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February 2020 Archives

Social Security Disability Hearing: How to Best Prepare Yourself

It's a week before your Social Security Disability hearing - what do you do now? How do you prepare? To help put your nerves at ease, there are several pieces of advice to help you navigate the days prior to your hearing to ensure it runs smoothly and you do not come across any issues. Getting yourself prepared the days leading up your hearing is very important and can help reduce stress. First of all, make sure you have spoken with your attorney (if you are represented) prior to the hearing. Likely you have been updating your attorney's office with medical visits and other relevant information; however, it is important to make sure to connect with them days before the hearing to confirm all information is in your file and understand the theory of your case. Another piece of advice prior to the hearing is to know your hearing location. This is especially true if the hearing location is in a downtown area or an area that you have never been. You do not want to be lost the day of the hearing. Along with connecting with your attorney and knowing your hearing location, you should gather all materials you may need for the hearing in the days prior. This may include photo identification, updated medication list, hearing notice, and any other information your attorney may have asked you to bring such as paystubs, etc. Overall, following this advice and using these tips will surely help make the day of your hearing run more smoothly.

Trump Proposes Cutting Disability Benefits

While President Trump has publicly said he opposes any cuts to Social Security, his proposed 2021 budget actually trims an estimated $45 billion from Social Security's disability program, and some estimates said the final amount could even by higher than that.

Disabled vets to get solar power

Disabled veterans who fall into a low-income earning bracket may now have a new way to get renewable solar power. A recent partnership between the Tri-County Community Action Partnership, Minnesota Power and The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) aims to bring it to them.

Work History Report: What is it and Why it is Important

Shortly after an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefits, an individual will be asked to fill out several forms and other paperwork. While it is easy to rush through these forms and paperwork, filling out the work history report is very important in many cases. Once filled out, a work history report is reviewed by Social Security Administration at all levels of application - initial, reconsideration, and hearing level. Social Security Administration indicates that the information they ask for on the work history report helps them understand how an individual's illnesses, injuries, or conditions might affect their ability to do work for which they are qualified. Overall, a work history report will ask an individual to list all jobs they have done in the past 15 years before they stopped working. After listing the jobs, an individual is required to be more specific about each individual job. The individual will have to list each specific job title, rate of pay, how many days they worked in a week, and how many hours they worked each shift on average. Additionally, the individual will be asked to describe the physical requirements of each job such as time spent sitting, standing, and walking in an 8 hour day. An individual will also be asked how much weight they were required to lift on the job. It is important to be very detailed and list all things you were required to lift even if it was not on a repetitive daily basis. For example, as an office manager an individual may have had to empty all garbage cans in the office once a week. Moreover, it is important to be thorough and detailed on these reports because it helps the social security and the judges determine why you could not go back to the past work you once did.

Medical Source Statements by Treating Doctors or Health Providers

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability Benefits, all medical records during the relevant time period of disability must be requested and submitted. Along with mandatory medical records, an individual may request their treating doctor or health provider to fill out and submit a medical source statement form. A medical source statement form is essentially paperwork your doctor fills out indicating his or her opinion regarding the severity of your medical condition and the limitations that these medical conditions place on the individual. This form will ask them for information such as the conditions they are treating the individual for, how long have they been treating the individual, what their opinion is on the individuals ability to work, and what specific limitations the individual may have in regard to physical requirements like sitting, standing, walking, and lifting. While this form may be very helpful to disability case, there are some important points to note. First, this form is NOT required to be filled out and submitted by your doctor. Filling out the form is totally voluntary, and your doctor cannot be forced to fill it out. Secondly, there is no guarantee that the treating doctor will fill out the form favorably - i.e. in a manner that will support or help the individual's case for disability. Thus, it is important consult the treating doctor prior to sending the form to explain what the form is and to see if they would be willing to fill it out. This is very important because all forms filled out and submitted by doctors MUST be exhibited to the individual's file. It does not matter if the form is favorable or unfavorable, once it is submitted by the providing doctors it will be evidence for the judge to consider.

Proposed Rule Changes Would Increase Review of Disability Cases

Recipients of disability benefits are occasionally subjected to what are known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to determine whether or not they are still disabled and entitled to disability benefits pursuant to the Social Security Act. These reviews are critical and an individual can lose benefits simply by failing to reply or missing deadlines to respond to notifications. Currently, when individuals are awarded disability benefits, they are lumped into one of three categories with the Social Security Administration. These categories determine the timeframe for a disability review. The current categories are "Medical Improvement Expected". Individuals placed in this category are typically reviewed 6-18 months after they are granted disability benefits. Individuals in the "Medical Improvement Possible" category have their cases reviewed every 3 years, while individuals in the "Medical Improvement Not Expected" are typically reviewed every 5-7 years. A new rule promulgated by the Social Security Administration would create a 4th category known as "medical improvement likely" which would subject individuals in this category to review every 2 years.

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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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