What To Do When Your Doctor Doesn’t Support Your Disability Claim

Applying for and receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) is a long and frustrating process, and to be approved it takes a fair amount of patience and information. In all of this, though, there is nothing more important for your case than the cooperation of your primary health care provider. Considering that your case will pretty much hinge on the information and opinion submitted by your doctor, it can be an almost impossible task to get SSDI benefits if your doctor is not on board.

Disability Claim

So, what should you do in this case? Well, there are many reasons why your doctor might disagree with your getting disability, and the reason for this denial will affect how you try to change his or her mind.

  • Unclear about the process. It’s possible your doctor is hesitant simply because he or she doesn’t understand the process and his or her role in it. Often, doctors assume that this will involve them in lengthy court hearings and drown them in paperwork. In this case, you can often smooth out any objections by clearly stating that their role is very simple — usually no more than filling out an easy form — and they will not be expected to appear in court. Ever.
  • Disagreement with the Disability Program. Some doctors disagree with the idea behind the disability program, thinking it’s an “entitlement” and not something deserved. While you can’t always change people’s political opinions, explaining to your doctor that this is not an entitlement program because you have been paying into the system can sometimes help them to realize what SSDI truly is.
  • Disagreement About Your Disability. If your doctor doesn’t want to sign off on your disability because he or she doesn’t believe you are actually disabled, then that can be a bit of a problem. Obviously, the first goal here is to convince your doctor. Maybe they aren’t aware of the extent of your problem. Or maybe they think you are talking about something else and don’t know about some other condition you are suffering. In these cases, it’s important to make sure they completely understand your physical or mental condition. If they do, and still don’t think you qualify, then it might be time to find a different doctor.

This can be tricky, though, so be careful: if the SSA knows you have been seeing numerous physicians, this can be a very serious drawback to your case, because the SSA will most likely assume you were just doctor shopping until you found someone who would agree with you.

As always, seeking legal help is a good idea. If you would like to know more about what to do in this situation, or if you have questions about the process in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Social Security Disability for Non-Citizens

When you think of disability programs such as Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you might assume that they are only available for US citizens. However, it is actually possible for non-citizens to be eligible for one or both of these programs. In addition to the normal requirements needed for any disability benefits, though, there are several other necessary items needed in order for non-citizens to meet the Social Security disability requirements.

Social Security Disability for Non-Citizens

SSDI

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, a non-citizen individual needs to be able to prove the following:

  • First, just like any disability case, there needs to be proof of an actual disability. The requirements to prove a disability, whether it’s physical or mental, are the same for citizens and non-citizens alike.
  • Second, there also needs to be proof that the person in question is in the US legally and able to work. This can be done by providing a work history as well as showing a B-1, D-1 or D-2 visa or a Social Security number issued after January 1, 2004.
  • Third, the individual needs to be able to show that he or she was actually in the US for the month(s) when a payment is expected. This is so a person isn’t collecting benefits while living overseas in his or her home country.
  • Finally, the person must have paid into the system enough to be eligible for SSDI payments, just like any other worker.

SSI

Just like SSDI benefits, non-citizens can also qualify for SSI payments, as well. To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:

  • First, the individual must be able to show that they are in the US legally as a “qualified alien.” In this case, there are eight different categories of “qualified alien” that are acceptable. They include things such as being in the US as a refugee or here on asylum.
  • Second, the individual must meet one of the predetermined qualifications for SSI payments. This means not only be being able to prove that the he or she suffers from a disability, but also that they are suffering from extreme financial hardship.

So, while a non-citizen can meet the Social Security disability requirements, it can be difficult. Disability can be a hard enough case for someone to win as it is without the added burden of proving legal status. If you need more help in dealing with a case like this, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Getting Social Security Benefits When You Have Been Convicted of a Criminal Offense

Social Security benefits are normally available to any citizen of the United States who has paid into the system through deductions in their paychecks. But, what about people who have committed a crime? Are they still eligible, or have they forfeited their rights to these benefits? If you or someone you know has been convicted of a crime, keep reading to learn some more information about how that affects your Social Security payments.

Social Security Benefits in Criminal Case

Which Benefits Can You Receive?

Those who have been incarcerated may still be eligible for the following benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  • Retirement
  • Survivors
  • Disability

Who Can Collect Benefits?

Even if you have been incarcerated because you committed a crime, you may still be eligible for benefits if you fit into one of the following categories:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Blind
  • Disabled and have limited income or resources.

Incarceration
You are not eligible to receive benefits at any time during a period of incarceration. Further, you are not eligible if there is an active warrant out for your arrest for a felony that is punishable by imprisonment or death. You also may not be eligible for benefits if your verdict of “not guilty” was due to mental illness or it was determined that you were not competent enough to stand trial. If your incarceration lasts less than one month, you will not be eligible for benefits during that particular month.

Parole Violations
If you violate any parole or probation conditions after you have been released from prison, you will not be able to receive your Social Security benefits for the month in which the violation occurred.

Eligibility for Felons
In most cases, even if you were convicted of a felony, it will not affect your ability to collect Social Security benefits. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. You may not collect benefits if you fall into one of these categories:

  • Your disability was the result of, or was made worse, while committing a felony
  • Your disability occurred, or was made worse, while you were in prison on a felony conviction
  • You made yourself a widow or orphan by killing your spouse or parent (survivor’s benefits only).

Fleeing Felons
Convicts who have escaped from their confinement are not eligible for Social Security benefits. This condition includes people who have a warrant out for:

  • Fleeing to avoid prosecution or incarceration
  • Escape from custody
  • Flight-escape.

If you have any questions about collecting Social Security benefits with a criminal offense, contact the Clauson Law Firm today. We can help you.

7 Common Misconceptions about Social Security Disability Benefits

Many people have certain ideas and assumptions when it comes to Social Security Disability Benefits. It’s important to understand how the program works and what assumptions are just myths. You want to get the most out of Social Security when you reach that point, so you need to know the best way to proceed and a large part of that is knowing the truth.

Misconceptions about Social Security Disability Benefits

7 common misconceptions about Social Security Disability Benefits:

  1. Assuming that you will be denied benefits.
    Sometimes people wonder why they should bother filing because they assume that they will be denied. If you are denied, you can always appeal.
  2. Social Security Disability benefits will replace most of your work income.
    The program is designed to help people pay for basic needs. It is not designed and will not replace all of your work-related income.
  3. If your doctor says you’re disabled, you will qualify.
    The decision is technically a legal one, not a medical one. The final decision is up to the Social Security Administration, but your doctor’s documentation will help prove your case.
  4. Once you qualify, you’re in for life.
    This is possible, but it’s not an automatic thing. Your medical condition will be reviewed periodically for any improvement.
  5. The first step is hiring a lawyer.
    It may be beneficial to work with a lawyer, but the first step is talking to your doctor. You also need to make sure that you’re following the treatment suggestions from your doctor to assure that you’re trying to improve your condition.
  6. Your payments will kick in automatically.
    You should apply for Social Security Disability Benefits as soon as possible. You don’t want to run out of money while you’re waiting. The processing of your file will take three to five months. Then, your first payment will be for the sixth full month after your disability effective date.
  7. The possibility of becoming disabled is low.
    This possibility is actually higher than you think. One in four 20 year old workers who are insured for these benefits will become disabled before retirement age hits.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits can be an intimidating process, so it’s important to understand how it works. Please contact us with any questions about the best way to move forward with your case.

How long should it take to find out if you are eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Because every claim is different, there is no time frame that can be set to determine how long the SSD benefit process will take. There are numerous variables that need to be considered when figuring out how long an applicant should expect to wait, which includes how many times an applicant has been through the process already. There is no guarantee that you will be approved right away and each level of the SSD benefits process takes a considerable amount of time.

Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

Average time span for each level of the process

Generally, it takes 30-90 days to receive a decision from Social Security on your first claim. If you do receive a denial after your initial claim, you can appeal and expect to hear back within 60 days. If you are denied again, you can appeal and fill out a request to have a hearing with a disability judge. Unfortunately, because this is a tedious process, it is the most overwhelming and longest of the levels. Because hearing’s happen so often when it comes to filing for SSD benefits, applicants wait at least a year before having a hearing. Though it is a time costing process, it is the level that is most likely to receive an approval.

How to get fast answers with disability claims

Though some of the levels in the process take time, some disability applicants don’t have to go through this entire process their first time. There is a process called TERI, which designates certain cases such as a terminal illness and will approve the claim in 30 days or less. There are other programs that make for a quick turnaround time — quick disability determination and Compassionate Allowances. The quick disability determination program will analyze certain parts of the claim if it is likely that it will be approved. The compassionate allowances program helps SS determine claims that involve conditions that meet the qualifications in the Blue Book impairment listings.

Generally speaking, almost, if not all, disability applications that are approved are processed in 90 days or less. Even if an applicant is denied initially, but the reconsideration is approved, the applicant is likely to be approved in 6 months or less. It is important to understand that roughly 65 percent of the initial claims are denied at first.

If you have chronic alcoholism, can you receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Like any Social Security Administration — SSA — disability, your chronic alcoholism needs to meet requirements that are in the listed section in the Blue Book. If your impairments meet a medical condition that is listed, then you may be eligible for SSD benefits. If you did quit drinking alcohol, but meet the requirements, you will still be considered disabled.

Disability Benefits for Chronic Alcoholism

Unfortunately, your diagnosis of chronic alcoholism will not prove that you are disabled according to SSA. Though, there are many people with chronic alcoholism that end up having physical and mental changes due to alcohol that have limited their ability to function at work and perform basic daily skills. If you are still drinking, the SSA will advise that you stop drinking because that will help improve your condition to where you will no longer be disabled and no longer need to be on disability benefits.

What Qualifies As a Substance Addiction Disorder

  • Neurocognitive Disorders: This disorder is a decrease in mental function that is caused by damage to your brain because of a disease or injury. Chronic alcoholism frequently causes neurocognitive disorder. Some symptoms of this disorder as decrease in judgment, memory loss, poor social judgment, and a lack of coordination, just to name a few. Your deficits should limit you in work and performing daily duties that you were once able to perform.
  • Depressive Syndrome: Depressive is oftentimes caused by alcoholism and can be evaluated in mood disorders in the Blue Book.
  • Anxiety Disorders: Alcoholism can lead to long-term anxiety, whether people believe that or not. There is more information on anxiety disorders, but it is the most common emotional disorder.
  • Peripheral Neuropathies: This happens when there is damage that has been done to your peripheral nervous. This system is involved with transmitting information from your brain to your body. Alcoholism can cause what we call peripheral neuropathy.
  • Liver Damage: Most of the liver disease that is in the U.S. is caused because of alcoholism. Liver damage that is done because of an excessive amount of alcohol consumption is a common listing for disability.
  • Gastritis: A common cause for gastritis is extreme alcohol abuse. The excessive amount of alcohol inflames the lining in your stomach and that is how this disease is caused. This will be listed under the digestive system in the Blue Book.
  • Pancreatitis: The pancreas is a main target when consuming a lot of alcohol. This will cause the pancreas to inflame.
  • Seizures: Sometimes referred to as “rum fits,” heavy drinking can lead to seizures, whether a person is epileptic or not.

It is critical to stop drinking to help improve your disorder. This will give you a faster turnaround time so you can not be considered disabled anymore. At times, SSA will require that you quit drinking for at least 30 days so they can see if your symptoms have improved at all. If applying for disability benefits for chronic alcohol, please consult with a lawyer.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

You’ve probably heard the terms “Medicare” and “Medicaid” mentioned quite a bit when talking about healthcare, but — like many Americans — unless you’re actually on either of these programs, there’s a good chance you’re not entirely sure what each program is, or what the difference is.

Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid

Not to worry; we’ve got you covered. In many respects, Medicare and Medicaid are similar healthcare programs. They were both created in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s commitment to social reform. In addition, they are both designed to help Americans afford medical care. After that, though, certain differences begin to emerge.

Medicare is a program designed to provide health insurance for all Americans who are 65 or older. It also provides healthcare for people with severe disabilities. In both situations, Medicare is available to everyone who qualifies, regardless of their income. Patients who are on Medicare pay for some of their medical costs through deductibles and small premiums (in some cases). Medicare is run by the federal government, and is basically the same wherever you go in the country.

Medicaid, on the other hand, was specifically created to assist those who have a very low income and limited resources. Because of this, it’s much harder to qualify for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is run by both the federal government as well as individual states, so qualifying for benefits can vary depending on where you live. Once you qualify for medicaid benefits, though, you typically pay nothing out of pocket.

How do you qualify for Medicaid?

To qualify for Medicaid benefits, the first and most important thing to do is provide evidence of your financial situation. Since Medicaid is an income-based resource, it’s relatively easy to know if you are eligible. To do so, simply go to the Medicaid website to get the process rolling. Here you can find specific information on each state’s eligibility requirements, and you can begin your application procedures.

If you qualify, you’ll be covered for a wide range of healthcare options, including doctors visits, hospital stays, long-term nursing home care and more. About the only things not covered by Medicaid are prescription drugs. So, if you do qualify for Medicaid benefits, you can look forward to good, high-quality health coverage.

To learn more, please contact us today.

Undergoing a Mental Exam for Social Security Disability

Being physically injured or disabled in a situation that no one wants to go through. It’s a long, painful journey. However, when you are physically injured, at least it’s a condition that people can see and acknowledge. The same, unfortunately, can not always be said for those with mental illnesses or disabilities. For this reason, trying to Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be much more difficult. Because mental illnesses can often come and go at whim, and because many out there don’t always consider mental illness to be a “real” condition — instead, thinking that whoever is suffering just needs to “get over” it — it can be much harder to prove the existence of a mental condition that would require disability.

Mental Exam for Social Security Disability

Thankfully, the SSA recognizes this problem, and has put procedures in place to identify and help those suffering from a mental condition. To do this, though, it is necessary for an applicant to undergo a mental exam. But, what form does that take? Well, depending on the condition, there are different types of social security mental exam questions one might have to face.

How Does the Mental Exam Work?
The good news is that the SSA takes the mental exam very seriously. Unlike the physical exam the SSA conducts, which is rather sparse, the mental exam is very thorough. Depending on what type of mental condition you are claiming, you will be required to take one of three different types of exams.

1. Decline or Lack of Proper Mental Function
The first type of mental exam is for applicants who might have experienced a loss of mental functioning due to stroke, illness or accident, or those applicants who have a condition — such as a learning disability or dyslexia — that results in loss of function. In either case, the applicant is usually sent to a psychologist who will test the patient’s mental capacity through intelligence tests and other means.

2. Personality or Mood Disorders
If you suffer from disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, you will be sent to a psychiatrist for a complete psychological evaluation. This will be used to determine your overall mental health and capacity, as well as your ability to function without being a danger to yourself or others.

3. Situational Problems or Disorders
For those with situational problems such as depression or anxiety, you will also be sent for a mental status examination.

In all cases, the questions used on these mental exams will help to determine whether you are qualified for SSDI or SSI benefits based on your mental health. If this sounds like a confusing or daunting prospect, or you feel you need more help to prepare for such an ordeal, we would love to help you as you go through this. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

What Services do Social Security Lawyers Provide?

If you find yourself in a situation where you think receiving disability benefits can be helpful to you, your first step should be contacting a disability lawyer. There is no question that working with a legal representative gives you the best chance of having your claim accepted. If you are apprehensive about working with a disability lawyer, take a look at all the benefits you can gain from doing so.

Communicates with medical providers
When you hire a disability attorney, he or she will be the primary point of contact for your medical providers. Often doctors and other healthcare staff are more willing to speak with attorneys regarding information that is relevant to a disability claim than they are to the patient. So, working with an attorney can help to assure the medical records and other pertinent medical evidence that are needed to prove your case will be obtained more quickly.

Uses medical evidence appropriately
The success of your disability case is largely dependent on the medical evidence that is provided. Not only do disability attorneys know what evidence to obtain, they know exactly how to use it to gain the best results for their clients.

Prepares you for the hearing
When you apply for disability benefits, you will be required to have a hearing in front of a judge who will determine your eligibility. Your disability attorney will spend a great deal of time preparing you for the hearing so you will know what to expect. One of the most important ways your attorney will prepare you for the case is by going over key questions the judge will ask during the hearing. Your attorney will also help you prepare your answers for these questions so you will not be flustered in front of the judge.

Arranges witnesses
The judge will also listen to witnesses who testify on your behalf during the hearing. Your attorney will arrange for the witnesses to appear at the hearing and will also prepare them for questioning before they go before the judge. If your attorney believes the testimony of your witness will not be helpful to your case, that witness will not be used. Your attorney may also ask others who are familiar with your condition, such as caregivers and former employers, to write letters on your behalf to show to the judge.

Speeds up the process
Having a disability attorney will also help to speed up your case. Since disability attorneys know this area of law so well, they can easily and quickly gather all of the information that will be needed. Also, having a lawyer increases your chances of being approved the first time you submit your claim, so there is less likelihood of having to go through a lengthy appeals process.

If you are ready to apply for disability benefits, contact the Clauson Law Firm today. We can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Social Security Disability Representation: A Tool You Can Use

There’s no doubt about it: applying for Social Security disability benefits is a difficult process, and one that can often be confusing at times. Although a lot of information is available online at www.ssa.gov as well as in person at your local Social Security office, you will always have questions, and unfortunately, you may only find out the answers to these questions once it’s too late and you have already filed an application. That’s why it pays to have great disability representation at your side throughout the entire process — so you can ask questions, get the answers you need and feel confident that you have a winning case.

A disability attorney will be there for you whenever you are feeling confused or unsure about the process, whether you have a procedural question or simply want a professional opinion on what chances your claim has of being approved. And at any time that you’re feeling stressed or nervous during the time that you’re applying for disability benefits (which can be often, especially if you have the pressures of a medical condition to deal with as well), your attorney will be there to help put your fears to rest.

Then there’s the fact that often, you not only don’t know how to fill out disability paperwork but simply don’t have the time or energy to. The one thing you should be concentrating on is getting better and living your life, and it’s difficult to do this if you’re always having to follow up with doctors or meet paperwork deadlines. Let your disability representation take over for you instead, and you can have time to take care of what really matters to you. Plus, disability representatives have years (and often decades) of experience in the field of disability law — meaning that you can be sure your claim has the best possible chance of being approved.

Perhaps most importantly, your attorney will be there for you throughout the appeals process, which can be even more stressful than filing an initial claim. You’ll want representation so that if the case gets a hearing before a judge, you can sit back and relax knowing that your attorney will argue on your behalf and do their absolute best to win your case.