Reopening a prior Disability Claim

Often, Social Security Disability claimants have previously applied for benefits, unsuccessfully. In these situations, it is always a question as to whether the previous application can be reopened in a current claim. Many factors are involved in answering this question. Generally speaking, however, it must be said that reopening a final decision from an administrative law judge is an unlikely occurrence, as great weight is given to previous decisions absent clear evidence that the decision was incorrect. Often claimants continue to allege that they have been disabled since their previous application, which then presents the possibility of reopening that claim.

First, the current application must allege an onset date that involves the previous application period, otherwise there is no need to examine the previous application, as it is not at issue in the case unless the argument is made

Second, a prior claim must be related to the current claim. This means that a previous application for schizophrenia cannot be reopened in a claim alleging only degenerative disc disease. In other words, the conditions alleged in the previous application must be involved in the present application.

Third, the age of the claim is relevant. If the previous claim is less than a year old, either a Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) claim or a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim may be reopened at will by the Social Security Administration. If the claim is more than a year old, Social Security may reopen an SSI claim that is two years old or less if there is good cause. For DIB claims, any claim four years old or less may be reopened for good cause. “Good cause” generally means new evidence is available or that an egregious error occurred.

While reopening previous claims is possible, it generally is not likely. Consult with your Social Security Disability Attorney to determine if it is wise to attempt to reopen a previous claim.

 

By Adam Kachelski

Written by Adam Kachelski

Adam Kachelski is a 2014 graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Law. He lives and works in Cincinnati.

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Social Security Income and the Means Test

When filing a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, a debtor must show that he passes the means test. The means test is basically a series of calculations that are supposed to show, in theory, whether or not the debtor has enough income to be able to pay back his creditors. To perform the means test, one must determine what the debtor’s income is. Almost all sources of income are to be taken account of on the means test. The amount of the income is determined by taking the six month average of the debtor’s various sources of income.

Social Security Income gets special treatment on the means test. It can be completely excluded. That means that Social Security Income does not have a negative impact when the means test is used to determine if someone may qualify for a Chapter 7.

The means test is not the only determining factor on what type of bankruptcy a person is allowed to file. The actual budget of a person is taken into consideration as well. This budget is represented on Schedules I and J. If Schedule J, shows a substantially positive amount, chances are that the debtor will not be able to qualify for a Chapter 7.

Social Security Income can also be excluded from a debtor’s budget. Therefore, it will not have an impact on a person’s qualification for a Chapter 7 here either.

If an individual wishes to file a Chapter 13, he may elect to include their Social Security income on his budget, so that he can show he does have enough income to afford a repayment plan.

 

By Kristen Whelchel

Written by Kris Whelchel

Kris Whelchel is an attorney practicing consumer bankruptcy. She handles both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.

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The Importance of Choosing the Correct Onset Date

When applying for Social Security Benefits, you will need to fill out the initial application to get your claim started. On this initial application, you will put in the start date of your disability. This date is known as your Alleged Onset Date. It is a date that Social Security will use to build your case.  Sometimes it may not be as easy to pinpoint this date. However, it is strongly recommended that you try and choose as close of a date to when your condition(s) begin to worsen. There are many signs that lead up to figuring this date. One example would be a decrease in your work hours or having to end your employment. It is good to keep a journal of any major medical events that have affected your daily routine. Also, it is important that you speak to your doctor about any disruptions that you are experiencing in you daily routines due to ongoing symptoms. The more information you have in your medical records, the more of a benefit it will be to you when choosing you Alleged Onset Date.

Social Security does not always agree with the date that you have chosen. If Social Security chooses a different date, it will be a later date. Your medical records may support a different date of disability. The change in the Alleged Onset Date(AOD) by Social Security is known as the Established Onset Date(EOD). The newly Established Onset Date(EOD) chosen by Social Security may affect the amount of backpay that you receive. You can Appeal this decision if you do not agree with the date that Social Security has chosen. Having an expert to assist you through the process would help you avoid mistakes.

Please contact one of our attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski, Mrozik, PLLC. today for more information.

 

By Shana Knotts

Written by Shana Knotts

Shana joined Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik in October 2012 and works in the law firm’s social security department. As a senior paralegal, she works diligently to support our attorneys post-hearing. She also oversees our medical records department, ensuring records are submitted in a timely manner. Originally from Florida, Shana graduated from MSB with a B.A. in Paralegal. She then went on to work at a Social Security Advocacy Firm, gaining in-depth knowledge of the social security process. This experience allowed a smooth transition to Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik in 2012. In her free time, Shana enjoys traveling, reading, watching movies and spending time with her husband.

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Domain #4 – Moving About and Manipulating Objects

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings. To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The fourth domain used by SSA is called 4. Moving About and Manipulating Objects. In this domain, SSA will consider how well a child moves their body from one place to another and how they move and manipulate things. The SSA will look at both gross and fine motor skills.

Some areas of moving the body will include rolling, rising up from seated position, raising head and arms and legs. They will look at how the child transfers from one surface to another and how they move forward and backward when crawling, walking, and running.

With regards to moving and manipulating objects, SSA looks at how the child pushes, pulls, lifts, or carries objects. SSA will evaluate how the child controls their upper extremities in carrying objects. They will even consider eye hand coordination to manipulate small objects.

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Can My Doctor Help Me Get My Social Security Disability Benefits?

Q & A with 20+ year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

Q: Can my doctor help me get my Social Security Disability benefits?
A: Yes! But perhaps not in the ways you would expect. I’ll explain.

In our law practice, we purposely do not interact with treating physicians. Our clients make their own health care choices. Our clients go to doctors because they want to get better, or at least improve their quality of life. We explain the law.
The Social Security Disability program is all about the medical evidence. Forget what you hear on TV. Talk is cheap. Regular medical treatment is important. Just as important, though, is developing a treating relationship with certain medical doctors you know and trust. When you treat properly with physicians you know and trust, you create a bread trail of your problems.

This is where your physicians can help you further. Right after your next appointment, ask the doctor who knows you best these things:

1. “Doctor, can you please make sure you document my problems well?”
2. “Doctor, can you please make sure your treatment notes are clear about how I am limited?”
3. “Doctor, I had to apply for Social Security benefits. Would you mind if my attorney sends you a short form to fill out about my limitations?”

It is vitally important that your medical treatment notes document your ongoing medical problems. Attorney forms track Social Security law. While it is unusual for physicians to object to an honest, straightforward approach to your medical care, it can happen. Some physician practices, including the VA, try to avoid “forms,” but they complete them for insurance daily. Some physicians say that they cannot “decide disability,” but they are not. They are simply determining physical and mental limitations for their patients—something they lay out for working patients with injuries all the time. Finally, some physicians think their patients over 50 can still do “desk work.” That is fine. Depending on your past kind of work you can no longer do, the law can still be on your side. Ask an experienced attorney in this area of law.

Your medical providers are trying to make you better. Keep trying to get better, and document the truth about your medical problems. Your Social Security attorney will argue the rest.

Andrew Kinney, Esq., 12/1/15

Written by Andrew Kinney

Andrew Kinney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette Law School. He is in his 25th year of practice in Social Security Disability law. He speaks nationally on Social Security Disability practice, founded the Minnesota State Bar "Social Security Disability Section," and is an editor of the Social Security Pratice Guide, a five-volume legal guide published by LexisNexis.

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What Does it Really Mean to be Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Q & A with 20+ year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

Q: What does it really mean to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits?

A: The media and some political leadership would have us believe that people are clamoring to live off government benefits. While there are freeloaders in all sectors (including the two above-mentioned groups), I want to offer you a more accurate portrait from someone who has sat with thousands of disabled people.

Almost all the people our law offices has represented for Social Security benefits (upwards of 50,000 at last count) would rather work. For many, applying for benefits is a failure. A failure to themselves, their families, and a failure in life. To even apply for benefits can a miserable recognition that everything they hoped for and dreamed to do is gone. Not such a pretty picture so far, now, is it?

Social Security Disability benefits do not nearly pay as well as working. And Social Security’s failure to hire sufficient numbers of judges has caused clients to lose their homes, families, everything—including dignity. Some tell me they must accept welfare, having vowed to never do so in their “working” lives. Personal philosophy doesn’t do a damn to heal their wounds or pay their bills.

The real way to understand what I have described above is to sit and talk with some of those who are applying. Perhaps sift through a few hundred pages of their medical records. And really listen before coming to conclusions. With any experience, you will recognize that disabled people are not statistics in government publications, they are not props in committee meetings with prepared minutes. These are real people who need benefits for very real reasons despite working very hard with doctors to get better. They aren’t freeloaders.

Go ahead. Call your disabled neighbor, close friend, family member, or (God forbid someday) yourself a freeloader. See how far that gets you. Then, take actual time to understand the people who rely on the disability program. Many, many people are in real need.
Listen to me here. When you truly understand real suffering, you know it doesn’t lie.

Andrew Kinney, Esq., 11/30/15

Written by Andrew Kinney

Andrew Kinney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Marquette Law School. He is in his 25th year of practice in Social Security Disability law. He speaks nationally on Social Security Disability practice, founded the Minnesota State Bar "Social Security Disability Section," and is an editor of the Social Security Pratice Guide, a five-volume legal guide published by LexisNexis.

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Can You Lie to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Q:  Can you lie to get Social Security Disability benefits?

A:  This question gets to the heart of the misunderstanding about the Social Security Disability program.  Anyone can lie about anything to anyone.  The real question, then, is whether lying can actually secure Social Security Disability benefits.  The short answer:  No.

The public at large is generally unaware about the level of medical evidence necessary to prove disability under the Social Security regulations.  Just having a physical or mental diagnosis is insufficient.  Your limitations must preclude your ability to work under the law.  The law does not allow mere “claims” of disability to prove limitations.  Medical testing and examinations over time must establish significant impairments.

Lying to an MRI won’t impact the results.  Lying to a physician will not change objective examination findings.  Lying to a psychiatrist will likely land you back in the waiting room.  You can try to fake a limp or fabricate headaches, but medical doctors are scientists.  The lack of objective detail will ultimately do you in.

So just how difficult is it to “talk” your way into benefits?  Let’s consider a real life example of a client of mine today who wasn’t lying about anxiety, but nonetheless will be denied benefits.  I had a Social Security hearing today in which my client had significant anxiety.  The lower State Agency level ignored the regulations in failing to get a treating source opinion (nothing new).  A government-paid “medical expert” at my client’s hearing droned on and on to use time, yet misread the file, inferred chemical dependency without a diagnosis, ignored hard evidence of disability from a psychiatrist, and missed another psychological diagnosis altogether.  The point?  Even people telling the truth with sufficient evidence (in this case, anxiety that left her virtually homebound) have a difficult time meeting Social Security’s regulatory standards.

What should you take from this blog?  Those who are approved for Social Security Disability benefits have medical professionals who have diagnosed, examined, and treated them over time.  Offer to open the door for them, not throw them under the bus.  You or a loved one could need these benefits next.

Andrew Kinney, Esq.

 

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Remote DLI – Seek Social Security Before It’s Too Late.

From:  Joshua Tripp

 

In some cases, where a claimant has not worked recently and there is too many household assets or too much income to be eligible for SSI, the claimants are left struggling to prove disability for many years prior to the current date. This can be very difficult to do and there must be more than just the claimant’s testimony to win the case.

For an example, I recently had a social security claimant who had to go back about ten years to prove disability.  For approval here, it must be shown that the claimant had a disability prior to their date last insured and that their disability has continued.  This requires consistent medical evidence of severe impairment.  Additionally, to bolster the claimant’s medical record of ten years ago, I had the claimant’s current doctor, who was currently supportive of disability, write a narrative of the claimant’s impairments based on the current time frame, along with a review of the prior medical records.  This was helpful to assess that the conditions were as severe ten years as they are today.  He opined that the claimant was unable to work ten years ago and the condition has not improved.  Although this is important, his opinion needs to be supported by the medical record as a whole.  The medical evidence is particularly important for a case with a remote date last insured because it is hard to say the claimant can testify about conditions as accurately ten years ago as they could today.

It is always best to not wait to apply for social security disability.  Waiting can put you in the predicament of having to prove disability many years prior to the application, which is not an easy task.  Contact a social security attorney before it is too late.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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The Importance of Treating Source Statements

Most Social Security Disability cases turn on whether there are jobs available in the national economy that could be performed by the claimant, given his or her medical conditions. This requires a determination of the claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). Social Security defines RFC as “the most you can do despite your limitations.”[1]

In making this determination, someone has to translate medical conditions and associated symptoms to functional limitations. Clearly, the most appropriate person for this task is a doctor. At the Initial Application and Reconsideration levels a state employed doctor (Medical Consultant) makes this determination based on your medical records. Social Security might also send you to Consultative Exam (CE), where a specialist might provide insight into a particular part of your RFC, for example: If you allege both physical and mental impairments, but treat for your mental impairments with your primary doctor only, Social Security would likely send you to a CE with a psychologist.

[1] CFR § 416.945(a)(1).

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Treating Source Statements

Opinion evidence can have a big impact in Social Security Disability cases, especially when it comes from a treating source. But sometimes a treating doctor, counselor or therapist will decline to provide an opinion if he or she is in the best, but not ideal, position to do so. For example, maybe the disability claimant can only afford to treat with their primary care doctor, who declines to provide an opinion because he or she is not a specialist. If Social Security has not sent the claimant to a consultative exam, there will be no opinion evidence in which a doctor identifies specific functional limitations caused by the claimant’s impairments (except for the doctor working for the state agency making the determinations at the initial and reconsideration levels). The treating provider may not fully understand how opinion evidence is considered in Social Security Disability claims, or may not want to take the time because a response is not mandatory. In these situations, a friendly letter explaining the role of opinion evidence and requesting that the doctor provide whatever he or she is comfortable with, even in the form of short narrative (preferably with the records used to form the opinion attached), can get results.

Consider contacting an experienced social security disability attorney for help with this and other issues.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability and Self-Employment

When Social Security receives a claim for disability benefits, the first question is whether the claimant performed Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) during the alleged period of disability. If so, the claimant is ineligible for benefits during that time. SGA is generally defined as “work that involves doing significant and productive physical or mental duties, and is done (or intended) for pay or profit.” 20 CFR § 404.1510. Each year Social Security formulates a dollar amount that is used as the benchmark for SGA. In 2016 the amount is $1,130 per month and in 2015 it was $1,090. If this amount is or was exceeded, the earnings are presumed to be SGA. Gross earnings through employment can be easily compared to these benchmarks, but earnings through self-employment require further analysis.

The applicable rules are located in sections 404.1080 through 404.1096 and Social Security Ruling 83-34. The ruling should be consulted first for a general overview. Social Security may find that self-employment constitutes SGA under one of three tests:

  1. Under the Significant Services and Substantial Income test, both elements must be met. The significant services element is met if the claimant is a sole proprietor or, if not, performing more than half of the duties of the business or more than 45 hours per month of work. For a farm landlord, the question is whether he or she “materially participates,” not through an agent. The substantial income element is met if the claimant’s average monthly net income (countable earnings) reaches the benchmark amount; if the claimant’s livelihood derived from the business is the same as before he or she became disabled, or; if the claimant’s income is comparable to that of unimpaired individuals in a same or similar business in that community. If this test is not met, Social Security proceeds to the next two tests.
  2. Under the Comparability of Work test, the work is SGA if it is comparable in all relevant factors to that of unimpaired individuals in a same or similar business in the same community. Relevant factors include hours, skills, energy output, efficiency, duties and responsibilities.
  3. Under the Worth of Work test, the work is SGA, even if it is not comparable, if it is clearly worth more than the SGA benchmark amount when considered in terms of its value to the business or when compared to the salary an owner would pay to an employee for such duties in that business setting.

 

This is a general overview and the authorities cited above should be consulted for each individual situation. There are several additional details and nuances further explained in these sources. If your claim for Social Security Disability involves self-employment earnings, consider enlisting the help of a good attorney to interpret these rules and persuade social security that they operate in your favor.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability and the On the Record Process

On-the-Record Reviews are available to anyone who files a Social Security Disability claim. Once the lower levels processes have been exhausted. What that means, is that your claim must be at the hearing level to ask for an On the Record request.

So now you are at the hearing level. What’s next you ask! Well the review can happen in a few ways. An On the Record review can be initiated by an examiner that works for the Social Security Administration, which would be the best case scenario. This usually happens if new medical evidence is submitted and upon review by Social Security it is deemed that with the new evidence that a hearing is no longer needed and a fully favorable decision can be granted.

Another way for this request to be done is by your attorney representative. You may ask that your representative write a brief on your behalf. So that once your file from Social Security is available, your attorney can review what is already on record before requesting updated information on your behalf. Once all the new information has been reviewed, the brief can be written. But it should be noted, that not all cases make good On the Record cases. The attorney must make the decision on whether a brief should be written on a case to case basis after reviewing the information.

You could also put together the information yourself, if you are doing this process on your own. You will need to provide a detailed explanation that points out the specific medical evidence that proves that you are disabled by Social Security’s rules. Then write a formal request for an On the Record review.

Once the request for an On-the-Record Review has been submitted, one of these outcomes should happen. Your claim could be granted based on the evidence in your file along with the brief or a judge may feel that the evidence is not clear cut enough to approve the claim during an On-the-Record review. If a Judge cannot grant the case based on the information submitted, then your claim will have to be argued at a hearing by your attorney when a date becomes available. An On-the-Record Review cannot stop your claim from proceeding, unless a fully favorable decision can be reached.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Domain #4 – Health and Physical Well-Being

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings.  To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The fourth domain used by SSA is called 4. Health and Physical Well-Being.  In this domain, SSA considers the physical effects of physical and mental impairments of the child.  Unlike the other domains, this domain does not address typical development and functioning.  This domain addresses how such things as recurrent illness, the side effects of medication, and the need for ongoing treatment affect a child’s body.

It is important to remember that the cumulative physical effects of a child’s physical or mental impairment(s) can vary in kind and intensity, and can affect each child in a different way.  As with all other domains, SSA does not consider the limitations in this domain unless it results from a medically determinable impairment(s).  However, it is very unlikely that a child who has a significant problem in this domain does not have an impairment that causes the problem.

 

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Domain #3 – Interacting and Relating with Others

If a child has a severe impairment(s) that does not meet or medically equal any listing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will then look to see if the child functionally equals the listings.  To functionally equal the listing, the child’s impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains, or extreme limitation in one domain.

The third domain used by SSA is called 3. Interacting and Relating to Others.  In this domain, SSA will consider the child’s ability to initiate and respond to exchanges with other people, and to form and sustain relationships with family members, friends, and other people.  This would include all aspects of social interaction in all different areas of the child’s life.

Also, because communication is essential to both interacting and relating, SSA considers speech and language skills that a child would need to speak intelligibly and to understand and use language of their community.  The ability to interact and relate with others begins at birth.  A child begins to us his/her ability in early infancy when they bond with a caregiver.

As with limitations in any domain, SSA does not consider a limitation in the domain unless it results from a medically determinable impairment(s).

For more information, please contact one of the attorneys at Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik.

 

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What Should Congress Do to Improve the Social Security Disability Program?

Q & A with 20+ year Social Security Disability Attorney Andrew Kinney

Q: What should Congress know about today’s Social Security Disability program?

A: As a lecturer on Social Security Disability and SSI benefits, much of my focus is on how medical evidence and legal arguments get you approved. As of this writing (2015), Congress has challenged the funding for the disability program to force changes in it. I will shift gears, then, and offer suggestions that—while controversial to some—may preserve the Social Security Disability and SSI programs for those who need them.

  1. Certification. Treating physicians or psychologists should certify those patients who are or will be unable to work full-time under the law for 1 year before their patients can apply for Social Security Disability and SSI benefits. Those who apply for benefits need ongoing, supportive medical evidence anyway. Why does SSA process benefit applications for those without supportive physicians, or with little or no treatment at all? Treatment should come first.
  2. Temporary Disability. Some disabilities are not permanent and are unlikely to last over 3 years. Why not flag these Social Security Disability and SSI approvals as temporary and change the regulations to terminate them in 3 years? If a treating physician or psychologist certifies ongoing disability at that time, benefits can continue. The current cessation system leaves most on benefits long past when they should need them. It doesn’t encourage those who can get better to get better.
  3. Drug Testing. Many of my clients over the past 20 years have gotten upset when people they know on Social Security benefits use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol. For those with a positive drug test, the Social Security regulations should authorize implied consent for further testing. Failure to seek recommended treatment or submit to further testing should cut off those who want benefits or who are on benefits. For those who really need the benefits, they must choose between themselves or their addictions. If they can’t or won’t, benefits should stop.

 

I recently forwarded these and other ideas to the U.S. House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee. Invite Congress and their staff to make changes that strengthen the Social Security Disability and SSI programs for the disabled workers who need them.

 

Andrew Kinney, Esq., 4/27/15

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability Blog – Graves Disease

Graves disease is an autoimmune disease which has many different symptoms and may impact the heart, the nervous system, the circulatory system and more. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It can be diagnosed by testing the thyroid hormone levels in the blood. Symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, to muscle weakness, hand tremors, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, exophthalmos (bulging eyes) and irregular heartbeat.

So, how does Graves disease factor into social security disability? It depends on the symptoms and the severity thereof. Most people with this disease can manage their symptoms with treatment.   Nonetheless, this disease should be determined on a very case by case basis as far as it helping a claimant obtain social security disability benefits.     There is no specific listing for Graves disease, so it is likely that Graves disease will have to be argued as one of many impairments, that in combination, make a claimant disabled.

One example of a symptom of Graves disease preventing work would be for someone who works with their hands. To work with your hands you must have strength, dexterity, and a steady hand. Graves disease can cause muscle weakness and hand tremors.   So, if you assembled parts on an assembly line by hand, operated machinery by hand, or had to type on computer efficiently, you would not be able to do these jobs if you had muscle weakness and hand tremors that were severe. This would help your case.

Symptoms of anxiety and irritability due to Graves could limit your ability to interact with co-workers or handle the stress of a given job, or all jobs. There are many possible impacts of Graves disease on your ability to work and with the varying symptoms and severity of this disease, a given case should be analyzed by a social security disability attorney.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Criteria for expediting a Social Security Claim

What are the main areas or criteria that Social Security looks for to deem a claim as a dire need? Lack of ability to take care of basic needs, Personal or public safety, or terminal illness. Below we will touch base on each individually.

Let’s start with basic needs. These would be things like not being able to pay for food, shelter, or medical care. It is not necessary that you provide specific evidence that supports your claim of dire need. But if Social Security discovers inconsistencies with what you are claiming, they will probably ask you to provide further proof of said claim. That could be something like an eviction notice or foreclosure notice on your home to show lack of shelter. Evidence of loss of insurance, copies of medical bills or medical treatment estimates that you are in need of but, cannot afford. These can show why you have not treated for your ailments.

Next up is Personal or public safety. If the claimant is a danger to themselves or others (suicidal or homicidal) their claim may be expedited. Evidence of these ideations can come from their doctors, family and friends, or even possibly law enforcement.

Now let’s look at the area of terminal illness or as Social Security will note on the claim “Teri Case”. These are cases that are expected to result in the claimant’s death. These are ailments like Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, or cancer just to name a few. Medical sources are the best way to show this.

As you can see there are quite a few areas that Social Security feels that a claim should be considered a priority and processed quicker than the normal timeframe of upwards of two plus years to get a final decision on a claim. The more evidence you provide on the front end, the better Social Security can assess the need for your claim to be processed ahead of others who are also waiting on their claim to be reviewed.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Medical Evidence: X-ray vs MRI

Administrative Law Judges in the Social Security Administration determine disability largely based on medical records as evidence. Objective medical evidence is the most preferred type of evidence (as opposed to subjective complaints) because it cannot be disputed. For instance, an x-ray of a broken leg is always more convincing than a claimant telling their doctor they have broken their leg.

X-rays and MRIs are a very common form of objective evidence used in social security disability determinations. They can be used to establish musculoskeletal, neurological, gastrointestinal, and other medical impairments. So what is better evidence, x-rays or MRIs?

X-rays are a common imaging test that have been used for decades to help doctors view inside the body without making incisions. They are a relatively cheap and inexpensive way for doctors to view and diagnose medical impairments. In some cases, x-rays are all that are necessary to establish a medical impairment. However, in other cases, MRIs prove much more effective not only diagnosing medical problems but also measuring the severity of the problems. An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, in effect takes a 3D picture of the subject matter. In contrast, an x-ray is a 2D image. For this reason an MRI often shows more than an x-ray can show. For instance, an x-ray of the lumbar spine might show mild degenerative changes, whereas an MRI of the same lumbar spine might show moderate to severe degenerative changes.

In conclusion, an MRI will oftentimes show more detail than an x-ray. The downside to an MRI is that is significantly more expensive than an x-ray. Sometimes an x-ray is all that is necessary. Always consult your doctor as to what avenue to pursue.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Specialists and Social Security Disability

When filing for Social Security Disability the best course of action is to document your symptoms and to be seen by a licensed professional. Remember that the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not give all doctors the same weight or acceptability level if you will. They consider an acceptable treatment source to be licensed physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Even though chiropractors are doctors, SSA does not see them as an acceptable medical source.

Let’s look at specialists for a moment. The Social Security Administration considers the records of a specialist in a medical field to hold great weight. So you should try to see a specialist in the area of study that treats your type of disability. Your general practitioner (family) doctor’s records while useful, may not be as helpful as a specialist records would be. If you do not know what type of specialist to see, here are some of the specialists that you might need to see and what areas they cover.

Orthopedist’s treat the skeletal system like your back or neck to name a few. While a podiatrist treats the disorders of the feet. If eyes are what is causing you to be disabled, then maybe you need to see an ophthalmologist. An endocrinologist, is a specialist that treats diseases of the glands. Where a Cardiologist treats diseases of the heart and blood vessels. This is just a small list of specialty areas but, all of these are areas that if your conditions are severe enough, then Social Security could find you disabled.

So even though Social Security looks at the totality of the medical evidence to prove your claim, not all evidence is given the same weight. Also only some doctors are considered to be acceptable treating sources. So if you can, see a specialist in the field of your disability as to give you the best chances to win your Social Security disability claim.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Why am I going to a Consultative Examiner?

At the initial and Reconsideration levels of a social security disability claim; records are obtained by the Disability Determination Agency, their job is to determine if you are disabled based off the medical records received from your doctors. If a decision cannot be made, a Consultative examination is requested. A Consultative examination can be requested for claimants that have filed for Title II or Title XVI Disability benefits. More often than not, lack of finances or insurance to treat consistently may result in the need for a CE (consultative examination). If treatment started with a new specialists but has only resulted in one or two visits, there may be a need for a scheduled consultative examination. For example, if your new physician has indicated a serious ailment in your records; DDS may want a second opinion because there was not considerable treatment with the new doctor. Once social security has decided another medical opinion is needed, you will receive a letter from the Social Security Administration indicating the time and location of the appointment. It is very important that you communicate to the claim examiner your intentions of going to the appointment.

Consultative Examinations can be a bit intimidating because most people believe them to be doctors within the Social Security Administration. In fact, they are independent physicians who are contracted by Social Security to perform medical exams. Generally, these exams take 20 – 60 minutes depending on the type of exam being performed. For example, a psychological examination may take an hour to complete because of the many required areas of testing. Yet, a physical exam may take anywhere from 20-30 minutes. Physical exams are a routine work-up which involve checking vitals and focusing on the impaired area of your body. It is very important that symptoms are not exaggerated during the appointment.

Once an examination is complete, the examiner will report his/her findings to the the Disability Determination Agency.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Unsuccessful Work Attempt

In order to be eligible to receive disability benefits, a claimant may not be engaging in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”). There are many aspects to the definition of SGA, but the basic rule is that a claimant cannot earn more than $1090.00 gross in a month. (This is the amount of the year 2015; the amount is adjusted yearly). There are other rules (not addressed in this article) that may affect whether or not earning this much or more is considered SGA. But assuming those rules do not apply, and a disability claimant works over the amount above, are they therefore barred from receiving disability? Not necessarily. Even if a disability claimant earns over SGA for 1 month (or even more as we will see below), that claimant may still be eligible for benefits in certain circumstances. Enter the Unsuccessful Work Attempt (“UWA”).

If a claimant works over SGA for up to 3 months, that work could be considered a UWA. However, for this to be the case, the claimant must either stop working entirely, or reduce their work to below SGA amounts.

Also, it must be shown that the claimant stopped working or reduced work due to their impairments or the removal of special conditions (not just because they lost their job – unless it is for medical reasons – or because they are trying to stay below SGA). Special conditions essentially means help doing your job, such as assistance from other employees, if you are allowed to work irregular hours or take frequent rest periods; if you were provided with special equipment or were assigned work especially suited to your impairment, if you were able to work only because of specially arranged circumstances, (for example, other persons helped you prepare for or get to and from your work), if you were permitted to work at a lower standard of productivity or efficiency than other employees, or if you were given the opportunity to work despite your impairment because of family relationship, past association with your employer, or your employer’s concern for your welfare.

Furthermore, the break in work activity must be “discontinued.” This means you must not work for at least 30 days after the UWA – taking a week off and then working for 3 more months does not count as a UWA.

If the claimant works over 3 months, but less than 6, and has to quit or reduce earnings due to an impairment or removal of special conditions, a UWA will be found if the claimant:

(i) was frequently absent from work because of an impairment;

(ii) performed unsatisfactory work because of an impairment;

(iii) worked during a period of temporary remission of an impairment; or

(iv) worked under special conditions that were essential to your performance and these conditions were removed.

If a claimant works for more than 6 months, the UWA will not apply regardless of why the work ended or was reduced below the SGA earnings level.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Malingering and how to address the accusation with Social Security Disability

If it has been noted by either one of your own doctors or a doctor that you were sent to by Social Security that you might be malingering, then it need to be address. Malingering is just a fancy word for faking or exaggerating your symptoms for the purpose of getting something. In this case, it would be Social Security Disability. The best way to proceed is to try to get the accusation addressed prior to your hearing.

If the claim was made by the doctor Social Security sent you to, then you can use the “treating physician rule” which states, that your own doctor is in a better position to know if you are exaggerating your symptoms since they have been treating you for a longer duration of time. Your attorney may want to submit a brief on your behalf addressing the malingering issue and the fact that your own doctor’s opinion should hold precedence.

If it is your doctor that has noted the possibility of faking symptoms, then you have a tougher row to hoe! If it is just one of your doctors that have noted this, you can accentuate the fact that it is only one out of numerous doctors that you have seen for your disability. You can also get statements from people who know about your disability to use in contesting the malingering claim.

It would be best to avoid the claim of malingering in the first place. There are things that doctors look for when claiming that a person could be malingering. Some of the common signs of malingering are overstating or making up symptoms, not providing your best effort on tests such as tests for strength or mental limitations, or requesting medications by name.

Best case scenario, is to avoid the accusation in the first place. If that is not possible, try to get it addressed prior to the hearing and as a last resort, address it at the hearing. Do not just ignore it and hope that the Administrative Law Judge will not bring it up. This probably would not work out in your best interest.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Attending and Completing Tasks

In order for a child to be found disabled, they must either meet or functionally equal a “listing” (a list of impairments that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) has said will result in a finding of disability if the impairment is severe enough). Thus, if a child has an impairment that is on the list, and it is as severe as required by SSA, that child “meets” the listing. However, if the impairment does not meet the specific criteria in the listing, the child can still be found disabled if the impairment functionally equals a listing. This is done by showing that the child is either “marked” in 2 of the 6 domains, or “extreme” in 1 of the six. The 6 domains are acquiring and using information; attending and completing tasks; interacting and relating with others; moving about and manipulating objects; caring for yourself; and health and physical well-being.

This article deals with the second domain: attending and completing tasks. To begin with, the SSA has defined being marked or extreme in a domain as having impairment or impairments that interferes seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Obviously to prove an extreme limitation, you would have to prove it interferes more substantially than a marked limitation, although the definition is more involved than this.

So, how does one prove that a child is marked or extreme in the domain of attending and completing tasks? Social Security Ruling (“SSR”) 09-4 gives us some guidance. This domain considers a child’s ability to focus and maintain attention, and to begin, carry through, and finish activities or tasks. Social Security considers the child’s ability to initiate and maintain attention, including the child’s alertness and ability to focus on an activity or task despite distractions, and to perform tasks at an appropriate pace. The child’s ability to change focus after completing a task and to avoid impulsive thinking and acting is also considered. Finally, a child’s ability to organize, plan ahead, prioritize competing tasks, and manage time is taken into account.

SSR 09-4 notes that the domain itself covers only the mental aspects of task completion; such as the mental pace that a child can maintain to complete a task. Therefore, limitations in this domain are most often seen in children with mental disorders. However, a physical impairment can also affect a child’s mental ability to attend and to complete tasks. For example, physical pain can distract a child and interfere with the child’s ability to concentrate and to complete assignments on time or at all. Medications that affect concentration or interfere with other mental processes may also affect a child’s ability to attend and to complete tasks.

This ruling also notes that while a child may demonstrate the ability to attend to some tasks, they may not be able to attend to all tasks in a particular setting. For example, they may only focus on tasks that interest them, such as video games, but not on other tasks, such as homework. Other children, especially those with autistic spectrum disorders, may show “hyperfocus” by becoming fixated on certain sounds or objects, and can pay attention to little else.

The ultimate question is whether a child’s medical impairment is so severe that it interferes seriously with the child’s ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete a task as compared to children of the same age who do not have impairments.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security in the Technological Age: the move internet services

The Social Security Administration has been making moves for decades toward a more technologically advanced process. Payments are direct deposited into a bank account or on to a debit card rather than mailing out checks. Applicants can apply and appeal online. They can also fill out a benefits estimation calculator to determine a monthly estimate of benefits. The Administration has moved away from an annual notification mailing to this online estimator instead.

Here is a short list of online services:

  • Apply for benefits
  • Get your Social Security Statement
  • Appeal a decision
  • Find out if you qualify for benefits
  • Estimate future benefits
  • Manage your my Social Security account
  • Request verification of benefit letter
  • Request letter stating non-receipt of benefits
  • Change direct deposit/ payment system information
  • Manage privacy settings
  • Get relevant tax documents
  • Submit records
  • Verify Social Security Numbers

There is ongoing debate in Congress and in Agency personnel over moves to expand online services rather than in-person services. Thousands of people apply in person at local offices and federal employee unions would like to keep it that way. We work with clients to help with applications, appeals, and submission of medical records all online. More people every day expect online access to tools and Social Security is beginning to follow suit.

A complete move toward online is less than ideal, because face-to-face interaction is often the best way to get tasks accomplished. We often advise potential clients who are getting the runaround to go to their local office and talk to someone. The 800-number is a difficulty and trying experience for some people looking for answers from the Social Security Administration. District office employees make observations while helping applicants with benefits claims. They can in some very limited circumstances, note nearly automatic approval reasons. They case still must be submitted for evaluation, but with these special cases, approval often happens very quickly. In the contrary, the observations by a district office employee can be very harmful for a claimant’s case. Judges and case evaluators can reference these observations as reasons to deny claims. We can help fight these observations if necessary.

If you are having trouble getting disability benefits whether online or in person, please contact our office for help.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Receiving Veteran’s Disability Benefits, can I qualify for Social Security Disability?

Eligibility requirements for veteran’s disability benefits and social security disability benefits are different.  While you may qualify and receive benefits concurrently, the determination of eligibility for one program does not necessarily translate into eligibility for the other.  For example, veteran’s benefits can be awarded on partial disability according to a percentage rating whereas social security benefits are only awarded for individuals that are unable to perform substantial gainful work activity.

Substantial gainful work (SGA) is a maximum amount of income an individual can earn in a month which is set by the Social Security Administration.  The monthly SGA amount for 2015 is $1090.  If you are unable to work at a substantial level and are receiving Veteran’s disability benefits you may qualify for disability benefits through Social Security.

For questions related to the different disability programs, how to apply or any other issues related to your Social Security claim, please contact us at Hoglund, Chwialkowski, and Mrozik.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Compassionate Allowance Diseases: Ataxia-telangiectasia

 

The Social Security Administration established the Compassionate Allowances program in an attempt to expedite cases where individuals have medical conditions that are very severe and would qualify under one of the listings. However, not all diseases are met under a specific listing, but still may be approved under the CAL.

Ataxia-telangiectasia is a rare inherited disorder that affects the nervous system, immune system, and other body systems.[1] People with ataxia-telangiectasia often have a weakened immune system, many develop chronic lung infections, have an increased risk of developing cancer, particularly cancer of blood-forming cells (leukemia) and cancer of immune system cells (lymphoma).[2] Affected individuals are very sensitive to the effects of radiation exposure, including medical x-rays, and the life expectancy of people with ataxia-telangiectasia varies greatly, but affected individuals typically live into early adulthood.[3]

Since individuals with A-T do have a weakened immune system, they are susceptible to recurrent respiratory infections.[4] Other features of the disease may include mild diabetes mellitus, premature graying of the hair, difficulty swallowing, and delayed physical and sexual development.[5] There is neither a cure for A-T nor is there a specific therapy for the neurological problems associated with the disease, however nobody has yet shown in a convincing way that physical therapy or specific nutritional supplements have helped, though there are many proponents of these approaches.[6]

For proper evaluation, Social Security recommends a sequence analysis of the ATM gene, because if it has identified mutations in both alleles in the proband, then the diagnosis of A-T is confirmed.[7] Ataxia-telangiectasia meets listing 11.17A, Degenerative disease not listed elsewhere.[8]

[1] https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/ataxia-telangiectasia

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/ataxia-fact-sheet

[5] Id.

[6] https://primaryimmune.org/about-primary-immunodeficiencies/specific-disease-types/ataxia-telangiectasia/

[7] https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0423022360

[8] Id.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Compassionate Allowance Diseases: Stiff Person Syndrome

The Social Security Administration established the Compassionate Allowances program in an attempt to expedite cases where individuals have medical conditions that are very severe and would qualify under one of the listings. However, not all diseases are met under a specific listing, but still may be approved under the CAL.

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a rare disease of the nervous system.[1] Progressively severe muscle stiffness typically develops in the spine and lower extremities; often beginning very subtly during a period of emotional stress.[2] Most patients experience painful episodic muscle spasms that are triggered by sudden stimuli.[3] Clinically, stiff person syndrome is characterized by muscle rigidity that waxes and wanes with concurrent spasms.[4] Treatment with IVIg, anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants, and pain relievers will improve the symptoms of SPS, but will not cure the disorder.[5]  Most individuals with SPS have frequent falls and because they lack the normal defensive reflexes; injuries can be severe.[6]

Social Security recommends that in order for Stiff Person Syndrome to be properly evaluated an EMG and special anti-body testing should be performed, as well as a clinical history and examination that describes the diagnostic features of the impairment, progression of neurological symptoms, response to medication, and evaluative tests that rule out other causes of stiffness.[7]

Stiff person disease medically equals Listing 11.04B under Central nervous system vascular accident, and 11.06 Parkinsonian Syndrome.[8]

 

[1] www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neurology_neurosurgery/centers_clinics/neuroimmunology_and_neurological_infections/conditions/stiff_person_syndrome.html

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Duddy ME, Baker MR. Stiff person syndrome. Front Neurol Neurosci. 2009;26:147-65

[5] https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stiffperson/stiffperson.htm

[6] Id.

[7] https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0423022905

[8] Id.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Spina Bifida in Children

If your child has marked physical functioning due to their spina bifida, they may qualify for Social Security Disability. Spina bifida is a condition that is usually discovered at birth, where the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord are not fully developed. It may be as slight as a dimple or swelling on the child’s back, or as noticeable as an open wound on the back where the spinal cord protrudes out.

Recently I represented a child who had this condition, and required surgical correction, repairing the tethered spinal cord, but leaving a lipoma, or lump, around the vertebrae. Despite having this surgery, he still has some issues with his physical ability to walk and move around, and he also has severe issues in regards to his bladder control, which requires special accommodations from his school so he can excuse himself as needed from class. He also experiences chronic back pain which interferes with his daily activities.

In this specific case, the judge considered whether or not the child’s condition met a Listed Impairment, which would qualify the child for disability. The specific listing used was 111.08, Meningomyelocele, so Social Security would consider whether the child has a diagnosis related to spina bifida which includes spina bifida occulta, meningocele, or myelomeningocele. Then, they would look at evidence that shows the child’s impaired motor function, low IQ score, involvement with upper and lower extremities, and other neurological functioning including bowel & bladder control.

If Social Security finds that the condition isn’t severe enough to meet the requirements of the listed impairment, then they need to consider whether his functioning is decreased in the following areas: acquiring and using information, attending and completing tasks, interacting and relating with others, moving about and manipulating objects, caring for self, and health and physical well-being. The child would be found disabled if they find that their functioning is marked, which means a noticeable and severe decrease in their abilities.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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What happens when a Claimant Dies while Pursuing Social Security Disability?

The process of getting on disability is long and challenging. It is not unusual for claimants to pass away while waiting for an answer on their case for disability. In these circumstances some benefits can still be paid. This benefit is called an underpayment. To put it simply, the beneficiary would be able to get the back pay for which the claimant was entitled. The eligibility for benefits when a claimant is deceased varies depending on the type of claim. In a claim under Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, which is based upon the earnings record, a beneficiary can step into the place of the deceased and continue an existing claim. This is called a substitution of party. It is important to note that any of the beneficiaries can continue the claim, even if that person is not the primary beneficiary. The order of preference for collecting the benefit begins first with the spouse that resided with the deceased, followed by the children of the deceased, and then the parents of the deceased. In a claim for Supplemental Security Income, which is based on financial need, the benefit eligibility is narrower. Generally, only the spouse that resided with the deceased may continue the claim. It is important to understand, that the case will be evaluated just as though the individual was alive. The time frame in question for disability will be the date that the claimant alleged in his application through the date of death. Because issues and complications can easily arise in these circumstances this is a great reason to have a representative. A representative will have the authority to continue your claim and find a beneficiary to substitute in your place.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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Social Security Disability and HIV/AIDS

If you are wondering what Social Security looks at to see if you will qualify for disability due to HIV/AIDS, please read on! Social Security will try to assess your ability to return to work. They will use a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment to do this. Below we will discuss what Social Security looks for in your medical evidence to complete the RFC and determine whether you would qualify for Social Security Disability.

Social Security realizes that not only does the illness itself cause a person to have symptoms but, the medication that is use to fight the illness may cause symptoms as well. So Social Security takes both into consideration when filling out the Residual Functional Capacity assessment. An examiner will go through all of your medical records and look for all symptoms that have been attributed to the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.

The acute and clinical latent infection periods are known as the first two stages of HIV. A patient’s symptoms would probably not be deemed by Social Security to meet a level as to cause a person not to be able to work. As the disease progresses and the patient becomes symptomatic, that is where the RFC begins to take shape. The early stage symptoms can be weight loss, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and fatigue to name a few. It should also be known, that women’s symptoms can be different than men’s and Social Security will take that into consideration as well.

Once a person’s HIV develops into AIDS, not only will they still show the above symptoms but, opportunistic infections start coming into play. Pneumonia seems to be one of the biggies. Others might include various cancers, toxoplasmosis of the brain, and memory loss.

The medications use to fight this disease have nasty side effects and can be a great contributor as to why a person with this disease cannot function in the workplace. These medication side effects can increase the symptoms that the sufferer already possesses from the disease itself.

The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment will take into account not only the physical symptoms the patient possesses but, the mental limitations and sensory limitations as well. Then Social Security will take the RFC information along with your education level, job skills, and your age to see if there are any jobs that you would be able to do. If the answer is no, then you will be considered disabled under Social Security Disability Rules.

Written by Hoglund Law

The attorneys of Hoglund law are licensed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio. Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC is based in Roseville, Minnesota. In addition to handling cases involving bankruptcy & social security, Hoglund, Chwialkowski & Mrozik, PLLC handles faulty drugs and toxic exposure.

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