Social Security Disability and the Unsuccessful Work Attempt

I previously wrote about the various exceptions which may allow you to keep your Social Security disability benefits even if you return to work. The most common of these is an Unsuccessful Work Attempt (UWA).

If you work for 6 months or less at a substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, your work may qualify as an Unsuccessful Work Attempt and not affect your application for benefits (or your current Social Security disability benefits if you have already won your case).

Another benefit of the Unsuccessful Work Attempt exception is that it applies for both Social Security Disability Insurance (20 CFR 404.1574) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) (20 CFR 416.974) cases. This is a major difference between Unsuccessful Work Attempts and Trial Work Periods. Continue reading Social Security Disability and the Unsuccessful Work Attempt

Winning Social Security disability for seizures and epilepsy

Attorney Anthony Reeves writes about what to do and not to do when applying for Social Security disability benefits for a seizure disorder (whether due to epilepsy or pseudo-seizures).

Most people think that epilepsy is so traumatic that an individual should be approved fairly easily.  Due to its unpredictability, the symptoms can affect you in a variety of different ways.   Despite the severity of this condition, it is difficult to demonstrate that the condition can prevent from performing work on a full time basis.

Anthony provides a list of 5 things you should do to improve your chances of winning:

  1. Track how often you have seizures.
  2. Take your medications.
  3. Track your after-effects.
  4. Track your restrictions.
  5. Don’t minimize or exaggerate your symptoms.

These are great tips and I encourage everyone to read Anthony’s article on this topic.

via The LegalBEAT Part 2 – Social Security Tips for disability cases, Part II: Epilepsy.

Winning Social Security when you don’t LOOK disabled

This is one of the most difficult issues in a Social Security disability case.  You might look “normal,” but you know that there is no way that you can work.

If you tell someone that you are applying for Social Security, they may raise their eyebrows in surprise, or even tell you, “you don’t look disabled.”

When you applied for Social Security, the technician may even have given you a hard time because you seemed fine.   Continue reading Winning Social Security when you don’t LOOK disabled

Second National Hearing Center opens with more on the way


newspaperSocial Security has opened a National Hearing Center (NHC) in Albuquerque New Mexico. This is Social Security’s second NHC — a hearing office which only handles video hearings. 

Albuquerque initially will hear disability cases for Kansas City and Portland, Oregon — two of the most backlogged offices in the US. Social Security’s first NHC, located in Falls Church, Virginia, opened in December 2007 and has contributed to improve processing times in Atlanta, Georgia, Cleveland, Ohio and Flint, Michigan.

Read Social Security’s press release here.

The April 2009 NOSSCR Social Security Forum  notes that two additional NHC offices are planned for Chicago, Illinois in 2009 and in the Baltimore Maryland, in early 2010.

Social Security disability durational requirement EXPLAINED

Have you ever seen this in a Social Security denial?

While your condition may prevent you from working at the present, we do not feel that your condition will remain disabling for 12 months.

[Claim denied]

First, Social Security says that you are disabled. Then, they deny the claim. What is going on? Continue reading Social Security disability durational requirement EXPLAINED

Maximum attorney fees in Social Security disability cases

What is the most a lawyer can charge in a Social Security case?

We have talked about the typical fee agreement when you are applying for Social Security disability benefits before. But I am often asked what is maximum someone can charge?

Social Security regulations set a cap for attorneys fees.  Originally, the fee cap was $4,000, then $5,300, and as of June 2009, the cap is $6,000.

Unless the representative is charging fees under a fee petition, the most the lawyer can charge is 6,000. Or, if you are reading this before June 2009, $5,300.

Social Security disability fee petition EXPLAINED


A “fee petition” is a way your lawyer asks Social Security for fees for his services.

I though attorneys were paid a percentage of what I get?

Percentage-based contingency fee agreements are the most common way attorneys get paid in Slocial Security cases. However there are two ways an attorney might get paid. Continue reading Social Security disability fee petition EXPLAINED

Lawyers’ secret gold-mine

Meet the most expensive “associate” in most law firms.  More expensive than a regular lawyer.  More expensive than the named partner.  It’s … the photocopier.

I was recently reviewing the charges for a one of my clients who was previously represented by a national law firm.  Do you know how much they were charging for copies? .35 cents a page!

That’s not all! Here is their price sheet: Continue reading Lawyers’ secret gold-mine

15 pages decides your Social Security disability case?

San Francisco disability attorney Geri Kahn wrote about her experiences with providing records to Social Security:

Before filing a new initial claim I always order the records and then submit them directly to the Social Security field office immediately after I have filed the claim electronically.  I recently was at an interview in one of the field offices in San Francisco and the claims representative told me that he could not accept the records I was submitting because he was only permitted to fax 15 pages to the state agency disability  examiner.

Since you need to prove that you are unable to work to win a Social Security disability claim, Social Security often uses disability examiners to get a medical opinion of what a person can and cannot do.  Disability examiners use the medical records Social Security provides to make this decision.

Then, Social Security uses the disability examiner’s opinion to decide if your condition(s) make you disabled.

Limiting the number of pages sent to a disability examiner, and to 15 pages no less, is ridiculous. 

That is barely a sliver of the amount of information in most cases.  It’s like deciding whether an individual is disabled by seeing if they can walk down a hallway.

Fortunately, most cases get a much better review with judges at the hearing level. If you are denied on your initial application, do not give up. Appeal!

via California Social Security Lawyer Blog.