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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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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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Dallas SSDI attorneysWhile any injury can be traumatic, it's hard to overstate the difficulties that follow from an injury that prevents you from performing the job you've done all your life. Fortunately, the federal government can help by providing monthly benefits through its Social Security Disability Insurance ('SSDI') and Supplemental Security Income ('SSI') programs. However, to qualify for these benefits, you must show that your inability to work results from a specific injury or illness.

At Coats & Todd, we want you to know how to identify if you qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits so that you can move forward without the added financial stress that follows from being unable to work. Our team is here to help you every step of the way.

Some of the common injuries that may qualify for SSDI/SSI benefits are:

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Dallas SSDI attorneysWith only a few weeks left, the Trump Administration has upended a number of rules to make it harder to receive (and even keep) Social Security disability benefits. The White House announced a number of sweeping changes to reduce the number of people on Social Security and to save about $2.5 billion a year.

Some of the biggest new changes to Social Security are:

  • Stricter requirements for back impairments: One of the most prevalent disabilities we see are disabling back impairments, particularly those involving the lower ('lumbar') spine. But under new rules effective starting April 21, 2021, the government will no longer grant benefits to people who are unable to walk effectively due to low back impairments. Now, you have to prove you have to use some prosthetic device that prohibits you from using either arm. So a one-handed walker or cane apparently isn't enough. What's more, the rules say that all of the necessary medical findings have to be documented within a 4-month time period-despite a court of appeals ruling that rejected that position! See Radford v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288 (4th Cir. 2013). Although the Administration used to abide by that appeals court ruling, they've changed their mind. Understandably, several people have objected to these changes. However, the Administration responded that, 'even if in some cases (although not all) the revised rule results in more [denials], we still have a statutory obligation to ensure the listings are up to date... ' Despite the White House's focus on achieving 'progress,' we suspect this will have a devastating effect on millions of Americans for decades to come.
  • More continuing disability reviews: As hardas it now is to receive disability, keeping those benefits is not getting easier. The program has, for some time, conducted ongoing disability reviews to verify SSDI recipients are disabled. That makes sense. But it doesn't make sense why the Trump Administration has decided to increase the frequency of those reviews, particularly when the Administration freely admits that disability fraud is so rare as to be virtually nonexistent. Increasing the frequency of these reviews will increases the chances the SSDI recipients have their benefits suddenly taken away. And once taken away, the individual has a very short window of time to appeal. And if they miss the deadline, they'll probably have to reapply-under standards that are unimaginably more stringent then when they were first awarded.
  • Judge replacement: Previously, if you applied for disability and you were denied twice by the local State agency, you had the right to present your case before an Administrative law judge, or 'ALJ' who provided a full hearing for you to present your case. This was beneficial for a lot of people because the ALJ was often familiar with the local community, including the local health resources (or lack thereof), and he or she knew what kind of hardships the community faced. Well, that's not necessarily the case anymore. The Trump administration has now decided that far-removed appeals judges (who have no familiarity with the community) can now, apparently at whim, step in and conduct the hearing instead of the ALJ. And if that Appeals Council judge deprives the applicant of a fair hearing, guess who gets to decide the appeal? That's right, another Appeals Council judge! Does that sound unfair? Well, the government assures us that they'll be fair-'trust us.' Call us skeptics, but when the Appeals Council's stated goal is to deny over 80% of every disability appeal it receives,we're a little doubtful.

With both of these program changes, it can be assumed that thousands – if not millions – of Americans with disabilities will have a more difficult time obtaining and keeping SSDI benefits. The decision also comes in the midst of a global pandemic, making it all the more worrisome. COVID-19 complications have already been proven to have a chance of causing new and permanent disabilities among people who recover from the virus, including but not limited to asthma and an increased risk of stroke.

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Dallas SSDI attorneysFibromyalgia is a fairly common incurable health condition that is still being researched by medical sciences. What causes fibromyalgia is not completely understood, but it is believed to be rooted in complications of an overactive nervous system, an overabundant amount of blood vessels near the skin, and possibly immune system deficiencies. A study in 2013 shed some light on the theory of nerve and blood vessel complications, but more work needs to be done.

What is understood is that the symptoms of fibromyalgia can be persistent and troubling, most often manifesting as chronic pain that cannot be remedied with painkillers and full-body fatigue that does not go away after a good night's sleep. It is also common for fibromyalgia patients to experience hypersensitivity to touch, numbness in extremities, and joint stiffness.

For many fibromyalgia patients, the symptoms are so consistent and problematic that continuing to work is difficult or seemingly impossible. If you have found yourself in the same situation, then you should know that you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits because of your fibromyalgia diagnosis. Every case is different, though, so getting benefits is not guaranteed.

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