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.