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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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Dallas SSDI attorneysCan you work and collect disability? That's a question we often get, and the answer isn't as easy as you might think. This topic gets complicated quickly and it's impossible to provide a comprehensive answer in a single blog post. However, this should help to provide a basic overview of how working can affect your disability application.

It's not about 'work'; it's about 'substantial gainful activity.'

To keep this as simple as possible, the government will not award disability benefits to those who are gainfully working. In fact, that's the very first question Social Security asks itself when it receives a disability application. Except instead of referring to 'work,' it refers to 'substantial gainful activity,' or SGA. This SGA concept is so significant, in fact, that Congress specifically defined disability as the 'inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity. . . .'

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A lot of people get confused about the difference between SSI and SSDI, and some of our clients have spent years applying for disability without any grasp of the two programs. If you're wondering about the difference, then this is for you.

Let's start with how the programs are similar. SSDI and SSI both provide monthly benefits for those who are disabled, and the standards for what is a 'disability' are virtually identical. Both apply a five-step analysis that grants disability if you are not working, so long as you have a severe impairment that either:

a) meets/equals the medical criteria the government set in its Listing of Impairments, or else:

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