Posted by: Gabrielle | 02/04/2010

Claimant is between a rock and a hard place!

As a disability lawyer, I represent lots of claimants with lots of different disabilities.  However, I have one right now who is really stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The claimant is a 55-year old man with kidney disease – renal failure.  This disease runs in his family, having affected his mother and two siblings.  He does not want to undergo dialysis yet and has chosen to try natural herbal remedies.  However, he is on a list for a kidney transplant because it apparently takes a few years to get a kidney and by that time he will need it.

The herbal treatment is helping some.  He is tired all the time but manages to take care of his activities of daily living.    Because of his fatigue, it his doctor’s opinion that he would be unable to hold a job.

The problem?  Social Security agrees that he has renal failure, but because he won’t agree to dialysis, they say he is not eligible for disability benefits.   Huhhh?

His hearing is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I’ll post the results as soon as we get them.

Posted by: Gabrielle | 01/25/2010


Here are some of the conditions which could cause a person to be disabled and unable to work.  

Physical Problems
back and neck problems
rheumatoid arthritis
heart disease

Mental Problems
bipolar disorder
somatoform disorder
mental retardation

The above list is not all-inclusive, but is provided to give some examples of disorders which could result in an award of disability benefits.  Furthermore, a person with one of the above disorders is not necessarily disabled to the point where he/she is unable to work.

If you are between 18 years old and 50 years old, you are in the most difficult age range to get Social Security benefits.

Before you turn 18, Social Security uses the “child” standard for disability evaluations.

After you turn 18, though, Social Security uses the “adult” standard. You have to show that you are unable to do any type of work which exists in substantial numbers in the local and national economy. That basically means that you have to convince Social Security that you can’t do any kind of work.

Some attorneys won’t take a case where an individual is under 50 years of age. However it is possible to win such a Social Security disability case.  It is just harder and your attorney has to work harder. But after all, that is why you are hiring an attorney in the first place.

Posted by: Gabrielle | 01/14/2010

Get Updates on your Social Security Disability Claim

You can get updates on your Social Security Disability or SSI claim by contacting either the local Social Security office or the DDS Examiner assigned to the case.  The DDS is the Disability Determination Service and is the state agency responsible for determining if you are medically eligible for benefits.

The DDS Examiner is generally your best bet because he or she is the person actually managing the case.

Unlike calling the Social Security Office, getting through on the phone to DDS is usually fairly easy.  Simply call the DDS number (you can get the number from your local Social Security Office) and ask to speak to the disability examiner assigned to the case.  You will need to provide your social security number to get the correct examiner.

If you have an attorney to represent you, your attorney will make this call.    The attorney will know how to deal with the DDS examiner and will know what questions to ask and what information to give.  The attorney will then inform you of the results and work with you to provide any further information and/or records which the DDS needs

In a perfect world, people who are genuinely disabled would quickly be granted disability benefits and medical care. Unfortunately, the disability benefit system as it is currently handled by the social security administration does not function in this manner.

Most social security  and SSI disability claims will be denied at the initial claim level and will need to be pursued at least to the hearing level.

However, you can boost your chances of winning a social security disability claim as follows:

1.  Get your primary doctor and any specialist whom you see to support your disability case and have him or her complete a detailed report as to why you are disabled and unable to work.

2.  Submit copies of your medical records up to the present when you apply and each time you appeal.

3.  Cooperate fully with the Disability Examiner working on your case. This includes responding promptly to letters and notices, as well as going to any medical exams scheduled by DDS.

4.  Keep  tabs (personally or via an attorney or representative) on the status of your social security disability case.  If you are not represented, call DDS for updates on an initial claim or reconsideration.  Don’t call the 1-800 number because you will be on hold for a long time and the information you get may be incorrect.

5.  Don’t let important deadlines go by on your SSDI or SSI disability claim.

6.  Retain an attorney as soon as your disability claim is denied.

7.  Maintain a good relationship with the people who work on your case – this includes the Claims Rep at Social Security, the Examiner at DDS, and your attorney.