Concussions have been in the news lately because stories about retired football players who are fighting cognitive loss, memory issues and severe depression that arises from brain injury. Athletes like football players and boxers often experience multiple concussions over many years, but damage to the brain can occur even after a single concussion.
Not All Head Injuries Carry the Same Significance
Scientists who study concussions and their aftermath have determined that not all head injuries are the same. Medical researchers in Europe studying brain injury in unhelmeted soccer players report that It turns out that a head trauma from an angular blow causes significantly more damage than a straight on blow to the head. It turns out that an angular blow causes twisting of the brain stem and more tearing of delicate nerve fibers. 1 [Read More...]
Social Security disability programs are running out of money. As such Social Security executives are looking for ways to reduce the outflow of dollars.
One effort has been to tighten up eligibility standards. Claimant’s representatives throughout the country are reporting that ALJ approval rates are down. When cases are approved, judges are including directives in their decisions for SSA to review approved the approved claimant for medical improvement in one year or three years.
SSA has increased and will continue to increase the number of continuing disability reviews for approved claimants. For years, the CDR program was basically ignored by Social Security – as a result only a very tiny percentage of approved claimants were ever removed from the payment rolls and there was no inquiry into improved medical status. This is changing and I am starting to receive calls from my old clients asking about these continuing reviews. [Read More...]
Recently the Social Security disability lawyer discussion group on LinkedIn contained an interesting thread about child support issues. Child Support and Social Security disability matters tend to draw a lot of attention from both custodial and non-custodial parents, so I try to write about any developments I note in this area.
The poster on LinkedIn reported that she represented a claimant who was a non-custodial parent who owed several thousand dollars in past due benefits. The child support collection office (state not named) had apparently contracted with a private collection agency. The collection agency notified Social Security about the child support lien and the minute that the past due benefit award was issued, it was grabbed by the collection agency. Child support claims are one of the few types of claims that can garnish SSDI (but not SSI) benefits – see the federal statute here.
One of my colleagues, attorney Erin Schmidt from Cleveland, Ohio added a very salient point to this discussion. Collection agencies do not account for auxiliary benefits. Since auxiliary benefits (which can amount to 25% of a disabled claimant’s monthly benefit amount and are paid in addition to the claimant’s benefit), a favorable decision could result in the payment of thousands of dollars to the auxiliary. [Read More...]
The Social Security Administration has changed the URL for Listing No. 6.00 – Genitourinary Impairments. This is a change to the syntax of the Bluebook 1.
Previously, the URL read as follows:
This is now a dead link.
The updated link now reads:
I am not sure why SSA decided to get rid of the dash between “genito” and “urinary” but it did. If you had bookmarked the old link, now is the time to update it.
I have no doubt that a significant percentage of disability claimants denied by Social Security judges do have significant medical or mental health problems that would prevent them from performing competitive work. Why, then, are these honest but unfortunate men and women receiving denials when they should be receiving fully favorable decisions?
This is a very unsettled time in the world of Social Security disability and there are forces in play that you as the claimant and me as the claimant’s attorney cannot control.
On one hand, we have a President and Congress who are intent on expanding our nation’s social safety net. Whatever your political leanings, there can be no doubt that the federal government has committed itself to spend trillions of dollars in various social programs. Politicians of both parties assure us that Social Security and Medicare are sacred and that we will not balance our budget on the backs of seniors and the poor.
At the same time, Congress regularly holds hearings to identify instances where disability claimants have defrauded the system, or where judges have approved 99% of cases brought before them. I recently highlighted the efforts by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn to crack down on fraud and inefficiency in the disability decision making process. You can view that video here.
I get a lot of questions about fibromyalgia and other medical conditions that rely on subjective reporting by patients. These cases are definitely getting more difficult to win. Here is a question sent to me by a blog reader that describes an increasingly typical situation:
I'm 41 yrs old and have been suffering for many years with narcolepsy and fibromyalgia. My sleep disorder actually falls between narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnolence. My family and myself are falling apart because of my disabilities. I've applied for disability in the past and was denied. I'm applying again and wanting to ask you how do i go about applying to prove my disability since its been denied in the past? How much weight does testimonials from family and friends carry? How much weight does a signed letter from my doctor saying, i can't work/drive its unsafe, carry?
I am not surprised that you have had a difficult time with Social Security. As you probably know, Social Security defines disability in terms of your capacity to work a simple, entry-level type of job. Basically you have to prove that the symptoms of your medical condition or conditions are so intrusive, that you cannot work at any job, full time.
As the person claiming disability you have to prove that you are unable to work – you do this by submitting medical records, and, even better, a functional capacity form completed by your doctor that identifies specific activity limitations.
- Disabling Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Arise from a Single Concussion
- New Information Available About Social Security’s Work Incentive Programs
- Your Lump Sum Payment for Past Due Benefits may be at Risk from Child Support Collection Companies
- Genitourinary Impariment Listing URL Updated
- Absence of Political Influence Costs Social Security Disability Claimants
- How do I Win for a Medical Condition that Cannot be Seen on a Diagnostic Test
- Will I Win my Case? I have been Waiting a Long Time and I am Scared
- Can Vocational Witness Testimony Predict the Outcome of Your Hearing?
- SSDI Claimants Can Expect to be Asked About Unemployment Benefits
- Past Due Benefits Paid Up to One Year Prior to Application Date Only
- Use a Cane? Get a Prescription
- Why Do Social Security Judges Call Vocational Expert Witnesses to Testify at Social Security Hearings?
- Will Filing for Unemployment Hurt Your Social Security Disability Case?
- How do You Contact the Judge to Update Your Hearing Testimony?
- Claim Review Doctors at Social Security Overworked, Underqualified and Underpaid