Social Security Disability Insurance FAQ

The SSDI application process can be confusing, and leave you with more questions than answers. Loyd has put together some of the answers that you need about SSDI claims, appeals, and more, right here in the FAQ section.

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  • What Will Happen to my Social Security Disability if the Government Shuts Down?

    With the government shutting down twice in under a month in early 2018, many New Orleans-area Social Security Disability claimants and recipients are wondering how a government shutdown affects them and their benefits, application, and/or hearing.

    WILL I STILL RECEIVE MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS IN A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

    Social Security and Government ShutdownWhat happens to Social Security Disability during a government shutdown?

    When the government shut down in 1995 and again in 2013, all Social Security payments continued to be sent out on time. This included Social Security Disability.

    During the 1995 shutdown, which lasted about a month, the Social Security Administration mailed checks throughout the shutdown. Social Security was able to continue mailing benefits due to the fact that doesn’t need Congress to authorize funds for it each year. Instead, Social Security benefits are considered mandatory spending and are paid from the program’s trust fund, and therefore, the agency has the funds to continue paying benefits. In 1995, Social Security maintained enough employees to continue mailing checks without delay.

    Since payments are now direct deposited and/or loaded onto debit cards, Social Security continued processing payments during the 2013 shut down with fewer employees than were needed to mail benefit checks during the 1995 shutdowns.

    WHAT HAPPENS TO MY SCHEDULED SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY HEARING IN A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

    Most likely, hearing offices will continue to hold Social Security Disability and SSI hearings if a shutdown occurs. During the 2013 government shutdown, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) still held previously scheduled hearings, but staffing was limited to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), medical experts, vocational experts, and security personnel. New hearings were not scheduled.  Lack of support personnel caused delays in exhibiting files and decisions were not written during the shutdown.  So, if a claimant was waiting for an already scheduled hearing, it in most cases proceeded and was decided.  But, the writing of the decision did not take place, so if benefits were granted, there was a further delay before benefits were paid since the decision was not actually formally written until the shutdown ended.

    WHAT HAPPENS TO MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPLICATION IN A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

    During the Clinton-era shutdown, new Social Security claims were not being processed because the agency furloughed 61,415 employees. As the shutdown wore on, the agency adjusted its plan and recalled workers to start processing new claims. Whether new claims are processed at all or with a delay due to fewer workers will depend on how many employees the SSA decides to maintain and how many they decide to furlough.

    The SSA’s 2013 government shutdown contingency plan stated that new and pending Social Security applications would continue to be processed as well as requests for appeals. However, because these functions are carried out by the state Disability Determination Offices, each state will decide whether to continue these operations or stop them.  The most likely scenario is that applications will be processed but with some delay. The delay will be dependent on how many employees are retained and how long the shutdown lasts.

    The Takeaway

    Whenever a threat of a shutdown looms, I monitor the situation checking Social Security's contingency plan often.  If the government shuts down again, I will be in touch with all of my current clients to advise them on how this situation will affect them depending upon the current status of their claim.  

  • Do I Have To Submit The Worker’s Comp Report to SSA?

    We recently represented “Donald” who was injured on the job when attempting to lift a heavy object.  Donald’s injury required surgery.  Luckily for Donald, his injury was covered by worker’s compensation so it paid for the surgery.  After Donald did not recover as expected, he filed for Social Security Disability.

    At some point during the process, however, Donald’s worker’s compensation insurer required he take a Functional Capacity Exam to determine whether or not he could return to his previous work.  The FCE found that Donald was capable of working at the same physical level as before his injury.  Clearly, this FCE did not support Donald’s claim for disability benefits – where we must prove that Donald’s limitations prevent him from performing any work.  Simply put, this type of evidence hurts Donald’s claim.

    Do I have to submit the Worker's Comp report to the SSA?The question is this – Do we have to submit this unfavorable worker’s compensation report to SSA even though it does not help Donald’s claim?

    The answer is YES!

    SSA has an “all evidence” policy that you and your representative must follow.  This means that all evidence obtained in your case, even if it is unfavorable, must be submitted to SSA on your claim. 

    But, there is hope. 

    If you have unfavorable evidence from a worker’s comp doctor or any other doctor, you should promptly advise your attorney so that an effective strategy can be developed to minimize the negative evidence.

    In some cases, one strategy we employ is to have your own doctor prepare a letter detailing why the negative evidence is wrong and/or problems with the methods, technique or conclusions of the negative evidence.  Other strategies may be appropriate or required depending on your specific case.

    If you have a worker’s compensation claim or other negative evidence that you must submit to SSA, you should seek representation from a skilled and knowledgeable SSA attorney to help in your disability claim.  Our team would love to help – give us a call or use our contact form.

  • PTSD and Social Security Disability – What Do I Need To Show To Get Disability for PTSD?

    Michael is a client of mine.  He admirably served our great country in some very brutal and hostile territory.  The horrors he described experiencing have clearly left a mark on him.  While a decorated soldier and a certified tough guy, Michael struggles to deal with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder his service left him with.  He attends counseling sessions at the VA clinic in Reserve, Louisiana, meets with a psychologist and psychiatrist at VA New Orleans, and has trouble in his everyday life as a result. Michael called us looking for help obtaining Social Security disability benefits due to his PTSD.

    PTSD is characterized by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic or stressful event or learning of a traumatic event occurring to a close family member or close friend, and the psychological aftermath of clinically significant effects on functioning. Symptoms and signs may include, but are not limited to, distressing memories, dreams, and flashbacks related to the trauma or stressor; avoidant behavior; diminished interest or participation in significant activities; persistent negative emotional states (for example, fear, anger) or persistent inability to experience positive emotions (for example, satisfaction, affection); anxiety; irritability; aggression; exaggerated startle response; difficulty concentrating; and sleep disturbance.

    PTSD can be seen in our military veterans, in crime victims, and survivors of other traumatic or stressful events – such as car crashes, physical and verbal abuse, and similar events.

    SSA recognized the seriousness of this disease in its most recent mental health listings.  Listing 12.15 recognizes the severe effects of PTSD on survivors and others and provides a pathway to a favorable decision.

    To meet the requirements of Listing 12.15, a person must show the following:

    1. Medical documentation of all of the following:
      1. Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or violence;
      2. Subsequent involuntary re-experiencing of the traumatic event (for example, intrusive memories, dreams, or flashbacks);
      3. Avoidance of external reminders of the event;
      4. Disturbance in mood and behavior; and
      5. Increases in arousal and reactivity (for example, exaggerated startle response, sleep disturbance).

    AND

    1. Extreme limitation of one, or marked limitation of two, of the following areas of mental functioning:
      1. Understand, remember, or apply information.
      2. Interact with others.
      3. Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace.
      4. Adapt or manage oneself.

    OR

    1. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent;” that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of at least 2 years, and there is evidence of both:
      1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that diminishes the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder; and
      2. Marginal adjustment, that is, you have minimal capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands that are not already part of your daily life.

    If a person’s PTSD does not specifically meet the listing, a skilled and experienced Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney can help present a PTSD case in a strategic way to make sure all of the severe symptoms and limitations caused are taken into account by SSA. 

    For Michael, and others like him, SSA’s recognition of this debilitating disease in a specific listing is tremendously beneficial. 

    If you or someone you love suffers from PTSD and needs help with obtaining Louisiana Social Security Disability benefits, give our team at Louisiana Disability Law a call today: (985) 240-9773.

    Please note that names are changed and circumstances may be combined for illustration purposes!

  • Can I get Social Security Disability benefits for epilepsy?

    Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by unusual nerve cell activity in the brain. The hallmark symptom of epilepsy is a seizure.  Statistically, 1 in 26 people is diagnosed with epilepsy and each year about 150,000 Americans are diagnosed. with the central nervous system disorder that causes seizures.

    Seizures can cause a range of symptoms, from momentarily staring blankly to loss of awareness and uncontrollable twitching. Some seizures can be milder than others, but even minor seizures can be dangerous if they occur during activities like swimming or driving.

    Our Luling office is often contacted to help evaluate disability claims for those with epilepsy.  When we speak with you about your epilepsy disability claim, we will evaluate whether you can meet the Social Security Disability listing for epilepsy or if your epilepsy causes impairments that are not compatible with any work that may be available. 

    To meet the listing for epilepsy, we will need to have a good description from your medical provider of a typical seizure plus one of the following:

    • Generalized tonic-clonic or Dyscognitive seizures occurring at least once a month for at least 3 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment. OR
    • Dyscognitive seizures occurring at least once a week for at least 3 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment. OR
    • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures occurring at least once every 2 months for at least 4 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment PLUS a marked limitation in one of the following:
      1. Physical functioning; or
      2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
      3. Interacting with others; or
      4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
      5. Adapting or managing oneself.

    OR

    • Dyscognitive seizures occurring at least once every 2 weeks for at least 3 consecutive months despite adherence to prescribed treatment PLUS a marked limitation in one of the following:
      1. Physical functioning; or
      2. Understanding, remembering, or applying information; or
      3. Interacting with others; or
      4. Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or
      5. Adapting or managing oneself.

    If your epilepsy is not severe enough to meet these stringent requirements, it may still qualify you for disability benefits.  We will have to work to accurately define how often you have seizures and experience problems with physical functioning; understanding, remembering and applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace; or adapting or managing yourself.  Your specific limitations, including any caused by your medications or side-effects, must be taken into account and may be limiting enough to prevent work.

    To help define your limitations, a seizure diary may be helpful.  This can be done by keeping a notebook where you write down the specifics of your seizures such a date, time started, time ended, effects (loss of consciousness, absence seizure, etc.), the cause of the seizure, and how long after the seizure it took you to return to normal functioning. 

    If you have a epilepsy and need help with your Social Security Disability claim, give us a call immediately at 985-240-9773 to see how we can help you prepare the best case possible for you!

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book Offer If 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.

  • What does 'DSM-5' or 'DSM-V' refer to when discussing Social Security Disability for Mental Disorders?

    What is DSM-V? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the most recent update to the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) classification and diagnostic tool. The DSM is the universal authority for psychiatric diagnoses. Treatment recommendations are often determined by DSM classifications. In most respects DSM-5 is not greatly changed from DSM-IV-TR but there are some notable changes including dropping Asperger syndrome as a distinct classification; loss of subtype classifications for variant forms of schizophrenia; dropping the "bereavement exclusion" for depressive disorders; a revised treatment and naming of gender identity disorder to gender dysphoria, and removing the A2 criterion for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because its requirement for specific emotional reactions to trauma did not apply to combat veterans and first responders with PTSD.

    If you or someone you love have a mental disability and are fighting for Social Security disability benefits, give us a call at Louisiana Disability Law.  We have the experience to guide you through this difficult process.

  • 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. 

    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. 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. 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. 

    SSDI can be paid for up to 12-months prior to the date of the application if you are found disabled during that time.  For example, you apply on March 1, 2017, but say you became disabled on January 1, 2012.  If SSA agrees that you became disabled on January 1, 2012, you will only be able to get benefits from March 1, 2016, to the date of the decision.  In the same way, if you applied on March 1, 2017, saying you became disabled on January 1, 2017, and SSA agreed, you would get benefits starting on June 1, 2017 (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, 2017, but say you became disabled on January 1, 2012.  If SSA agrees that you became disabled on January 1, 2012, you will only be able to get benefits from March 1, 2017, which is the date you applied.  There is no five-month hold back for SSI benefits.

    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.

     

  • 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 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 stated, “well, am I going to be able to apply because 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. 

    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.

    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 simply use the contact form to the left.

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book Offer If 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.

  • How do I get to the Social Security office in New Orleans, LA for my hearing?

    The New Orleans Social Security hearing office is located at 1515 Poydras Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

    • Coming from the Westbank, cross the Greater New Orleans bridge, exit at O'Keefe Avenue.
    • Stay on O'Keefe until you get to Poydras Street.  It will be 4 red lights.
    • Take a left onto Poydras Street.
    • The building is at 1515 Poydras Street, just past Lasalle Street.  To get to the parking garage, pass up the building and proceed to Freret Street.
    • Take a right on Freret.
    • The parking garage will be on your right.
    • Proceed up the ramp and press the button to get a parking ticket. Bring this ticket with you into the building.  Do not leave it in your car.
    • Once you have found a parking space, follow the signs to the elevators.
    • Take the elevator to floor 1.
    • Exit the elevator and cross the lobby to the second bank of elevators which go to floors 16-27.
    • Take the elevator to floor 16.
    • When you exit the elevator, you will see the Social Security Hearing Office.
    • Have your picture ID and hearing notice with you.
    • Remember that you cannot bring weapons such as guns, pocket knives, fingernail files or chemicals such as pepper spray or mace into the hearing office.
    • After your hearing, by the parking garage elevators, there will be a pay kiosk to pay for your parking.  It accepts cash and credit cards.
    • Taking your ticket and receipt with you.  You will need them to exit the garage.

    If you have more questions about your upcoming hearing and what to expect, check out our blog post What to Expect at an SSDI Hearing.

    If you need legal help or have specific questions about your case, give us a call at 985-240-9773 or fill out the contact form to the left.

  • Can I apply for Social Security if I was hurt in a car accident?

    As a Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney and a disabling injury attorney, I am often asked: “I was hurt in a car wreck; can I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?”

    Can I apply for SSDI if I was hurt in a car accident?The answer to this simple question is – it depends.

    It depends on your injuries.  It depends on your symptoms.  It depends on your treatment. 

    If your disabling injuries keep you from being able to work for 12 or more months, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. 

    If your injuries heal in less than 12 months, you are not eligible for Social Security Disability benefits in all likelihood. 

    If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a car crash and have questions about Social Security Disability benefits, give us a call at Louisiana Disability Law.  We have the experience to guide you through this difficult process of figuring out whether or not you may eligible for Social Security or other injury-related benefits.

    9 Mistakes That Can Disable Your Social Security Disability Claim Book Offer If 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.

     

  • How can I best present my case at my ALJ hearing?

    Having handled hearings for many New Orleans and other Louisiana Social Security disability claimants, I am often asked – how can I present my case most effectively at my Social Security disability hearing?

    At your hearing, your testimony should focus on the following:

    • Your physical symptoms, including your pain, its severity, and the resulting restrictions;
    • Your functional capacity: ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, manipulate, and travel;
    • Your current daily activities and any changes to your activities and life due to your disability;
    • Maybe the requirements of the jobs you held in the last 15 years – exertional, skill, and stress levels; and
    • Your current medical treatment: length, frequency, medication, etc.

    Sometimes having friends, family or co-workers testify can help, but usually, the ALJ is more interested in your specific testimony.  Plus, new regulations do not require ALJs to even comment on this witness testimony. 

    As a Louisiana Social Security disability lawyer, I have developed and polished many effective techniques for winning benefits. If you or someone you love is fighting for Social Security disability benefits, give us a call at Louisiana Disability Law.  We have the experience to guide you through this difficult process and present the best possible case for you before the Administrative Law Judge.