Category Archives: social security disability

New Social Security Rules Make It Harder To Present Your Case

Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

In December, 2010, the Social Security Administration (SSA) implemented a set of rules put in place to enable more effective case review. One of the major changes was that Applicants will no longer know who their Administrative Law Judge is prior to their scheduled hearing. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that these judges seem more concerned with the speed of case processing than on whether the applicants actually deserve benefits. WSJ also indicated that some judges were approving more than 85% of the cases they heard in what was allegedly an effort to have the cases resolved more quickly. Unfortunately, for applicants, this change in practice has made their cases much harder to litigate. Many Administrative Law Judges have different styles of practice in how their cases are heard. An attorney may present information in a different style depending on the judge. The importance of an applicant being represented by an attorney before the Social Security Administration has never been clearer. Since there is no way to know who the Administrative Law Judge is prior to the hearing, it is absolutely imperative that every case prepared in accordance to all rules governing how cases are tried before the court. If even the slightest detail is overlooked, it may prevent an applicant from being allowed to present evidence that could win his or her case.

Do I have to be on Social Security Disability Forever?

You aren’t prohibited from returning to work after being on Social Security Disability

Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Many of the people that I’ve spoken to over the years are under the impression that once you get Social Security Disability (SSD) you have to remain on benefits forever and can never go back to work. This is a common misconception, and one that prevents many people from receiving benefits they would otherwise be entitled to.

While you do not have to be on SSD forever, you do have to be out of work for at least twelve (12) consecutive months. However, once you’ve satisfied this durational requirement, you can return to work and receive SSD for a portion of the time that you were unable to work – Social Security doesn’t pay disability benefits for the first five (5) full months you’re out of work.

We have many clients who receive excellent medical care and have their medical condition improve and return to work. That’s great, and it’s something we love to see. SSD is there for you during the time that you’re unable to work.

…the Social Security Administration…even lets you work for a limited period of time before stopping your benefits.

Social Security also likes it when you return to work, and they have several different programs that help you get back to work, even if it’s a different sort of work than what you were doing before you became disabled. I’ll cover these programs in more detail in a later post, but for now, you should know that the Social Security Administration makes it possible for you to get vocational rehabilitation and retraining for free, and even lets you work for a limited period of time before stopping your benefits.

Once you know that you’ll be out of work for at least 12 months, contact our office to discuss filing a claim, even if you plan to return to work in the future. Because of the fact that you can lose benefits if you wait too long to apply (something I discussed here) you shouldn’t delay filing for benefits just because you plan to go back to work in the future.

How Does Social Security Help Me Get Back to Work?

The SSA has programs to help disabled people rejoin the workforce.

Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

As I discussed in a previous post, you don’t have to be on Social Security Disability (SSD) forever. Many people find that their medical conditions improve and they want to try to get back to work. However, it’s hard to get back into the workforce after being out of it for a long time, and people are worried about losing their eligibility for benefits if they try to go back to work but are unsuccessful.

Social Security recognizes that it can be difficult for people to get back into the labor market and that people would be reluctant to go back to work if they would automatically lose entitlement to their disability benefits. To address these concerns, Social Security runs several programs to help people transition back into the workforce while maintaining financial eligibility.

Social Security has many programs and policies to help people return to work, but I will discuss two of these programs in some detail. These are the Ticket to Work program and the Trial Work Period.

The Ticket to Work program gives disabled individuals access to a network of services that offer retraining and vocational rehabilitation. This is a free, completely voluntary program. Once you reach out to them, you will Continue reading

Shortcuts at the Social Security Administration Mean Mistakes

Today’s post comes from guest author Roger Moore from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA), frustrated by the backlog of applications for disability benefits, started pressuring the 140 doctors the agency uses to help evaluate some of the claims. In an effort to encourage the quick processing of claims doctors were paid a flat rate of $80/case in stead of the previous $90/hour to review the cases. Many times these cases have hundreds of pages of records to be reviewed and can turn on a few sentences.

In this setting it’s every more important to seek the help of a treating physician in offering a supportive report.

Also, doctors were assigned to evaluate conditions that were not in their areas of expertise. One of the more interesting quotes came from Neil Novin, former chief of surgery at Baltimore’s Harbor Hospital, who worked for Social Security part time for about 10 years. He said “People who shouldn’t be getting [disability] are getting it, and people who should be getting it aren’t getting it”. In my experience Continue reading

What Young Workers Need To Know About Their Social Security Benefits

Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

According to a recent article published in the Palm Beach News Post, approximately one in four workers under the age of thirty will become disabled before reaching their full retirement age of 67. What many workers do not realize is that Social Security will pay benefits if you become incapable of performing any substantial gainful activity. It is astounding that 25% of the population will likely suffer a work ending disability. In a poor economy with job availability flailing and gas prices rising, it is becoming increasingly more important to know your rights to protect yourself and your family if you become unable to work. It is truly a shame that many individuals do not know that they may be eligible for benefits that could provide them with income and medical treatment that they may otherwise not have. The easiest way to stay informed about your rights is to Continue reading

I Filed For SSD on My Own and Got Turned Down – What Should I Do Next?

Today’s post comes from guest author Barbara Tilker from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

If you get a denial notice from Social Security after filing your application for benefits on your own, don’t be surprised. Most people are turned down the first time they apply for benefits. Social Security recently released a study showing that people who filed on their own were slightly more likely to get denied initially, although they received their initial decision a little sooner. Many people make one of two common mistakes when they get turned down – they either don’t do anything or they file a new application. People who don’t do anything will, of course, not receive Social Security disability benefits. Those that file a new application are just as likely to get turned down again, and may lose entitlement to benefits they otherwise would have gotten.

When you get a denial, you should file an appeal of that decision.

When you get a denial, you should file an appeal of that decision. Filing an appeal is different than filing a new application. Depending on where you live, you will either file a request for reconsideration or a request for a hearing. A request for reconsideration means that someone else at Social Security reviews your file and makes a new decision. If you get denied at reconsideration (and about 90% of people do) you should file a request for a hearing.

After you file a request for a hearing, you’ll be scheduled for a hearing held by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will ask you questions and issue a written decision after the hearing. People who appear at a hearing before an ALJ are much more likely to get SSD than those who file a new application after getting denied.

Once you receive a denial, you should contact our office right away to discuss your options. You only have sixty (60) days to file an appeal, so it’s important to act fast. Our staff will be able to handle the appeals process for you, and one of our attorneys will appear at the hearing with you. The most important thing is to not get discouraged and continue your medical treatment so that you’ll have the medical evidence you need to prove your disability.

Can I Collect Social Security, A Pension AND Workers' Comp?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: IF I AM GETTING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) AS WELL AS A PENSION DOES THAT MEAN I CANNOT GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AS WELL?

ANSWER: YOU CAN GET STILL GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION WHEN YOU ARE RECEIVING A PENSION AND SSD.

At 55, Joe was a walking museum of every accident he had ever had in his 30 years of working the job. That last accident put him out of work for almost two years. Luckily, he filed all the paperwork, submitted all the forms, crossed all his ‘Ts’ and received Social Security Disability (SSD).

But after three decades of hard work, Joe had had enough and so he started the paperwork to retire. But he was worried. He had planned on applying for Workers’ Compensation, but he wasn’t sure he’d could since he was already on SSD and about to receive his pension. What should he do?

File, Joe! File!! The combination of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and a pension is called the Trifecta, a Triple Crown of benefits, so to speak. Continue reading