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Sunday, August 27, 2017


Under 20 CFR 718.204 (2), total disability due to pneumoconiosis can be established by medical criteria, including the results of a valid pulmonary function test, a valid arterial blood gas-test, or by evidence that the miner suffers from cor pulmonale with right-side congestive heart failure. See 20 CFR 718.204(2)(i)(A)(B)(C); (2)(ii); (2)(iii). But this is only one way to obtain disability benefits. The regulations under 20 CFR 718.204(2)(iv) state, where total disability cannot be established under these medical criteria, total disability may nevertheless be found if:  

“a physician exercising reasoned medical judgement, based on medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, concludes that a miner’s respiratory or pulmonary condition prevents or prevented the miner from engaging in employment as described in paragraph (b)(1)...”. 

A minor shall be considered totally disabled, as it states in 20 CFR 718.204(b)(1), if: 

“the miner has a pulmonary or respiratory impairment, which standing alone, prevents the miner (1) From performing his or her usual coal mine work; and (ii) From engaging in gainful employment in the immediate area of his or her residence requiring the skills or abilities comparable to those of any employment in a mine or mines in which he or she previously engaged with some regularity over a substantial period of time.”

This means, according to the regulations, that if a physician offers a reasoned medical opinion that a miner is prevented from performing his or her usual coal mine work and doing other comparable gainful employment due to pneumoconiosis, disability benefits should be granted. The point of the regulation is to allow miners who suffer from coal workers' pneumoconiosis to be found disabled because returning to a coal dust environment, like the mine, will make their condition worse and shorten their life span. If you suffer from coal workers' pneumoconiosis, apply for your disability benefits and do not give up the fight if you are initially rejected.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Before you apply for Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income, make sure you have the information you need before you fill out your application.  You will need your personal information;  your social security number, birthday, marriage date, divorce date, parent's names, and/or children's names. You will also need, if you have one, your bank account information. If you do not have a bank account, this will not stop you from applying for benefits. You will also need to provide a list of your doctors and their addresses and it would be extremely helpful if you have a resume.  You will need to list of the jobs that you have had for the past 15 years.  If you have worked full-time, for longer than 3 months, at any job - then you will need to provide that information to the Social Security Administration.  You may also need to provide a copy of your birth certificate or, if you have become a citizen of the U.S., you will need your paperwork to submit along with your application.  Don't let the lack of some of this information prevent you from applying for benefits.  Remember, every day you wait to apply for benefits is a day that you lose money.  Benefits are tied to the date that you apply, whether online, in the mail, or by phone.  For further information, please contact Cannon Disability Law.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The monthly amount of your Social Security Disability benefits and your future retirement benefits is based upon your earnings.  Earnings are reported when you file your income tax.  The IRS reports your yearly earnings to the Social Security Administration.  If your employer makes a mistake reporting your wages or you make a mistake on your taxes, the IRS will still share your wage information with the SSA.  If an employer doesn't fully report your income or you make a mistake on your taxes and you don't fix it, it will lower your monthly disability payment and your future monthly retirement amount.  The burden is on you to make sure that your earning's record is accurate.

There is a simple way to make sure that the Social Security Administration has documented your earnings correctly.  You can go online and create a personal account at and through that account you can request a copy of your earning's record.  It does not take much time to create a personal account and your account information can only be accessed by you.  Once you obtain your earning's record, review it for accuracy.  If it seems that your earnings have not been reported properly, you can have your record amended by the SSA if you have proof of your earnings.  You can also amend your taxes with the IRS, but there is a time limit on the ability to go back into the past and amend taxes.  You should review your earning's record at least once a year to make sure it is correct.  If you do so, it ensures your yearly earnings are being properly credited to you and it will also guarantee that you will receive the correct amount of monthly payments in the future. Monthly disability benefits and your future retirement payments are directly tied to a correct earning's record, so make sure your earnings are right. If you have any questions about this issue, please feel free to contact Cannon Disability Law

Saturday, August 5, 2017


Depression is a common mental ailment that most people suffer at some time during their lives.  Most depression is situational, which means it comes about because of a traumatic or stressful event.  For example, if you spouse passes away, you may experience symptoms such as sadness, memory loss, inability to sleep, irritability, crying spells, and feelings of hopelessness.  These are all symptoms of depression and are a normal response to the death of a spouse.  With time, these symptoms abate for most people, and they are able to return to their normal emotional state. It is when the symptoms of depression becomes a chronic, daily occurrence that interferes with the ability to perform activities of daily living, such as working, going to the store, and interacting with family and friends, that it becomes known as Major Depressive Disorder.

In order to be found disabled by the Social Security Administration for Depression, a person must be incapable of working due to the severity of the depressive symptoms.  For example, everyone experiences the inability to sleep a few times a year, but if you cannot sleep night after night and you pace the house worrying about things you cannot control, that could be a symptoms of severe depression or anxiety. The SSA has divided Depression into two elements, the first element lists symptoms of depression.  The second element requires the severity of the symptoms to prevent you from working.  In order to be found disabling, depression must interfere with activities of daily living, with the ability to persist and finish tasks,  with the ability to concentrate and persist, and interfere with the ability to socialize with others.  Millions of people have symptoms of depression, but they still go to work.  If you have depressive symptoms and you are not able to work because you are avoiding others, failing to keep appointments, take care of yourself, and are unable to eat or sleep - you may qualify for disability benefits.  Disability benefits also come with Medicare or Medicaid, which should provide you with the health insurance you need to seek treatment.  Call our office at 1-801-322-2121 or contact Cannon Disability Law at and ask us now whether or not you are eligible to apply for disability benefits.

Monday, July 31, 2017


It is getting more and more difficult to win disability benefits.  Recently, an ALJ denied a claimant with Cerebral Palsy, even though Social Security's own doctors opined she could not work. The claimant filed for disability benefits stating she could no longer work, because her Cerebral Palsy had become worse as she aged.  The medical record stated she could no longer walk without the use of a cane.  Social Security's doctors examined her and found her back and legs had deteriorated and were deformed.  They said she could not walk or stand more than two hours in an eight hour day and found she could not sit for more than 4 hours in an eight hour day.  These limitation alone would place the claimant into a part-time work status, but the ALJ ignored these findings.  Another doctor performed an objection mental health examination at the request of the Social Security Administration and  found the claimant had severe depression and other mental impairments which precluded all work.  The ALJ chose to ignore the findings of both doctors, even though the medical opinions were requested by the SSA, and found the claimant could work at a seated job.

The ALJ's findings contradict the medical record which was developed by the Social Security Administration.  The ALJ had the opportunity to see the claimant walk into the court room with a deformed leg and could see her inability to walk and sit for himself. According to the medical records, the claimant meets the listing for Cerebral Palsy and should have been found disabled. Despite all of the facts and the obvious inability of the claimant to perform a seated job, the ALJ said he didn't need to accept the opinions of the doctors and he denied benefits.  If ALJ's are ignoring their own Consultative Examiners' opinions and denying benefits to claimant's with severe deformities due to Cerebral Palsy, then who is disabled?  This one case illustrates what we, as attorneys, see and fight every day.  Many ALJ's have taken Social Security's edict to deny more cases to heart and the ALJ's are ignoring medical evidence and denying cases that should be granted under the law.  This case shows how difficult it is for even the most impaired individuals to win disability benefits when they cannot work.  Do not give up fighting for your disability benefits just because the government says you are not disabled.  There is a very high chance the SSA is ignoring the objective medical evidence that proves disability in your case.  If the SSA has denied your claim, contact our office at or call us at 1-801-322-2121.  We have the experience and the determination to fight for the disability benefits that you earned by working and paying your taxes. Contact Cannon Disability Law if you need to #apply for benefits, file an #appeal, or you need an experienced attorney to represent you in court.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Many people file an application for disability benefits more than once.  The reasons are varied.  People file an application and don't appeal the initial denial because they think they are going to return to work. When they realize their disability prevents them from working, they file a second time. Sometimes, people miss the 60 day deadline to file an appeal, for whatever reason, and the SSA tells them they need to file a new application.  If you have filed more than one application, especially if you have filed two or three times within a a two year period, you need to know you have the right to ask for a "reopening" of your prior application.  The law states that a prior application can be reopened for any reason within a 12 month period.

"An administrative law judge (ALJ) has the authority to reopen an initial, revised or reconsidered determination, or a hearing decision or revised hearing decision under title II or title XVI of the Social Security Act for any reason within 12 months from the date of the notice of the initial determination (see 20 CFR 404.988(a) and 416.1488(a))."

In order to get a prior application reopened, so that you can obtain all of you back benefits, you need to ask the ALJ to reopen your prior applications at your hearing.  Additionally, you typically need a reason to request reopening.  It could be a simple reason, such as missing the deadline to appeal because you were in the hospital or did not receive your mail because you moved.  You may have mental illness that prevented you from understanding your rights or you may have been trying to gather all of your medical records before submitting your appeal.  As long as you have a reason, the ALJ must consider a reopening request that is within a 12 month period from the date of the notice of the initial determination.  The ALJ is not automatically required to reopen a previous determination, even if it is within 12 months, but the ALJ cannot automatically deny a request to reopen a prior application.  If the ALJ reopens a prior application, it should result in you receiving a larger back benefit amount or, in other words, all of the benefits you are entitled to since you filed your first application. For further information about reopening, please visit our website