Free Consumer Reports

  • Long Term Disability Guide

    Robbed of Your Peace of Mind? Your Guide to Long Term Disability Benefits

    View Details

  • Hiring a Great Long Term Disability Attorney

    The Key To Hiring The Right Long Term Disability Attorney

    View Details

  • #

    The Smart Long Term Disability Guide For Preparing Your Statement and Field Visit

    View Details

  • Social Security Disability Guide

    Your Rights To Social Security Disability Benefits - Your Guide to Getting Benefits Now

    View Details

Category Archives: Social Security Disability (SSD)

Opting Out Of A Social Security Disability Video Hearing

social security video hearing

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses video hearings to catch up on its backlog. However, having a video hearing isn’t always in the best interest of a Social Security Disability applicant because, many times, the Social Security decision is made on the basis of credibility.

Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey thinks it is important that you have a hearing in front of an administrative law judge as opposed to a video conferencing. Far too often, administrative law judges seems to be paying far more attention to their computer screens then actually watching a claimant testify. It is stunning to get a decision finding that the Social Security Disability applicant isn’t credible when the ALJ has spent the hearing looking at their computer and not the applicant.

Objecting to A Social Security Video Hearing

The regulations provide that the prior to scheduling a hearing, SSA notify you that it may schedule your appearance by video teleconferencing. You have the right to object and you, or your representative, must notify SSA within 30 days after receiving the notice.

If you received such a notice you should immediately call your Social Security Disability attorney to find out their position on whether or not you should appear by video conferencing or whether you want to have an in person hearing with an administrative law judge. There is no doubt that having an in person hearing will take longer but you want to make sure that you get the Social Security Disability benefits you receive by having a fair hearing.

What You Should Do If Your Social Security Disability Claim Has Been Denied

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied it’s time to contact Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey who can help Florida residents get the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. Contact her today at 727-894-3188 for a free no obligation consultation.

What Every Social Security Disability Recipient Needs To Know About Discharging Your Federal Student Loans As A Result Of Total And Permanent Disability

social security disability student loan discharge

Federal Student Loans, including FFEL, Direct Loans and Perkins Loans are eligible for forgiveness if the student loan debtor is found to be “totally and permanently disabled” (TPD).

social security disability student loan discharge

The Department of Education is required to accept a Social Security Administration Notice of Award for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as proof as a borrower’s total permanent disability, if the Notice indicates that SSA will review the borrower’s continuing eligilbity for benefits once for every five (5) to seven (7) years.

However, if your Notice of Award indicates a disability review less than five (5) to seven (7) years, you can still qualify for a discharge of your Federal Student Loans if your physician will certify your disability. Information about applying for total permanent disability discharge can be found at disabilitydischarge.com.

The good news is that you can authorize representatives, like Student Loan and Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey, to handle your TPD application, deal with any request for information or denials and help you with post discharge monitoring requirements.

What You Need To Do If You Have Student Loans and Applying For Social Security Disability

If you are a Federal Student Loan borrower who has applied for Social Security Disability benefits and awaiting a decision or have received a Notice of Award, it’s time to contact Nancy Cavey who can help you regardless of where you live in the United States.

She routinely represents social security disability applicants and student loan borrowers in securing a disability discharge. Contact her today at 727-894-3188.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Gets A New Name

new name for chronic fatigue systemic exertional intolerance disease

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended a new name and new diagnostic criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. According to Institute of Medicine, the term, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can result in stigmatization and trivialization and should no longer be used as the name of this illness.”

The suggested new name is Systemic Exertional Intolerance Disease and the new diagnostic criteria being suggested requires that the patient have the following three symptoms:

1. A substantial reduction or impairment in the ability to engage in pre-illness levels of occupational, educational, social or personal activities that persist for more than six (6) months and is accompanied by fatigue, which is often profound, is of new or definite onset (not lifelong, is not the result of ongoing excessive excretion, and is not substantially elevated by rest, and

2. Post-exertional malaise, and

3. Un-refreshing sleep.

At least one of the two following manifestations is also required:

1. Cognitive impairment; or

2. orthostatic intolerance.

The complete report, Beyond Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Redefining an Illness, is a must read for those with CFS! Find it here: http://www.iom.edu/reports/2015/ME-CFS.aspx

If you or a family member has been diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you’ll find this article refreshing. The report acknowledges that “seeking and receiving a diagnosis can be a frustrating process for several reasons, including skepticism of healthcare providers about the serious nature of ME/CFS and the misconception that it is psychogenetic illness or even a figment of a patient’s imagination.” We, at The Law Office of Nancy L. Cavey, applaud the Institute of Medicine’s article and taking on the myth that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is all in a patient’s head.

What To Do If You Have Been Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease

If you or a family member has been diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, it is time to contact Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey who can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Give us a call today at 727-894-3188.

More Bad News About The Delay In Social Security Hearings

social security disability hearing delays

The time for Social Security Disability hearings gets longer.

The Social Security Administration doesn’t always make it easy for those who are disabled to get the Social Security benefits they deserve. It’s not uncommon for initial applications, and even requests for reconsiderations, to be denied and, as a result, the Social Security Disability applicant has to file a Request for a Hearing.

social security disability hearing delays

What’s a Request for a Hearing?

A Request for a Hearing asks that the case to be transferred to a Social Security Disability Administrative Law Judge to have a hearing on an applicant’s right to Social Security Disability benefits. At the end of fiscal year 2012, the average processing time was 353 days and, by the end of September 2014, it was over 454 days. The amount of pending cases has increased every month in 2014 and went over the one million mark by the end of November 2014. Clearly, justice delayed is justice denied!

What Else do the Statistics Show?

The number of Social Security judges has declined from 1,366 as of March of 2013 to 1,264 in November of 2014. That’s 100 fewer judges doing cases. Worse yet, the number of ALJ dispositions has dropped steadily from a high of 783,061 in 2012 to a low of 679,091 in 2014.

Unfortunately, the number of cases that are being denied at the ALJ level is also increasing.

We urge Congress to appropriate more funds or more administrative law judges and an increase use of senior attorney advisers to assist the judges in making decisions.

Need Help With Your Social Security Disability Case?

The Law Office of Nancy L. Cavey can help you with your Social Security disability questions and concerns. Give us a call today at 727-894-3188 to talk about your options!

Article sited from ALJ Hearing Processing Times and Pending Claims: The Statistics Tell All, December 2014, Volume 36, Number 11.

What Sort Of Medical Treatment Will Trigger A Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion In An Erisa Governed Disability Plan?

pre existing disability ERISA

Many disability plans will have a pre-existing condition clause that prohibit the payment of LTD benefits, if you received medical treatment for a specific period of time before the start of the disability.

For example, in the case of Kutten v. Sun Life

Assurance company of Canada, 2014 WL 3562784 (8th Cir. July 21, 2014), Kutten’s ERISA long term disability policy had a pre-existing condition exclusion clause.

The policy defined a pre-existing condition as one in which the employee “received medical treatment, care or services, or took prescribed drugs or medication for the disabling condition 3 months before the start of the policy.

pre existing disability ERISA

What is Medical Treatment?

Kutten had a progressive eye disease. In 1994, his doctor told him to start taking an over-the-counter Vitamin A supplement. This supplement couldn’t cure the disease, but slowed the disease.

When Kutten applied for disability benefits, Sun Life determined that the Vitamin A supplements triggered the pre-existing exclusion clause as medical treatment.

The court in this 8th Circuit decision found that a Vitamin A supplement was not “medical treatment” because the “use of the supplement didn’t require the same medical intervention as prescribed drugs and medicines.” The court noted that the supplements were medical “in the sense they prevented or alleviated the progression of” the disease.

The appellate court reversed the decision, saying that the ordinary meaning of the phrase, “medical treatment,” encompassed the use of supplements.

What Should I do if I’m Thinking About Applying for Disability Benefits?

Get out your disability policy! You need to review the pre-existing disability clause and determine whether you have received treatment that would disqualify you for benefits. If you have, timing may be the key so that you don’t receive medical treatment, care or services in the applicable period of time that would disqualify you for benefits.

It’s time for you to contact a Disability attorney, like Nancy Cavey, who can help you make the difficult decision about whether to apply for long term disability benefits and when you should apply for benefits.

She can help you, regardless of where you live in the United States. Call today at 727-894-3188.

Cognitive Problems As A Result Of Multiple Sclerosis And Your Rights To Social Security Disability Benefits

multiple sclerosis disability attorney tampa

One of the most devastating consequences in MS are cognitive problems. It is not uncommon for those with MS to have problems with attention, processing speed and working memory because of problems in connectivity between areas of the brain.

multiple sclerosis disability attorney tampa

How Can I Win my MS Social Security Disability Claim?

To win your Social Security Disability claim, you have to prove that either you meet a medical listing for MS or establish that, because of vocational factors, you can’t return to the lightest job you’ve held in the last 15 years or other work in the national economy based on your age, education, transferrable skills and restrictions and limitations.

It’s important that the cognitive problems do develop so that the Administrative Law Judge understands the difficulties you have with attention, processing speed and working memory! It takes a team effort to get the disability benefits you deserve. Make sure that you’re represented by a Social Security Disability attorney who specializes in MS claims and can work with your physician to get the necessary documentation to establish the functional and non-functional restrictions and limitations you have, including cognitive problems as a result of your MS.

What You Should Do Right Now If You Suffer From MS

Call today at 727-894-3188 for a free, no obligation consultation and you can learn more about your rights to Social Security Disability by ordering a free, no obligation copy of our book, “Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits.”

 

What Every Social Security Disability Applicant Should Know About The 5 Steps Used In Determining Their Rights To Social Security Disability Benefits

5 steps social security disability applicant

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t make it easy for those who are disabled to get the benefits they deserve. SSA uses a 5 Step Sequential Evaluation test when it reviews every Social Security Disability applicant. So, if your doctor has told you to stop working, you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Before you do so, ask yourself the following questions:

5 steps social security disability applicant

Step 1: Are you gainfully employed?

You must establish that you are gainfully employed or that you are earning less than the federal benefit rate (FDR). If in any month, after the period you claim you are disabled, you are gainfully employed earning $1,090 dollars, regardless of the severity of your disability, you’re not entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.

Step 2: Is your medical impairment severe?

If you have a medical condition that results in limitations and restrictions, you have a severe impairment. For example, if you’ve had back surgery that’s limited your ability to lift more than 10 pounds, you have a severe disability.

Step 3: Does your impairment meet or equal a medical listing?

The Social Security Administration has a disability handbook called the “Blue Book of Impairments” which lists all recognized disabilities. If your disability doesn’t meet or equal the Listings, which you can find at the SSA website, the SSA evaluation process will proceed to Step 4 and Step 5.

Step 4: Can you perform your previous type of work?

If your disability doesn’t meet or equal the Listings, you can still be found disabled based on vocational factors found at Step 4 and Step 5. At Step 4, you must show that you can’t do any previous work that you did for the last 15 years that lasted more than 30 days.

If you’ve had back surgery and your doctor says that you can’t lift more than 10 pounds, and your previous work for the last 15 years was a Stocker, you’ll satisfy Step 4 because your job requires heavy lifting.

Step 5: Can you return to any of the work in the national economy?

SSA will determine, based on your restrictions and limitations, whether there is other work that you’re capable of performing. They will consider your pain, side effects and any psychological problem you have. It’s important that you have a Social Security attorney represent you because most cases are decided at the hearing at Step 5.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will present the Vocational Evaluator a hypothetical based on a mythical individual just like you. The ALJ will ask the vocational evaluator questions about whether there is other work this mythical person might be capable of performing in the national economy taking into consideration your age, education and skills you have learned at other jobs.

Having an attorney represent you to make sure that the hypothetical given to the vocational evaluator is accurate and correct!

What You Should Do Next!

Don’t make a crucial mistake and attempt to represent yourself in a Social Security Disability hearing.

While your doctor told you that you’re unable to work, it takes more than just your doctor’s word to get you the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve.

Contact Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey today at 727-898-3188. She can help you get the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve.

Can I Collect Unemployment Benefits And Supplemental Security Income Benefits?

While you can collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, any Unemployment benefits you receive count as unearned income which will reduce the amount of your SSI benefits.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits Questions?

Applying for SSI and need some guidance? Contact Supplemental Security Income lawyer Nancy Cavey today for a complimentary, no obligation consultation at 727-894-3188 to help you with any questions you may have. We are here to help you with your situation if you are in need.

Is It Inconsistent For Me To Apply For Unemployment Insurance And Social Security Benefits?

That’s a great question and many Social Security Administrative Law Judges believe that collecting Unemployment Insurance and Social Security benefits is “double dipping.”

What’s the inconsistency?

When you apply for Unemployment Compensation benefits, you’re certifying that you’re able to work.  Yet, when you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you’re certifying that you can’t work.  Which is it?

What’s the Social Security rule and policy?

The Social Security rules and policy provide that the “receipt of unemployment insurance benefits does not preclude the receipt of Social Security Disability benefits.”  It is only “one of the many factors that must be considered in determining whether the claimant is disabled” and “a person can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, even though they remain capable of performing some work.”

Therefore, the Chief Social Security Judge has issued a Memorandum to the Administrative Law Judges advising that it is “SSA’s position that individuals need not choose between applying for unemployment insurance and Social Security Disability benefits.”  (Cite to the Memoranda of Chief ALJ Frank Cristaudo, dated November 15, 2006 Ref. No. 07-11; and August 9, 2010 Ref. No. 10-1258.)

So, how do the Tampa Bay Social Security judges apply this ruling?

Unfortunately, despite the Chief Judge’s pronouncement, some Administrative Law Judges simply won’t award SSDI benefits during a period of time in which you’ve collected unemployment benefits.

Others will award Social Security Disability benefits during a period of time in which you collected unemployment, if you can show:

1.         You can only work part-time at less than presumed SGA levels due to medical impairment;

2.         Can only work in a sheltered or accommodated work due to disability;

3.         Can only work sporadically due to a medical impairment producing episodic incapacity to work;

4.         Meets a medical vocational (grid) rule directing a finding of disability);

5.         Filing in the alternative to preserve rights because you’re unsure of whether your medical condition meets the disability and duration requirements when filed; or

6.         You honestly but mistakenly believed that you could work.

What should you do if you’ve applied for both Social Security Disability and Unemployment benefits?

Be sure to tell your disability attorney that you’ve applied for both because you can be assured that the Social Security Administrative Law Judge will ask you questions about the receipt of your unemployment benefits.  You should be prepared to answer these questions honestly and accurately.

What should you do if your Social Security Disability claim has been denied?

Contact Tampa/St. Petersburg Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey today who can help you get the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve.  She can answer any questions you have regarding the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits and your Social Security Disability application.  Call today at 727-894-3188.

What Every Prostate Cancer Sufferer Needs To Know About Social Security Disability Benefits

prostate cancer social security disability

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate and is normally a slow growing tumor. However, once the prostate cancer spreads, it is dangerous and aggressive and can reach your bones, lymph nodes and lungs.

prostate cancer social security disability

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Unfortunately, during the early stages of prostate cancer there are no symptoms and that’s why annual prostate cancer testing is critically important.

Serious prostate symptoms can include:

• Pain in the genital and pelvic area;
• Blood in the urine or seamen;
• Frequent urinary tract infections;
• Unexpected weight loss;
• Pain in the lower back or pelvic area;
• Anemia; and
• Fatigue.

Many of the prostate cancer symptoms are similar to prostatitis, erectile dysfunction or an overactive bladder. If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your physician immediately.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer?

If your physician has diagnosed prostate cancer and told you that you’re unable to work, you should immediately apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration doesn’t always make it easy for those with prostate cancer to get the disability benefits they deserve, even in more progressive cases. However, the Compassionate Allowance Program may be the right answer for getting you your Social Security Disability benefits.

To learn more about your rights to Social Security Disability benefits for prostate cancer, contact Tampa Bay Social Security Disability attorney Nancy Cavey at 727-894-3188.