Social Security Disability:

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Disability According To Social Security

Congress has defined disability as the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment, which makes you unable to do your previous work or any other substantial gainful activity which exists in the national economy. To determine whether you are able to do any other work, we consider your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience."

From this definition has emerged a standard set of questions which must be asked of each claimant (the person who is applying).

1. Is the individual gainfully employed? The answer to this must be "no."

2. Is there a severe impairment (or group of impairments) which exist?

3. Will the impairment(s) last at least 12 months or result in death?

4. Does the impairment meet any of the standards set by SSA as being severe enough to grant disability?

If questions 2, 3, and 4 above can be answered "yes," then that person will be awarded benefits. If all of the above questions, except number 4 can be answered "yes," then several more questions must be asked. If the answer to number 4 is "no," then SSA must ask:

5. Can the individual perform any of the work s/he has done in the last 15 years? If the answer to this is "yes," then that person is considered not disabled. If the answer to number 5 is "no," then SSA must ask:

6. Given the limitations of the individual's impairment, are any of the skills s/he learned in past work able to be used in another occupation that would require very little retraining? If the answer to this last question is "yes," then that person is not disabled. If the answer is "no," then s/he must be found disabled.

All of the above is based on certain definitions, assumptions, and conditions which pertain to age,education, work experience, and residual functional capacity.

Age

In general, SSA operates on the assumption that the older one gets, the less able s/he is to learn new skills. An individual under the age of 50 is referred to as a "younger individual." Ages 50 to 54 are called "closely approaching advanced age;" 55 and over is "advanced age," and ages 60 to 64 are called "closely approaching retirement age."

Education

SSA makes the assumption that the more education one has, the better able s/he is to make adjustments in jobs. Conversely, the less education, the less able one is to adjust. So if one has a severe impairment, and cannot read or write, s/he should be found disabled.

Education through the 6th grade or less is termed "marginal;" 7th grade through the 11th is "limited." If one has a 12th grade education or a GED, then the question remaining is whether or not s/he has done work which permits entry into another group of jobs which require many of the same skills as s/he was doing before, or less.

If there are jobs in the economy which are related in skills to the one(s) s/he was doing within the last 15 years, and which s/he is determined capable of doing given the limitations imposed by the impairment(s), then s/he will not be found disabled.

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Our Deceptive SSA

An audit of the Social Security Administration by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) two years ago uncovered some very disturbing and damning facts.

Among them are: ∑Hundreds of pieces of unopened mail;
Over a thousand disability cases not recorded in the Hearing Office Tracking System;
Significant processing delays, including an average of 336 days to process claims at the Hearing level.

For the first time, the OIG monitored individual disability cases, which included a man in Houston who was awarded disability benefits based on his mental impairments. OIG found that the individual's impairments were cloaked by his mother who concealed that her son was an honors student with a Bachelor's degree, honored cum laude.

Other instances of fraud and deception are: a woman in Chicago who claimed statutory blindness, claiming she could not dress herself, brush her hair, or raise her arms above her head. An anonymous call revealed that she was working.

In St. Louis, SSI disability checks were being cashed by a woman's former husband, despite the fact that she had been murdered. The man arranged that her checks be held at the Post Office, where he forged her signature, and deposited them in his second wife's checking account. The man was convicted of capital murder, sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

In Nashville, a woman feigned mental impairments, stating she was confused and unable to concentrate, work, or leave her home. DDS suspected the woman was exaggerating her disability and referred the matter for investigation. Her claim was denied.

OIG found that several of the fraudulent SSI claims began in the '70's and '80's, and resulted in 35 arrests, 24 felony convictions, and court-ordered restitutions, forfeitures, and judgments. Many of those convicted were also incarcerated.

OIG is working in conjunction with SSA's Office of Disability Cooperative Disability Investigations, or CDI. According to OIG, CDI efforts have resulted in over $268 million in projected savings to SSA Title II and Title XVI disability programs and over $146 million in projected savings to non-SSA programs. In fiscal year 2003, the CDI units saved around $268 million in projected savings to SSA, and over $146 million in projected saving to non-SSA programs. CDI claims it saved about $100 million by identifying fraud and abuse in the disability program.

In fiscal year 2002, SSA processed over 2.3 million initial disability claims with an average processing time of 336 days. As a result of concerns about the timeliness and quality of service, SSA has tested several improvements in the disability claims process, but none of them have been proven to accomplish their goal.

In fiscal year 2002, SSA issued $483 billion in benefit payments to 53.1 million beneficiaries

Whatever the deception and fraud committed by the disabled, however, I submit the greater amount of deception is being conducted by SSA, causing even more destitution than would be brought upon those too sick to work, than what a privatized system would provide.

Ask Bob Docket (not his real name). "My wife Anna first applied for disability back in '1985. And, her claim was denied time and time again. Because of long delays and repeated denials by the Social Security Administration for disability benefits, we experienced severe financial problems.

"The first thing to go was our savings in our attempt to hold onto our little part of the 'American Dream,' our home in Glyndon, Maryland. Then we lost our car, then our credit, then our home. We were forced to sell our home at a considerable loss. "The medical bills kept coming, as did all the other bills as well as law suits by creditors for their money. We were eventually forced into bankruptcy. In the meantime, Social Security kept denying Anna's claim.

"While I never told my wife or let on how I really felt, I had considered suicide. How could our country do this to our family? I even drove up on the main span of Key Bridge, parked my car and went over to the rail and stared out into the cold midnight water."

All of this suffering simply because incompetent or devious SSA workers continually told him to reapply instead of appeal. The obscenity is that this gross injustice is being meted out with the claimants' own legally expropriated money.

Originally sold to the public as "insurance" by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Social Security was touted as the cure for destitution in old age, and in the event of a working adult becoming so disabled that he or she is not able to work. As with most all government "protection" programs, they become the cause of the problems they are intended to solve.

Social Security Disability Self-Evaluation

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Here's a short quiz that will help you determine what your chances are of being found disabled.

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    Record 100 Dystonia Cases Won; No Losses


    On December 12th, Frederick A. Johnson, President of Disability Income Associates for 23 years, won his one hundredth dystonia case. He has never lost a dystonia case.


    He is expert advisor to the American Dystonia Society, providing immediate answers to questions about Social Security disability programs and procedures to its 500 plus members. The American Dystonia Society is dedicated to research as a non-profit organization, and established in 2009. http://dystonia.ning.com/main/authorization/signUp?


    Johnson has spoken on 3 occasions at the National Spasmodic Torticollis Association, a cervical dystonia patient support organization headquartered in Fountain Valley, CA.


    Since 1990, Johnson has represented over 1,000 patients who were not able to work because of the severity of their medical problems.


    He is author of "How To Apply For & Win Social Security Disability Benefits," and created specialized proprietary residual functional capacity forms for every major condition. The forms integrate the symptoms Social Security looks for in making its awards with the most basic legal standards.


    Johnson was a member of the medical corps in the Navy, working in the ICU, emergency room, recovery room, and surgical wards at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. Additionally, he was a medical worker in the private sector for 2 years.


    Cervical dystonia, also called spasmodic torticollis, or torticollis, is the most common of the focal dystonias. In torticollis, the muscles in the neck which control the position of the head are affected, causing the head to involuntarily twist and turn to one side. In addition, the head may be pulled forward or backward. Though of different etiology, dystonia is treated in the same ways as Parkinson's. Neurologists, however, frequently misdiagnose the condition. A gene has recently been found for dystonia; however, there is strong evidence to show that it can be originated by trauma.


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    What a Few Clients Say



    I gladly write you a check today for our fully favorable SSDI win.


    Four long years and NC didn't do anything quickly or easy, but you stayed the course, kept me informed and most important-were my champion. I never spoke to anyone at SSA because you were on the front line for me.


    I am proof positive that you can win your benefits with a skilled professional by your side. Dystonians rejoice for Fred Johnson!


    D.Brinkley Snead Ferry, NC
    2/2/11



    Thank you for the untiring support given to me in obtaining my Social Security Disability claim. I would not have been able to do all the hard work that you have put into this case. You will be greatly rewarded for the work you do for Disabled population. I will keep you always in my prayers. Again, thank you.!!!


    E. White
    Randallstown, MD 21132
    4/23/08




    I want to take this opportunity to personally thank you for successfully navigating us to a favorable decision with regard to my case. If one ever has any concern or doubt about hiring a representative over an attorney, I can assure them that this notion can be set to rest. You very capably guided me through a maze of obstacles designed to confuse and bewilder even the well educated.


    Because Spasmodic Torticolllis is considered somewhat of a rare disorder and is not listed on the Department of Social Security's "listing of impairments:, it created a challenge, but it was one you were more than able to handle. Everything happened as you predicted with respect to the denials, but it was your expertise and perseverance that prevailed somewhere between the reconsideration denial and the hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, which was very unusual. You spared me the great anxiety and further depletion of my savings by cutting through the labyrinthine bureaucracy at the hearing level and winning benefits without have to go to a hearing. Needless to say, I am very pleased and would highly recommend you to anyone who may be considering you as their representative.


    Not only were you always available to answer my questions and concerns on a professional level, but equally as important, was the way in which you took this case on personally. I really admired the way you actually fought for me. Your heart was in it and I could tell. You know the system so very well Fred, and people who attempt to take on this giant on their own are at a tremendous disadvantage from the beginning.


    If your assistance will help level the playing field and helps them decide on the proper representation they truly need, then it is my honor and pleasure to be of service to you.


    Thank you so much!


    G. Beaubien, Jr.
    Osprey, FL
    2/19/05