The Social Security Disability system in the United States is very complicated. Whether you are a recently disabled father trying to provide for your family, a single mother who can no longer work because of an illness, or the parent of a child who needs extra help because of a challenging condition, obtaining benefits is not easy. The “system” involves a complex set of rules and requirements that make it very hard for the average person to successfully receive payments.

There is hope, however, and we appreciate you looking for help here. Our law firm provides unique benefits to clients just like you, which include:

  • A singular focus on representing the injured and disabled.
  • Having all important work performed by an experienced disability attorney.
  • A guarantee that you pay no fees unless you obtain social security disability benefits.
  • A proven track record of success in both routine and difficult cases.

Regardless of whether you are considering filing for benefits for the first time, or have been denied numerous times in the past, please call our office at (404) 255-9838. We will discuss your options free of charge, and help you make an informed decision about what to do next. We look forward to talking with you.

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A common question I get each while talking to prospective clients is whether a person can keep working while applying for disability.  Frequently, callers are baffled when I advise that “no, you cannot work and simultaneously apply for disability.”  Also, I do not accept prospective clients that are still working.  First, let’s define “work.”  Social Security defines work as “substantial gainful activity”  or “SGA”  SGA means that you are earning $1170 a month in gross income (in 2018 this amount will be $1180).  If you are legally blind, this amount is $1950.  SSA does not care how much your bills are each month; it only evaluates monthly gross income.  If you are earning SGA, then you cannot be disabled.  That will be the end of your disability application and no medical evaluation of your disability will need to take place.

Now does that mean that you can earn just under SGA and be successful on a disability application?  Practically speaking, the answer is no.  Usually, claimants (people applying for disability) that work in the upper end of this number or just at SGA are not successful either.  Probably because while the claimant is not technically barred from receiving disability, the ability to work and earn income close to SGA suggests that they could earn SGA.  Thus, these claims also usually fail.

When I explain this to callers, many are aghast that they might have to wait two years on a decision on a disability application while also not being able to earn an income of any sort.  I agree – that is a dilemma.  What do people do?  First, if you have a chronic condition, you might want to plan ahead.  If your employer offers disability insurance, then buy it.  Buy it even if you are healthy.  Many of clients with long-term disability insurance weathered the long wait time for Social Security Disability because they had private insurance payments coming in each month.  Without private insurance, my clients have downsized, exhausted savings, and borrowed from family.  These are not ideal plans, but it is a gap filler while awaiting Social Security disability benefits.  Delay times at this administration are not improving.  So preparing financially to be without an income for two years is a good idea.

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Last night Congress agreed to fund the government through December 22, 2017 and just hours ago the President signed that bill.  One of Congress’ constitutional obligations is to approve government funding.  The federal government’s fiscal year runs through October 1st to September 30th.   Because Congress cannot agree on spending priorities, particular the defense department, immigration and healthcare, annual funding has been delayed.  With the approaching holidays and more work to be done, another possible shutdown, days before Christmas, is a possibility.  According to Reuters, “the White House and lawmakers say the bill will give them more time to negotiate several end-of-year agenda items, including the budget, a children’s health program and hurricane aid.”   

For those of you who rely on SSDI or SSI monthly disability benefits, these will not be affected by a government shutdown.  However, for those of you who have pending claims before the Social Security Administration, there may be a slowdown in services.  It is hard to imagine that it could be any slower, but apparently that is possible.  If the shutdown lasts between 1-5 days, essential SSA employees will continue to work.  Ninety-seven percent of hearing office employees will report for work.  However, if the shutdown lasts for more than five days, SSA will “re-evaluate its contingency plan.”  We do expect that scheduled hearings will continue.  However, a shutdown that lasts beyond five days will furlough more employees and create more backlog in workloads.

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The Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”) is at risk of going belly up thanks to Congressional inaction on funding the widely popular children’s health insurance program.  Created in 1997, the program provides federal dollars to states to fund an insurance program for children whose families are low income, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.  CHIP benefits 9 million children nationwide.  In Georgia, that program is known as Peachcare.  Peachcare provides low cost (about $35 a month) health insurance coverage for children whose families earn below 200 % of the poverty level (roughly about $40,000 a year for a family of three).

While members of Congress from both parties agreed that the CHIP program should continue, neither the House nor the Senate can agree on how to fund CHIP.  CHIP provides about $13 billion in federal funds annually.  In November, House Republicans voted to fund CHIP by taking money from other public health programs (such as vaccinations).  House Democrats disagreed on that approach.

In Georgia, Medicaid and Peachcare cover over one-half of all the children in Georgia, approximately 1.3 million Georgia children.  Prior to 2018, CHIP had never had a lapse in funding.  State officials predict that Peachcare’s funds will last through Spring of 2018 if Congress does not fund this program over the next two weeks.  Meanwhile, both houses of Congress have passed a massive tax cut for this country.

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Exercise is an absolute must for good health, but overdoing exercise, especially for some members of the population, could cause an increase in the risk of cardiac disease.

According to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, white men who over-exercise have a risk of heart disease that is almost twice as high as those who exercise in moderation. Researchers studied more than 3,000 participants over a five-year period, and found that white men who exercised for approximately 7 ½ hours per week were more likely to report symptoms of cardiac disease, including clogging of the arteries. White men were 86% more likely to suffer from symptoms of coronary artery calcification over time as compared to black males.

This should not, however, be taken to mean that you should stop exercising. Exercise in moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle.

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Roughly 9% of all senior citizens in the United States suffer from asthma. As the numbers of people above the age of 65 with this condition increase, doctors are warning of a spike in the number of seniors who will find it difficult to function as a result of asthmatic symptoms.

Asthma can cause breathing difficulties in all patients, but in patients above the age of 65, the symptoms may be even more pronounced. That is due to a number of reasons.

  • Seniors often suffer from a number of age-related conditions that cause symptoms to exacerbate. Those conditions can include weaker lungs and rigid chest walls that make breathing even more difficult during an attack.
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Ignoring a sports injury, or returning to work too quickly after an injury, may actually increase a young person’s risk of developing arthritis later in life.

In fact, according to recent research conducted by the University of Iowa, joint damage at the site of an injury may evolve into further problems and actually be a predictor for arthritis down the line.  Furthermore, evidence of arthritis could emerge as quickly as within a decade of suffering the injury.

We generally think of arthritis as a condition that strikes older or middle-aged people, but often neglect the fact that sports injuries can actually trigger joint and bone damage in younger people that can result in future symptoms of arthritis. More than 27 million Americans currently live with arthritis. Those numbers are expected to increase as the population ages and the number of obese people in the population increases. More than 40% of people who suffer an injury to the ligaments, meniscus, or the articular surface of a joint will develop arthritis in the future.  For example, a history of knee injury increases your risk of developing arthritis in the knee by as much as 3 to 6 times.

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Researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota have announced that they are on the brink of a major cancer treatment breakthrough that could revolutionize treatment for the deadly disease. The federal government is soon expected to approve these evolutionary new cellular therapies that will specifically be used in the treatment of rare forms of blood cancer. According to the researchers, over a period of time, they expect the therapy to be approved for the treatment of other cancers as well.

The treatment involves extraction of the patient’s white blood cells, and putting these through a process of genetic engineering in a lab. These genetically modified cancer-fighting cells are then placed back in the patient’s body to fight cancer cells.  The researchers found that patients’ recovery patterns were enhanced by about seven times when they were put through the stem cell therapy as opposed to to traditional chemotherapy. Patients who benefited from the treatment found that their cancers disappeared.

If the federal government goes ahead with the approval, it would mean the first approval of a genetically modified treatment for cancer. If all goes well, this kind of genetically modified treatment could be a substitute for the toxic chemotherapy that most cancer patients dread.

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A drug used to treat patients who suffer from diabetes may have the unexpected side effect of helping reduce early symptoms in persons who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers at the University College London recently found that the drug exenatide, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 2005 for the treatment of diabetes, also may benefit persons with Parkinson’s disease. Researchers studied the effects of the drug on diabetic patients as compared to a control group that was on a placebo. They found that the diabetic patients who were on the drug showed better motor function after treatment. Patients on the drug showed reduced signs of decline, compared to those on the placebo.

The study only included a limited number of participants, and the researchers acknowledged that larger group samples may further confirm the findings of the study.

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Adults who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have a risk of dementia that is three times as high as for those without a history of ADHD. This is according to a new study out of Taiwan.

In the United States, as many as 4% of all adults have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A person who suffers from ADHD may struggle with irritability, anxiety, hyperactivity and other characteristics that are typical of this condition. In some children who are diagnosed with this condition, symptoms begin to taper off, becoming less pronounced as the child gets older. However, this doesn’t happen in every case.

This recent study was conducted in Taiwan, and focused on more than 670 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 who had been diagnosed with ADHD in 2000. These persons were compared with 2000 adults who did not suffer from the condition. The study progressed over 10 years, and over this period of time, the researchers found that the adults who suffered from ADHD were 3.4 times more likely to develop symptoms of dementia than those who did not suffer from ADHD.

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Women who are on hormone replacement therapy may be at a much higher risk of deafness. According to a new study, while menopause at an older age is already a high risk factor for hearing problems, hormone replacement therapy seems to exacerbate those risks.

Researchers have always known that women are at a high risk of suffering from hearing loss after menopause. Natural hormonal levels decline during this period of time, and doctors earlier believed that providing hormone replacement therapy could help protect menopausal women against hearing loss linked to menopause. The researchers in the new study found that women who used hormone therapy actually had higher risks of hearing issues. In fact, the risk increased with the duration of time that the woman was on hormone therapy. The longer the duration of the hormone replacement therapy, the greater the deafness risk.

The findings of the study come from an analysis of more than 81,000 women in the United States. The researchers are quick to point out that the results are not evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship between hormone driven therapy and a heightened deafness risk.