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Sunday, January 14, 2018

LOST YOUR CASE AT THE HEARING? WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

Did you go to your hearing with an administrative law judge and lose?  It doesn't feel good to get an Unfavorable Decision in the mail, after waiting two years to get a hearing, sending in all of your medical records, and going through the stress of a hearing.  The SSA is now only granting 40% of cases across the country, which means if your case was denied at a hearing, you are not alone. You know your disability keeps you from working, so what should you do?  My advice is, don't give up. Here are some options:

1) Hire an attorney.  If you went to the hearing unrepresented you didn't make a good choice. But you can remedy that now.  Have an attorney review your Unfavorable Decision and see if there is any way of appealing the decision.  You have 60 days from the date the decision was issued to appeal to the Appeals Council.  An attorney should be able to tell you for free if there is a chance of winning your case on appeal.

2) Appeal to the Appeals Council.  You can write to the Appeals Council and demonstrate to them that the Judge made a mistake.  If they agree with you, there is a small chance that they will remand the case, which means they will send it back to the same Judge for another hearing.  There is a 1% chance that they will overturn the Judge and grant your benefits, so don't believe that by appealing they will grant your case. If you have additional medical evidence, you can submit that information with your appeal to the Appeals Council.  There is a 60 day deadline to appeal, so don't miss your deadline or your appeal will not be accepted.

3) You can file again.  Yes, if you file again you are giving up on ever recovering your past benefits under your old application, but you already lost those benefits when you lost your hearing.  So, sometimes it is better to not appeal and file again. Why? Because if you file again you can build a new record by submitting better medical evidence, you can start fresh and hire an attorney who can help you and although you will wait for another hearing, you may get a different Judge who will see things your way.  Try to remember that if you lost your case once, you will need to do things differently if you apply again. You will need to collect all of your medical records, comply with your doctor's treating advice, and build a record that supports disability.  Perhaps you will need to find a doctor who is more supportive of your case or who is a specialist in treating your impairments. It is the evidence which wins the case and it is your duty to present the best case that you can. Even if you lost the first time, you can win on a second application if you have the proper evidence.  Don't be discouraged.  If you can't work due to your disability, apply a second time and start over.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

#REPUBLICAN #TAX #PLAN MEANS CUTS TO #SOCIAL #SECURITY & #MEDICARE

The Republican Tax Plan, if it ultimately passes, will result in cuts to entitlements that you have paid for. In order to pay for the tax plan, besides putting the country into more debt, the plan will change Social Security benefits and Medicare.  These are benefits that you pay for with your taxes out of every paycheck.  If they change these programs, millions of individuals will reach old age and be left without financial security and healthcare. You will also lose all of the money that you have invested in your entitlements.  Again, these are not handouts.  This is not welfare.  These are benefits that you paid for with your work and most people expect to rely on these benefits as their full retirement or at least to supplement their retirement.

Additionally, the Republican Tax Plan contemplates eliminating Medicaid and the disability benefits, which you also pay for with your taxes.  Medicaid is the healthcare program that helps the most needy in our society and without Medicaid millions of people will go without healthcare. The Republican Tax Plan is giving tax benefits to the most wealthy on the backs of the most needy. This is nothing to celebrate for the majority of Americans.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS & DISABILITY BENEFITS

Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system. When an individual suffers from M.S., the insulating covers of the nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves are damaged by a process called demyelination.  The affects of the disease are different for every person, but common symptoms are: vision problems, tingling and numbness in the face or extremities, pain and muscle spasm, weakness or fatigue, tremor, balance problems, dizziness, slurred speech, sexual dysfunction, bladder problems, and cognitive issues such as forgetfulness or mood swings.

Multiple Sclerosis is typically diagnosed by an MRI scan.  The MRI will show demyelinating lesions in the brain and/or the spinal cord.  These lesions are known as white matter lesions or plaques. The disease can also be diagnosed by a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. The test is done in a hospital or clinic and the doctor removes cerebrospinal build, using a thin needle, from the low back. The cerebral spinal fluid is tested for abnormal results, oligoclonal bands which are a group of proteins that show inflammation of the central nervous system.  The presence of these proteins may indicate a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

You can obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration if you have Multiple Sclerosis. The SSA looks at M.S. under the neurological listing 11.09.  Listing 11.09 is as follows:

11.09 Multiple sclerosis, characterized by A or B:
A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
OR
B. Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:
  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
  2. Interacting with others; or
  3. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
  4. Adapting or managing oneself.
It is important to remember that you will need to prove not only an objective diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, but you will also need to prove that you have the disease in the severity documented under listing 11.09.  You must have a treating physician document your impairments, limitations, and diagnosis. You must also be complaint with treatment. It can be difficult to prove to the SSA that your Multiple Sclerosis prevents you from working, but Cannon Disability Law can help you win your case.  Give us a call for free and discuss your case with us. We are happy to answer your questions and help you file your application for disability benefits.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER & WINNING DISABILITY BENEFITS

Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is often associated with Veterans who have experienced the trauma of war, many people can have the symptoms and mental diagnosis who have experienced other forms of violence, such as spousal abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse as a child. Service members who have been deployed to war zones and experienced the constant threat of death, come under attack, or experienced the death of fellow soldiers typically have some symptoms of PTSD.  However, even service members who have not been sent to Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, or Afghanistan, can struggle with PTSD. Military personnel, policeman, fireman, or volunteers may have experienced trauma in training exercises, protecting civilians, or cleaning up the Pentagon or the towers after 9-11. 

PTSD, and often Depression and Anxiety, is more common than most people realize and it can be disabling. The SSA  recently issued mental  Listing 12.15 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Listing 12.15 is as follows:

12.15 Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders

  1. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
  2. Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
  3. Avoidance of external reminders of the event;
  4. Disturbance in mood and behavior; and
  5. Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance). ​
AND
B.  An extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning (known as Paragraph B requirements):

  1. The ability to understand, remember, or apply information;
  2. Interact with others;
  3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace; or
  4. Adapt or manage oneself
OR
C. Your mental disorder in this listing category is "serious and persistent;" that is, you have a medically documentedhistory of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years and there is evidence of both:
1.  Medical treament, mental health therapy, psychosocial support, or a highly structured setting that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder; AND
2.  Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands taht are not already part of your daily life.
If you or your loved ones are experiencing PTSD and cannot work, Cannon Disability Law can help.  Listing 12.15 specifically addresses PTSD and will help those who are disabled document their impairment so they can obtain disability benefits.  Contact us and we will help you understand how to prove your disability to the Social Security Administration so you can obtain benefits.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

HOW TO FILE A REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION

What happens if you apply for benefits and receive a denial? Some people make the mistake of thinking they should give up. Do not give up, because the majority of people are denied once they file their application for disability benefits, even if they have terminal cancer. What you need to do is file a Request for Reconsideration.  The initial denial notice that you receive from the Social Security Administration gives you 60 days from the date you receive the decision to appeal the denial.  If you don't submit your Request for Reconsideration in the 60 day time frame, the SSA will require you to start the application process all over again, which is a huge waste of your time. Instead of giving up or filing a new application, send in your request to have your case reviewed again and do it within the proper 60 day time frame.

While it is true that the same SSA office who denied your initial application will review your disability case, it will not be the same examiner who reviews the evidence at the reconsideration level.  Therefore, it is essential to submit any additional or updated medical evidence at the time of reconsideration, so the new examiner can determine if you are disabled.  It is also essential to attend a psychological or physical evaluation if the SSA decides to send you to one of their physicians in order to obtain more evidence about your disabling condition. 

Even if you submit all of your medical information and fill out the SSA forms perfectly, you may still be denied by the SSA. Please remember that across the country approximately 86 percent of disability claims are denied at the reconsideration level.  This may be a shocking number, but it is what it is and the only way to obtain your benefits and prove disability is to soldier on. Do not give up.  If you are denied at the initial or reconsideration level or if you just want help applying for benefits, we are here for you.  Hiring an attorney to help you with your claim will increase your chances of winning disability benefits.  You can contact our office, Cannon Disability Law, for free and we will answer your questions about the disability process.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

LEAVING OUT YOUR #DEPRESSION ON YOUR DISABILITY FORMS IS A BIG MISTAKE

Many people contact our office requesting help filling out their disability forms and one of the most common questions that people ask is what impairments should they include when reporting their disability to the SSA. Obviously, most people who are filing for disability benefits know they should report their herniated discs and back pain, their knee replacement, or other chronic physical impairments. What people don't understand is that it is also extremely important to report mental impairments.  Perhaps there is still a stigma associated with depression and anxiety.  Or, perhaps most people simply don't see those impairments as the thing that is keeping them from working.  But mental impairments, such as depression and anxiety, are often the key to winning the claim for disability benefits.  If you have physical impairments that prevent you from sitting and standing for prolonged periods of time, the SSA will still find that you can work, as long as your employer gives you a sit/stand option at work.  This means that you could do a simple, primarily seated job, but your employer would allow you to stand as often as you need to for your back or leg pain. In court, the SSA has no problem overcoming their burden of proving that jobs are still available for people who need a sit/stand option. What is far more difficult to prove is how you could still perform a full time job if you cannot focus, pay attention, follow instructions, or get along with other co-workers or the public, if you have severe depression and anxiety. If you cannot concentrate for more than ten minutes at a time or if you forget instructions that are given to you by a supervisor, you will not be able to maintain a full-time job - even a seated one. So, if you have chronic pain from physical impairments, there is a good chance you also have depression or anxiety.  You should seek treatment for mental issues and include your mental impairments when you report your disability to the SSA. For further questions about Social Security disability issues or help in applying for benefits, please contact Cannon Disability Law.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

#TRUMP, #HEALTHCARE, #DEPORTATION AND DISABILITY - REAL FAMILIES SUFFER

There are families caught in the deportation, healthcare, and disability fiasco in America.  Here is one such example. An American woman met a Mexican man and they fell in love. The woman is a U.S. Citizen and the man is in the U.S. illegally, because his parents brought him here when he was a child. Because they fell in love they decided to get married and apply for a green card. They wanted to live and work in the U.S. because their families are here and they love it here. They decided if the green card did not come through, however, they would move to Mexico - where the woman would have dual citizenship and the man would no longer have to worry about obtaining a work visa (which he had) or a green card (which he did not have).  The got married, applied for a green card, and continued working at their full-time jobs.

Then they had a baby with a rare disease.

The baby could not be treated for her rare disease in Mexico, which meant the family's only option was to live in the U.S.. As the disease progressed, the family did not have the money, despite their jobs, to pay the co-pay for the child's medications. In fact, the child's medications took up more than the income of one parent every month.  And then, the child needed to go to the hospital. The family could not afford it. So, they applied for Medicaid.  In order to qualify for Medicaid, one of the parent's had to give up their job.  When the parent worked, Medicaid was terminated and the family could not afford to pay for the medications and hospital stays. Meanwhile, the U.S. government decided it would be a good idea to deport the father of this family - even though he was brought here as a child, worked legally in the U.S., paid taxes, married a U.S. citizen and is the father of a U.S. citizen, and had applied for a green card.

So, you would think the government would want to encourage people to get married, work and live here legally, and provide affordable healthcare for very sick kids.  You would think the government would want healthy, working families to stay together.  But under the Trump administration, our government is attempting to deport this man, simply because he was not born here. And because we don't have national healthcare, this family is driven into poverty simply to obtain healthcare for their child with a rare disease.  This family is caught between our awful healthcare provisions, the disability of their child, and ridiculous deportation laws.  If the father is deported, the mother cannot move with the child to Mexico because there is no healthcare for the child's rare disease and the child will die there. When will our government learn to support its' citizens rather than divide families and give working people no hope of obtaining adequate medical care?  We need revision of the immigration laws, national healthcare, and support for those who are born with severe disabilities.