There is no such thing as the “perfect” case. Even the most deserving claimants may end up with a doctor who they don’t like or with whom they do not get along. This is especially true in “pain” cases when narcotic medicines may be prescribed. There are also doctors out there who do not believe in the concept of disability – as far as they are concerned no one is fully disabled and these doctors will not cooperate with a Social Security claimant at all (needless to say, it is helpful if you discover this trait in your treating doctors early enough in your case to find another doctor!).
What about unhelpful medical records? I see this frequently in cases where there was a workers’ compensation case. “Company doctors” often minimize symptoms and generate records indicating that a claimant has the capacity to return to work. Other times I see unhelpful records in cases where my client just did not “click” with his or her physician or psychiatrist.
One of my blog readers wrote me to ask about his obligation to submit unhelpful records in the context of a continuing disability review:
I have been on SSI for 8 years for mental illness. One recently former psychologist would say I was never disabled while my psychiatrist, and my new psychiatrist (the present one is moving) say I am disabled. Continue reading →
Social Security disability cases often interface with workers’ compensation and short term or long term disability cases. I recently received a question from a lady named Helena, who asks the following:
I have been working in the medical field for over 13 years and more. I am on short term disability. Can I apply for ssi due to my job may have caused my problem from lifting patients, pushing, pulling heavy patients to machines and other duties. This job was very stressful and I am taking anti depressants and I am seeing a psychiatrist.
Here are my thoughts: Helena certainly has the right to file for Social Security disability. However, I would advise her to speak to her workers’ compensation lawyer prior to doing so. Workers’ compensation claims can involve a significant amount of money when they settle and filing for disability can impact the value of your workers’ compensation claim.
The value of a workers’ compensation claim often turns on the uncertainty that exists in terms of the claimant’s prognosis for returning to work as well as uncertainty about the claimant’s future medical treatment. When you file a Social Security claim you are basically saying that you cannot work, and you will be bringing Medicare into the discussion in terms of future medical care. Medicare’s involvement also may affect your settlement because Medicare may demand that part of your settlement be set-aside to cover future medical care.
Long term and short term disability claims may also be impacted by a Social Security claim.
Bottom line – I would try to involve your lawyer as a point person to advise you about the various benefits to which you may be entitled and to help you decide about the timing or wisdom of pursuing these benefits.
dear jonathan: i have been recieving ssd since around 2002 and also recieving workers comp (lifetime settlement)i am 53 years old.there is also a small payment from my ltd carrier, in the past they requested 13,000 back in which i paid because of approvel of ssd.i would like to know if ssd will want repayment of any of this money back also, I am over the 80% amount of former salery. i feel traped in this situation .i did use a law firm from the start and they handeled it all but never advised me on the details i described. to date ssd has never requested information on any other payments recieved .your advice would be appreciated ..thank you jonathan i would think a ssd review could come up in the next year.
Jonathan Ginsberg responds: Manny, thanks for your question. Generally, workers compensation does offset Social Security. The question in my mind – does your SSDI payment already reflect an offset for workers compensation?
In Georgia, where I practice, Georgia workers compensation lawyers include special language in workers comp settlements that treats any lump sum settlement as if it was being paid over your lifetime. In my law firm, my wife Jodi Ginsberg handles workers compensation cases. If, for example, she settles a case for $50,000 for an individual who has a life expectancy of 30 years (per an actuarial table used in Georgia), this special settlement language treats the $50,000 not as a $50,000 lump sum but as $138.00 per month for 30 years. In this example, our claimant would see his SSDI reduced by $138 per month.
You need to speak to your workers’ compensation lawyer to see if your State has similar rules and to see if your settlement contains this pro rata payout language.
If Social Security did not take your workers compensation settlement into account, there could be issues – you will need to seek counsel to evaluate how to deal with this problem. I have seen some instances where a workers’ compensation settlement has been reopened and the special language put in, and I have seen situations where a claimant successfully asked Social Security for a waiver of the overpayment obligation. There is also a possibility that you could file bankruptcy to discharge any repayment obligation to Socal Security.