Apply for SSI online

Social Security Disability Application Process Now Online

moneypumpIf your disabling condition makes it hard for you to drive or arrange transportation to your local Social Security office, there is some good news from the Social Security Administration. You’re now able to complete and submit your application for Social Security disability benefits from the privacy of your own home computer.

The amount of time the process takes to make a decision on your application can vary depending on a number of factors, such as:

• the nature of the disability;
• how quickly medical records are obtained from your doctors, hospitals, or other medical sources; and
• whether the SSA needs to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim.

There are several ways that the service can be sped up. In some cases, a new project known as the Compassionate Allowances initiative allows the SSA to fast-track cases involving people with very severe. Some 165 different types of disabilities qualify for this expedited decision, and that list continues to grow. To read more about the Compassionate Allowances initiative, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

Another way to speed things up involves the Quick Disability Determinations initiative, which uses technology to identify claimants who have the most severe disabilities and then encourages the SSA to expedite those cases.

The SSA also gives claimants a list of things they can do to help speed the process along. The most important is that the more information an applicant provides in the beginning, the less time will be wasted with additional requests. Applicants should make sure to provide the following information initially:

• all medical records or documentation you have;
• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for any doctors, hospitals, medical facilities, treatment centers, or providers related to your disabling condition; and
• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for recent employers and the dates worked for each employer.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

Source: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm

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Veterans and Social Security Disability benefit qualifications

Veterans and Social Security Disability

VAbenefitsAn important resource that many veterans may not be aware of is the Social Security Administration’s Wounded Warrior website, which is found at: www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

The Wounded Warriors site exists to answer questions about disability benefits for veterans and what returning military members need to do to receive expedited processing of their disability claims. The expedited process is used for military service members who became disabled while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, no matter where the injury actually occurred.

One thing that’s important to mention is that the benefits available through the Social Security Administration are different than those available from the Department of Veterans Affairs and each requires its own application. In order to be eligible for federal and state veteran’s disability benefits, you must have been honorably discharged from active military service. If you were not honorably discharged, regardless of the reason, you will not be eligible for compensation.

If you suffer from any of the following common injuries that affect returning soldiers, consider contacting an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to discuss your next steps:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Radiation poisoning
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Amputation
  • Chronic disorders
  • Loss of hearing and vision
  • Cushing’s syndrome

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability or VA benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Senate Committee Reveals Trouble with the Quality of Disability ALJ Decisions

Senate Committee Reveals Trouble with the Quality of ALJ Decisions

A recent article in the Washington Times discussed the increasing stress that the Social Security Disability system is operating under and how that stress has led to troubling problems affecting millions of Americans.

Investigators working for a Senate subcommittee examined hundreds of cases in which disability benefits were approved and found that those making the decisions frequently ignored warning signs such as incomplete or inconsistent information. Senators have said this review demonstrates the need for an overhaul of the existing system. One Senator said that the decisions from some administrative law judges (ALJs) were so bad that the final verdict seemed almost entirely arbitrary.

Though the first phase of this investigation involved looking over applications that were approved but should not have been, the Senate committee says it will next turn its attention to those cases that were denied and may have been denied wrongfully. Those in charge say they worry that they will discover the system is not helping many of the people it was designed to protect.

For its part, the Social Security Administration says it has work to do to fix problems in the system. However, they claim that outlier decisions occur far less often than they used to and the decisions of many ALJs are affirmed with much more regularity then ever before.

That may sound good, but problems still abound. The massive report showcased one ALJ from Oklahoma who has issued more than 1,000 decisions each year since 2006. Judge W. Howard O’Bryan Jr. peaked in 2008 with 1,846 decisions and regularly approved 90 percent or more of the claims. This compares to an average ALJ approval rate of about 60 percent. The investigation revealed that his decisions were notable only for their “poor quality” and how Judge O’Bryan often regurgitated the same boilerplate language in each case decision.

One case that apparently prompted the investigation, involved a man living as an adult “baby,” meaning he slept in an adult-sized crib and wore diapers. The man was collecting disability benefits despite having demonstrated carpentry skills and his ability to work with a reality TV show and a website for other adult “babies.”

The case of the adult “baby” highlighted another problem according to the Senate subcommittee and that is how out of date the list of jobs given to ALJs are. The list has not been updated since the 1970s and excludes many computer-related jobs that some people (possibly other adult “babies”) with disabilities might be able to perform.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Can I get Social Security disability for having sleep apnea?

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by moments during which a sleeping person is unable to move their respiratory muscles or maintain airflow through the nose and mouth. In short, this means a person stops breathing for short periods of time. Generally those suffering from sleep apnea stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds at a time while they sleep. These short periods without air can happen up to 400 times ever evening.

Those who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, as fat deposits can develop in the neck and then block the airway. Those suffering from the disorder, perhaps unsurprisingly, sleep very badly and wake up most mornings still feeling tired.

There are two types of sleep apnea, first and most common is obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when something blocks the windpipe. Central sleep apnea, by comparison, is rare. Central sleep apnea is related to the central nervous system, and occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the muscles used for breathing. Sleep apnea can be treated or improved by wearing a positive airway pressure device at night. These devices are masks worn over the face to assist with breathing.

While many people who have sleep apnea will have a hard time qualifying for disability, those who have suffered complications from sleep apnea are more likely to qualify. For instance, if you have pulmonary vascular hypertension, or heart trouble such as cor pulmonale, or a severe cognitive impairment that resulted from your lack of sleep, you may be eligible for benefits. The SSA lists certain criteria for sleep-related disorders, and if you fulfill the requirements, you will be approved for disability benefits.

The first thing the SSA looks for is a sign of cognitive impairment. Chronic sleep disruptions caused by apnea can affect daytime alertness, intellectual ability, memory, and mood. But to qualify for disability benefits, your symptoms must be severe. The SSA requires that your sleep apnea has caused cognitive or mood changes that limit your activities, your ability to function socially, or your ability to focus and keep up with work. These can include severe personality changes, memory problems, delusions or hallucinations, emotional instability or a loss of more than 15 IQ points.

Another way that those suffering from the effects of sleep apnea can receive disability benefits is if they have cor pulmonale. This is an enlarged right heart ventricle caused by hypertension which can result from years of sleep apnea. To prove that your cor pulmonale is severe enough to keep you from working, your doctor must have evidence of either: high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery or extremely low oxygen levels in your blood.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis and Social Security Disability

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes damage to joints, organs, and bodily systems due to inflammation of joint tissues. While inflammation is usually a response by a person’s immune system to disease or infection, the immune system of someone suffering from rheumatoid arthritis attacks the person’s healthy joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. As the disease progresses, it causes difficulty in engaging in even ordinary activities, this includes things as simple as walking, standing, getting dressed and personal grooming.

Rheumatoid arthritis is not the same as osteoarthritis or other forms of arthritis. Instead, it is an autoimmune disease, which causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly turn on otherwise healthy tissue. Physicians diagnose rheumatoid arthritis by a physical examination, followed by blood tests to detect abnormalities and then by using body scans or bone scans to examine the effect of the disease on the person’s joints.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain and swelling of the joints that cause them to be tender to the touch, red and puffy hands, fatigue, fever, weight loss, and morning stiffness. Generally the smaller joints are affected first, followed by the larger joints and even the neck. Sadly, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis and doctors work to slow down the progress of the inflammation.

To be approved for Social Security Disability benefits due to rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory arthritis, you must may meet the requirements found in Listing 14.09 of the Blue Book.

These requirements say that claimants must have a three-month history of constant joint pain, swelling and tenderness that involves multiple major joints. These joints are defined as the hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, elbow, or hand and wrist. In addition, joint inflammation, swelling, and tenderness must be found upon physical examination by a doctor, despite attempts at treatment. You must also have considerable restriction of joint function. Finally, all these symptoms must be expected to last for at least twelve months.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

 

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