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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When a person starts receiving Social Security benefits, members of his/her family may also begin receiving supplementary benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. If the worker is eligible for Social Security benefits – meaning that he/she has paid taxes into the Social Security program – then the spouse and children may become eligible for dependent benefits. A disabled child who became disabled before the age of 22 may also be eligible for dependents’ benefits. Even a divorced spouse or parents may be eligible for disability benefits as part of the program.

The family member is eligible for up to 50% of the benefits that you are receiving.  This can apply to each family member who is eligible for the dependents’ benefits. However, the agency will impose an upper limit on the benefits that your family receives. Typically, the benefits that your entire family receives will not exceed 180% of your benefits amount. If you have several family members who qualify, then the benefits that your family members receive will be reduced accordingly. This will not impact the benefits that you are eligible for. However, if a family member of a disabled worker is are also receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, then they may not qualify for benefits under the SSDI program.

If you have questions about a family member’s eligibility for disability benefits, contact this law firm.

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New tax reform laws that were announced last year have some unexpected good news for Social Security disability beneficiaries. They expand the advantages of holding an ABLE (Achieving a Better Life) account for beneficiaries and also extend credits on some accounts. An ABLE account can help a person with disabilities manage their finances better. It helps them save money for expenses that are related to their disability, including housing, education, health, transportation, and assistive aids.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 helps persons who own ABLE accounts by allowing them to have more money in their account. Earlier, annual deposits into this account were limited to $15,000 per person. Now, however, under the new laws, individuals will be able to deposit all or part of their income into their ABLE account. This will be a significant help to account holders with disabilities.

The new laws allow for funds from a 509 to be rolled over into the ABLE account. Also, starting from this year, ABLE account holders may also be eligible for a Savers Credit, and up to $2,000 of the person’s deposits may be eligible for these credits.

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the impact mental disorders have on many American’s lives and their potential to cause long-term disability. In order to be eligible for disability benefits for a mental disorder, the condition must be diagnosed by a doctor and meet the criteria required for any disability including:

  • The mental disorder must prevent you from doing any work which you have done until now.
  • The disorder must make you unable to reasonably train for another job.
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Preparation is key to the success of your Social Security claim for disability benefits. The agency will require verified information about your disability, including the date when your condition became disabling, the dates and addresses of your last treatments, and the date that you stopped working.  Prior to your interview, organize your medical records, making sure they are accurate and updated, and verified by a medical professional. A doctor’s summary of your condition, details about your treatment, and the kind of limitations the condition places on your ability to work must all be included and documented. Prepare for questions about when your condition became disabling.

Collect your worker’s compensation information as applicable to your claim. These documents must include the settlement agreement, date of the injury, as well as evidence of any other injury-related payouts you have received.  The agency will require information about your marital and family status, including the names of your spouse and children as well as dates of your marriage or divorce. It is important to have your bank checking account number available. Also, be prepared with an emergency contact in the event the agency is unable to get in touch with you.

For individuals unable to file the claim online, they must fill out the “Medical and Job Worksheet – Adult” document and bring it with them for the interview. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also require Form SSA-827 “Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration” in order to obtain sensitive medical information required to determine whether you qualify for benefits. This is a medical release form, and the agency will require you to sign and date the form, along with a witness’ signature, and return to the agency as directed.

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In many cases, persons who apply for and receive Social Security benefits may also be eligible for and receive other forms of benefits payments. These can include pension payments and Worker’s Compensation benefits. Your recovery of these other benefits could impact the amount of Social Security disability benefits for which you are eligible.

Your Social Security disability benefits can be reduced if you receive benefits under the Worker’s Compensation program or retirement pension programs. For example, if you qualify for and are receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits, then the law places limits on the amount of the payment that you can receive. You may not be eligible to recover more than 80% of your disability benefits payments in Worker’s Compensation earnings. You may be required to pay the Social Security Administration (SSA) back any extra payments that you may have recovered while receiving benefits under other programs.

Typically, your pensions will not be affected by your Social Security Disability Benefits payments. If the pension payments that you made during your work tenure were exempt from Social Security taxes, then your disability benefits payments can be affected. However, this happens only in rare cases because most pension programs will attract Social Security taxes. If you are on a Long Term Disability plan funded by your employer, then you will have your Social Security Disability Benefits payments reduced or offset as a result of this.

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As many as 1 in 4 Americans are believed to suffer from hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Those with hypertension have high blood pressure levels, even when they are at rest. There are several challenges involved in applying for benefits for hypertension. First, the Social Security Administration (SSA) no longer includes the condition in its impairments book that qualifies for benefits. Also, your condition may not meet the disability criteria of the agency.

However, you may still be able to qualify for benefits. In order to qualify for disability benefits for hypertension, you will be required to provide detailed and accurate medical information. Your doctor must provide a treatment summary or notes testifying to your condition, including any current treatment for your hypertension. If you have been admitted into the hospital any time in the past after a spike in your blood pressure levels, this information must be relayed to the SSA too. Blood test results, as well as the results of CT scans and MRI scans, if available, must also be presented as evidence.

Remember, you may be able to qualify for benefits if your Residual Function Capacity shows that you face restrictions on the amount of work you can do. For instance, if your hypertension causes heart dysfunction, and restricts your ability to work to just about two hours of physical activity a day, it can severely limit your ability to work and earn an income.

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First, some good news.  The Social Security Administration received its annual appropriation from Congress in September and that funds the agency through this February.  Second, even if that were not the case, funding for programs such as Title II (SSDI), Title XVI (SSI) and XVIII (Medicare) are funded through a combination of taxes and long-term investments.  The shutdown only affects funds annually appropriated by Congress.   So the checks still get delivered.

Core programs like disability claims or appeals over benefits continue to function.  But you would see a slow-down in non-essential programs.  Employees for non-essential services would be out on a furlough, meaning they do not work and do not get paid.  For Social Security, some non-essential tasks are issuing Social Security cards, applying for Medicare, getting benefit verification or correcting earnings records.  Some 10,400 SSA employees will be furloughed out of the 63,200 total employees.

That being said, if you have an appeal pending in the federal districts courts, your action has been stayed.  Yesterday, the Northern District of Georgia issued an order staying all cases involving federal government agencies.  The Department of Justice requested that all federal courts pause proceedings in its cases, including meeting court-ordered deadlines.  For those with appeals pending at the district court level, your case is on hold.

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December 1 marked World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of HIV/AIDS which has claimed more than 35 million deaths worldwide since it first came to light. There are currently 1.1 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS. Southern states, including Georgia, accounted for more than half of the new HIV diagnoses in 2017. In 2016, there were 2,585 adolescents and adults with HIV living in Georgia.

HIV is no longer imminently fatal. With advancements in treatment as well as the easier availability of drugs to treat the condition, patients can expect to live many years with HIV. The anti-retroviral drugs that are used as a primary treatment for persons suffering from HIV are very effective in helping control the progress of the disease. The feelings of fatigue and listlessness that often accompany the use of these drugs can leave a person with HIV unable to lead a productive working life.

HIV severely compromises the immune system, leaving the person susceptible to a host of other infectious diseases. As a result, a patient is therefore at risk of tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancer and other diseases. Recovering benefits for HIV is important because the costs involved in the treatment of this disease can be huge. With a lowered capacity to work as a result of the symptoms of the disease, a person may find himself or herself in financial distress. Recovering disability benefits for HIV involves providing strong evidence of the severity of the symptoms and their interference with your ability to work and earn a sustainable income.

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder, which affects motor functioning. The symptoms include shaking (tremors), rigidity of muscles, difficulty speaking, problems walking, and depression. Depression occurs as a direct result of Parkinson’s in 80% of those with the disorder.  While some of those suffering with this disease initially have relatively mild symptoms, which slowly progress over time, others degenerate rapidly.

Parkinson’s is currently not included under the Compassionate Allowance program, meaning that being diagnosed with Parkinson’s does not guarantee that you will win your disability benefits case. Thus, those with Parkinson’s must prove that their condition hinders them from doing any work they have done in the past 15 years or in another job for which they could be reasonably trained. It is generally not difficult for those with Parkinson’s to prove that they could not train for new employment. However, it can be more complicated to prove that you cannot do work you have previously done, depending on your prior work.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, contact this law firm for a free consultation on your eligibility for disability benefits. 

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The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists vision loss in its Blue Book of disabilities that are eligible for disability benefits. Persons who suffer from blindness, however, may have special rules that apply to them due to the severely limiting and restrictive nature of their disability. For instance, a person who suffers from even partial blindness may be eligible for disability benefits. The agency defines vision loss as vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the better eye, or involving a field of vision of 20 degrees or less, even after using corrective lenses.

However, you may qualify of benefits even if your blindness doesn’t meet these criteria. If your blindness or vision problems make it difficult to work or earn an income, we urge you to discuss your rights to disability benefits with an attorney. The SSA also has a higher income threshold for persons with blindness. If you suffer from vision loss, the monthly earnings limit that applies to you in 2018 is $1,970–which is higher than the limit for non-blind workers.

If you suffer from an eye disease or condition like cataracts, retinopathy, glaucoma or another disease that limits your vision significantly, talk to an attorney about your rights to a claim. Remember, however, that the SSA will not approve of your claim if you have good vision in at least one eye.