Does Social Security Disability Insurance Work for Disabled Ohio Residents?

Answering whether the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program works for Ohio residents with long-term disabilities requires specifying what you mean by “work.” It helps people who have few other means of support, but qualifying for SSDI benefits grows more difficult each year.

3 Ways That Social Security Works for People With Disabilities

Thousands of Ohioans rely on SSDI as a literal financial lifeline. While federal permanent disability benefits are not generous, receiving SSDI payments is the only thing that makes it possible for many people to afford housing, food and other necessities. Without SSDI, long-term care facilities would be overwhelmed, homelessness and hunger would worsen, and the amount of human suffering would be incalculable.

SSDI also works in the sense that it is open to nearly all U.S. citizens who have paid into the Social Security system while working. Children whose parents have established Social Security eligibility also have access to federal disability benefits.

A third way SSDI can work for people in Ohio who are too disabled to work is that the program recognizes all types of disability. People in Ohio can qualify for Social Security disability payments regardless of whether a physical, mental, intellectual, or emotional problem leaves them unable to hold a job.

3 Ways That SSDI May Work Against People With Disabilities

Getting approved to receive federal disability benefits is often difficult. Applicants must complete reams of paperwork, submit large amounts of medical documentation, and pass an assessment performed by a doctor chosen by the Social Security Administration. A large proportion of first-time applications for SSDI benefits are rejected, and appealing a rejection takes considerable time and effort.

A second problem is that a significant number of people will never be eligible for federal disability benefits at all. SSDI is only available to people who pay into Social Security. In Ohio, state employees such as public school teachers, police, professional firefighters, and civil servants do not have Social Security contributions withheld from their paychecks. State employees who never hold a private sector job cannot qualify for SSDI benefits. Instead, those individuals must rely on their pension plans if they become too disabled to work.

Last, Social Security requires longtime SSDI benefit recipients to reaffirm their need for disability payments. Completing that process involves submitting to another assessment, sending in new medical documentation and, possibly, appealing a suspension of benefits.

Since the SSDI program has limited funds, it looks for reasons to deny or stop paying benefits. It may do so by rejecting an initial application, strictly applying eligibility rules, or deciding that a long-term disability has become manageable to the point that a current beneficiary can return to work. In those ways, the Social Security disability program definitely works for itself rather than people with disabilities.

At Barkan Meizlish, LLP, our Social Security disability attorneys work exclusively for our fellow Ohio residents. We are available to help with every stage of the SSDI application, appeals, and recertification process. We also offer free consultations to all potential clients. If you need assistance, call (614) 221-4221 to speak with a lawyer or schedule an appointment online.

Economic Impact Payments Eligibility for Non-Filers

Economic Impact Payments: Non-Filer Need to Knows 

The United States Federal Government has officially started rolling out Economic Impact Payments to eligible citizens. If you filed 2018 and 2019 taxes, and opted for direct refund deposits, your check should be direct deposited. If you opted to have your refund mailed, your stimulus check will be mailed to you.  However, if you did not file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you may be confused about what steps you need to take.

Most recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Retirement, or survivor benefits will receive benefits automatically. On the other hand, some recipients of Federal aid programs are not eligible for the same automatic relief. Groups that do not qualify for automatic relief include:

  • Individuals who receive veteran’s disability compensation,
  • A pension, or
  • Survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, or
  • Individual’s whose income level was lower than federal tax filing requirements

If you fall into any of the above categories, you must take additional steps to receive your economic impact payment. Here is what you need to do!

First, please visit THIS page. You will be able to fill out the required “mini” tax return form. This form is used instead of a traditional tax return form. After you create your account and submit your application, watch your emails.  Once completed, you will receive a confirmation email. Once you have completed these steps, the process for receiving your economic impact payment check will be in motion.

If you still have questions about how you may be impacted by these rules, a social security attorney can help.

Social Media As Evidence and the SSA

Can An Administrative Law Judge Use Social Media as Evidence?

Social media constantly evolves. Keeping up with social media developments can be a huge task. Lawmakers and attorneys have a responsibility, within reason, to keep up with these changes. They may impact existing laws and regulations. Some changes can even lead to the creation of new laws. We previously reported that Facebook posts could be used in an ALJ’s decision on your Social Security Disability claim. However, the law continues to evolve. Now, there are some limitations on an ALJ’s ability to use your social media as evidence.

Updated Laws and Guidelines

Recent guideline changes impact how ALJ’s use social media in their rulings. The Social Security Administration guidelines state that, “adjudicators and hearing office staff must not use Internet sites and social media networks to obtain information about claimants to adjudicate cases.” This means that an Administrative Law Judge cannot use your social media as evidence against you. There are exceptions to the rule. These exceptions involve the Cooperative Disability Investigation Unit (CDIU). If a CDIU investigation finds social media content as appropriate evidence, it can be used by an ALJ in their decision-making. Your ALJ should not use your social media to directly rule against your SSDI claim unless approved to do so.

Responsible Social Media Usage

At the end of the day, however, social media posts can be more public than intended. You never know who is looking at your content, or when a post will come into question in a court of law. Take it from our Social Security Disability Attorney, Mindy Yocum:  “Never post anything on social media that you would not want read aloud in court!”

If you are filing a Social Security Disability Insurance claim, and need guidance through the process, give us a call today.

Can I Fight Back Against an Administrative Law Judge’s Decision on my SSDI Claim?

Fighting the ALJ’s Decision

Picture this: you have made your way through the long disability determination process. Finally, you have had a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). But unfortunately, the ALJ’s decision is not in your favor, and your claim was denied. You may find yourself asking- what now? At this point, Social Security gives you a couple of choices.

The ALJ Denied My Social Security Benefits – What Are My Options?

Option 1:

Your first option is to appeal the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council  is another component of the SSA, with its headquarters located in Falls Church, VA. The appeal must be filed within 60 days of the ALJ’s decision. You don’t get another hearing at this level. Rather, the Appeals Council will review the ALJ’s decision, the evidence in your claim file, and legal arguments submitted by your attorney in support of the appeal. The Appeals Council will then make a new decision.

The Appeals Council may uphold the ALJ’s decision and deny your claim again. Alternatively, it may reverse the ALJ’s decision and send your claim back to the ALJ with instructions to take another look at it. This is called a remand. Lastly, the Appeals Council may reverse the ALJ’s decision decision enitrely and award benefits to you directly. Because the Appeals Council handles appeals from ALJs all over the nation, it usually takes 12 to 18 months to receive a decision. For full details on the appeals process, you can check out the SSA’s website.

Option 2:

Your second option is to file a new application for benefits. Social Security no longer allows you to file an appeal and a new application at the same time, except under limited circumstances.

The best decision for you depends on several factors, including the strength of the evidence in your claim; whether you continue to be insured for the disability benefit; the ongoing state of your health; and of course any legal mistakes the ALJ may have made in denying your claim.

This decision is best made in consultation with a Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney who is familiar with your case and can advise you as to your options.

 

Originally published on December 2nd, 2015

 

What is the Onset Date for Social Security Disability Insurance?

The Onset Date is the Date You Became Disabled.

Each SSDI case is different, and so are the onset dates. Firstly, some onset dates are associated with a traumatic event or accident. For example, the date of an accident which led to your inability to work might determine this date. In other scenarios, like chronic illness cases, onset date may be unclear. There is often an unclear timeline for chronic illnesses and disabilities. This may make it more difficult to establish a clear date.

Determining the onset date for a disability, involves consideration of your allegations, work history, if any, and the medical and other evidence concerning the severity of your medical condition. After collecting this information, each aspect of this criteria is weighted by relevancy. Additionally, the available evidence will  depend on your individual case. The day your illness caused you to stop working  is  a key factor in determining this date. Choosing the correct date is very important. It will have an impact on what kind of benefit you could receive. Additional information can be found on the Social Security Administration website.

If you have any question about your disability onset, our Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security attorneys may be able to help. Give Barkan Meizlish, LLP a call today.

 

Originally published on May 13th, 2015.

Law Does Not Provide for a Social Security Cost-of-Living

News Release
SOCIAL SECURITY

Law Does Not Provide for a Social Security Cost-of-Living

Adjustment for 2016
With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 65 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2016.
The Social Security Act provides for an automatic increase in Social Security and SSI benefits if there is an increase in inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). The period of consideration includes the third quarter of the last year a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) was made to the third quarter of the current year. As determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015. Therefore, under existing law, there can be no COLA in 2016.
Other adjustments that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index also will not take effect in January 2016. Since there is no COLA, the statute also prohibits a change in the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax, as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amounts. These amounts will remain unchanged in 2016. The attached fact sheet provides more information on 2016 Social Security and SSI changes.
The Department of Health and Human Services has not yet announced Medicare premium changes for 2016. Should there be an increase in the Medicare Part B premium, the law contains a “hold harmless” provision that protects approximately 70 percent of Social Security beneficiaries from paying a higher Part B premium, in order to avoid reducing their net Social Security benefit. Those not protected include higher income beneficiaries subject to an income-adjusted Part B premium and beneficiaries newly entitled to Part B in 2016. In addition, beneficiaries who have their Medicare Part B premiums paid by state medical assistance programs will see no change in their Social Security benefit. The state will be required to pay any Medicare Part B premium increase.
Information about Medicare changes for 2016, when available, will be found at www.medicare.gov.
For additional information, please go to www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
Social Security 80 Years – Celebrating the Past and Building the Future
Join the Millions! Create your own my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Social Security Disability Mental Status Examination Ohio

Many claimants file for disability because they suffer from depression. Others, due to ongoing chronic pain or other symptoms, may became depressed and although depression may not be their main problem, it may become part of their social security disability claim. If you notice symptoms of depression because of your medical, and financial situation, you should seek treatment. SSA may set a consultative examination to evaluate the impact of your mental status on your ability to work.

What to Expect from A Social Security Disability Psychological Exam?

There is a range of testing for mental consultative exams, including a full psychiatric exam and a social security disability psychological exam which is essentially an IQ test. Very often, however, a claimant who has listed depression or anxiety on a claim will be sent to an abbreviated form of exam, known as a social security disability mental status exam.

A social security disability mental status exam will include data regarding your appearance, the way you speak, apparent physical limitation, your ability to sustain eye contact, how well you remember things, your concentration. They will also ask a claimant the date, time and place of the social security disability mental status examination. They will also evaluate your ability to interpreter proverbs and your ability to deal with social situation.

Can You Get Social Security Disability for Depression?

Can your social security disability be granted based on a mental status exam? Likely not. However, that does not mean that a claimant who is sent to a mental status exam cannot be approved. Sometimes, psychological testing is scheduled simply to obtain recent additional medical evidence and in many cases the existing medical evidence is sufficient to warrant an award of benefits.

For this reason, individuals who file for social security disability on the basis of depression, or, really, any mental impairment, should strive to maintain a record of continuous and ongoing treatment. They should also stay compliant with their prescribed medications as a failure to do so may contribute to the basis for a denial.

Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney

If you need help on social security disability psychological exam in Ohio, Call our social security disability attorneys today.

 

Why has my Social Security Disability claim been denied?

My doctor has told me that I’m disabled, so why has my Social Security Disability claim been denied?

Even though your doctor may have reported to Social Security that, in his opinion, you are disabled, Social Security may not automatically adopt that opinion. Rather, they will evaluate all of the medical evidence in your claim file, including your doctor’s treatment notes, hospital records, test results, and the reports of doctors who may have examined you at the request of Social Security.

At the initial and reconsideration levels of the claim, all of this medical evidence is reviewed and evaluated by “in house” doctors, who arrive at a conclusion as to the severity of your medical conditions, and their impact on your ability to work. An adjudicator then uses this information to decide whether you qualify for benefits, under Social Security’s rules. At the hearing level, it is the Administrative Law Judge who makes this decision.
Although Social Security may not automatically adopt your doctor’s opinion as to disability, they cannot simply ignore his opinion and, if it is well supported by the overall evidence, must give it controlling weight in their decision. Therefore, when applying for disability, it is very important to be in regular treatment; to report all of your symptoms to your doctor; and to follow all of your doctor’s treatment recommendations. By doing so, there is a better chance that Social Security will adopt your doctor’s opinion as to disability.

How Does SSA Decide if I am Disabled?

Social Security follows a multi-step evaluation process. They will gather medical records from your doctors and obtain hospital records and test results. SSA may choose to have you examined by a doctor or psychologist. To determine if you meet the definition of disability, SSA will ask the following questions:

1) Are you working? If so, your claim will be denied. If not, proceed to next question.

2) Do you have an impairment or combination of impairments which significantly effects work related functions such as standing, walking, lifting, hearing, seeing, concentration, attention to task, attendance, and understanding instructions? SSA will also consider if your impairments have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months. If not, your claim will be denied. If yes, proceed to next question.

3) Is your condition so severe as to qualify for disability without further consideration? SSA has a list of impairments which are considered to be totally disabling. If your impairment meets all the elements of the listed impairment, you will be determined to be disabled. If not, proceed to next question.

4) Do your impairments restrict your work capacity so that you cannot return to any of your past relevant work? SSA considers your past relevant work to be all jobs you performed in the past 15 years. If you are found to be capable of returning to one or more of your past jobs, your claim will be denied. If SSA agrees you cannot return to your past work, proceed to next question.

5) Do your impairments restrict your work capacity so that you are unable to adjust to other work which exists in significant numbers in the national economy? SSA does not have to find you work or determine that you could be hired. SSA only determines whether you would be capable of performing and sustaining work if given the opportunity. In determining whether you are capable of other work, SSA will consider your age, education, past work performed, and acquired skills.

The Social Security Disability Claims Process

Paul F. Woodrow

Filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits involves a sometimes lengthy administrative process.  A claim is filed by contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA), which may be done online, over the telephone, or in person at your local SSA office.  The SSA representative will ask you for information about when you became disabled, your work history  and,  most importantly,  the medical and /or mental health conditions that prevent you from working.  It is very important that this information be complete and accurate, so that SSA can thoroughly evaluate your claim.  Once they have obtained this information, SSA will transfer your claim to the Bureau of Disability Determination, an agency of the state of Ohio, which will actually process your claim, using SSA’s rules and regulations for evaluating disability.

The state agency will contact your doctors and other medical providers, and gather all of the medical evidence pertaining to your disabling conditions.  They may send you to a doctor for an examination, at their expense, in order to get a better picture of your medical condition.  They may also contact you or your representative for additional information.  Once the state agency has gathered all the evidence, your claim will be reviewed by a state agency doctor, who will determine the severity of your medical conditions, how they may limit your ability to function in a work setting, and whether they meet the SSA definition of disability.  Your claim will then be returned to SSA, who will send you a written decision.  At the initial level, this process usually takes about six months.  If SSA finds you disabled, they will then process payment of your benefits.

If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal.  This is called requesting a reconsideration.  At this level, SSA and the state agency will obtain updated medical evidence, review your claim again, and make a new decision.  This process usually takes three to six months.  If SSA finds you disabled at this level, they will notify you and process your benefits.

If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you have the right to request a hearing.  At the hearing level, you will have the opportunity to appear and testify at an informal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  Your representative will make sure all the evidence is up to date, and will present your claim to the Judge, making arguments on your behalf.  The Judge does not have to follow the earlier decisions which denied your claim, but will make a brand new decision after considering the medical evidence, your testimony, and the arguments of your representative.  Because of the large backlog of claims at the hearing level, it usually takes about nine to twelve months for a hearing to be scheduled.

When filing for disability benefits, it is very important to be in treatment for all of your medical and/or mental health conditions, so that they can be documented for your claim.  It is also vital that SSA be kept informed of any changes in your medical condition or treatment, so that they will have complete and accurate information when evaluating your claim.  Your attorney representative can help you make sure SSA has all the information they need at all stages of the claim, and can help present your claim in a way that will maximize your chance of success.

 

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