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March 2015 Archives

Change of Address

If a claimant has a request for a hearing pending, it is important to keep the Social Security Administration updated with your current address. Under Hallex I-2-3-15, the administrative law judge (ALJ) or hearing office staff should mail a written notice of hearing at least 20 days before the hearing (unless the claimant has waived the right to advance notice under Hallex I-2-3-25). As my colleague indicated yesterday, the ALJ could dismiss your case if you fail to appear without good cause. Lack of notice typically will not qualify if your hearing notice was mailed to your last known address. Claimants can change their address with Social Security Administration online, in person at a local office, or through their appointed representative.

What is A Consultative Examination?

When you file for disability, the claimant bears the burden to prove the allegation that he or she is not able to work due a physical and/or mental impairment. Therefore, it is important to be in regular treatment to have proof that you are disabled. However, many people may not be able to afford regular medical treatment for lack of personal finances and insurance.

I Missed My Hearing... Now What?

Many people wait months and even years for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to determine whether they meet the Social Security definition of disability. At least 20 days prior to your scheduled hearing, you will receive a Notice of Hearing that will indicate the date, time, and location of your hearing. If you have representation, then your attorney will also receive a copy of the notice of hearing. The notice also includes an acknowledgment of hearing form in which you indicate whether or not you will be present at your hearing. You should follows the instructions to complete the form and mail it back to the hearing office, also known as the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), using the envelope provided.

Primary Insurance Amount

Social Security Disability applicants frequently want to know how much they will be paid when they win their case. The amount of money received through the Social Security Disability Insurance program depends on how much you have paid into the Social Security Trust Fund. Your annual statements from Social Security Administration will typically state what your estimated payments will be, though these calculations are also available upon request. Payment under Title II, called primary insurance amount (PIA), is based on your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). AIME is calculated by adding your highest 35 years of earnings, divided by the number of months (420) in 35 years. This figure is plugged into a formula which includes an upper bend point and a lower bend point, as well as a percentage of your AIME in excess of the upper bend point ( So, the more you put into the system over the years, the more you can collect.

Can I Collect Unemployment and Disability Benefits?

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits and unemployment simultaneously can be a thorny situation because an individual is claiming two very different things. The problem is that when an individual files for unemployment benefits he or she is certifying that they are ready, willing, and able to work but they are not able to find employment. In addition, most states further require that an individual certify periodically that they have been actively looking for full time employment. In contrast, when an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, he or she is claiming that they are not capable of working full time at a substantial gainful level for twelve consecutive months or anticipate that they will not be capable of working for twelve consecutive months due to a mental or physical impairment regardless of whether there is work available in the economy.

How Long Do I Have To Wait For A Decision After A Hearing?

"How long will it take before I get my decision from the Judge?" is a question very frequently asked after a hearing. Unfortunately, there is no specific time frame in which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is required to issue a formal written decision. The length of time depends on a range of variables, including any backlog of claims that any individual hearing office, also known as Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), must deal with.

Using Listings to Establish Disability

As my colleague indicated in her post last week, an adult must suffer from a "medically determinable impairment" in order to receive disability benefits, and not every impairment is easily proven by clinical or laboratory findings. There is no gold standard, for example, in making diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Similarly, there are no widely accepted formal diagnostic criteria for myasthenia gravis. Though many claimants suffer from symptoms of pain or fatigue, a "symptom" is not a medically determinable impairment under SSR 96-4p. Thus, further rules may be necessary to establish a medical impairment.

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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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Coon Rapids, MN 55448

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