My Social Security Benefits Claim Was Denied. What Should I Do?

August 26, 2015

Having Your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim denied can be disappointing, but it doesn't mean that all is lost. As long as you take the next best steps, you may very well be able to earn an award of benefits. However, you will want to take action and appeal the denial as quickly as possible.

There are strict time limitations that apply to most appeals, and if you do not file an appeal within the time period, you could actually have a claim dismissed.
Many persons who have their claims denied are so discouraged that they do not appeal. They give up on their claim being approved, fatigued by the long period of time it often takes for a decision. In other cases, people make the mistake of filing a brand-new claim in place of the denied claim.

One of the most important things to do is understand why your claim was denied. In most cases, benefits are denied because the claimant did not submit enough medical evidence to establish the severity of impairment, or the eligibility of the condition. However, disability claim denials are much more common than most people realize. In fact, about 60% of all disability benefit claims are denied at the initial stage.

When you receive a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) informing you about the denial, you will also receive a technical explanation of the reasons for the unfavorable decision. SSA will use the notice to inform you that the job you could perform has demands that you are physically equipped to handle. In other words, the agency will deny that your condition is so disabling that it prevents you from going back to work and earning a living.

The first step to take after getting your claim denied is to speak to a Social Security disability lawyer and file an appeal.

Filing a Disability Benefits Claim for Crohn's Disease

July 31, 2015

For disability purposes, Crohn's Disease is in the group of conditions known as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. The cause of this disease is not really known - but the most recent research points to family history and environmental factors. In addition, diet and stress are believed to aggravate the condition.

Even if you have chronic gastrointestinal inflammation problems (diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, constipation) and think you are showing symptoms, only a doctor can conduct testing to diagnose Crohn's Disease. Since Crohn's is considered a chronic disease, there will be periods when the disease is in remission and the patient would have little to no symptoms; however, there will be periods when the disease strikes and the patient is very sick.

How does Social Security Evaluate Crohn's Disease?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates Crohn's Disease in the same way that that it does all claims for disability. It typically requires that a claimant must have suffered from the condition for a period of 12 months, or the condition is expected to last for at least 12 months before approving benefit payments. Social Security does consider Crohn's disease to be a significant impairment that may prevent an individual from performing substantial work; therefore, it is possible for an individual to be approved for disability benefits on the basis of Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease is evaluated under inflammatory bowel disease in the listing of impairments published by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The roadblock with getting approved for disability with Crohn's disease is that because it is a chronic disease, the twelve months duration requirement is frequently a problem. In other words, a person is never cured of Crohn's disease, but sometimes his or her symptoms go away for a short time, allowing the person to resume some activities.

Gastroparesis Diagnosis and Social Security Disability Eligibility?

July 25, 2015

Gastroparesis is a condition in which the muscles of the stomach wall have become too weakened to contract and force the food from the stomach into the small intestine. Therefore, the stomach does not empty properly. Gastroparesis can be caused by diabetes, Parkinson's disease, certain medications or drug use, and sometimes the cause is unknown.

Similarly, there is a wide range of adverse effects on patients. Some patients experience nausea and vomiting, some develop bacterial infections from the undigested food, and some can develop blockages from food that cannot move to the small intestine. Additionally, the symptoms can range from mild to severe, varying wildly from day to day. There is no cure, but doctors can prescribe medication to help patients manage their lives.

Medical Eligibility for Gastroparesis

Social Security does not list Gastroparesis as a specific medical impairment; however, since Gastroparesis is a digestive system condition, you may be able to qualify for disability under one of the digestive system criteria. If an underlying cause was diagnosed for your Gastroparesis and that disease IS on the SSA list of medical impairments, you might be able to qualify based on that listing.

Will a cervical cancer diagnosis entitle me to Social Security Disability Benefits?

July 20, 2015

Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later. When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applications by listing a cervical cancer diagnosis under specific guidelines. Cancers of the uterine cervix diagnosed as carcinoma or sarcoma must meet the following conditions: (a) the cancer must extend to the pelvic wall, lower portion of the vagina or the adjacent or distant organs; or (b) the cancer must be persistent or recurrent following antineoplastic therapy.

Cancer is a very unique disease in that sometimes the treatment, not the disease, is what creates the disability. The antineoplastic therapy is defined by Social Security as surgery, irradiation, chemotherapy, hormones, immunotherapy, or bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. Some of those treatments can be harsh enough to keep a person from being able to seek employment.

Medical records will be necessary as evidence to show the diagnosis and location of the cancer, therapies, and the extent to which the patient has responded (or not), etc.

Hashimoto's Disease and Social Security Disability

July 15, 2015

Hashimoto's Disease is the most common thyroid disease in the United States. It is an autoimmune disorder in which a person's immune system attacks his or her own healthy thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which regulates many of the body's activities. Hashimoto's Disease, sometimes called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is progressive, meaning that it will get worse over time until the thyroid stops functioning. It is inherited and the severity of symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Ideally, once the condition is diagnosed, a person can take thyroid hormone replacement daily (for the rest of his or her life - a thyroid never starts functioning again once it stops).

Will Hashimoto's Disease qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

Social Security does not have a specific medical impairment listing for thyroid disorders. Once a thyroid condition is diagnosed, most people can control a thyroid disorder (and be capable of gainful employment) with medication. However, the difficulties arising from Hashimoto's Disease differ from person to person. Some people do suffer from complications due to the disease, including heart problems, strokes, unintentional weight gain or loss, depression or anxiety. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate claims under the guidelines for the related listings (for example, a thyroid-related heart condition would be evaluated under Cardiovascular System). Remember, however, the SSA does not award benefits based on having a condition, but instead will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition makes work activity not possible.

Does a Cancer Diagnosis Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

May 27, 2015

When a cancer patient applies for Social Security Disability benefits, eligibility is determined by using the same criteria as for other disability applicants. Merely having a cancer diagnosis does not immediately make a person eligible for benefits. However, certain types of cancer patients may have the processing of their claims expedited, based on the diagnosis alone.

In order to be eligible for benefits because of cancer, you have to meet certain conditions established by the Social Security Administration. For instance, the cancer must be inoperable, with no potential for control using treatment. It must be recurrent or must have spread. A person suffering from some types of cancer however, may be eligible for expedited claims process approvals.

Persons who suffer from certain types of breast cancer, brain cancer, spinal cord cancer, specific types of mesothelioma, and cancers of the gall bladder, or pancreas, may be eligible for an expedited process in which their claims are approved based on the diagnosis. Additionally, in order to qualify for expedited approval, applicants must provide details of their history, work schedule limits and, in some cases, financial criteria. Claims based on many types of cancer may be expedited under the Compassionate Allowances Program, which allows for expedited benefits approval for certain types of ailments and conditions.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will process a claim for benefits depending on the type of cancer diagnosis, effect on functionality, ability to work and earn a living, and work history.

To determine whether your condition qualifies for Social Security Disability payments, discuss your claim with a qualified disability benefits attorney today.

Is It Possible to Qualify for Both SSDI and SSI Benefits?

May 15, 2015

It is relatively uncommon that a person will qualify for benefits under both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program as well as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. In fact, the vast majority of benefits recipients will qualify for benefits under only one of these programs.

However, that doesn't mean that this can't happen. A person may qualify for benefits under both of these programs. The Social Security Disability Insurance program is unique, distinct and separate from the Supplemental Security Income program. Eligibility criteria for both of the programs are different, but in some circumstances, persons may qualify for benefits under both programs.

If, for instance, your income and asset limits are low enough for you to qualify for the Supplemental Security Income Program, and at the same time you have held a job long enough to have paid into the Disability Insurance program, you could possibly qualify for both of the benefits simultaneously. These types of benefits are called "concurrent benefits."

However, even if you do qualify, that doesn't mean that you will get double the benefits. There are limits on your benefits, and you may only be eligible for money to a maximum of those that are available under the Supplemental Security Income program.

It can difficult to determine if you qualify for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program or the Supplemental Security Income program. This is a good reason to seek the advice of a social security lawyer who is familiar with the system and application processes.

Disability Benefits for ADHD

May 7, 2015

ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition that affects approximately 5% of all American children. Children whose ADHD symptoms reach a certain intensity level are likely to qualify for benefits. However, you will be required to provide solid medical evidence about the severity of your child's symptoms.

Symptoms of ADHD typically begin in childhood, and can continue well into adulthood. Primary symptoms include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. A child who suffers from ADHD is likely to face problems adjusting in school, and keeping up with work in adulthood.

You must provide the following types of evidence in support of your claim.

• Notes from your doctor, outlining the kind of treatment that your child has received, including the medications that he/she is taking
• Results of IQ testing and achievement tests
• Findings from a psychologist, psychiatrist or any other mental health professional
• Input from teachers in the form of evaluations

These are the minimum medical evidence requirements for children between the ages of three and 18. If your child is below three years of age, his/her claim has a very minor chance of approval. Broadly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider the child's level of social and personal functioning, communication abilities, cognitive functions, and ability to focus on or concentrate on tasks.

It can be difficult to get your child's benefits claim for ADHD approved. However, input from teachers and school staff, including evaluations of the way he/she performs in school can influence your child's claim as can the help of a skilled Atlanta Social Security disability attorney.

SSA Compassionate Allowances Program

April 28, 2015

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Social Security benefits system is the amount of time that it takes for the typical claim to be processed. It could take months for your claim to be processed, which is one of the reasons why taking action sooner than later is so important. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes it possible for some persons who suffer from very serious conditions and illnesses to qualify for expedited claims approvals.

The Compassionate Allowances Program allows disabled Americans who apply for disability benefits to get their claims approved much quicker. The Compassionate Allowances Program is specifically designed for persons who suffer from illnesses that are so severe that it is very obvious that they would qualify for benefits under the Social Security disability program. Therefore, the agency simply approves these processes, and grants applicants benefits without the long delay that often accompanies the normal process.

How long does it take to get claims approved under the Compassionate Allowances Program?

If you have applied under the Compassionate Allowances Program, and if your condition is on the listing for this program, then you will probably get your disability benefits approved within 10 days from the date of filing the application. The SSA has an exhaustive list of diseases and conditions that qualify for fast-track approval under the Compassionate Allowances Program.

Even if you believe that your condition meets a listing provided by the Social Security Administration's Compassionate Allowances Program, it is still helpful to work with an experienced disability attorney. This can ensure that your paperwork and application is submitted correctly and that you have the best chance to receive your benefits.

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits for Kidney Problems

April 9, 2015

If you have kidney problems, you may qualify for disability benefits depending on the severity of your condition. For instance, if you suffer from kidney failure that has left you physically incapable of performing many activities, then you may qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists End-Stage Renal Disease as a condition that is eligible for benefits in its listing of impairments.

End-stage renal disease is a condition in which the kidneys are no longer able to perform even normal, basic day-to-day functioning. Overall, persons who suffer from this condition feel very fatigued and ill, and may suffer from severe weight loss. There may be numbness in the extremities, pain in the bones, drowsiness, disorientation and confusion, and the person may bruise easily.

Generally, a person who has reached this stage is not able to work, and there is a higher likelihood of a successful claim for Social Security disability benefits. It is still very important to keep all documentation including all of test results, lab work, etc. Dialysis can also be a factor with heavy influence on the benefits claim.
If you have undergone a kidney transplant, the SSA will consider a number of factors, including how your body reacts to the organ, and other aspects before deciding your claim.

Additionally, if you suffer from kidney failure, you may be eligible for the SSA's Compassionate Allowances Program, which provides a process for claims to be processed much quicker, and often times within a few weeks.
Speak to a Social Security disability benefits lawyer in Atlanta about how to file a claim when you suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease or kidney failure.

Filing a Disability Benefits Claim for Multiple Sclerosis

April 2, 2015

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune inflammatory condition, which can affect the brain, spine, and nervous system. There are a wide range of symptoms that are associated with MS, and the condition itself has several degrees of severity. Therefore, qualifying for social security disability benefits for MS can be challenging.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) typically requires that a claimant must have suffered from the condition for a period of 12 months, or the condition is expected to last for at least 12 months before approving benefit payments. That, however, can be challenging in the case of Multiple Sclerosis because the symptoms tend to recur at inconsistent intervals.

For example, in the early stages of the condition, a person may suffer from a variety of symptoms, including numbness or changes in sensation in the hands and legs, swallowing problems, tremors, muscle fatigue, weakness, bowel and bladder management problems, difficulties in concentration, memory loss, blurred vision, sudden reflexes and muscular spasms. A person is said to be in "remission" during times when they are not experiencing symptoms.

All of these factors contribute to the difficulty with obtaining social security disability benefits for Multiple Sclerosis. Our disability law firm always encourages clients to start the benefits application process as soon as possible once the symptoms appear or a diagnosis of MS has been made. That way, you can properly document your condition and medical treatment, which are two factors that play a significant role in the disability benefits determination.

Increased Yogurt Consumption Tied to Lower Diabetes Risk

March 26, 2015

Dairy products get a lot of bad press, but yogurt could actually have more than a few health benefits. According to new research, increasing your intake of yogurt could actually lower your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

Researchers recently called for more clinical trials on the effect of increased intake of yogurt on diabetes prevention. Those calls were linked to findings that seem to suggest a lower risk of Type II Diabetes after increasing consumption of yogurt. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and was based on an analysis of data from three different studies.

About 95% of diabetes cases in the United States involve Type II Diabetes. Diabetes is one of the conditions that could qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. However, a diagnosis by itself does not make you eligible to receive disability payments from the government. You must prove that your condition has resulted in symptoms that make it difficult for you to work. For instance, complications from diabetes can include renal failure, kidney damage, kidney function eye problems, and blindness. Additionally, these conditions must have lasted for 12 months, or must be expected to last for at least 12 months for you to be eligible for benefits.

Researchers Look at Stem Cell Transplants for Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

March 22, 2015
Patients who suffer from the debilitating condition multiple sclerosis (MS) may have new hope for treatment. Researchers have announced findings from a small clinical trial, which indicated significant benefits from the use of a patient's own stem cells. As part of the trial, patients were given a transplant of hematopoietic stem cells from their own bodies. According to researchers, patients experienced disease remission after the transplant. These particular types of stem cells are involved in the formation of blood, and are sourced from bone marrow. As part of the trial, patients were also given high-dose immunosuppressive medications. The study's findings were published recently in JAMA Neurology, and focused on an evaluation of 24 patients who suffered from MS. They suffered from a type of multiple sclerosis called active relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, in which the patients have certain phases in which the condition is very active, followed by certain phases in which they do not experience any symptoms at all. Researchers found that an overwhelming majority of patients, close to 80%, who underwent stem cell transplants regained complete neurologic function, and continued to retain it for three years after treatment. They also found that patients did not see any aggravation of their symptoms after the stem cell transplant. They also did not see the development of any new lesions after the procedure. In more than 90% of the cases, there was no progression of the disease, and in 86% of the cases, there were no more periods of relapse. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does consider MS to be a disability that qualifies for benefits, but that doesn't automatically qualify you for an approved claim. Speak to an Atlanta Social Security disability attorney about the criteria that your condition must meet for you to be eligible for benefits.

TBI Study Questions Effectiveness of Progesterone

March 17, 2015

Progesterone, long regarded as a reliable treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI), and regularly administered to patients with such conditions, may not be as effective in treating the injury as earlier believed.

According to the results of a new study that was published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine, when the drug was administered over a period of five days after patients suffered a traumatic brain injury, there was no significant improvement in the clinical outcomes of the patients.

In the trial, researchers monitored 1,195 patients between 16 and 17 years of age. The patients suffered from TBI, and were divided into two groups randomly. One group received progesterone, while the other was placed on a placebo. The patients received the progesterone within eight hours after suffering the injury. The treatment continued over 120 hours.

The researchers found that there was no significant change in the patients' clinical outcomes after being administered progesterone.

The results of progesterone therapy were measured using the Glasgow Outcome scale, and indicated that just over 50% of patients had good recovery or moderate disability after treatment. In comparison, 50% of the patients who were placed on the placebo had similar results.

This only seems to confirm the difficulty in treating a patient with a traumatic brain injury. TBI can be of various types, and can affect different people in different ways. There are long-term consequences of the disease that are only now coming to light.
Therefore, persons who have suffered a traumatic brain injury must immediately begin to work on filing a claim for disability benefits, especially when consequences of the injury prevent them from going to work and earning a living.

Diabetes Linked to Accelerated Cognitive Decline: Will I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

February 28, 2015

According to new research in the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal, people who are unable to control their diabetes are much more likely to experience a faster rate of cognitive decline. This would include the onset of symptoms such as poor memory, poor word recall, and impaired functioning. According to the recent study, approximately 19% of the participants who were analyzed were found to experience such symptoms. In fact, researchers found that these participants experienced cognitive decline five years earlier than people who did not suffer from diabetes.

Cognitive decline can be extremely difficult for an individual, and it is often associated with dementia. A large number of studies now link diabetes to dementia. For example, one study found that people who suffer from Type II diabetes have a higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Controlling diabetes is critical, and studies continue to point to the serious long-term health consequences of failure to control blood sugar levels.

Persons with diabetes who want to apply for Social Security disability benefits must prove that their condition prevents them from performing activities in the work environment. If follows that not everybody who suffers from diabetes automatically qualifies for benefits. If your diabetes is under control and does not impair your ability to live a normal life, it is highly unlikely that you will receive benefits. However, if you have limitations with bending, standing, sitting for long periods of time, you may be entitled to disability payments. In addition, the existence of complications such as renal failure and impaired vision may also help an applicant quality for social security disability benefits.