Tag Archives: Social Security widower’s benefits
In order to qualify for spouse’s benifits, the Social Security Administration requires that the spouse and the worker must have been legally married. That is, the marriage must be legally recognized by the state in which the marriage was entered into. Thus, if you have been residing in a state that recognizes your marriage as common law marriage (most states such as Ohio do not) then you will be considered legally married for purposes of recieving a deceased spouse’s Social Security benefits.
The only way that one can draw widower’s benefits without being legally married is if ALL of the following conditions listed below are met, meeting Social Security’s “deemed valid marriage” provision.
- There was a marriage ceremony.
- The claimant married the working in good faith. In other words, the claimant thought the marriage to be valid.
- The claimant was residing with the worker at the time of his or her entitlement to benefits or at the time of death.
- No other person is entitled on the worker’s earnings record as a legal spouse.
- There was a legal impediment or a defect with respect to the marriage ceremony.
This exception is most often implicated in situations where the worker was already married at the time he or she married the claimant.
Social security disability and moving to another state.
I thought I would briefly blog about a recent Client that found himself in quite a predicament due to some bad advice.The client originally filed for Social Security Disability in Ohio as he had a severe case of Chron’s disease along with two herniated intervertebral disk.Soon thereafter, the Client relocated to Alabama where he received his Social Security Disability claim denial letter.Client then retained an attorney in Alabama which requested a hearing.Unfortunately, for Client his attorney did not do his homework.Alabama is one of eight states that do not have a re-consideration step in the Social Security filing process.In other words, when a claimant in Alabama has been denied for SSD he can skip the reconsideration filing and directly request a hearing.Fortunately for the client, he soon thereafter retained a top social security disability attorney to straighten his situation out. His attorney’s failure to file for reconsideration as required in Ohio delayed Client’s disability claim by at least a year.
What is Multiple Sclerosis and How Can I Prove my Disability?
If you live with multiple sclerosis and are unable to work due to an MS-related disability, you might be entitled to disability benefits. MS is a disease in which the medical community knows little regarding its cause or how to best treat it. Doctors do know that it is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Signals transmitted along the nerves are slowed or even stopped by damage to what is known as the myelin sheath. In healthy people, myelin helps the nerve impulses travel smoothly throughout the nervous system. This slowing or stopping of the nerve impulses is what causes the MS symptoms. These symptoms include vertigo, depression, fatigue, tremors, bladder dysfunction, reflux, bowel dysfunction, pain, vision problems, muscle weakness, muscle spasm and even possible cognitive impairments.
Multiple Sclerosis is typically diagnosed with an MRI scan. However, an MRI positive finding is not enough to automatically begin receiving disability benefits since many people with a positive MRI will never show symptoms of MS. To be found disabled by the SSA a doctor will need to show that you meet the standard contained in the SSA’s medical impairment listing or that your impairment makes it so that you cannot engage in substantial gainful activity. You will need all your medical records, hospital visits, test results including MRI and RFC forms filled out by you doctor to show your physical or mental limitations in your ability to work.
Under the MS listing, the SSA considers the following four factors in determining if a person is sufficiently disabled to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits: 1) fatigue; 2) disorganization of motor function; 3) visual impairment; and 4) mental impairment. A sufficient showing under any of these four categories can qualify a claimant for benefits.
The first factor, fatigue, is often the most disabling and sadly, the most overlooked symptom of MS. The exams by the SSA medical consultants rarely properly account for the disabling affect of fatigue on someone suffering from the condition. As a result, fatigue should be documented by keeping a diary of your everyday activities and how they are affected by your fatigue. Medical records can also be a good way to demonstrate severe fatigue if your doctor has done a good job or reporting your complaints of fatigue. Statements from friends or family members who have observed the impact exhaustion has had on your life can also be helpful.
Other important limitations that can be shown to boost your chance of success with a disability claim include the need to use the bathroom frequently, cognitive limitations, dizziness, difficulty using hands, visual limitations, and muscle weakness. Many people with MS also have depression and any limitations from this condition can also be helpful in proving disability.
If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits due to MS or other ailments or have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.
I Have Chronic Pain, Can I get Disability?
If you suffer from chronic pain you understand just how variable the condition can be. For some the pain is continuous, for others it is intermittent, some suffer terribly while others live with less severe pain. Chronic pain is broadly defined as pain that cannot be eliminated by standard medical treatment, pain that persists after an injury or illness has resolved, or pain for which no origin can be determined. Though the suffering is real, many with the disorder have trouble convincing the Social Security Administration that their pain prevents them from working. The difficulty of quantifying pain presents unique difficulties for those with chronic pain seeking to receive disability benefits. Given this, it is important to note that simply telling the SSA that you have disabling chronic pain is not enough, it must be clearly demonstrated through testimony and medical evidence.
It may surprise some to know that chronic pain is not a listed disorder in Social Security’s listing of impairments that may automatically qualify you for disability benefits. This does not mean that hope is lost, as there are many other diagnoses that are often related to chronic pain, including:
• inflammatory arthritis;
• somatoform disorders;
• back injury;
• chronic renal disease; and
• inflammatory bowel disease.
If you do not qualify under another a listing category, then you will have to qualify for disability benefits through a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment mean that the process for deciding whether disability benefits will be awarded boils down to two important questions:
1) Do you have objective evidence that demonstrates a medically determinable impairment that could reasonably be the source of your pain?
2) If you are able to demonstrate such an impairment, how intense and persistent is the pain and how does it limit your ability to perform basic work activities?
For an impairment to be “medically determinable” it must be an anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormality that can be shown through clear evidence from reliable medical sources. Such sources include testimony from doctors, medical records and lab results. Without these tangible sources, your testimony alone will not be enough to prove your disability before the SSA.
When determining the level of pain, the SSA evaluates both the intensity of the pain and how the pain affects the individual’s ability to do basic work activities. An individual’s statements are important here as the SSA knows that some pain is more severe than can be demonstrated through medical evidence alone. Testimony describing the pain and how it impacts your daily life is considered with the rest of the relevant evidence in the case record when making a decision.
The SSA also considers the following factors when assessing your pain:
• The location, duration, frequency and intensity of the individual’s pain;
• The type, dosage, effectiveness and side effects of any medication the individual takes or has taken to alleviate pain;
• Treatment, other than medication, the individual receives or has received for relief of pain;
• Any measures, other than treatment, the individual uses or has used to relieve pain.
If you are 45 years of age or older you may be found disabled under the SSA’s grid rules. For a FAQ of the rules check out www.disabilitygridrules.com
If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Nationwide Disability Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.
Requirement for receiving disability for Legal Blindness
According to an April 2011 report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than one million people in the United States over the age of 40 are legally blind. Most of you have heard the term “legally blind” but you likely don’t know what qualifies a person for disability benefits due to severe vision problems. Legal blindness is defined in two sections of the Social Security Act: § 216(i)(B) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 416(i)(B)) and § 1614(a)(2) (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(2)). Both sections of the Act define “blindness” as: central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of this paragraph as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less.
To qualify for Social Security disability under the umbrella of blindness due to a lack of visual acuity, you will need to start by obtaining a basic eye examination that provides measurements of your best-corrected visual acuity. Simply having myopia does not qualify you for disability, if it did, over 32 million Americans older than 40 would be receiving benefits.
Nor is simple visual impairment, defined as being capable of at best 20/40 vision even with corrective lenses, enough to qualify for benefits. To be declared legally blind by the SSA, you need to prove that even with the best possible corrective lenses, your best eye can only achieve 20/200 visual acuity. In other words, even the good eye can only see an object sitting 20 feet away as clearly as someone with perfect 20/20 vision can see that same object if it were 200 feet away.
Another somewhat surprising way to qualify for disability due to blindness is through a severely diminished visual field, basically no peripheral vision. A person with a healthy visual field can typically see at least 60 degrees in all direction without moving his or her eyes. Those who qualify for legal blindness due to loss of visual field cannot see more than 20 degrees in any direction. In other words, the person afflicted has almost completely lost his peripheral vision, something that is usually a symptom of other problem such as glaucoma. Again, the best place to start is with a standard eye examination which will reveal the extent of your visual field.
Unlike most other reasons for receiving Social Security disability, documentation of the cause of the statutory blindness is not required, as long as it is something detectable with a basic eye examination. For blindness caused by abnormalities not readily observed from a standard eye examination, such as traumatic brain injury to the visual cortex, documentation of the source of the injury must be provided. Also unlike many other bases of disability, you do not need to prove that this blindness has been present for any particular length of time, the fact that you are afflicted now is all that matters.
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 consultation today.
Last updated by John Nicholson on .