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Dallas, TX social security disability benefits lawyerIt is not uncommon for a person who files a claim for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program to be told that additional medical evidence is required. In many situations, applicants are required to undergo a consultative exam with a medical professional who is approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Generally, there are at least a few approved contractors in a given geographic area who can provide such exams, but according to several lawsuits that were filed recently, some of them may not be providing the level of honest care that applicants should expect. Such was the case, allegedly, for a woman in Kansas City who sought a consultative exam as part of her 2018 SSDI application process.

Questions About the Consultative Exam

According to local news reports and court documents, a Kansas City woman applied for disability benefits in 2018, stating she could not work due to a number of health issues, including neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hip surgery, arthritis, and constant migraines. As part of the application process, she visited a particular SSA-contracted medical provider in Kansas City.

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Dallas Social Security Disability Benefits lawyerWhen most people think about health conditions for which Social Security Disability benefits might be available, they often envision life-changing conditions such as cancer, auto-immune diseases, and severe, obvious injuries. In reality, however, nearly any condition that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment could potentially make you eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. This includes repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, and more.

Understanding Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are a type of condition that is caused by performing the same motions over and over again. This can happen at work if you have a job that requires you to perform the same task day in and day out. It can also occur during leisure activities, such as playing a musical instrument or participating in a sport.

These injuries generally affect muscles, tendons, or nerves and can lead to pain, inflammation, and even numbness or tingling. In some cases, RSIs can be so severe that they cause permanent damage. While RSIs can occur in any part of the body, they are most commonly seen in the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck.

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Dallas, TX SSDI LawyerIf you suffer from lupus, you know how difficult it can be sometimes to do even the most basic things. Simply getting out of bed in the morning can be a struggle, let alone going to work and providing for your family. While there may not be a cure for this serious autoimmune disease, there are some things that may be able to help you. In addition, you might also qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

What Is Lupus?

In order to understand how lupus can affect your ability to work, it is important to first understand what the disease is. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. The immune system normally protects the body from infection and illness. However, in people with lupus, the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues.

This can cause inflammation and damage in various parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Lupus can also cause mild to severe fatigue, as well as other symptoms such as fever, chest pain, hair loss, and headaches. There is no one test that can definitively diagnose lupus. Instead, doctors will often use a combination of tests and physical examinations to make a diagnosis. There is no cure for lupus, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms.

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Dallas disability benefits lawyerIf you are already receiving Social Security disability benefits or you have a condition that should qualify you for such benefits, it is important to follow your doctor's orders for treating your condition. Failing to do so can result in a denial of benefits. A qualified Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) attorney from The Law Offices of Coats & Todd can help you understand the potential consequences of failing to follow a doctor's orders and what you can do to avoid a denial of benefits.

What Happens if I Fail to Follow My Doctor's Orders?

When you apply for SSDI benefits, you are required to provide supporting medical documentation about your condition and how it is affecting your ability to work. Part of that information should be the specifics of your condition as well as what is being done to treat it. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must follow your prescribed treatment if the treatment is expected to restore—even partially—your ability to work.

If you are applying for benefits and are not following your prescribed treatment without a good reason, you will not be found to be disabled. If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits and you fail to follow your doctor's orders, your benefits may be suspended or terminated. In some cases, you may be able to appeal the decision, but if you do not intend to follow the prescribed treatment, you must have a good reason.

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Dallas SSDI benefits lawyerThe application and approval process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be time-consuming and stressful. Successfully navigating the process often requires the help of an experienced disability attorney. While we are happy to help our clients in obtaining the benefits they deserve, we are also excited when the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes steps to streamline the process.

Last month, the SSA announced additions to a specific program that has already accelerated the applications of about 800,000 Americans with disabling conditions. The additions come in the form of 12 new conditions that have been added to the Compassionate Allowance program, which expedites the processing of claims for applicants who are severely disabled.  

Compassionate Allowances

When a “normal” applicant for SSDI submits an application for benefits, the application must include documentation and proof of the person’s disabling condition. In most cases, this triggers a medical review by the SSA.

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Texas SSDI benefit lawyerSocial Security disability benefits are generally available to disabled veterans, regardless of the war in which they served and how long ago the conflict was. Many disabled or wounded veterans are also eligible to receive disability benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While the goals of these two programs are similar—that is, providing financial assistance to disabled individuals—there are some important differences.

If you are a disabled veteran who is looking to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your first call should be to a qualified disability attorney at The Law Offices of Coats & Todd. We will help you work through your application and secure the benefits to which you are entitled under the appropriate program.

Definitions of Disability

Perhaps the biggest difference between SSDI and VA disability compensation is each program’s definition of “disabled.” To be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must show that you cannot perform “substantial gainful activity” as the result of a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment” that has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or can be expected to result in your eventual death.

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Dallas Social Security disability lawyerLife is often difficult for those who suffer from disabilities. One of the many forms of assistance offered by the federal government is financial help through Social Security. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two such programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

The SSA gets tens of thousands of applications for each program every year, but not all applicants are approved. In many cases, the information provided in the application was either incorrect or insufficient to allow the claim to move forward. When you are applying for Social Security benefits, you need to have the required information prepared, organized, and included with your application.

Personal Data

The first set of required information is that which identifies you and provides details about your personal background. This includes your name, date of birth, place of birth, and Social Security number. You will also need to include your veteran status, if applicable. If you have a spouse and children, you must provide identifying information for them as well and include the date of your marriage or divorce if either of those applies to you.

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Dallas Social Security Disability lawyerDo you suffer from back pain? Chances are, you do, since nearly everyone will experience some type of back pain in their lives. For many people, back pain is a chronic problem. According to experts, back pain leads to more than 264 million hours lost at work each year in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of missed work. In fact, back pain is the number one cause of disability in the world.

If back pain makes it unbearable for you to work, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A qualified SSDI attorney can help you understand your available options for seeking the benefits you deserve.

Understanding “Medical Determinability”

Social Security disability benefits are not typically available on the basis of mild, intermittent, or moderate back pain. In order to qualify, your back pain must be associated with an impairment that the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds to be “medically determinable.” Essentially, the SSA will not approve disability benefits based on your reporting that you have back pain. Instead, you must show that some type of detectable problem, condition, or injury is causing your pain.

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TX disability lawyerHeart disease is no longer a “good ol’ boys club.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, responsible for one in four female deaths. Despite increased awareness, only 54 percent of women recognize heart disease as their number one enemy.

More alarmingly, women often differ from their male counterparts in terms of heart-related symptoms. Men often present with the classic, clutching of the chest while almost 64 percent of women with heart disease are unaware that they even have a problem. Women often present without any type of heart-related symptoms at all. For many, feelings of dull chest discomfort, pain in the neck or lower jaw, or pain in the upper abdomen or back are often dismissed or self-diagnosed as stress or anxiety.

Benefits Might Be Available

Perhaps what else may not be evident, is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes heart disease under Section 4.00 Cardiovascular System - Adult, Disability Evaluation Blue Book as an approved medical disorder possibly eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if all criteria have been met.

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TX injury lawyerAccording to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn's disease, named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn in collaboration with colleagues Dr. Leon Ginzburg and Dr. Gordon D. Oppenheimer, was first classified as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in 1932. Crohn's was later removed from the IBD classification and received its own designation as a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's commonly affects those between the ages of 16 to 40 years of age. Even more interesting, Crohn's primarily affects those living in northern climates and is not gender-specific.

If you are living with Crohn’s disease, it can be difficult to maintain a “normal” lifestyle. With this in mind, you may be eligible for benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Common Indicators of Crohn’s disease

For the estimated 780,000 Americans who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s, the disease can be life-altering. Those living with this chronic condition usually find their lives disrupted by one or more of the following symptoms:

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TX disability lawyerApplying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits does not automatically guarantee automatic approval. If fact, more than 50 percent of all claims are initially denied, leading many people to wonder what their next steps are. If you have been denied SSDI benefits, you should contact a qualified Social Security attorney before you do anything else. Your attorney can help you manage the appeals process, including a potential hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the Social Security Administration. As you prepare for your hearing, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First Impression

Although you are not required to retain legal counsel, it is almost certainly in your best interest to have an attorney by your side. From a practical standpoint, plan on arriving early. First impressions absolutely matter, and by appearing polished and ready, you can show the ALJ that the case is important to you. In addition, your manner of dress should be conservative, so avoid suggestive or informal attire.

Mindful Manners

Remember that you are appearing before a judge, and it is important to be respectful and polite. When addressing the ALJ, the use of “Your Honor” is expected. Also, be ready to stand when the ALJ enters the room, as this indicates a sign of respect.

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TX disability lawyerLiving with Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating—and not just for the affected patient. The person’s family and loved ones often have a great deal of difficulty adjusting to the person’s new reality as well. Also known as “younger-onset” Alzheimer’s, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease was added to the list of disabilities and diseases covered by Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) just a few years ago.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is considered under the Compassionate Allowance Initiative of the Social Security Administration, which gives the same access for early-onset patients to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as traditional Alzheimer’s patients. The intent of the Compassionate Allowance Initiative is to allow patients with an extremely fast-moving degenerative disease (such as Alzheimer’s) to be fast-tracked through the approval process.

Important Considerations in Getting the Benefits You Need

There are specific guidelines meant to regulate the Social Security Disability application process for early-onset Alzheimer’s patients. The medical information that is needed to prove that you have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s includes, but is not limited to:

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TX disability lawyerHeadaches are among the most common ailments people suffer, but for many with chronic headaches or migraines, it can be a debilitating condition. Many people with severe migraine problems have difficulty working or carrying on in the same capacity before the migraines increased to such severity. If this describes your situation, it might be possible for you to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and a qualified disability attorney can help you through the application process.

What You Should Know About Chronic Headaches

Those who suffer from migraines know how painful and distressing they can be. Common symptoms of severe migraines include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, dizziness, fever, blurred vision, and an intense sensitivity to light. All of these, of course, can impact a person’s ability to work.

A migraine, however, is just one of three types of severe headaches that a person can get. Others include tension headaches and cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are “described as having a burning or piercing quality that is throbbing or constant.” These usually last a short time, but many patients report that the cluster headache returns periodically throughout the day. A tension headache tends to increase and wane over prolonged periods of time and can affect a person’s ability to fall or stay asleep and result in general achiness and weariness.

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TX SSDI lawyerQualifying for Social Security benefits can be a long and complicated process, no matter what your specific situation may be. If you or a loved one is a dependent—either under 18 years old, under 22 years old and attending school, or require full-time care—the process is different than for independent adults. As a result, the application process is different and requires a different set of considerations.

Important Considerations for Minors Seeking SSI Benefits

For a child to qualify, according to the Social Security Administration, he or she must be either blind or disabled. The child can begin to receive Social Security Insurance (SSI) benefits as soon as he or she is born, and the child does not have to be of a certain age before he or she is able to begin receiving benefits. Once the child is 18, the SSA can reevaluate the circumstances to determine whether or not the child should continue to receive SSI benefits.

Disability Concerns

For a disability to qualify for SSI benefits, the impairment must be expected to last at least 12 months or have existed for 12 months. Unlike the standard requirement for SSI disability benefits, there is no duration requirement for SSI blindness. If the child lives at home with parents who do not receive SSI benefits for themselves, the parents’ income and finances are considered when determining whether or not the dependent will qualify for SSI. If the child lives away from home—at a special school, for example—the time that the child is home is considered differently, as the child will be subject to his parents’ finances during that time. The process of considering a parents’ income is called “deeming.”

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TX disability lawyerApplications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) have maintained an award rate of around 35 to 45 percent since 2001, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the rate of applicants who are awarded benefits at the reconsideration level is significantly less, which makes it important to understand reasons why a claim might be denied and what can be done to have the application reviewed again.

If your SSDI claim has been denied, you or your legal counsel will receive a certified letter from the SSA detailing the reason for denial. You do have a right to file suit within six months of the mailing date if you are not in agreement with the decision, but first, you or your attorney must file a request for reconsideration.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits

The SSA has a list of disabilities and impairments that fall under the scope of approval. An applicant may receive benefits if he or she:

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TX injury lawyerHigh blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common heart diseases in America. About one in three U.S. adults, roughly 70 million people, have high blood pressure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For some, the condition is manageable with lifestyle changes and prescription medications, but for others, hypertension can affect their entire lives. In situations like this, Social Security disability benefits may be available, and a qualified disability lawyer can help you determine your eligibility.

Understanding High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure simply means that the pressure of blood in your blood vessels is more than it should be, causing your heart to work overtime. Risks of hypertension include heart disease and stroke, two of the most common causes of death for Americans. Hypertension is often referred to as a “silent killer,” because there are little to no warning signs of the disease. The only way to determine if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked regularly.

There are several conditions and many lifestyle factors that can contribute to hypertension—the most common being a poor diet and lack of exercise. If a person gets little to no exercise, has a poor diet, is obese, or elderly, he or she is at higher risk of high blood pressure, though the exact cause of the condition cannot be traced to a single factor for most patients. High alcohol consumption (more than one or two drinks a day) and smoking can also contribute to the risk of high blood pressure. Genetics also plays a role.

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plano criminal defense lawyerWhile there are many different types of health conditions that may cause a person to be disabled, issues related to a person’s senses are some of the most well-recognized disabilities. A person who is blind is understood to have significant limitations that will affect their ability to maintain gainful employment, and an inability to hear will also limit a person’s ability to perform different types of activities at work or at home. Those who suffer from these types of disabilities will often be eligible for benefits through Social Security, and they will need to understand the qualifications they will need to meet to demonstrate that they are disabled and receive financial assistance.

When Is Vision or Hearing Loss Considered a Disability?

Social Security’s Listing of Impairments details specific conditions that are considered disabilities. If a person meets the requirements detailed in the listing for a certain condition, they will typically be considered disabled, allowing them to receive benefits. The listing for vision loss details the types of tests that may be performed to measure a person’s visual acuity and visual efficiency. Generally, if a person is considered to be statutorily or legally blind, meaning that their vision in their better eye is measured at 20/200 or less even with corrective lenses, they will qualify as disabled.

To evaluate hearing loss, Social Security may use audiometric testing along with examinations by a doctor or audiologist to determine how a person has been affected by these issues. A doctor will need to evaluate the eardrum and middle ear to determine if there are any abnormalities, and testing will determine the extent of a person’s hearing loss. Different types of testing may be used depending on whether a person has a cochlear implant. These tests may measure a person’s ability to recognize words, as well as their ability to hear sounds at different frequencies when they are conducted through the air or through the person’s bones.

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shutterstock_2104132220.jpgWhen a physical or mental condition causes a person to be unable to work, they may rely on Social Security disability benefits to help meet their ongoing financial needs. The application process for these benefits can be complicated, and a person will need to demonstrate that they suffer from ongoing issues that have prevented them from maintaining gainful employment and that their condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year. Even after a person is granted disability benefits, they may experience issues related to the continuation of benefits, since Social Security will conduct regular reviews to ensure that they still meet the requirements to be considered disabled.

When Does Social Security Perform Disability Reviews?

While disability benefits will be paid for as long as a person has a disability, Social Security is required by law to review cases on an ongoing basis to ensure that people who receive benefits still meet all applicable requirements. The frequency of these reviews will usually depend on the severity of a person’s condition, and reviews may be conducted as follows:

  • If a person’s condition is expected to improve in the near future, a review will usually be performed between six and 18 months after the date when the person first became disabled.

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shutterstock_1585711024-1.jpgFor those who suffer from physical or mental conditions that prevent them from working full-time, Social Security disability can provide essential financial assistance. However, the process of applying for these benefits can sometimes be complicated, and applicants will need to provide extensive documentation demonstrating that their condition is severe enough to be considered a disability by Social Security. If a claim is denied, a person can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The testimony of medical and vocational experts can play an important role in this type of hearing. By understanding the types of issues these experts will address, a person can make sure they are taking the correct steps to receive the benefits they need.

Testimony of Medical Experts

A medical expert (ME) who testifies at a hearing will serve as an independent, impartial source who can review evidence and offer an opinion about a person’s limitations that may affect their ability to work. An ME will not physically examine a person; instead, they will review medical records and testimony provided by an applicant or other witnesses and answer questions asked by the ALJ and the applicant or their attorney. 

A medical expert will not offer opinions about whether a person is disabled or the specific types of work they can perform. Their testimony may address whether the person’s symptoms meet or are equivalent to the requirements detailed in Social Security’s Listing of Impairments. They may also offer their opinion on the limitations that may apply to a person while working, such as their ability to perform physical actions like lifting or carrying items, their ability to meet the mental demands of the workplace, their ability to maintain concentration and consistent pace, and how issues related to their sight, hearing, or other senses will affect the work they can perform. The information provided may be used to help the ALJ establish a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

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plano social security lawyerWhen a person has a significant disability that prevents them from working at a level that will allow them to support themselves, they may be able to receive disability benefits through Social Security. However, the process of applying for these benefits can be complicated, and multiple types of information will need to be provided to demonstrate that the person has what is considered a “total” disability. During the Social Security disability (SSD) claims process, a person may be required to receive an examination from a medical provider that will be used to determine whether their health condition meets the qualifications for disability. This is known as a consultative examination or CE, and an applicant will need to understand how this type of exam may affect their claim.

When Will Social Security Order a CE?

In some cases, the information a person provides when applying for disability benefits will be sufficient for Social Security to make a determination. However, there are many cases where Social Security will seek out additional information about a person’s diagnosis and treatment plan and the effects their condition has had on their ability to work. A consultative examination may be ordered if:

  • There is an inconsistency in the evidence provided by an applicant, such as contradicting opinions from multiple medical providers.

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