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October 2019 Archives

Vocational Experts: Who are They and What is Their Role at the Hearing?

A vocational expert plays a large role in any social security disability hearing. By definition, a vocational expert is a professional who provides impartial expert opinion evidence about a claimant's vocational abilities that a judge considers when making a decision about disability (Vocational Expert Handbook, August 2017, p. 3). Typically, a vocational expert will appear at a social security disability hearing in person, by video teleconference, or via telephone. Simply put, a judge uses a vocational expert to determine whether a claimant can do his or her past work or other work available in the economy (Handbook, p. 8). A vocational expert will give opinion based on their knowledge of physical and mental demands of certain occupations, characteristics of work settings, existence and incidence of jobs within occupations, and provide analysis on the issue of transferable skills when necessary (p. 8).

Pregnancy and Disability

Some individuals mistakenly believe that Social Security will pay them benefits if they miss work due to a pregnancy or childbirth. While pregnancy can greatly impede one's ability to maintain full time employment, it is generally not considered a disability under the Social Security Act. Social Security's disability program only applies to long-term medical conditions. To establish a disability, a claimant must demonstrate a severe medical impairment expected to result in death or lasting at least twelve continuous months. A pregnancy or childbirth will not meet the duration requirements for disability benefits, unless the child is born with a permanent disability or giving birth causes a long-term impairment.

The future is unclear after a traumatic amputation

If you have suffered a traumatic amputation in a car accident, a workplace accident or some other such incident, your first thought is likely for the future. What does this severe injury mean for you moving forward?

When do SSD payments begin after approval?

It takes time and effort on your part, but you eventually do get approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. What you're wondering, almost immediately, is when the payments actually start. When will you get the money they approved for you? When does that coverage begin? Could it be prior to your approval date?

1 in 5 veterans has PTSD or major depression

Veterans were asked to put their very lives on the line, doing one of the most dangerous and courageous jobs the United States has to offer. This can have a profound impact on them. Many come back home with injuries and disabilities that will never heal, like lost limbs, traumatic brain injuries and other permanent conditions.

How the SSA weighs the evidence

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes a variety of medical professionals as acceptable medical sources for the purposes of evaluating the medical evidence in a disability claim. Traditionally, only the following types of medical providers constitute acceptable medical sources-physicians, psychologists, school psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists, and speech-language pathologists. For applications for disability benefits filed on or after March 27, 2017, the SSA has expanded the umbrella of professionals who may be considered acceptable medical sources to include a licensed audiologist (for hearing-related impairments), a licensed advanced practice registered nurse or other licensed advanced practice nurse (for impairments within his or her licensed scope of practice), and a licensed physician assistant (for impairments within his or her licensed scope of practice).

Are brain injuries or spine injuries more common?

Both brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can result in permanent disabilities when they are serious enough. These are difficult injuries for medical professionals to treat, as they do not always heal completely. Even with medical care, someone could experience lasting ramifications for the rest of their life.

SSR 19-4p and primary headache disorders

As of August 26, 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted SSR 19-4p, a new regulation that discusses the evidence needed to establish primary headache disorder as a medically determinable impairment. This regulation also distinguishes between primary headaches, which are covered by this provision, and secondary headaches, which are not.

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