What Is the Ticket to Work Program?

November 30, 2015

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Ticket to Work program allows disabled individuals who are currently deceiving disability benefits payments to transition back into the workforce.
If you are currently receiving disability benefits, and are between the ages of 18 and 64, then you may qualify for the Ticket to Work program. The program allows you to go back to work, and begin earning an income again, while retaining your eligibility for Social Security benefits. The program also allows you to continue to retain some of the benefits that are available to you under the Medicare and Medicaid programs as well as some cash benefits.
The Ticket to Work program also allows you to benefit from an employment network that will help you get in touch with employers and organizations to get started working again. The Employment network will require information about your disability, your work history and other issues, and can help you find that is a good fit.

The Ticket to Work program is purely voluntary, and is meant to encourage persons who are receiving disability benefits to transition back into the workforce. However, if you find that you are unable to continue working, you may be able to get your benefits reinstated. Remember, if you earn more than a certain maximum level, you may no longer be eligible for disability benefits.

The best way to understand your rights and options is to stay in close contact with your experienced disability attorney.

How to Prepare for a Disability Hearing

November 17, 2015

If your Social Security disability benefits claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. It is very important to do this because many claims are denied initially, but are approved at the appeals stage.

The disability hearing will play a very important role in the appeals process. A hearing takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and you will be required to present your case at the hearing with your Social Security disability benefits attorney. (It's not necessary that you be represented by an attorney, but it is highly recommended as the chances of success increases with the help of experienced legal counsel.)

Arrive on time for the hearing, and dress appropriately. It's best to discuss the questions that will be asked of you at the appeal hearing beforehand with your attorney. Your attorney will make sure your answers are correct, concise, and address the important issues properly.

You can expect to be asked questions about your condition. It is important to give clear and precise answers to questions. Avoid rambling, and avoid giving long-winded explanations for simple questions.

Remember, the questions may make you feel uncomfortable. The judge may have a problem with the quality of medical records that you have presented as evidence in support of your claim, and you must be prepared to defend your medical records, and explain any facts that the judge might find questionable. If you, for instance, have not been under medical treatment for a while, be prepared to explain to the judge why that is so.

Discuss these questions thoroughly with your attorney. The hearing is an important event and will have a significant impact on an appeal if an initial denial is made.

Updating Information with the Social Security Administration

November 10, 2015

If you have begun receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the agency will expect you to report changes in your circumstances or conditions. Failure to report to the agency when required to do so could result in penalties, including a temporary suspension of your benefits.

For example, if you plan to begin working, or have begun working, or have started a business, you must report this to SSA, no matter how little you earn. Report details including the hours that you are working, and any work expenses that you are incurring as a result of your disability such as a wheelchair, or assistance getting ready for work.

You must also report to the agency if you become eligible for another type of government benefit, such as workers' compensation benefits. If you qualify for other types of benefits under federal and state programs, inform the Social Security Administration about these.

Report to the agency if you change your address or your phone number. Also, make sure that SSA is aware when you change banks or open a new bank account. The Social Security Administration must also be notified if there is a change in your name because of marriage or divorce, or if you become the parent of a child after entitlement. You must inform the agency if there is a warrant out for your arrest, or if you're convicted of any crime.

Remember that the Social Security Administration will access much of this information from other agencies or sources, but it requires you to provide this information to the agency as well.

Physiological and Psychological Therapy Beneficial for Back Pain

October 20, 2015

A combination of physiological and psychological treatment has been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of back pain. According to researchers, Contextual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy releases psychological stress in persons who suffer from chronic back pain, and that helps make their physiological treatment much more effective.

According to the researchers, doctors who use this therapy will be able to help reduce back pain in patients, and also reduce the cost of treatment. Many back pain patients suffer from stress, and also may turn fear-avoidant, a mindset in which they fear taking part in any kind of activity because they are afraid that their back pain will get worse. For such people, finding an effective back pain treatment is very important and also very challenging.

The researchers conducted a pilot study in which they combined physical as well as psychological approaches to treating the problem, and found that chronic back pain could be treated more effectively with a combination of these approaches. Persons who participated in Contextual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy found it was beneficial in treating their back pain.

Chronic back pain is a major contributor to disability in the United States, and is one of the more common musculoskeletal conditions. Every year, thousands of individuals find that they can no longer continue in their former job because their back pain is so debilitating and painful. Any new treatment options should be fully investigated to determine their effectiveness for patients will different types of back pain.

Will Unemployment Benefits Affect My Disability Benefits?

October 6, 2015

The Social Security Disability Administration (SSA) will consider a number of factors, including the income that you are earning, before it approves your benefits claim. Of primary importance in the processing of your claim is any Substantial Gainful Activity that you are performing. Substantial Gainful Activity is any income that earns you an income beyond a certain limit. In 2015, the limit set by SSA $1,090 per month. You are not eligible for benefits if you earn more than this fixed amount.

However, the income that SSA will calculate will only include work-related benefits. Unemployment benefits are not included in the calculation. Therefore, your unemployment benefits will have no effect on your eligibility for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Your unemployment benefits will also not have any effect on the amount of benefits that you receive from SSA.

However, there is a flipside. The benefits that you get from Social Security Administration may lead to a reduction in the amount of unemployment benefits that you receive. For more information on this, it's best to contact the Georgia Department of Labor or logon to its website and learn whether your unemployment benefits will decrease because of your disability benefits.

Social Security Disability Work Incentives

September 30, 2015

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides incentives for disability claimants who want to go back to work.

SSA is invested in helping disability beneficiaries enter back into the workplace. It does this by allowing beneficiaries a trial work period. This trial work period is for nine months, and it will allow beneficiaries to test their ability to return to work.

During this work period, you will continue to be eligible for Social Security benefits and continue to receive benefits. However, you must continue to have the disability, and you must report your work to SSA.

Once the trial period ends, you will have an extended eligibility period in which you can continue to work, provided your earnings do not increase beyond a limit. In 2015, the Social Security Administration will consider any income above $1,090 per month to be substantial income. That means that you are at risk of losing your disability benefits if your earnings exceed that amount. In the case of a blind person, the limit is $1,820.

If your benefits cease because you have begun to earn a substantial income, you may remain eligible to get your benefits reinstated in the future if you lose your job because of your condition. Say, for instance, you begin working and lose your benefits after reaching the substantial earnings threshold, you can apply for reinstatement of benefits if you lose your job. This process of filing for benefits, however, will not be as tedious and lengthy as the first time around.

Disability law surrounding work incentives is complex. It's important to have the right legal counsel on your side anytime you are trying to navigate the social security disability benefits system.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Children

September 28, 2015

Adults who are disabled before they reach the age of 22 may qualify for child benefits provided a parent is deceased, or has begun receiving retirement or Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. These benefits are typically regarded as child benefits because the payments are paid on the parents' Social Security record.

In order to qualify for a children benefits, the adult child must be above the age of 18, and must be unmarried. His/her disability must have begun before he/she reached the age of 22. The child in a case like this can include an adopted child of a parent with a Social Security record, or even in some cases, a grandchild, a stepchild or step grandchild.

Typically, child benefits will stop when the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child continues to be a student in elementary or high school. In such cases, however, benefits can continue until the child is 19 years old. However, for a child to qualify for disability benefits on your record after the age of 18, then the above-mentioned conditions must apply. The disability must have begun before the age of 22, and he/she also must meet the disability criteria for adults.

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) process for approval of disability benefits can be complicated for the layperson to understand. It's important to seek legal advice when you want to file a claim, and even more important to seek legal help when you want to appeal a claims denial. Remember, many disability benefits claims are rejected in the early stages, and are approved only after an appeal is filed.

So... don't give up!

Checking on the Status of Your Disability Claim

September 16, 2015

Once you have filed your Social Security Disability benefits claim, it is recommended that you check the status at regular intervals.

It's also important to understand that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is typically inundated with disability benefits claims, and therefore, a decision may not come early. Further, a decision will depend on a number of factors which include the type of evidence that you submitted, and the nature and severity of your disability. The decision time also depends on whether SSA will require further evidence in the form of a medical examination. All of these factors can delay your claim.

In addition, a decision usually takes time because claims processing is typically a tedious process. It's therefore important to begin filing your claim immediately. Speak to an Atlanta Social Security disability benefits lawyer for help filing a claim. Also, remember that although most claims are denied initially, you should not give up. Many claimants are able to receive benefits via the appeals process.

While you are waiting for your disability benefits claim to be approved, you can check on the status of your claim. You can do that by logging into the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov, and looking for a whether a decision has been made in your case. You can also call the Social Security Administration on the agency's toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, Monday throughout Friday, for more information about your claim.

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.