Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Can I Do to Strengthen My Claim for Social Security Disability Benefits in San Francisco?


Get regular medical treatment for your condition(s).

The most important evidence in your Social Security claim is your medical evidence and that is why it is crucial to maintain consistent treatment. In San Francisco, an Administrative Law Judge will base his or her decision upon the medical evidence in your file. They will look to see if you have been getting regular treatment for the impairments that you are claiming. If your medical records are not recent or do not accurately reflect your stated medical impairments, it can have a negative effect on your claim. Make sure all of your treatment is documented and up to date.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Preparing for Your Social Security Disability Hearing in San Francisco


At your Social Security Disability Hearing in San Francisco the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)  has already reviewed all your medical records. He knows your doctor’s perspective on your condition, now he wants to get your perspective on your condition.

The ALJ will ask you lots of questions in order to get a better idea of your condition and how it affects you. To improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome, you want to be a good witness. Below is a list of 9 things you can do when testifying that will help you be a good witness:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Medical/Vocational Grids - San Francisco


What are “Grids”?
If a person applying for disability benefits in San Francisco is found to be unable to return to their past work, then the next question is whether they can do any other work.  If the claimant CAN do other work then they will not be disabled.  If they CANNOT do any other work, then they will be found disabled under Social Security’s rules.  

To answer this question Social Security looks to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, or “Grids” to see where a claimant falls in regard to the combination of their:

Friday, March 30, 2012

What Happens if I Go Back to Work After Being Awarded Social Security Disability Benefits in San Francisco?


The effect returning to work has on your disability benefits depends on whether you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) in San Francisco.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Should I Hire a Disability Attorney in San Francisco?


Filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits in San Francisco can be an intimidating process. Let’s face it; many of us are simply not well versed on the intricacies of the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, this is not a journey you have to take alone. There are many qualified and experienced disability law attorneys that our willing to offer their expertise and assist you in obtaining your benefits.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Social Security Disability and Obesity in San Francisco

The Obesity Listing
In 1999, SSA deleted the listing for Obesity in San Francisco.  Listing 9.09 required that a claimant filing a Social Security Disability claim exceed a certain weight based on his or her height. Once this requirement was met, the claimant only had to exhibit one of the five following impairments to meet the listing and qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How Moving Affects Social Security Disability Claims & Benefits in San Francisco

Getting SSI or SSD benefits through Social Security in San Francisco can be a lengthy process. Due to financial factors, the location of friends, family and support systems, as well access to healthcare, disability claimants often find that they need to move while their claim is still pending.  Here are some answers to a couple common questions we hear at Disability Group about moving and the possible affect on disability claims. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Continuing Disability Review in San Francisco


Will the Social Security Administration (SSA) in San Francisco continue to determine whether or not I’m disabled even after I begin receiving benefits?
Once you begin receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the SSA will periodically review your case to make sure that you are still disabled.  This review is known as Continuing Disability Review (CDR).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Social Security Disability Attorney vs. Vocational Expert in San Francisco


What does the Administrative Law Judge in San Francisco have to decide at your hearing?
The judge needs to determine whether you are able to return to your past work, and if not, whether you can perform any other job that exists in the national economy. You are found disabled if you are unable to perform any job. If your ability to return to work is not evident from your physical limitations, age, education and work skills a vocational expert’s opinion will be necessary.

What does a Vocational Expert testify about?
A Vocational Expert is a person who knows about an injured person’s ability to perform work or household tasks. The Vocational Expert conducts research and provides expert evaluations and testimony for cases, which involve employment and earning capacity issues.  At the hearing the judge will ask hypothetical questions to the expert, describing a person with the same limitations you have and ask whether there is any job you could perform.

What can your attorney do when the Vocational Expert says you are able to work?
When the Vocational Expert gives the judge examples of jobs you can perform and states how many of these types of jobs exist in the economy, your attorney should question this expert’s research.  The expert did not go out and count the number of jobs.

Where does the Vocational Expert get the numbers stating how many and which types of jobs exist?
Vocational Experts use the numbers from the US Census directly or from a private company (US Publishing) who puts the US Census numbers in a more user friendly package. 

What is wrong with the Vocational Expert using Census data?
The problem with the Vocational Expert using these numbers during his/her testimony is they are not consistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). The Vocational Expert is regulated by the court to be consistent with the DOT. Census data does not assess physical demands or skill levels.  Census data does not use the same job titles as DOT. There are 800 job titles in the Census and there are 12,000 job titles in the DOT.  This is why US Publishing states it is “virtually impossible” to calculate number of jobs from the Census data into DOT jobs without conducting an inspection to gather needed information.

What can your lawyer do to discredit the Vocational Expert in front of the judge?
If the Vocational Expert testifies that his/her numbers came from the Census rather than conducting an inspection, your attorney can point out the above mentioned problems with that. If the Vocational Expert states “in his 25 years of experience he conducted studies”, your attorney should;
  • ask when and where these studies were conducted. 
  • ask for the written report
  • ask whether the study included part-time work because in a disability claim all part-time work should be excluded. 
Regarding the jobs the Vocational Expert says you can perform, your lawyer should expose any jobs that are outdated, meaning due to technology the job does not exist or requires computer skills.
The source of the Vocational Expert’s testimony should be questioned. An honest Vocational Expert will admit the shortcomings of calculating the data.  This might be enough to overcome a Vocational Expert’s testimony, which is not supportive to your case.

·     Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work Credits and Insured Status: Determining Disability Eligibility in San Francisco

Your "credits" and your "insured" status can be some of the most confusing factors in determining your eligibility for disability benefits in San Francisco. They can be simple to figure out, however, with a bit of patience.

Credits and Earnings
Quarters of credit – also called “credits” – are obtained when you earn more than a certain amount in a year, varying by each year (the Social Security Administration’s website provides a handy table to see what the cutoff is for a given year).  You can earn a maximum of 4 credits in any year: for example, the earnings required for 1 credit in 2007 was $1,000, so anything more than $4,000 would only result in 4 credits.

The number of credits you need to be eligible for disability benefits will depend on your age when you became disabled:
  • Before age 24 – You will need to earn at least 6 credits in the 3 years immediately before when your disability started.
    • Example: You become disabled at age 22. You earned 1 credit at age 19, 2 credits at age 20, and 3 credits at age 21. You have 6 credits, and may qualify for disability benefits.
  • Age 24 to 31 – You will need credits for working half the time between age 21 and when your disability started.
    •  Example: You become disabled at age 27. That is 6 years between age 21 and when your disability started.  You will need credits for working half of that time, or 3 years.  SSA holds that a year of work equals 4 credits, so you will need 4 x 3 or 12 credits to qualify for disability benefits.
  • Age 31 or older – You will need at least 20 credits, increasing with age until the maximum of 40 (the SSA website provides another handy table to determine how many credits you need based on your age).
Insured Status
To be considered “disability insured” by SSA, you must meet two separate requirements:
  •  You must earn 1 credit for each year between age 21 and when you became disabled (sometimes called “fully insured”)
    • Example: You are 45 when you become disabled.  That is 24 years between age 21 and when your disability started.  You will need at least 24 credits to be considered “fully insured.”
  • You must earn at least 20 credits in the 10-year period before you became disabled (sometimes called “currently insured”) 
    • Example: You are 45 when you become disabled.  You were employed since age 38, resulting in 28 credits (7 years x 4 credits).  You earned more than 20 credits in the 10-year period before you became disabled, and would be considered “currently insured.”
There are separate rules for claimants with previous disabilities, claimants who are under 31, and claimants who are statutorily blind (speak with an attorney or with SSA for these specific rules).
 Credits and insured status are bars that many people would not even think about when they become disabled, but they are no less important than the medical evidence and hearing process that come later.  Knowing where you stand now can save you time and frustration later, and speaking to an attorney can be the easiest way to determine if you are eligible.

Disability Group Inc.
Disability Group Inc was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at http://www.socialsecuritylaw.com

Monday, February 13, 2012

Social Security Disability Benefits and Eligibility in San Francisco

What are the two different types of Social Security benefits available if I become disabled?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two federal disability programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities in San Francisco. The Social Security Administration funds both programs.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits fall under title II of the Social Security Act signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the New Deal. This federally funded program was to provide insurance to workers who could no longer work because of old age or disability.
Who qualifies for SSDI? In order to qualify for SSDI you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI works similarly to a pension, where you pay into the plan throughout your working years.  Social Security establishes whether you have worked long enough by assigning work credits to your wages/SS taxes you paid per year.  For grown adults you need 40 work credits. Once you have 40 work credits you have “insured status.” SSDI benefits are paid to those who have been found disabled as defined by Social Security and have “insured status.”
What benefits do I receive if I’m found disabled and have “insured status”?The amount you receive each month is calculated from your previous earnings. SSDI monthly checks range from $500 to $2000. You receive these benefits regardless of whether you have other adequate resources.  Being wealthy does not make you ineligible. Also, if you have minor children they are eligible to receive benefits.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on you being found disabled and in financial need.  It is funded by general tax revenues and not by Social Security taxes. SSI falls under title XVI of the Social Security Act and is the result of Richard Nixon’s effort in 1972 to reform the nation’s welfare programs.
Who qualifies for SSI? How much do I get per month? You qualify for SSI if you are found disabled as defined by Social Security and are found in financial need. Unlike SSDI, wealth makes you ineligible for SSI. If you have $2000 in the bank or in assets, you are ineligible for SSI.  Also, your minor children cannot receive benefits under SSI. As of 2010, if you qualify for SSI you can receive up to $674 per month. Some states supplement the SSI amount.
Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney in San Francisco?


Navigating the Social Security Disability process in San Francisco, by yourself, is not easy.  Due to the various rules, deadlines and terminology, it can be a very confusing process.  However, a disability attorney has specialized knowledge in this field and is your best chance at getting your claim awarded, for several reasons.

  1. First, a disability attorney will know the rules and deadlines very well.  Because they handle so many of these types of claims, they know the process inside and out.  They can make sure that your claim does not get dismissed for violating a rule or missing a deadline.
  2.   Aside from knowing all of the rules and how to best navigate the disability benefits process, an attorney is a good resource to have if you want to do something like an ”On the Record” request or a “Dire Need” request.
    1.  An On the Record request is a way to get your claim awarded without a hearing. 
    2. A Dire Need request is a way to get your claim processed faster.  Both of these are something that can be written by an attorney, who knows what the qualifications are, and which rules and laws apply.  Additionally, sometimes judges ask for letters to support an application for benefits called “briefs”. Attorneys write these, using a combination of law, facts and argument to persuade the judge to award your claim.
  3. In addition to knowing the rules and doing the writing, a disability attorney will do the work to gather evidence to support your claim. They will get records from your doctors, file your paperwork and communicate with the Social Security Administration on your behalf. 
  4. And very importantly, a disability attorney will represent you at your hearing.  They will prepare you for the hearing so you know what to expect and will be there to speak to the Administrative Law Judge.  They will do all of the prep work prior to going to hearing and be able to tell the judge why you should be awarded benefits. Also, an experienced disability attorney will become familiar with the judges they interact with the most and will therefore be better prepared on how to present your claim in way that make a particular judge more likely to award it.
Finally, none of this work will cost you anything unless you win.  Disability attorneys, generally, work on a contingency basis.  This means that they only get paid if you get paid.  And the amount an attorney makes is controlled by Social Security and capped at a certain amount.  From knowing the law and the judges, doing the writing and other work on your claim, and representing you at your hearing, an attorney is your best chance to have your claim awarded.

Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Improving the Speed and Quality of the Social Security Disability Process in San Francisco


In 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlined four goals it wishes to achieve by 2013.  To those applying for disability benefits in San Francisco, the most important goal is improving the speed and quality of the disability process.  Here are the ways that SSA is trying to meet this goal.

  1.  Quick Decisions for Clearly Disabled Claimants In order to speed up the process for the most disabled claimants, SSA has established a “Quick Disability Determinations” process (QDD).  Almost 3% of new cases are identified for QDD processing and almost 96% of those cases are awarded within six to eight days.  Also, SSA’s “Compassionate Allowance” program also allows for the quick identification of individuals who are clearly disabled due to the terminal nature of their conditions.  SSA expects to be fast tracking six to nine percent of initial applications by the end of 2012.
  1.  Online Filing of Disability Applications SSA has implemented an online system in which individuals can file for Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits.  The goal is for claimants and their legal representatives to be able to conduct all of their business with SSA online.  This will reduce the demands on Social Security employees who will be able to focus on preparing the claims for adjudication.  SSA hopes to reach an online filing rate of 25% for initial applications by 2012.
  1.  Timely Updating of Policies and Procedures SSA is focusing on updating their policies and procedures. For example, the Listings of Impairments is being updated to include rare diseases and conditions that represent clearly disabling conditions.  SSA is also planning to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which is relied upon in determining whether there is any work the claimant can do, with updated definitions and objective measures of requirements of work.
  1.  A Common Processing System for DDS Offices SSA is working to develop a common case processing system for each of the 54 DDS offices.  Currently, each of these offices has a unique system, making any proposed changes very difficult.  A common system will promote efficiency and improved quality of the application process.
  1.  Making it Easier For Disabled Individuals to Return to Work SSA is continually updating its policies to allow for easier reentry into the workforce.  It is in the best interest of all parties if a disabled individual experiences enough improvement to return to work.  However SSA understands that disabled individuals may be unwilling to risk the benefits they are already receiving when they do not know if the improvement is permanent or if they will be able to meet the demands of a particular job. 
 
The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Pursuit of Social Security Benefits in San Francisco

In the recent months, a high denial rate among those applying for Social Security Benefits in San Francisco has been the topic of great concern. With only a 30-40% approval rate at the Initial Application, this has caused some to call the Social Security Administration's strategies a "culture of denial." Despite the high rate of denials, there are many ways to help improve your chances at success.

  1. Appeal

A report published by CBS news stated that most people do not bother to appeal a denial the first time they are disapproved for benefits. With almost two-thirds of all applicants giving up after their first denial, millions of Americans who paid into the system and quite possibly were deserving of benefits, never receive assistance. While the approval rate at the initial stages is very low, there is a much higher approval rate when a claimant pursues benefits at a Social Security Disability hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.

  1. Contact your Local Congressman

Your congressional representatives are in a unique position to assist you with your claim. Congressional representatives voice concerns about long wait times and high denial rates, which help put pressure on the Social Security Administration to improve. Recently, due to public concern and congressional inquiries, SSA changed some of their processes that were making it difficult for claimants at the hearing level. With enough public concern and the assistance of our elected officials, SSA will make changes to better the system and eventually this "culture of denial" will be transformed. If you feel that your wait time has been exceptionally long or you are in a dire situation, you can contact your local Congressman and ask them to inquire on your case. You can find your specific representatives by entering your address at http://www.congress.org.

With disability processing times often at well over a year, it is essential that you ensure your claim is being processed correctly. Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer to handle your case will guarantee that no mistakes are made and no further delays are placed on your case. To find out more, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Comparing SSI and SSDI Benefits in San Francisco

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to disabled individuals under 2 programs:

1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

To qualify for either program in San Francisco, your condition must meet the criteria the Social Security Administration has established to determine whether or not you are disabled.

SSDI is insurance you have paid into during your past employment. For SSDI you must have earned work credits. This requirement is generally met if you have worked at least 5 out of the past 10 years. You also must be a legal resident of the U.S., and below retirement age. SSDI comes with Medicare after a 2 year waiting period. SSDI also provides benefits to certain family members, while SSI does not.

SSI is similar to a well-fare based program. To qualify for SSI you cannot make more than $674 per month ($1011 for a couple). This amount varies depending on the state that you live in. You also can not have more than $2000 in resources ($3000 for a couple). Certain resources, like your home and car, are not counted. You must be a U.S. citizen (with limited exceptions), but any age may apply. SSI comes with Medicaid and starts as soon as you are approved by SSA.

It is possible to get benefits under both programs, so apply for both when filing a disability claim with the SSA. The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What Do I Need To Know About My Disability Benefits and Taxes in San Francisco

Social Security payments in San Francisco come without any taxes deducted but this does not mean that you do not have to pay taxes on the payments. Just as you pay taxes out of your paycheck from a regular employer, you have to pay taxes from your Social Security Benefits. The only difference between the two is that employers are required to automatically withhold your taxes and the Social Security Administration is not.

The amount of taxes you may have to pay is determined by annual household income.

  • If you file taxes individually and make more than $25,000 a year you will be required to pay taxes on the Social Security benefits you receive.
  • If you file taxes jointly and make more than $32,000 a year, you will be required to pay taxes on the Social Security benefits you receive.

Social Security does not automatically deduct taxes out of your benefit payments the way a typical employer does. If you know that you are going to exceed the amounts listed you need to contact the Social Security Administration Office and ask them to automatically deduct taxes. When requesting to have these federal taxes withheld, you will be asked if you want seven, ten, fifteen, or twenty five percent withheld for tax related reasons.

The Social Security Administration can only withhold federal taxes from your Social Security payments and does not have the authority to withhold any state or local taxes. This is because Social Security is usually issued to those with low income and is based on financial need. If you qualify for Social Security disability benefit payments, it is unlikely that you exceed the income limit for eligibility. It is recommend to contact SSA and to have them automatically withhold taxes if you know that you will exceed the taxable amounts.

Do not neglect to file your Social Security income because you make too much and have to pay taxes on your disability payments. The Internal Revenue Service will contact you and let you know that you owe taxes that you have not paid. Remember to contact the Social Security Administration Office at the end of the year, or beginning of the New Year, to request a form 1099 to report your disability earnings on your taxes. Not reporting these earnings can put you in debt with the Internal Revenue Service, and when that happens, they will garnish your regular income wages and possibly take possession of your assets. They are not allowed to garnish any of your benefit payments.

Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What is Past Relevant Work in San Francisco?

At Step 4 of the 5-step disability evaluation process that SSA uses to determine if a claimant is disabled in San Francisco, the claimant has the burden of proving that he or she is incapable of doing any “past relevant work.”

To qualify as past relevant work:

  1. The job must have been performed within: 15 years prior to Social Security's evaluation of the claim or if insured status has lapsed, 15 years prior to the date last insured.
  2. the Job must have been "Substantial Gainful Activity" (SGA) meaning; the job must have involved doing significant mental or physical activities; and it must have been done at the SGA level.
  3. The job must have lasted long enough for the claimant to develop the ability needed for average performance.
It is important to know that a job qualifies as past relevant work even if the job was done only part-time, as long as it was substantial gainful activity. Therefore, you as the claimant must identify the easiest full or part-time past relevant job and then figure out why you cannot still do the past work. If you had an easy job in the past 15 years that you can still do, you will be found not disabled, unless you can put together an argument that your impairments meet or medically equal one of the impairments in the Listing of Impairments. Determining whether you can do past relevant work is determined by comparing your current ability to perform work with the physical and mental demands of past relevant work.

Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.



·




Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Can I Expedite My Claim in San Francisco?

The process for applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a long one. It can be YEARS between your Initial Application and receiving benefits, if you are awarded at all. It is no doubt frustrating to have to wait that amount of time, but there are a few circumstances in which you can expedite your claim and get it processed more quickly in San Francisco.

Severe Illnesses: If you have a terminal illness you may be able to get your claim expedited. An illness is terminal when there is no treatment to reverse the illness and it is expected to end in the claimant’s death.

Some examples of terminal illnesses are:
  • Stage 4 Cancer
  • Being in a coma for 30 days or more
  • Lou Gehrig ’s disease
  • AIDS

Similar to terminal illness cases, there are some illnesses that are so severe that the Social Security administration allows for what are called “Compassionate Allowances” because the illness obviously meets disability standards. An illness that qualifies as a Compassionate Allowance does not have to be terminal. A full list of Compassionate Allowances Conditions can be found at http://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm.

A few examples of illnesses that will qualify for a Compassionate Allowance include:

  • Acute Leukemia
  • Many types of cancer
  • Early-Onset Alzheimer’s
  • Heart Transplant Wait List
  • Malignant Multiple Sclerosis.

Military Duty: If you were on active duty in the military at the time of injury and the injury was after October 1, 2001, you may be able to have your claim expedited. It is important to remember that the person need not have been in combat or injured as a result of service, in order to have their claim expedited. They need to have just been on active duty when it occurred.

Dire Need: A claimant who is lacking food, clothing, shelter, or medical care in such a way that there is an immediate threat to their health or safety can also ask for their claim to be expedited. You will normally need some type of evidence to back up a Dire Need claim. This can include an eviction or foreclosure notice, or a utility shut-off notice

With disability processing times often at well over a year, it is essential that you ensure your claim is being processed correctly. Hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer to handle your case will guarantee that no mistakes are made and no further delays are placed on your case. To find out more, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Will Harm My Claim in San Francisco?

The Social Security Administration has certain rules and guidelines that you must follow in order to be awarded benefits in San Francisco. You should keep these in mind when you are applying for benefits, because they will show up in your records and not complying with the rules can adversely affect your claim.

Working - This will be a problem because when applying for disability you are asserting that you are willing but unable to work. Therefore to actually be working is a contradiction and a large indicator to the Social Security Administration, that you are not disabled.

Receiving Unemployment – Similar to working, this is an indication that you are not disabled, because you are certifying to the Unemployment Office that you are willing and able to work, but unable to find a job. This, again, is a contradiction to stating that you are unable to work.

Drug and Alcohol Use – Recent drug and alcohol abuse, especially if it causing any of your conditions to worsen, will be a reason for your claim to be denied. It is important to know that past use or even use that has caused the conditions may not be causation for a denial, although in these cases it is crucial to have a doctor’s note stating that you are no longer using drugs or alcohol. However, you cannot do anything to make your current conditions worse. It is a good idea to seek treatment for abuse or addiction problems, in order to show that it is not a contributing factor to your disabling conditions and that you are doing what you can to get better.

Lack of Treatment or Non-Compliance – It is important that you have regular and recent medical treatment, in order to support your claim. It is important because Social Security needs medical evidence that supports your allegations. Just saying you have a particular condition is not good enough. You need a doctor who also says so. In addition, it will be an issue if you are going to see a doctor, but are not following his or her instructions as to medications and/or treatment. Again, you cannot do anything to make your conditions worse. Social Security will not want to award benefits to someone who could possible recover from their disabling conditions if they took their medications and followed their doctor’s instructions.

Prior Denial – If you have already applied for benefits and been denied, you will not be allowed to re-apply with the same claim. If you have new or worsening conditions with new supportive medical records, then you may be able to apply again. But if a decision has already been made and you have exhausted the appeals process, you cannot file the exact same application all over again.

The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.