Archive for Huntsville Social Security Disability

Waiting on Disability Decision? Go see your doctor!

Anyone who has ever applied for Social Security disability knows that it takes a very long time to get a hearing before an Administrative Law judge.  These are difficult times for people because they are without income because they can’t work and often without health insurance.  So, clients will often ask me what they can do to help.  One easy answer is go to your doctor’s appointments.

 I know that money is tight in these circumstances, but money will be even tighter if you lose your disability case.  And one way to drastically hurt your case is to not see your doctor for extended periods of time.  If you have a condition or illness that is so great that it prevents you from working, you need medical treatment.   Getting this medical treatment does two things for you.  1.  It keeps your condition or illness under control as best as possible with the help of expert medical treatment.  2.  It builds a medical record for the administrative law judge (ALJ) to review at your hearing.

 Judges want to be able to see the history of your illness and the best way for them to do that is through your medical records.  If you go long periods of time without medical treatment, judges cannot do that.  Plus, some judges will assume that the condition/illness is not that devastating if it is not important enough to you to set aside time and money for it.  So you really need to make sure you get consistent treatment for your illness while awaiting your disability hearing.

 Many doctors will work with you on payments while you’re awaiting disability treatment.  Therefore, do not be afraid to call and ask about this.  Any treatment is better than none.  And having a solid medical history for the ALJ to review will greatly increase your chances of receiving a fully favorable decision for your disability.  So it’s worth getting the treatment and spending the money.

McFalls wins Social Security Hearing

Tim McFalls was able to help a client win her Social Security Disability claim at the appeal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.  McFalls was able to convince the Administrative Law Judge and the Vocational Expert who testified at the hearing that there were no jobs in the national economy that his client could perform due to her numerous conditions which included neuropathy and diabetes mellitus.  McFalls’ client will now receive full Social Security Disability benefits going forward and will be awarded back pay for the time from five months after the onset of her disability to the time she was approved for disability benefits after the hearing.  The client was thrilled with the result and thanked Mr. McFalls for his time and effort in the case.

Disability Terminology

Activities of daily living  – aka ADLs – these are the routine procedures you go through most days of your lives.  It includes household chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, preparing food, driving a car, and your hobbies and interests.  SSA wants to know how your medical conditions affect your ability to perform these ADLs because it can be useful to show what kind of jobs you would no longer be able to do.
Administrative law judge  – The ALJ is the one who ultimately will decide if you are unable to perform gainful employment if your case is appealed.  This individual listens to testimony, reviews the medical records and other documents and makes determinations regarding what the evidence shows.
Alleged onset date  – This is the date that you claim your condition became so bad that you were no longer able to sustain gainful employment.  Sometimes this date is the result of a traumatic life changing event and very easy to identify.  Other times when a condition is simply worsening over time, it is very difficult to define the exact date.
Appeal deadline – This is the deadline to file your appeal in the event your initial application is denied.  Generally the appeal deadline is 60 days from the original denial of the disability application.
Appeals – An appeal is necessary when you have been denied disability and you believe you are in fact disabled.  An appeal will allow you to have a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge who will further review the evidence and enter a determination.
Appeals council  – The Appeals Council oversees the hearings and appeals process to promote consistency amongst hearing decisions.  It also ensures that the Social Security Board’s records were adequate for judicial review.
Application  – The application is what you file when you want to request Social Security disability benefits.  It is a lengthy list of questions, but most of the questions are fairly straightforward.
Award letter – If you claim is ultimately approved, you will receive an awards letter.   This letter will generally answer most benefit payment questions that disability claimants inevitably have.  (Amount to be received, date of payment, past due benefits, date of check for past due benefits)
Back pay – Back pay is the money awarded for the time that you were not receiving disability benefits because the Disability Determination Services and/or Appeals Council was processing your claim.  It is usually paid in one lump sum or three incremental payments in the first year you receive disability benefits.
Cessation – As the name implies, a cessation means that the Social Security office is going to cut off your benefits because it believes you are no longer qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Closed period – A closed period exists when a claimant for Social Security disability benefits or SSI is found to be ineligible for ongoing benefits, but yet eligible to receive benefits for a period of time in the past.
COLA – COLA stands for Cost of Living Adjustment.  The Social Security office will adjust your benefits based on the changes in the cost of living.
Credits – The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines if you have worked enough to qualify for SSD by converting your earnings into work credits. The dollar amount it takes to earn one work credit is calculated annually. In the year 2013, you must earn $1,160 to get one Social Security work credit, or $4,640 to get the maximum four credits for the year. It doesn’t matter in which quarter you did the work.