Get Answers to Your Legal Questions in Our FAQ

Dealing with a legal issue whether it be applying for and receiving disability benefits, fighting for a personal injury claim, or navigating through a divorce, can be a challenge, and many people are left with questions about what they can do to get the help they need.  At the law offices of Loyd J. Bourgeois, we understand how hard it can be to get the answers you need. That’s why we’ve put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers dealing with family law, personal injury, disability benefits, claims, and appeals and the related law in Louisiana.

The following are some FAQs that I receive as a Louisiana attorney. They may answer some of the questions you have regarding your Social Security Disability appeal, your long-term disability insurance denial, your personal injury claim, or your Louisiana divorce. If you have a question that is not answered here, please call the legal team of Loyd J Bourgeois, LLC at 985-240-9773.

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  • What is pain and suffering?

    What is Pain and Suffering?

    Pain and suffering is an element of damages that an injured person seeks from the person causing the injury.  Pain and suffering is usually not available in breach of contract cases, disability cases, or property insurance cases.

    You know all too well that pain and suffering is part of the aftermath of an injury. Legally, though, "pain and suffering" describes the physical pain and emotional distress a victim endures as a result of a personal injury accident.  Emotional distress (also called "mental anguish") can include depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and more. Compensation for pain and suffering is more than money for physical ailments—it also entails mental and emotional pain. It is also above and beyond you actual money damages (like your lost wages, medical bills, etc.).
    You may be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering if you have:
    • Grief
    • Worry
    • Insomnia
    • The loss of enjoyment of lifeWhat is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Claim

    What Kinds of Things Does "Pain and Suffering" Include?

    When we say "pain and suffering," we're talking about a variety of ways that an accident can affect your life. Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic loss. Non-economic losses are intangible— and not clearly enumerated.
    You can recover pain and suffering damages for:
    • Past and Future Pain and Suffering – This includes any past and future physical pain, mental anguish, discomfort, inconvenience, and stress.
    • Embarrassment and Humiliation – This covers anything caused by the accident that could leave the victim feeling ashamed of their injuries, such as burns, paralysis, and amputation.
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life – This compensation is for victims who have lost enjoyment of the pleasures of life due to the accident.
    • Disfigurement – This represents any scars or permanent damage caused by an accident or the surgery necessary to treat the car accident injuries.
    • Loss of Consortium— The spouse of an injured victim can receive money for what is known as Loss of Consortium, which means that they've lost companionship and the ability to be close to their husband or wife.

    How is pain and suffering compensation calculated?

    It's difficult to calculate how much a pain and suffering claim could potentially be worth because no two accidents or injuries are the same—and they can affect each person differently.
    The amount of money a person is able to recover for pain and suffering is most dependent on the evidence presented during your case, like testimony from medical experts, copies of medical bills, etc.
    When the insurance company or a judge or jury evaluates your case, they consider all evidence along with information such as:
    • Your age
    • The type of injury you suffered
    • And how your injury affects your life—including how it has impacted your ability to socialize, enjoy hobbies, and complete household chores and other everyday activities.

    At the end of the day, if you are like most people, there's nothing you wouldn't give to have your old, pre-injury life back again. Unfortunately, we cannot unwind the clock.  Compensation for pain and suffering, however, attempts to make up for the many hardships you have to endure.

    This is something we consider in every case and in advising you on an acceptable settlement or demand amount, both before and during litigation.

    We hope this helps you understand how these damages are considered in your case.  If you have any questions, please give us a call at 985-240-9773.

  • Who should pay my medical bills after I'm injured in a wreck? My health insurance or their car insurance?

    I'm Louisiana personal injury attorney Loyd Bourgeois. Here to answer a frequently asked question that we get here in our office.

    "Who pays the medical bills after you've been injured in an auto accident?"

    Often times, this is the most pressing question we get from clients. They're facing medical treatment and bills. They don't know exactly how to get them paid for. They don't want to have collections calling them. They don't really know what to do.

    Should I use my health insurance for my Louisiana car accident case?

    If you’ve been in a car accident in Louisiana, you’ve probably been asked by your health care providers whether you want to use your health insurance for your bills.  (Or perhaps a health care provider has refused to take your health insurance “because your treatment was due to an accident.”)  If you are lucky enough to have health insurance through your employer or through your spouse, you should absolutely use your health insurance to pay for your medical treatment and medical bills.  

    Now at the end of the day, they may have a subrogation claim against any recovery you getWhich Insurance Pays After an Accident?

    But in the short term, it is best to get the treatment that you need for your injuries through your medical insurance provider. Now you may ask, "Why? I thought the other party was responsible for paying for my medical bills." And, you would be right.

    Why does my health insurance have to get involved if the accident was someone else’s fault?

    The other party or insurance company will not pay for your medical bills as you incur them. They will basically wait until the case is fully resolved. Whether that be through a settlement or a judgment, to pay all the medical bills at one time, in one lump sum along with paying you for any pain and suffering.

    So, you may have to go years without any recovery from the other responsible party. During that time you're going to need treatment. So you should use your own insurance company to pay for your medical treatment and bills. That will include Medicare or Medicaid if you have that as well.

    When does the auto insurance come into play?

    Some people do purchase medical payments or med pay coverage through their own auto insurance, and if you do have that you can submit your bills through them to be reimbursed. Again, it probably won't be on an as you incur them basis right away, but you'll be able to get it reimbursed sooner. But they too may have a claim against any future recovery you may get as a result of your injury.

    Once you’ve fully recovered (or if you’re approaching the statute of limitations on your case), you will pursue your personal injury action. However, this can be far down the road (Louisiana has a 1-year statute of limitations/prescriptive period for most auto claims and 2 years for your UM coverage).

    Therefore, early in your case, you should focus on physically recovering and making sure that your bills are being submitted to your health insurance. Once you’ve got a sufficiently solid idea of what your injuries are, you can then pursue money from the defendant’s insurance company.

    What if the defendant doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my claim?

    If you’re lucky enough to have been following Loyd J. Bourgeois, LLC prior to your accident, you know we stress the importance of Under-Insured Motorist Coverage (UIM). If a defendant doesn’t have enough insurance, you can make a claim against your own policy. If you’ve bought enough to cover your claim, then you don’t have to worry.

    My health insurer sent me a letter about my Louisiana accident case. Why do they care?

    As we said above, you should have your health insurer pay your medical bills. However, in many instances, they have a right to be reimbursed for what they paid on your behalf IF you get money from the accident case.

    Keep in mind, however:

    1. The health insurer only gets paid what it pays out (generally health insurers get discounts for medical bills [so a $100 bill might only require $40 from a health insurer],
    2. The health insurer helped you keep your finances stable for you to have time to pursue your auto case, and
    3. You may be able to negotiate with your health insurer on the amount claimed and paid back to them. What’s more, not all health insurers will ask for reimbursement in all auto cases.

    But, I hope this answers your question about who pays for your medical bills after your auto accident. I'm Louisiana personal injury attorney Loyd Bourgeois. I trust you found this answer helpful.

    Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury ClaimsI've written a book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims. This is a helpful and informative guide that will lead you through some of the common mistakes that can wreck your personal injury claim.  Discover why you may not even need an attorney! Get answers to your questions about recorded statements, paying medical bills, getting your vehicle repaired, negotiating a settlement, and much more! Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to accept a settlement that is too small to cover your medical bills and lost wages! You need to read this before you talk to an attorney or insurance adjuster.  I'd love to send you a copy. Just click here to receive your free copy of my book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims.

    Request Book

    If you're looking for help, do not hesitate to give us a call at 985-240-9773.  Our team is here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve after an injury.

  • Can You Get SSDI for Anxiety?

    As a Greater Metairie SSDI lawyer, I am often asked if a person can get social security disability because of an anxiety disorder.  The short answer is – yes, but it depends.

    Is Anxiety a Disability?

    To determine whether you are disabled by your anxiety disorder, Social Security will first consider whether your condition meets or equals a listing.  If so, you are considered disabled and entitled to benefits.  

    If your anxiety disorder, such as phobias, panic attacks, OCD or PTSD, is not severe enough to equal or meet a listing, Social Security will assess your residual functional capacity (RFCand determine whether you can perform your past relevant work or any other work.  This is known as Step 4 and Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.


    The listing for anxiety disorders is 12.06.

    The anxiety disorder must be either your predominant disturbance or experienced if you attempt to master your symptoms – for example, confronting the dreaded object or situation in a phobic disorder or resisting the obsessions or compulsions in obsessive-compulsive disorders.

    The required level of severity for anxiety disorder is met when the requirements in both A and B are satisfied, or when the requirements in both A and C are satisfied. You must satisfy the requirements of A.

    A. Medically documented findings of at least one of the following:

    1. Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms:
      1. Motor tension; or
      2. Autonomic hyperactivity; or
      3. Apprehensive expectation; or
      4. Vigilance and scanning; or
    2. A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation; or
    3. Recurrent severe panic attacks manifested by a sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror, and sense of impending doom occurring on the average of at least once a week; or
    4. Recurrent obsessions or compulsions which are a source of marked distress; or
    5. Recurrent and intrusive recollections of a traumatic experience, which are a source of marked distress;


    B. Resulting in at least two of the following:

    1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or
    2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or
    3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or
    4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.


    C. Resulting in the complete inability to function independently outside the area of one’s home.

    Part A requirements are associated with a specific anxiety disorder.  A(1) is for a generalized anxiety disorder.  A(2) is for phobias.  A(3) is for panic disorders.  A(4) is for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  A(5) relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  You need to have a medically documented finding of one of these disorders to meet the listing.

    Additionally, treatment by a licensed psychologist is preferred over treatment by only a family practitioner.  However, treatment by any medical doctor is better than no treatment at all.


    While there is a Listing for Anxiety Disorders that can qualify you for Social Security Disability, most people with anxiety issues do not meet the listing.  In these cases, the disability claim is evaluated by determining whether your residual functional capacity allows you to perform your past work and any other work.


    With an anxiety disorder, your residual functional capacity (RFC) will likely be a Mental RFC. 

    An RFC for mental impairments is expressed in terms of whether you can do skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled work in spite of impairments, or whether you cannot even do unskilled work.

    If you have a mental RFC saying you have the ability to perform unskilled work and have no additional physical impairments, you will face an uphill fight to have your claim approved.  Some factors can weigh into making your case better.  These include no more than a limited education; are close to retirement age; or a lifelong history of unskilled work that you can no longer perform.

    The reason for the denial is that the Social Security Administration will cite and identify many jobs that require only unskilled work that you can still perform.


    If you can show that you have a “marked” impairment in any of the abilities required for unskilled work, your SSDI claim has a much greater chance of being approved – even in the absence of any physical impairment.

    How do you show impairment of ability to perform unskilled work?  You need to show some limitations associated with:

    • Memory;
    • Following directions;
    • Maintaining focus;
    • Reliability;
    • Need for supervision;
    • Ability to work with others;
    • Decision making;
    • Ability to work at a consistent pace;
    • Handle changes;
    • Awareness.

    Development of evidence of the above and the associated limitations can be complicated and time-consuming.

    For example, how do you show memory deficit or your lack of decision-making skills?

    Information from family members about how you behave at home and in social situations can help. Specific work-setting information may be obtained from former supervisors or co-workers if available. Treating physicians may have made observations or have opinions regarding your ability to perform these basic capacities.

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book OfferIf you're preparing to apply for Social Security disability or appeal a claim denial, I've written a book 9 Mistakes that Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim. This is a helpful and informative guide that will guide you through some of the common mistakes and errors that lead to unfavorable Social Security Disability decisions. Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to lose the benefits that you need to survive! I'd love to send you a copy. Just click here to receive your free copy of my book 9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim.

    A disability lawyer can help you develop a sufficient record and evidence to help show that your anxiety disorder limits your functional capacity to such an extent that you are not able to compete in jobs that may be available. If you have specific questions about your claim, contact disability attorney Loyd Bourgeois for a free consultation at 985-240-9773

  • What is the difference between Joint Custody and Sole Custody?

    These two terms are often misunderstood when the care and decision making concerns of children are at stake in a divorce or child custody case.  While often used, each has a very specific meaning under Louisiana Law!

    What is Sole Custody?

    Sole Custody vs Joint CustodySole Custody means one parent has the sole, legal care and decision-making ability for a child.

    Sole custody is rare and is usually limited to situations where one parent is unfit or incapable of having any form of responsibility for a child -- for example, due to drug addiction or evidence of child abuse.

    With sole custody, the other parent may have periods of visitation.

    What is Joint Custody?

    Joint Custody means both parents share the care and decision-making ability for a child.

    Joint custody is preferred in Louisiana.

    Even if one parent has more actual physical custody of a child than the other, the custody is likely joint, with each parent able to exercise parental rights during their periods of custody (not visitation).

    If you are going through a divorce or have questions about your custody agreement, give us a call at 985-240-9773.

  • Can a Partially Favorable ALJ decision be appealed? Can you lose your benefits?

    Many Social Security Disability applicants in the New Orleans area and beyond are confused when they receive a partially favorable decision. 

    Two common questions I hear are “Can I appeal a Partially Favorable decision by an ALJ?” and “If I appeal the decision, can I lose my awarded benefits?”.

    Should I appeal a partially favorable ALJ decision? Could I lose my disability benefits?A partially favorable decision occurs when the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) has granted you disability benefits, but not the full amount you requested.

    In the majority of partially favorable decisions, the ALJ finds that you are disabled, but moves your onset date to a later date than the one that you claimed.

    Moving the onset date can severely affect your back pay and your future monthly benefits. You lose out on the back pay for the months between your alleged onset date and the ALJ’s revised onset date. This could amount to a large sum of money.

    Additionally, if your onset is moved to a date beyond your date last insured, you may miss out on disability benefits altogether and be forced to accept only supplemental security benefits. The revised onset date may also reduce your monthly benefit.


    Yes. You have the right to appeal this decision to the Appeals Council. But there are risks.


    The AC will review the entire claim and determine if the proper decision was made. This means they will review the onset date and the disability determination. So, while the AC may agree with you that an earlier onset is appropriate, the AC could also disagree with the judge and find that the record does not support disability at all.


    No. You will not receive any benefits while awaiting the result of your appeal.


    If you are considering appealing a partially favorable decision, you should consult with a Social Security Disability attorney to discuss the pros and cons of an appeal in regard to the specifics of your case.

    If you have questions about your application or appeal, call New Orleans area disability lawyer, Loyd Bourgeois at 985-240-9773 or submit an online case evaluation and we will get back to you within one business day.

    Get Help Now

  • What if there is much more damage to the vehicle that caused the accident than to your own car? How can that affect your case?

    Some jurors in accident cases believe in the myth that property damage equals injury.

    This means that jurors likely will believe that unless your vehicle sustained substantial property damage, you were not injured.

    Ironically, this commonly-held belief is refuted entirely by the body of medical and scientific evidence that has been developed over years regarding accidents and injuries.

    For example, in a rear-end collision where a car “rear ends” a truck that has a trailer hitch, often most of the property damage will be on the car that rear-ended the truck.

    This is why it is so important in these types of cases that your attorney promptly hires an expert to examine your vehicle to collect evidence that can be used to explain to the jury why one car has much more property damage the other.

    What if there's more damage to the at fault car in an accident?Our firm is working on a case where there was significant property damage to the car that rear-ended our client’s truck. However, the truck has minimal property damage because the car rear-ended our client’s truck right on the trailer hitch. The trailer hitch is attached directly to the frame of the vehicle so damage was far less to the truck than to the car who struck the truck. 

    The fact that the at-fault car had more damage than the truck does not mean that the at-fault party doesn't owe my client for his personal injury or for the property damage to his truck. 

    It is important in these cases to retain an experienced River Parishes Personal Injury attorney that can retain the right experts to help prove your claim and counter the jury's bias. 

    If you were injured in an accident where the other car received more damage than yours, give us a call at 985-240-9773 to discuss your specific situation.  Or you can use our contact form and someone from our office will be in touch with you shortly.  

  • What are Negligence Laws in Louisiana?

    Negligence simply means failing to take proper care.  Louisiana negligence laws are there to protect you, your family, and your property from the carelessness of others. These laws hold the responsible party accountable when they fail to take proper care – like texting while driving, running a red light, speeding through a stop sign, etc.  In this day and age, medical and repair bills get very expensive very quickly.  Louisiana law sets a system in place that allows you to get the compensation you deserve from the offending party.

    The Elements of Louisiana Negligence Laws

    What are Louisiana negligence laws?In Louisiana negligence laws, negligence is defined as the failure of one person or entity to exercise appropriate care. If someone’s indifference has harmed you, then you may have grounds for a Louisiana personal injury lawsuit. Louisiana’s negligence law comes from the Louisiana Civil Code article 2315.

    Negligence includes the concept of duty.  Duty is the care that someone or something is obliged to show to others. For instance, a driver has a duty to maintain a safe speed in light of circumstances to other drivers on the road.

    If a breach of duty (or failure to fulfill a duty) happens, and the breach results in you getting hurt, Louisiana negligence laws were likely violated.

    Louisiana negligence cases also involve other elements such as proximate cause.  This element looks at whether the actual act of negligence caused the damage complained of – or whether something else caused it.

    In negligence cases, you must also prove your damages.  Damages are either special or general.  Special damages include medical expenses, quantifiable financial losses (lost wages, benefits, etc.), and other quantifiable expenses.  General damages compensate you for pain and suffering.  They are not easily quantifiable and are up to the discretion of the court or jury.

    The Issue of Comparative Negligence

    Louisiana is a comparative negligence state. This means either the judge or the jury will determine the amount of fault for each party, and that you do not have to have zero fault to recover damages.

    I will use a story to illustrate this point:

    John is visiting his mother in the hospital.  While walking to her room, he slips on an unmarked wet surface and injures himself. The hospital had a duty to alert visitors about the slippery floor and failed to do so. As such, it is likely that the hospital is 100% at fault, and has to pay John’s full damages.

    However, suppose that Mary slipped on the same floor, but she was running recklessly just prior to her fall. Under comparative negligence, the court may decide that Mary has some responsibility for her careless behavior. Let’s say the court decides Mary is 30% to blame.  This will affect the amount paid in compensation. Mary cannot recover all of her damages.  She can only recover 70% of the compensation, as the hospital was only 70% at fault.

    Contact a Louisiana Personal Injury Attorney

    After a serious accident, while you are dealing with injuries, medical bills, car repairs and insurance companies, you need someone working on your side while you focus on getting better.

    Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury ClaimsI've written a book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims. This is a helpful and informative guide that will lead you through some of the common mistakes that can wreck your personal injury claim.  Discover why you may not even need an attorney! Get answers to your questions about recorded statements, paying medical bills, getting your vehicle repaired, negotiating a settlement, and much more! Don't make a costly mistake that could cause you to accept a settlement that is too small to cover your medical bills and lost wages! You need to read this before you talk to an attorney or insurance adjuster.  I'd love to send you a copy. Just click here to receive your free copy of my book Quick Guide to Louisiana Accident and Injury Claims.

    Need to talk to someone about your claim? An experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney will help you understand your legal rights and options, and if necessary, help you file a personal injury lawsuit to help you recover compensation for your losses.

    Contact Loyd Bourgeois today for help with your disabling injury.  The call is free and there is no obligation - (985)240-9773.


  • How much money will I get from Social Security for my disability?

    When I meet with potential clients, one of the questions I am often asked is – How much I am going to get from Social Security for my disability?

    Most clients need to know what their Social Security benefit amount will be. Here’s my lawyer answer - It depends.

    How much money you get on disability will depend on a number of things.  These things include:How much money will I get from Social Security Disability?

    • Are you eligible for SSDI or SSI?
    • If SSDI, how much did you earn and pay in taxes?
    • If SSDI, do you have dependent children?
    • If SSI, do you have any other income?
    • If SSI, are you receiving room and board for free from family or friends?

    How much money will I get from SSDI for my disability?

    For SSDI, benefit amounts are calculated according to a formula that uses your complete earnings record.

    The formula allows for yearly increases in the individual benefits in order to reflect adjustments in the cost of living.

    The amount of your benefit will be based on your average earnings for all of the years you have been working, not just your most recent salary. 

    SSDI can be paid for up to 12-months prior to the date of the application if you are found disabled during that time. 

    However, there is a 5 month waiting period for disability benefits. Essentially SSA will not pay you for the first five months you were disabled. 

    For example, you apply on March 1, 2018, but say you became disabled on January 1, 2013.  If SSA agrees that you became disabled on January 1, 2013, you will only be able to get benefits from March 1, 2017, to the date of the decision.  In the same way, if you applied on March 1, 2018, saying you became disabled on January 1, 2018, and SSA agreed, you would get benefits starting on June 1, 2018 (remember – SSA does not pay for the first five months of disability). 

    Depending upon when the judge determines that you became disabled, you may also be entitled to a lump sum back benefit payment.

    How much money will I get from SSI for my disability?

    For SSI, the Social Security benefit amount in 2017 for an eligible individual is $735 per month and $1,103 per month for an eligible couple. This amount is the maximum you can receive.  This amount can be reduced based on your specific circumstances.

    You can only get SSI benefits from the date of the application forward.  For example, you apply on March 1, 2018, but say you became disabled on January 1, 2013.  If SSA agrees that you became disabled on January 1, 2013, you will only be able to get benefits from March 1, 2018, which is the date you applied.  There is no five-month hold back for SSI benefits.

    How do you know how much disability you will receive?

    You can see how much you are likely to receive if you are found disabled by looking on your MySSA account.  This is a good rough idea of your monthly benefit amount.

    This account will also tell you how much your eligible dependents can receive as well.  However, if your date of disability was in the past, the account will not tell you precisely.

  • Can I apply for disability benefits if my spouse is working?

    I was helping a friend recently and was asked by a potential client whether she could apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  I asked the person a little about the medical issues that are causing them to consider filing for disability.  She was in an auto collision suffering a concussion and began suffering from cognitive issues including memory, concentration, and executive function issues.  After learning more, I told them to call my office and set up a free consultation so that we could speak in more detail, but it sounded like we would be able to help. 

    She then asked, “Am I going to be eligible for Social Security if my husband works?” 

    Can I get SSDI if my spouse works? This person had been suffering for a while and had not applied for Social Security Disability benefits because she believed she would not qualify since her husband worked.  This is a common reason I have seen for people delaying in applying for disability insurance benefits.

    I asked if she had worked.  She had.  I asked for how many years she had worked.  She said from the time I was in my teens until the accident (she was in her 40s). 

    Based on this information, I was able to tell that she is likely eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if she meets the medical requirements.  And, because of this, she can apply right now even though her husband works.  Her husband’s employment does not have an effect on her own disability benefit application.

    Now, if she did not work enough or had not worked recently, she may not be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and would need to consider SSI or Supplemental Security Income.  In SSI cases, your spouse’s income will matter. 

    Can my Spouse Work While I Collect Disability?

    But in her case, and in many others, if you have worked your entire life and paid your Social Security taxes responsibly, then you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits even if your spouse works and your spouse can continue to work while you are drawing your SSDI payments.

    If you are sick or injured, have worked your whole life but now cannot due to your limitations, give us a call at Louisiana Disability Law for your free consultation – (985) 240-9773.  We know the ins and outs of the system and can tell you if you have a valid claim.  Call us or take our quick quiz to find out if you may qualify

  • How does the assigned ALJ affect my Social Security disability hearing?

    The job of an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) is to apply the law to the facts of your case and determine whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. The law is pretty developed, and Social Security has procedures on top of procedures to ensure that a consistent decision-making process is employed.

    In theory, it should not affect you in any way which disability judge is assigned to your case.

    However, the numbers paint a different picture.

    SSDI Approval Rates in Louisiana

    I have compiled and analyzed statistics of the ALJs at Louisiana’s ODAR offices. These statistics were compiled by Social Security itself for September 30, 2017 through July 27, 2018. I used that information to take a look at all of the ALJs determining disability benefit decisions for Louisiana SSDI claims. I separated the information by ODAR office and sorted by the administrative law judge's approval rate from highest to lowest. The award numbers include both fully favorable and partially favorable awards.

    The national average award percentage was 54.7%. The Louisiana average was below the national average at 49.3%. 

    Approval rates for three of Louisiana’s four ODAR offices came in below the national average. Alexandra at 44.8%, Metairie at 41.0%, and Shreveport at 48.7%.  New Orleans was the only office to come in above the average at 59.3%.

    Approval rates for ALJs in Louisiana with at least 10 decisions range from a high of 78% to a low of just 8.9% and everywhere in between.

    While there is not much you can do about the ALJ that gets assigned to your case, this information is important to know because it can impact how you prepare your claim and yourself for the hearing in front of the ALJ. For example, if your ALJ denies a large percentage of the cases heard, you may want to move for an on-the-record decision (which can be granted by ODAR staff attorneys). Or you may want to know what information will be most helpful on an appeal and focus on that issue to make sure the record is fully developed for later proceedings.

    While this information provides a statistical representation of how ALJs have decided the cases before them during the reporting period, I will note that an ALJ can only make a decision based on the facts of the case in front them. What this means is that each case is different and you should not rely on the statistics provided above to determine whether or not your specific case will be decided one way or another.

    A local, experienced attorney who specializes in Social Security and is familiar with the different ALJs, their personalities and their expectations can best advise you on how to proceed. If you need help with your Louisiana Social Security Disability hearing or appeal, contact SSDI attorney Loyd Bourgeois at 985-240-9773 or submit an online case evaluation

    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Molinar, Kathleen S ALEXANDRIA 314 208 (66.2%) 106 (33.8%)
    Grant, Robert ALEXANDRIA 408 260 (63.7%) 148 (36.3%)
    Schwartz, Stanley M ALEXANDRIA 26 15 (57.7%) 11 (42.3%)
    DeLoach, Rowena E ALEXANDRIA 374 200 (53.5%) 174 (46.5%)
    Able, Devona ALEXANDRIA 320 142 (44.4%) 178 (55.6%)
    Fields, Kim A ALEXANDRIA 335 146 (43.6%) 189 (56.4%)
    Hansen, Holly ALEXANDRIA 336 145 (43.2%) 191 (56.8%)
    Wood, Paul ALEXANDRIA 303 115 (38.0%) 188 (62.0%)
    Smilie, Carolyn ALEXANDRIA 318 111 (34.9%) 207 (65.1%)
    Ragona, Lawrence T ALEXANDRIA 343 105 (30.6%) 238 (69.4%)
    Latham, Carol L ALEXANDRIA 290 83 (28.6%) 207 (71.4%)
    Akers, Janet ALEXANDRIA 118 33 (28.0%) 85 (72.0%)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Ramsey, Ruth METAIRIE 1 1 (100.0%) 0 (0.0%)
    Juge, Christopher H METAIRIE 349 178 (51.0%) 171 (49.0%)
    Stewart, Timothy G METAIRIE 338 166 (49.1%) 172 (50.9%)
    Wiedemann, Karen METAIRIE 249 108 (43.4%) 141 (56.6%)
    Perez, Gerardo METAIRIE 286 124 (43.4%) 162 (56.6%)
    Hertzig, Michael S METAIRIE 454 181 (39.9%) 273 (60.1%)
    Morgan, Jeffery D METAIRIE 374 137 (36.6%) 237 (63.4%)
    Exnicios, Richard M METAIRIE 333 100 (30.0%) 233 (70.0%)
    Lobo, Benita A METAIRIE 56 5 (8.9%) 51 (91.1%)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Kinnell, Tresie NEW ORLEANS 1 1 (100.0%) >0 (0.0%)
    Voisin, Glynn F NEW ORLEANS 318 248 (78.0%) 70 (22.0%)
    Anzalone, Kerry J NEW ORLEANS 305 237 (77.7%) 68 (22.3%)
    White, Charlotte N NEW ORLEANS 212 163 (76.9%) 49 (23.1%)
    Burgess, John R NEW ORLEANS 291 213 (73.2%) 78 (26.8%)
    Volz, III, Louis J NEW ORLEANS 519 338 (65.1%) 181 (34.9%)
    Gattuso, Mary NEW ORLEANS 221 127 (57.5%) 94 (42.5%)
    Pizzo, Nancy M NEW ORLEANS 396 212 (53.5%) 184 (46.5%)
    Gordon, Tamia N NEW ORLEANS 387 189 (48.8%) 198 (51.2%)
    Day, Kelley NEW ORLEANS 330 161 (48.8%) 169 (51.2%)
    Hilleren, Christine NEW ORLEANS 322 135 (41.9%) 187 (58.1%)
    Henderson, Thomas G NEW ORLEANS 370 154 (41.6%) 216 (58.4%)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Abbondondelo, Mary SHREVEPORT 341 255 (74.8%) 86 (25.2%)
    Kirzner, Ryan SHREVEPORT 281 140 (49.8%) 141 (50.2%)
    McGee, Elisabeth SHREVEPORT 241 114 (47.3%) 127 (52.7%)
    Wright, Charlotte A SHREVEPORT 290 133 (45.9%) 157 (54.1%)
    Lindsay, Charles R. SHREVEPORT 411 174 (42.3%) 237 (57.7%)
    Ebbers, Carolyn SHREVEPORT 79 29 (36.7%) 50 (63.3%)
    Antonowicz, John SHREVEPORT 368 135 (36.7%) 233 (63.3%)

    2018 Louisiana SSDI Approval RateNational SSDI Approval Rate