a manual called the Blue Book that lists the physical and mental impairments to qualify someone for disability benefits. The good news is that not all impairments are listed in this manual, so don’t get discouraged if your unique situation is not included. Various medical conditions such as asthma, dermatitis, cancer, depression, anxiety and more are currently on the approved Blue Book list.

Submitting Your Application

You can visit a Social Security Administration field office in your local town or a state-ran Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. Filing online is also available if your medical condition does not allow for physical mobility to an office location.

Application Requirements

The application will ask for a description of your impairment(s), treatments and other information related to the alleged disability. You will also be asked for non-medical eligibility information such as your age, employment and marital status. Once you fill out the application, the case will be sent to the DDS office for evaluation. This process can take 30 to 90 days.

Verification of Eligibility

The DDS will look into your medical records as evidence to your social security disability determination. If the evidence is unavailable or insufficient in making an initial determination, the DDS will ask for a consultative examination by your healthcare professional. Keep in mind that the DDS can also decide to call their own specialist to conduct this examination.

Receiving Benefits

Whether the DDS automatically grants benefits from your application, or you are granted benefits after a consultative examination, the SSA will determine the benefit amount and begin paying benefits. If you are not eligible for disability benefits, the file will be kept at the SSA field office in the event that you would like to appeal the decision.

Appeals Process

If you are found ineligible to receive disability benefits, you can ask for a Reconsideration which is an appeal to the determination by speaking to the SSA field office. There is a window of 60 days to open a Reconsideration after you receive notice that you are not eligible.

If you need help navigating social security disability laws and to get additional assistance, contact Fred London Law today.

Jan 8th, 2018

Does Having Chronic Alcoholism Mean You Can Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Fred London Law 0 Comments Uncategorized

Unfortunately, Social Security Administration — SSA — can’t find you disabled based on you having chronic alcoholism. It is common that many who suffer from chronic alcoholism have either a physical or mental issue that does interfere with their performance at work. If you are still drinking and SSA believes that your condition will improve if you stop drinking, they will not approve you to receive disability benefits. If you do have a history of alcoholism, but you have stopped drinking, you need to prove this to SSA. It does not reflect you receiving any disability benefits if your condition is because of prior drinking, just as long as you don’t drink anymore.

Disability Benefits for Chronic Alcoholism

Substance Abuse Disorder

Substance Abuse Disorder recognizes that being a chronic alcoholic can lead to severe illnesses. You must have changes in your behavior or physical changes for you to meet the substance disorder that is listed in SSA’s official Blue Book. The effects of regularly consuming alcohol will affect one’s central nervous system.

Here are several illnesses that can be a result of alcoholism:

● organic mental disorders

● depression syndrome

● anxiety disorders

● personality disorders

● peripheral neuropathies, also known as nerve damage

● liver damage

● gastritis

● pancreatitis

● seizures

If you want to qualify for disability benefits, you’ll need to the requirements for one of the illnesses that are listed above. Although chronic alcoholism is certainly an illness, it is not a condition that SSA will consider unless you have developed other conditions as well. Generally, if you suffer from alcoholism, which is a form of mental disorder, you will likely suffer from others as well, that may be considered to receive disability benefits. It is critical that you document all of your mental disorders and conditions in your application properly so you don’t get denied.

If your disability is valid, but you have been denied to receive disability benefits and you don’t drink anymore or your physician has said that you’d have your disability even if you didn’t drink, then you should appeal this. During this process, you should hire a disability lawyer.

Jan 3rd, 2018

How Marriage Affects Social Security ?

Fred London Law 0 Comments Social Security Disability

As life progresses many people find a need for a safety net and that’s exactly why the Social Security Administration (SSA) exists. One of the big questions that comes up regarding SSA benefits is what happens if a person is already married when they start receiving benefits, or what happens if they get married after they’ve started receiving them.

marriage affects Social Security benefits

Old Age and SSDI Benefits

For most people they receive their social security benefits after they have worked a majority of their life and they have reached the eligible age to start receiving payments from the program. The way the benefit is qualified for is by completing 40 annual quarters of work. That breaks down to 10 years of work total while meeting the minimum earning requirement established by the SSA.

While there are two forms of disability insurance the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is similarly based on credit for how much time has been spent working. The minimum eligibility for SSDI requires that 5 years worth of time must have been spent working during the past 10 years. This is the equivalent of 20 credits for quarters worked. Depending on age, the minimum requirement changes for this benefit so it’s important to verify with the SSA if a person qualifies.

Since the old age benefit and SSDI are based on a person’s work history then marriage status will not impact those social security benefit programs.

Survivors and SSI

If a person is receiving Social Security benefits based on their income, or from being a survivor after someone they were dependent on passed away, then marriage can impact the benefit. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on the family income of an individual with a disability. A spouse’s income counts as part of that income, and if the combined income of the spouse and the beneficiary rises above the qualification level then benefits may be terminated. If two people that are both receiving SSI marry, then the rates change for each individual and they will receive a couple’s rate.

Likewise, if someone is receiving survivor benefits, that can be changed if they marry as well. If an individual is receiving survivor benefits from a spouse that died, then if they remarry before the age of 60 the benefits will not be approved. If the benefits are being granted after a divorce, or if they were benefits received by a disabled child that is under the age of 18 then the benefit will end if they get married. Marriage is a life changing event, before going forward with it, or if questions persist about benefits, then the best thing to do is speak to the SSA or an experienced attorney to find out the correct answers for any individual case.