Social Security Disability:

How To Apply; How To Win

Search

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.

 More



Blogroll

  • Broke Last year the Social Security Administration sent $127.7 billion to those determined disabled but took in only $104 billion in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Deficits began draining the trust fund in 2005 and are expected to be exhausted by 2017
  • Account Overdrawn Just as when individuals spend beyond their means to repay, so too, do states and nations. "Washington's public debt is nearly $8.5 trillion, which comes to about 58% of the U.S. economy, compared with ratios exceeding 100% in places like Greece.
  • The End of Healthcare Make no mistake about it: socialized medicine is medical treatment at the point of a gun. Under a single payer government plan, medical decisions will be taken out of doctors' hands and relinquished to the arbitrary whims of government.
  • Vet Falsely Accused An atmosphere of suspicion and distrust was created even before Bill arrived at the meeting with Social Security's consulting psychiatrist, Dr. F. Bill called him from the road to tell him he was on Key Bridge and would be a few minutes late.
  • 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;


  • The Good, Bad, & Ugly Over many years I have seen a lot of representatives ask questions about the numbers of jobs vocational experts (VEs) testify to under a set of limitations the ALJ accepts. However, the latest dialogue among representatives has confirmed for me


  • Do The Math For the purpose of constructing a model which excludes the fact that the number of workers (who pay the bill) is less than the number of retirees (who collect via SSA from the workers), consider the following: Start with an eighteen-year old


  • Backlog Crisis The latest processing times for Social Security disability cases have hit new all-time highs. The average lengths of time up to May of 2008 for Social Security disability claimants to get a hearing after a hearing is requested, has been received from the Social Security Administration through


  • Safety Net Knot David Michaelis of Chewala, WA, felt the symptoms of a rare neuromuscular disease in October of '02.The condition causes involuntary movements of the head and neck, which destroys the ability to coordinate eye-hand movements.


  • I AM NOT A CROOK


  • Disable Social Security Chile's Social Security system is based on individual freedoms - economic, social and political - and is a much more prosperous and lively society.


Follow Us


Soc

Blog Post

The Good, Bad & Ugly

Over many years I have seen a lot of representatives ask questions about the numbers of jobs vocational experts (VEs) testify to under a set of limitations the ALJ accepts.


However, the latest dialogue among representatives has confirmed for me that those who depend on winning a case based on tearing

apart a VE's testimony are, in the words of an ALJ I appeared before 10 years ago, trying to dance too many fairies on the head of a pin.


The fundamental issue is functionality, functionality, functionality.


A representative's job is to shut down the VE. That means you provide substantial evidence which renders the VE pointless and irrelevant. Since the ALJ is not qualified to make medical judgments, the doc's testimony through a residual functional capacity assessment reigns.


Shutting down the VE is accomplished by getting the treating physician to state that (1) his or her patient is not able to think and concentrate for at least 20% of the time due to pain, and/or a reduction of mental acuity due to the side effects of prescribed medications or depression - with a commensurate loss of productivity.; (2) If your client were placed in a work situation, then he or she would need to take frequent and unscheduled breaks lasting 10 minutes each time; (3) your client is unable to use his or her arms for frequent reaching; or he or she is not able to use his or her hands for grasping and/or fingering; your client would be absent from work as a result of his or her symptoms more than 3 times a month; (4) your client needs to take naps during the day to relieve pain and discomfort.


It's also critical to keep in mind that a patient/client would be looking for a job in a competitive, able-bodied marketplace.


If your ALJ is intellectually honest, then he or she will pay you based on the residual functional capacity assessment which is backed by the medical evidence.


If all of the above is accomplished, and the ALJ turns to the VE to answer a hypothetical patient who does not include all the clear limitations you have, then you're probably dealing with a hanging judge. In which case, you can't do much else than you've already done.


However, if you're with an intellectually honest judge, he or she will usually go through the motions of asking the VE hypothetical questions which will obviously elicit a response of "no jobs."


My point is that if your representative gets into a pissing match with the VE over how many jobs there are in the economy that a patient can do, then you need to take a very hard look at the merits of your case.


The third category of ALJs are those who are intellectually dishonest and deny everyone - in which case you'll have to take your case to the Appeals Council.

Social Security Disability Self-Evaluation

an image

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

Here














News

    1-800-536-0454

    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.


    Dystonia can effect other body parts or the entire body. It can be constant or episodic and sporadic. It is usually treated with botox injections at 3 month intervals.




    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