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Can I get Social Security Disability for having Diarrhea? Yes.

Social Security DisabilityYes, you can!

When it comes to Diarrhea, the most important factor that Social Security will be considering is “Off Task Time.” Being “off task” means being unable to do your job for some medical reason, such as having to be in the bathroom, being in too much pain to focus on basic tasks, or having to lie down. If your condition would result in you being “off task” more than around 15% of the workday, you are disabled.

These cases always come to down to getting your doctor to say in the medical record how much off task time you will experience and then convincing the Judge to believe your doctor. This can be a very difficult task, and is why it is so important to have an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer on your side.

If you would like to speak with one of our dedicated Social Security Disability Lawyers here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, please Contact Us today to schedule an appointment.

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Can I get Social Security Disability for Gastroparesis? Yes.

Social Security DisabilityYes, you can!

When it comes to Gastroparesis, the most important factor that Social Security will be considering is “Off Task Time.” Being “off task” means being unable to do your job for some medical reason, such as having to be in the bathroom, being in too much pain to focus on basic tasks, or having to lie down. If your condition would result in you being “off task” more than around 15% of the workday, you are disabled.

These cases always come to down to getting your doctor to say in the medical record how much off task time you will experience and then convincing the Judge to believe your doctor. This can be a very difficult task, and is why it is so important to have an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer on your side.

If you would like to speak with one of our dedicated Social Security Disability Lawyers here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, please Contact Us today to schedule an appointment.

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Can I get Social Security Disability for Crohn’s Disease? Yes.

Social Security DisabilityYes, you can!

When it comes to Crohn’s Disease, the most important factor that Social Security will be considering is “Off Task Time.” Being “off task” means being unable to do your job for some medical reason, such as having to be in the bathroom, being in too much pain to focus on basic tasks, or having to lie down. If your condition would result in you being “off task” more than around 15% of the workday, you are disabled.

These cases always come to down to getting your doctor to say in the medical record how much off task time you will experience and then convincing the Judge to believe your doctor. This can be a very difficult task, and is why it is so important to have an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer on your side.

If you would like to speak with one of our dedicated Social Security Disability Lawyers here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, please Contact Us today to schedule an appointment.

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Can I get Social Security Disability for IBS? Yes.

Social Security DisabilityYes, you can!

When it comes to IBS, the most important factor that Social Security will be considering is “Off Task Time.” Being “off task” means being unable to do your job for some medical reason, such as having to be in the bathroom, being in too much pain to focus on basic tasks, or having to lie down. If your condition would result in you being “off task” more than around 15% of the workday, you are disabled.

These cases always come to down to getting your doctor to say in the medical record how much off task time you will experience and then convincing the Judge to believe your doctor. This can be a very difficult task, and is why it is so important to have an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer on your side.

If you would like to speak with one of our dedicated Social Security Disability Lawyers here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, please Contact Us today to schedule an appointment.

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How long can you be on Social Security Disability?

Social Security DisabilityTo put it in the simplest terms, Social Security Disability benefits can remain in effect for as long as you are disabled or until you reach the age of 65. Once you reach the age of 65, Social Security Disability benefits stop and retirement benefits kick in.

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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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Paying the Bills

The Social Security Disability process is a very, very long process. The majority of claims end up going into the appeal stage, which means that it can sometime take 2 whole years before you start receiving Social Security Disability benefits. This is a very long span of time to be left without an income, especially for people who are probably incurring a lot of medical bills.

This period of time is made especially difficult by the fact that the very first requirement for applying for Social Security Disability benefits is that you not be working. Social Security Disability is a program that is reserved for people whose medical condition makes it impossible for them to work. While it’s possible to still meet Social Security’s definition of disabled while working a part time job earning below a certain level, doing so will cast serious doubt on the sincerity of your claim.

There are several options available for people who are unable to work and who do not have other resources available to them while their Social Security Disability claim is pending. For people over the age of 62, Social Security will offer to start sending you the Reduced Retirement Benefits while your Disability claim is pending. The State of Michigan also has several very helpful resources available to help pay for housing, food, and medical care. These programs can be applied for at http://www.Michigan.Gov/MIBridges.

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

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Gathering Medical Records

Many people in need of Social Security Disability Benefits hesitate because they are afraid of the daunting task of having to go get all of their medical records. They may have had experience with other social service programs, like Bridge Cards or Unemployment, which require tediously running around and trying to get copies of things like leases, electric bills, or pay stubs.

Unlike many of these other programs, Social Security actually does the work for you when it comes to gathering your medical records. All you have to do is tell Social Security where you have been for medical treatment and Social Security will do the rest! Social Security will contact your doctors, pay for copies of your medical records, and sift through them for relevant information.

So, when considering whether it is worth it to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits, be sure to remember that most of the heavy lifting is done by Social Security.

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Administrative Law Judges. Who are they, what do they do?

When you appeal an initial denial for Social Security Disability benefits, you have a hearing scheduled before an administrative law judge. An administrative law judge acts as both a judge and a jury in an administrative proceeding. In other words, where the judicial branch has trials in front of a judge and a jury, the executive branch has administrative hearings in front of an administrative law judge.

Most hearings before an administrative law judge tend to be less formal than trials in court. These hearings usually take place in a conference room rather than a courtroom, there is usually not an audience, and the rules of evidence are generally more relaxed. An administrative law judge also takes a more active role in the hearing than a judge would in a trial. At your hearing, it is very likely that almost all of the questioning of you and any witnesses will come from the administrative law judge rather than from an attorney.

In Grand Rapids, there are 8 administrative law judges. There is Judge Kenneth Ball, Judge Michael Condon, Judge Carol Guyton, Judge Douglas Johnson, Judge Nicholas Ohanesian, Judge James Prothro, Judge William Reamon, and Chief Judge Donna Grit. Hearings before these judges will take place at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review at 99 Monroe NW, Suite 300, in Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

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The Social Security Disability Application

The initial application for Social Security Disability benefits can be a long, tedious, and boring process. However, if you go into the application knowing what to expect and already having your answers prepared, the application can be a quick and painless process. There are three main types of information that you will need for the application.

First, you will need to have all of the basic information about yourself that you have put on every application you have ever filled out. For example, you will need your full name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number. Second, you will need to have information about your work history. This is the part where many people, not expecting to have to have this information available, end up giving up in frustration. You will need to know the name and contact information for every job that you have worked in the last 15 years. You will also need to know the dates that you worked there, how much you earned and the type of work that you did. For most people, it can be next to impossible to remember all of this information, and so approximations are acceptable. The most important part is remembering what type of work you did and what sort of earnings you had.

Third, and most important, is your medical information. You will need to know the name and contact information for every place where you have ever been seen for any medical reason that is in any way related to your disability. You will also need to know the dates of the visit, any tests that you done, and any medication that you have been on. This section is the most important because the Social Security Administration uses this information to gather your medical records, and whether you are approved or denied depends almost entirely on those medical records.

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What Medical Evidence is Presented to an Administrative Law Judge?

After you have appealed your initial Social Security Disability denial you will have a hearing before an administrative law judge. Shortly before the hearing, this administrative law judge will review your entire Social Security file, giving special attention to your medical records. The medical records reviewed by the administrative law judge are all of the medical records that have been submitted to the Social Security Administration. Those which are most important are those which address your ability to do work.

Medical records come from two main sources. First, most of the medical records will have been gathered by the Social Security Administration from all of the doctors that you named on your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits. Second, your Social Security Disability attorney will have gathered medical records from any doctors that you have told your Social Security Disability attorney about. If any of those medical records were not already gathered by the Social Security Administration, your Social Security Disability attorney will have submitted them as evidence for your hearing.

In addition to the medical records created by your doctors after your visits, your Social Security Disability attorney will have requested that your doctor provide additional statements about your ability to do work related tasks. These records are extremely valuable to the administrative law judge because regular medical records are meant to address your healthcare, whereas these records are specifically designed to address your ability to work.

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What are my chances?

The most common question asked and the hardest question to answer is “what are my chances?” The odds of successfully obtaining Social Security Disability benefits will vary greatly from person to person, and even among people with the exact same medical conditions. Whether a person receives Social Security Disability benefits depends on many factors, ranging from the completeness of their medical record, to their work experience, to which Administrative Law Judge they are assigned. Even the most experienced Social Security Disability attorneys cannot state with any certainty whether someone will be approved or denied.

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I live in West Michigan. Where is my Local Hearing Office?

Campau Square Plaza Building, Suite 300
99 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

 

 

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Continue Seeing Your Doctor

Throughout the Social Security Disability application process, it is important that you continue to regularly see your doctor and follow the treatment that he prescribes. The Social Security Administration may deny an application if it is discovered that an applicant has failed to follow a course of treatment that is expected to restore that applicants ability to work. If you are unable to follow your course of treatment, it is important to speak with your Social Security Disability attorney to see if you may be excused from the treatment. Such valid reasons include religious beliefs, inability to pay, or a fear or surgery.

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How do I apply for Social Security Disability?

There are four ways to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The first is to call your Social Security Administration office and complete an application over the phone. The second way to apply for Social Security Disability benefits is to visit the Social Security Administration in person. The third way to apply for Social Security Disability benefits is to fill out an application and mail, fax, or deliver it to the Social Security Administration. The fourth way to apply for Social Security Disability benefits is to fill out an application online.

Contact our office at (616) 920-0555 and we can assist you with any of the methods above.

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How long is this supposed to take to get Social Security Disability benefits?

The biggest source of frustration for people applying for Social Security Disability benefits is how much waiting is involved. After months of not hearing anything, many people begin to wonder if their application has been lost or is on hold for some unknown reason. The Social Security Disability process is a very long and slow process. It can take several months before you receive a response on your initial application. If you are declined and appeal that decision, your hearing may not take place until nearly an entire year after you submit your appeal. From start to finish, some people do not start getting Social Security Disability benefits for nearly two years after they applied. This is why it is so important to start the process as soon as possible.

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You May Apply for Social Security Disability and VA Disability at the Same Time

Disabled veterans are able to receive VA disability benefits and Social Security disability benefits simultaneously, so it’s not uncommon for veterans to apply for both types of benefits at the same time. If you’re a disabled veteran, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you’re unable to work full-time. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must have worked full-time for at least five out of the last ten years. If you wait too long after you stop working to apply for SSDI benefits, you may no longer be eligible to receive them.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also pays disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides benefits based on financial need. In order to be considered disabled by the SSA, you must be unable to perform any substantial work because of your medical condition and your medical condition should be expected to last for a continuous period of at least one year.

The SSA calculates your monthly disability benefits based on your earnings history in both the military and in civilian jobs you’ve held. On the other hand, your VA disability payments are based on how severe your disability is and not on your income. In order to qualify for VA disability compensation, you must prove that you have a service-connected disability. The SSA considers all impairments, whether they are service-connected or not.

Differences Between Social Security Disability and VA Disability

The primary difference between Social Security disability benefits and VA disability benefits is that you can qualify for VA disability compensation even if you’re not totally disabled. In the VA disability system, disability ratings are assigned at 10% increments from 10% to 100% disability and the benefits a claimant receives are based on that determination. Conversely, in the Social Security disability system, it is all or nothing.

Another major difference between the Social Security disability and VA disability programs it the role of treating physicians. Your treating physician’s opinion can make the difference between winning and losing your Social Security disability claim because the SSA gives deference to the opinions of treating physicians. In the VA disability program, however, your treating physician’s opinion isn’t given extra weight and decisions regarding whether or not to award benefits are based your entire file.

How Getting VA Approval Can Help You Get Social Security Disability Benefits

If you receive a very high disability rating from the VA (70% or higher), you are more likely to be approved for Social Security disability benefits. This is because another federal agency has already determined that your disability has made it very difficult or impossible for you to engage in full-time work.

Unfortunately, the VA gives the SSA’s decision little weight, so being approved for Social Security disability benefits won’t necessarily help you get VA disability benefits. This is because the SSA’s decision doesn’t make it clear whether the disability is service-connected. Nevertheless, claimants should provide the VA with their Social Security disability file and decision because the VA is required to consider your Social Security disability records when evaluating your claim.

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When Is a Person Considered Disabled by Social Security Disability?

What constitutes disability? For Social Security disability or SSI purposes, to be considered disabled, individuals must have an impairment, either medical, psychological, or psychiatric in nature, that keeps them from being able to do substantial gainful activity (SGA, discussed below). In addition, the disabled person’s impairment must have prevented the individual from doing SGA for at least 12 months, or be expected to prevent the individual from doing SGA for at least 12 months. (This durational requirement means that while severe back conditions can qualify for Social Security disability or SSI, wrist or ankle sprains seldom qualify as disabling conditions.)

Substantial Gainful Activity

To be considered a disabled person for Social Security purposes, a disability applicant must be unable to perform substantial work. Generally, this means working and earning above a certain amount; currently, making over $1,070 per month. But for the self-employed (people who own businesses or do contract work), there are other tests Social Security uses to determine if someone is doing SGA.

Applicants cannot be working above the SGA level when they apply for benefits (some applicants keep working, planning to quit if they qualify for benefits). A person earning more than the SGA amount who applies for Social Security disability or SSI benefits will be denied the same day without having their impairments or medical records even considered. (This is referred to as a “technical denial.”) However, disabled individuals may be working part-time when they apply for Social Security disability, as long as they do not earn more than the SGA amount (as long as this doesn’t lead Social Security to think you could work a full-time job). —(see residual functional capacity)

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