The goal of this blog is to help navigate our clients through the complicated process of applying for Social Security disability benefits.Whether you need to apply or even if you were turned down already, we may be able to help you. Watch this blog for the latest updates on disability law from the United States Social Security Administration and other important information from our office to help ease the process of handling your unique case.

Social Security Statements available online

Sample Social Security Statement

Sample Social Security Statement

Not too long ago, we used to received our Social Security statements in the mail.  These statements contained information about earnings upon which you have paid Social Security taxes.  These statements gave you an estimate of the benefits you may have earned as a result.

To save money, these statements no longer show up in your mailbox.  However, they are available online.  If you are considering a disability claim you can now go online to get a copy of the statement.

This online tool is a handy way for you to see your estimated disability benefit should you become disabled along with other items such as estimates for family maximum benefits and estimated retirement benefits.

To take a look at this online resource click here.

To find out if you qualify for Social Security Disability for FREE click here.  

Social Security Administration Adds 25 New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

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On January 15, 2014, the Social Security Administration announced 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to 225. The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. New conditions include the following:Angiosarcoma
Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
Esthesioneuroblastoma
Giant Axonal Neuropathy
Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
Joubert Syndrome
Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
Marshall-Smith Syndrome
Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
Pallister-Killian Syndrome
Progressive Bulbar Palsy
Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
Revesz Syndrome
Seckel Syndrome
Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
X-Linked Myotubular MyopathyPlease contact me with any questions about a compassionate allowance claim or with your disability questions. You can reach me at 573-761-1600. Read the full article here. 

What is Medically Determinable Impairment?

Social Security requires a medically determinable physical or mental impairment as the basis for a finding of disability. The “medically determinable” language is part of the definition of disability in the Social Security Act itself. See 42 U.S.C. 423(d)(1)(A).

A physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings, not only by your statement of symptoms. See 20 C.F.R. 404.1508. Signs, symptoms and laboratory findings are defined by regulation. Social Security Ruling 96-4p also discusses this requirement, and is a good starting place for research on the issue.

The requirement for a medically determinable impairment (MDI) is to ensure there is a valid basis for your claim, and for the functional limitations you are asserting.

Some illnesses can be problematic in the MDI department, however. Social Security has had to clarify that the MDI requirement is met for certain illnesses. For example, Social Security has issued rulings stating that that chronic fatigue syndromepost-polio sydrome and fibromyalgia can satisfy the requirement for a medically determinable impairment. The rulings set forth criteria for those diagnoses. When those criteria are met, these impairments can medically support a determination of Social Security disability.

I have had recent MDI difficulty with Lyme disease. Laboratory testing for Lyme disease tests for the presence of the antibody, not the disease itself. It is common to receive false negatives and inconsistent results between different lab tests. As a result, you can run into MDI problems.

However, the SSA has no criteria for what signs, symptoms and findings must be present for a diagnosis of Lyme disease, and has issued no ruling on this topic. So if your doctor tests you for Lyme disease, diagnoses you with Lyme disease, and treats you for Lyme disease, that diagnois should not be second-guessed by an administrative law judge.

How Workers’ Compensation And Other Disability Payments May Affect Your Benefits

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How might workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits affect your Social Security benefits? 

Disability payments from private sources, such as private pension or insurance benefits, do not affect your Social Security disability benefits. However, workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits may reduce your Social Security benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. They may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers or by insurance companies on behalf of employers. Other public disability payments that may affect your Social Security benefit are those paid by a federal, state or local government and are for disabling medical conditions that are not job related. Examples are civil service disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability. If you receive workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled.

To find out more:

Read the complete PDF from the SSA.gov

 Listen to an audio version of the publication  

Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) vs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

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Navigating legal language can be tricky, clients that don’t have a familiarity with the complex legal jargon used in documents issued by the United States Department of Social Security are often left scratching their heads when it comes to the definition of certain terms used to protect and provide security to the thousands of  individuals that file for claims each year. One of the most commonly asked questions comes at the very beginning of the application process; What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) is for people who suffer with a disability and can no longer work. You may qualify for this program if you have worked a long time and paid sufficient FICA taxes. But, you may still be denied these benefits by the government. If you have not paid enough money into the Social Security system to qualify for benefits, then you may still be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The government will look at your income status and review what resources are available to you. This is used in determining your qualification.