Social Security Disability: Be precise!

Social Security bases it’s decision on concrete figures. When you complete forms for Social Security, make sure that you use numbers, not words, to describe your limitations. If you use words like “a lot,” “often,” “very little,” “not far,” “few,” or others, Social Security has to ignore that sentence. If you can only walk for 10 minutes, don’t say “I can’t walk far,” say “I can’t walk more than 10 minutes.” Providing Social Security with numbers gives them something to base their decision on.

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Social Security Disability: Building a relationship with your doctor

One of the most valuable pieces of evidence that we can present to the Social Security Disability Judge is a statement from your doctor regarding exactly what your limitations and restrictions are. Unfortunately, some doctors are not willing to give these statements, or prefer to refer patients to expensive assessments. Make sure to discuss your doctor’s policy about making these statements early in your case. That way, if your doctor won’t make a statement, you will have time to build a relationship with one who will.

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Social Security Disability: Tell your doctor your limitations!

When Social Security decides your case, they’re basing their decision off of what your medical record says about your limitations. Doctors are more focused on treating your condition than they are about recording your limitations, and so, unfortunately, limitations are very rarely found in the medical record. Before you apply, or while your case is pending, make sure to discuss your limitations with your doctor and ask that those limitations be specified in your medical record.

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Diagnosis vs. Severity

One of the most common mistakes that people make when they apply for disability without an attorney is relying on their diagnoses rather than on the severity of their condition. For example, when we interact with an employer or with DHS, all they need to see is a diagnosis from a doctor and they’re satisfied. Social Security, on the other hand, is looking far more deeply. Social Security doesn’t care about what your doctor says that you have been diagnosed with; Social Security cares about what your doctor says those diagnoses do to you in terms of physical and mental limitations.

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Residual Functional Capacity. (RFC)

RFC is simply the amount of work a disabled individual is still capable of performing on their own. The Social Security office evaluates this based on and any evidence that is provided to justify the capacity suggested. RFC is weighed as medium, light or sedentary.

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You have more than one filing option!

There are two programs that individuals can apply to for social security benefits.

The social security disability insurance – providing aid to a disabled person and their family if they have paid for social security long enough.

The supplemental security income – this is given based on financial need given to parents and children with limited income.

Both programs are very similar in that they both define disability in the same way. The significant difference between both of them is that the first requires you to have work credits through the Social security system whiles the other requires an individual to have low income.

Is it possible to apply for both at the same time?

Yes!! You can apply to both programs at the same time. Applicants are generally concerned that filing for both programs at the same time could cause some kind of suspicion.This is not the case, mainly because, the two programs are processed independently of each other. However, receiving benefits from one program doesn’t automatically give you benefits on the other. In most cases,  people would be able to receive benefits from only one of the programs.

90% of all applications are denied on the first application. If your case falls within the 90%, there is no need to worry. You can work with your lawyer to move your case to the appeal/ hearing stage.

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Social Security: Age Matters

While there are several factors that go into determining whether someone qualifies for Social security Disability Benefits, one of the most important factors is age. Age is the factor that determines which standard of work is applied to decide whether a person is disabled.

Age is evaluated in 3 categories.

  • Young individual – under age 50
  • closely approaching advanced age – (50- 54)
  • advanced age – age 55 or older (60 or older is considered “closely approaching retirement age)
Each individual in the category is treated equally, which means that 45 – year old is treated the same way as a 49-year-old, as per considerations for the age. Regardless of this, your case would  be unique based on the other factors considered in the process. In borderline situations, the age categories are not applied mechanically.

 

Borderline situations are circumstances where a person has just a few months or days to their birthday. This could potentially boost the individual to a different category.For most people, the major dividing lines are the ages of 60, 55, and 50. Once you turn 50, you are no longer required to show that you are incapable of performing sedentary work. This means that even if you are capable of doing a job sitting behind a desk, you can still be considered disabled. Every 5 years, depending on your transferrable skills, the amount of work that you can still be able to do while being considered disabled grows. At age 60, the average high school graduate will only need to show that they are not capable of performing work that requires being on their feet most of the day and carrying 25-50 pounds.

For most people, the major dividing lines are the ages of 60, 55, and 50. Once you turn 50, you are no longer required to show that you are incapable of performing sedentary work. This means that even if you are capable of doing a job sitting behind a desk, you can still be considered disabled. Every 5 years, depending on your transferrable skills, the amount of work that you can still be able to do while being considered disabled grows. At age 60, the average high school graduate will only need to show that they are not capable of performing work that requires being on their feet most of the day and carrying 25-50 pounds.

However as noted previously, there is more to the determination than simply age. Other factors include education, transferable skills, past work, and physical limitations. In general, however, the older you are, the easier it is to be found disabled by Social Security.

Contact our Grand Rapids office today for a free consultation, located here in Kent County in West Michigan.

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