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March 2020 Archives

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.

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.

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.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness. While it can occur in teens, many people aren't diagnosed with the disorder until they're in their 20s or 30s. By that time, they may have launched businesses, developed careers and even started families -- so the sudden display of their symptoms is both puzzling and upsetting to their families.

Intellectual Impairments and Disability Benefits

There are a couple of ways that individuals with intellectual impairments may be found eligible for disability benefits by Social Security. Such individuals may demonstrate though a combination of medical records from accepted medial sources and through their own testimony or the testimony of friends or family that they are unable to perform any work, at least on a full time basis.

The Appeals Process

If you have been to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge as part of your disability claim, chances are that you did not find out at that time whether or not you won your case. As you wait and wonder what the result of your case will be, you may also be wondering what rights you have if your case has been denied. Just because a judge denies your case, does not mean that it is the end of the road for your claim.

The First Step in Every 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 ahs 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 solely on the first step. The first step is essential because if the individual does not meet the criteria of step 1 then they will be found NOT disabled and unable to move forward in their case. The first step considers the individuals work activity (if any). Prior to the date of the hearing, an individual must have a consecutive 12 month duration of either not working or earning under substantial gainful activity (SGA). The substantial gainful employment amount changes every year and is set out by social security. In the year 2020 substantial gainful employment is $1,260 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,110 per month for blind individuals. Therefore, for example, if a non-blind individual's hearing is set for January 1, 2021 they must have either not worked or earn less than $1,260 per month from at least January 1, 2020 through January 1, 2021. While this is the basic idea of the 1st step, it is important to note there are some exceptions and nuances including closed periods and unsuccessful work attempts. Therefore, working with an experienced attorney is helpful to ensure there are no issues with meeting step 1 in your disability case.

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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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