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Midwest Disability, P.A.'s Blog

Identifying cancer for Social Security Disability

Cancer is not always a disabling condition. Medical technology continues to get better, and there are more and more treatment options, some of which are very successful. An early diagnosis can also catch the disease before it is so advanced that it causes a disability.

However, the opposite is also true: There are definitely times when cancer and the effects of treatment can qualify as a disability due to the fact that they make it impossible to work. This could be true for life or just for the term of the treatment. Even if it is just during treatment, though, that could take weeks, months or even years, so it's worth considering.

What are my appeal rights after a disability benefits denial?

While many people are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, it's common for first-time applicants to have their benefits denied. The person applying for benefits may have overlooked a detail, or the Social Security Administration may have made a mistake.

If you are denied disability benefits, don’t give up. You can file an appeal of that decision, and you should. The following is an overview of your appeal rights if your Social Security Disability benefits application has recently been denied.

Social Security Looks to Begin Video Hearings Soon

Since cases of Covid-19 started to increase in the United States in March, Social Security has been holding all disability hearings over the telephone.

And despite some technical and scheduling hiccups, this has worked out fairly well for claimants, attorneys, and judges.

What if I Miss a Disability Phone Hearing?

The move to phone hearings for Social Security disability cases has presented a unique set of challenges for everyone involved.

While Social Security has overall been good about notifying claimants of their hearings, and attorneys have been contacting clients ahead of time, unfortunately, there are still issues where claimants miss their hearing.

Military injuries often don't come from combat

Combat is a major reason for injuries to military personnel, but people often make the mistake of assuming that it's the only cause. They think of the danger from injuries and fatalities as linked to whether or not a soldier is engaged in active conflict with an enemy force.

The reality, though, is that working in the military comes with the same risks as working in many other professions where workers use vehicles, heavy machinery and power tools. Soldiers who are nowhere near a combat operation can suffer serious injuries, just like construction workers, road workers, delivery drivers and many other civilian workers back home.

Long wait times for Social Security Disability aren't new

People don't often realize how long the application and approval time is for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) cases. They usually think that the program will be there as a lifeline for when they're unable to work for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, these cases can take many months — sometimes years — before they're resolved.

In the time from 2008 through 2019, approximately 110,000 Americans died while they were waiting for an appeal decision on their case. There were also around 48,000 who had to file bankruptcy while their cases were pending.

What can trigger a panic attack?

If you suffer from panic attacks or have been diagnosed with panic disorder, you know how serious these episodes can be. When you're having one, your anxiety is higher than it has ever been. You may feel like you can barely breathe or think. It's hard to reign in your emotions. You may not even be able to move. Panic attacks, when bad enough, can essentially be a disability.

But what triggers these episodes? Do they just happen at random, without warning, or are there triggers that you can avoid?

Phone Hearings and Testifying by Telephone - Tips and Tricks

With the continuing issues surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic, Social Security has had to adapt with how they conduct hearings. The Social Security Administration is currently holding all Social Security Disability hearings by telephone only. Therefore, if you choose to proceed with your hearing by telephone, you will be testifying by phone which can pose different problems versus in person or video hearings. The following are a few tips and tricks to enhance your phone hearing experience: 

The Fifth Step in a Social Security Disability Case

The definition of disability is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medical 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 (The Social Security Act). Judges deciding disability cases must follow a strict 5 step sequential evaluation to determine whether an individual is disabled or not. In this blog post we will be focusing on the fifth step of the evaluation. While step four basically focused on whether an individual can perform any of their "past relevant work," at step 5 the burden of proof shifts to Social Security Administration to show that "other" work exists in significant numbers in the national economy considering the individual' age, education, past work experience, and residual functional capacity (physical and mental limitations). This means f the individual is found to be unable to perform their past relevant work, the judge will determine whether there is other work they can perform within the national economy. This inquiry is made by the judge in the form of a hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert at the end of the hearing. These hypotheticals will include several limitations (both mental and physical) depending on what the individual's disabling conditions are. Based on the hypotheticals posed, the VE may list jobs available in the national economy that can be performed within those specific limitations listed. If an individual can make an adjustment to other work based on their limitations, they will not be found disabled; if the individual cannot make adjustment to other work based on their limitations, they will be found disabled. However, there are several exceptions and specific criteria the judge considers including the Medical-Vocational Guidelines which takes into consideration an individual's specific age, education, and work experience. Therefore, it is essential and individual consult with an experience attorney to consider all specific individual considerations that may be taken into account to see whether step 5 will be an issue in their disability case or not.

Will more troop deployments lead to more injuries?

The number of American troops deployed at any one time is always changing. In terms of small numbers, it changes daily. But even larger, more drastic changes can happen throughout the year.

For instance, though news of overseas conflicts has been relatively quiet lately by American standards, it's worth noting that around 3,500 more troops were deployed at the beginning of this year. This happened after the top military leader in Iran perished in a drone strike, and there was concern that tensions would increase between the two nations.

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.

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