Midwest Disability, P.A.'s Blog

Do people with cognitive impairments qualify for Social Security?

Memory and cognitive impairments can affect a person's mental health including their behaviors such as how they feel, think or act. A person suffering from a condition such as this may experience shifts in their ability to remember things from one moment to the next. The combination of all of these symptoms may make it difficult for someone to hold down a job. If you're struggling with one of these conditions, then you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) to help you support yourself.

Even if you've only been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairments, you may still experience a variety of concerns including impulsive or aggressive behaviors, memory and communication problems, incontinence, a fixation on doing repetitive activities, paranoia, wandering, a lack of motivation and poor judgment. Even though your condition is classified as mild, it's unlikely that any two days are the same for you.

COVID-19 and Serious Medical Conditions

Individuals experiencing disabilities and chronic health problems may be at an increased risk due to the COVID-19 virus.

According to the CDC, early information shows that some people are at a high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus). Specifically, individuals with serious underlying medical conditions and those with a weakened immune system, including those undergoing cancer treatment are at a greater risk. According to the Red Cross, among the serious underlying medical conditions that subject an individual to a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19 are: heart, lung or liver diseases; diabetes; moderate to severe asthma; severe obesity; and renal failure.

Signs and Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Individuals who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and experience debilitating symptoms may be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security.

According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system attacks the protective sheath that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. The disease can cause permanent damage or deterioration of the nerves.

The Second 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 second step of the evaluation. The second step of the five-step evaluation process requires an individual to have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that have or are expected to last at least 12 continuous months or be expected to cause death. It is important to emphasize the word "severe" in this step. Moreover, an individual can be denied at step 2 if their impairment or impairments are considered not severe. SSA's Program Operations Manual System (POMS) provides some guidance on what is considered severe. According to POMS, under step 2: "it must be determined whether medical evidence establishes a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments of sufficient severity as to be the basis of finding of inability to engage in substantial gainful activity SGA. When medical evidence establishes only a slight abnormal or a combination of slight abnormalities which would have no more than a minimum effect on the individual's ability to work." Therefore, it is essential you cooperate to provide all relevant medical evidence and keep your attorney informed as to any ongoing treatment, doctor visits, or other future medical appointments.

Phone Hearings in the Wake of Covid-19: What you Need to Know

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has finally issued some guidance for what will happen with scheduled Social Security Disability hearings considering the current pandemic. More specifically, SSA explained that beginning March 17, 2020 all hearings will NO longer be held in person. Some offices are just cancelling upcoming hearings. Therefore, it is important you understand what your local Social Security Office's plans are with upcoming hearings. If your local office is moving forward with scheduled hearings, claimants are now generally given 2 options on how they may proceed with their claim: 1) have their hearing held by telephone or 2) have their hearing rescheduled until it can be held in person. Its important to note that while a phone hearing may not sound ideal to some, rescheduling a hearing may cause significant delay. While SSA does not give a specific delay time if an individual chooses to reschedule their hearing, the wait time for an in person hearing can range anywhere from 3 months to a year. Thus, it is important to understand the implications if you wish to reschedule your hearing. If you are represented, speak with your attorney about your options. They will have insight as to what is best for your specific case. If you choose to proceed by telephone, there are some critical things you must be aware of. First, having updated representation forms signed and submitted is extremely important. The judge needs these forms in order to conduct your hearing and know you are consenting to the specific attorney (on the phone) to represent you. Second, be patient with the phone hearing process. Connection problems can happen, and hearings can start early or late. Make sure you carve out a significant time slot to be available for your hearing. Third, if at any time during the hearing you cannot hearing the judge or your attorney it is vital you make that known. It is important you hear all questions posed to you and understand what is going on. Overall, speaking with your attorney in detail prior to your hearing will prepare you for these issues.

Should you worry about proposed cuts to Social Security?

The newest federal budget proposal, once again, takes aim at Social Security reform.

Retirees, you generally don't have a lot to be concerned about -- although the agency has gradually been increasing the age at which you can retire with full benefits to reflect increasing lifespans (and save money).

A doctor's note can help your disability claim

One of the main things that you need to present when asking for Social Security benefits for an illness is the medical records to prove that you do have that illness. This shows that you have seen medical professionals who have made an accurate diagnosis. You're not basing your claim off of assumptions or your own personal feelings about the disease.

When you get this, you may also want to get a letter from your physician that lays out what they think about your condition. They may note that the condition:

  • Is severe
  • Limits your mobility
  • Limits your daily activities
  • Makes it impossible to work completely
  • Makes it impossible to work for a sustained time period

Social Security Could Redefine Full-Time Work

The Trump administration is considering a new rule that could dramatically impact eligibility for disability benefits.

While the draft version of the rule hasn't been publicized, The Huffington Post reports that the rule would re-define full-time work as any job that requires 30 hours of work per week.

Covid-19 and Disability Hearings

The novel coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic has led to some drastic changes in day-to-day to life.

But despite urgings from many leaders and medical professionals for people to stay home as much as possible, the Social Security Administration is still going forward with most disability hearings as of this writing in mid-March 2020.

The one exception is for video teleconference hearings held at field offices. Social Security has announced the temporary closure of these offices, so it's unclear exactly what will happen to these scheduled hearings, but it seems likely that if claimants want to go forward with them, they'll have the option to attend by phone.

Cancer may stem from military bases

Even soldiers who never see combat and spend their entire careers on military bases may face some serious risks, including the development of fatal diseases. Reports have indicated that cancer rates are quite high for many vets, and they trace it back to dangerous compounds on these bases. They can be found in the facilities themselves, as well as in the soil and the water.

The risk may even extend beyond the veterans themselves. Say they have their young children living with them on the base. Could those children then develop early cancer as they grow up and become adults?

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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.


Midwest Disability, P.A.
408 Northdale Boulevard Northwest
Coon Rapids, MN 55448

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