What does a critical case review look like?

I have previously discussed expediting Social Security disability cases for Dire Need. I recently came across the worksheet that Social Security uses when evaluating these cases:

This includes consideration of the following issues:

  • Terminal illness.
  • Wounded warrior.
  • Compassionate allowance.
  • Dire need.
  • Suicidal/homicidal ideation cases.

Continue reading What does a critical case review look like?

Best Practices for Social Security Disability Representatives

Social Security has a great overview site for new Social Security disability representatives (both lawyers and non-lawyers) going over best practices before the Social Security Administration.

Here are some good tips: Continue reading Best Practices for Social Security Disability Representatives

Can sit down jobs be LIGHT work?

Social Security separates jobs into groups based on physical requirements: sedentary, light, medium, and heavyFor many individuals, the outcome of a case depends on the number of sedentary jobs available.

This is often an issue in back injury cases where Light work is eliminated, but sedentary jobs are still a possibility.  If there are enough of them. If a job can be put in the Light category, it may be eliminated based on physical limitations.

So, here is the question: can a sit down job requiring no more than lifting 10 pounds (typically suggesting Sedentary work) ever be a Light job? Continue reading Can sit down jobs be LIGHT work?

Social Security consultative examiner speaks out

Ever wonder what Social Security consultative examiners – the doctors who meet with disability applications to decide if they are disabled – think of the Social Security disability process?

Writing in Guernica, Dr. Heather Kovich discusses  her experiences as a (former) Social Security disability examiner:

There is also a stereotype of the doctors who do this work: lazy and disinterested. I found the job fascinating. The more I learned about the disability system, the more I pondered its complexities: it provides a safety net but keeps people mired in poverty. Helpful services, including job retraining, are available, but aren’t advertised. And the system rests on a deeply flawed premise—that there is a way to objectively determine who is able to work and who is not.

This was my job, “independent medical examiner.” On the basis of a forty-minute interview and examination, I was supposed to determine how disabled an applicant or “claimant” was. 

I did hundreds of disability exams over the next year, and while I did meet two people who were obviously faking, for the most part the stories I heard were heartbreaking: car accidents, massive strokes, lost jobs, dead spouses. Many people who apply for disability have lived through a tragedy. But the stories also told of the inefficiencies of the disability system. That first day in Spokane I met a man who had worked in manual labor his whole life, but for years had been getting crushing chest pain after walking a few blocks. His blood pressure was dangerously high. His condition was obviously treatable, but he did not have insurance so he had not been to a doctor in years. He knew that if he qualified for permanent disability he would eventually get Medicare or Medicaid and get proper treatment. He had no idea he could go to a community health center, a federally financed clinic where he could pay on a sliding-scale basis. With the right treatment and a less strenuous job, he would probably have not needed disability. Emphasis added.

This is the catch 22 of the Social Security system: with the health insurance Social Security provides, you might not be disabled. However, without Social Security disability, you can’t get the medical care you need.

This isn’t strictly a Social Security problem, it is US health system problem. Continue reading Social Security consultative examiner speaks out

Nurse and therapist records in Social Security cases

Social Security has regulations on which medical providers can provide evidence and opinions about an individual’s diagnosis  and limitations.

For a long time, evidence from nurses, chiropractors, therapists, and psychologists was not considered by Social Security because these professionals were not considered “acceptable medical sources.”

You could be, and likely WOULD be, DENIED if you tried to prove your disability based on nurses and therapists records.

But, there has been a change… Continue reading Nurse and therapist records in Social Security cases

I have … can I win my Social Security disability case?

Thank you to all of you who have written in or commented on posts. You are reason I created this blog. You are the reason for all of this! The one question I get asked most is:

Can I win a disability case? What do you think of my chances?

Sometime this comes with a short description of the disabilities, sometimes a long one. But, it is the wrong question.

Here is why asking “can I win” puts you on the wrong path to actually winning you disability benefits: Continue reading I have … can I win my Social Security disability case?

Social Security benefits for dependent parents of a disabled or deceased child

A little known provision of the Social Security system allows parents to receive Social Security benefits based on the child’s contribution to Social Security if the child dies. These are called Parent’s Benefits, which can easily be confused with Mother’s and Father’s Benefits (which are paid when one parent dies leaving the other to care for a disabled child).

Social Security Parent’s Benefits are not available every time a child dies. The critical elements are that the parent is at least 62 years old and was dependent on the  deceased child. Continue reading Social Security benefits for dependent parents of a disabled or deceased child

How to status of a Social Security disability case?

Social Security takes a long time to process disability benefit cases. Here is how to check the status of your claim.

Initial applications for disability benefits:

Social Security has a webpage at http://ssa.gov/claimstatus/ which lets you check your status. Unfortunately, you will probably receive this message:

The following statements are informational only. They are current as of today. You will receive the official notice of any decision made on your claim by U.S. mail. As of today’s date, a decision has not been made on your application. If you need more information, you may call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). SSA representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Other than confirming that there is a claim pending, this doesn’t tell you very much. Fortunately, you can get more information by calling Social Security directly. Continue reading How to status of a Social Security disability case?

Secrets to winning Social Security disability at age 50 (or above)

If you are 50 years old or older, Social Security makes it easier to prove your disability case. Individuals between 18 and 49 meet a tougher standard discussed in this article.

Starting at age 50, and then again at age 55 and 60, Social Security lowers the requirements for proving disability. The rationale is that the older you are, the harder it is to work in a job that you have never done before.

  • After age 50, Social Security can approve you for disability benefits even though you are able to do some type of work.
  • The older you are, the more physically demanding the work can be and still allow you qualify for disability benefits.

However, this is not a free pass! Do not leave this article before you read the “gotchas” at the bottom. Continue reading Secrets to winning Social Security disability at age 50 (or above)