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 is Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)? Social Security Disability Lawyer Explains!

    One of the most important concepts in evaluating disability claims is Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) also referred to as Residual Functionality.

    The code of federal regulations describe residual functional capacity as follows:

    Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

    Your residual functional capacity is the most you can still do despite your limitations.” 20 CFR 404.1545; 20 CFR 416.945.

    What is Residual Functional Capacity?

    Residual Functional Capacity is an evaluation of your remaining ability to do things (work) after taking into account all of the limitations your severe medical conditions cause you.

    Think of it as “How much can you do & for how long?”.

    What is your ability to work?

    The Social Security Administration will look at how your medical condition(s) has affected your ability to exert yourself physically for work-related tasks. These are things like:

    • How long can you sit?
    • How long can you stand?
    • How long can you walk?
    • Exert yourself physically for various work-related activities (such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling).
    • Can you do manipulative and postural activities (such as reaching, handling large objects, using your fingers, feeling, climbing stairs or ladders, kneeling, crouching, crawling)?
    • Can you stoop?
    • Can you balance?
    • Can you tolerate certain environmental conditions (such as high or low temperature extremes, wetness, humidity, noise, dust, fumes, odors, gases, poor ventilation, vibrations)?
    • Can you work in hazardous working conditions like around or with machinery?
    • Can you work at heights without any protection?
    • Do you have any problems seeing, hearing, and speaking?
    These are things from a physical perspective.

    Your RFC encompasses your mental faculties as well.

    • Can you maintain concentration and attention at work for extended periods of time?
    • Can you understand and remember instructions and carry out your duties throughout the day and from day to day?
    • Can you get along with people in your workplace or the general public?
    • Can you cope with changes in the work setting?
    • Can you respond appropriately to supervisors, co-workers, and usual work situations?

    For example, let’s assume you have chronic back pain and take narcotic pain medications for treatment. Your doctor has told you that the most you can lift is 20 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently. Assume further, that as a result of the medication you take to treat your back pain, that you experience drowsiness, fatigue and should not operate heavy machinery. You also cannot sit for longer than 1 hour at a time or stand for longer than 30 minutes before you need to rest.

    Knowing these limitations, what can you do?

    • You can lift 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently.
    • You can sit for up to 1 hour.
    • You can stand for up to 30 minutes at a time.
    • You cannot operate heavy machinery.
    • Can you do anything else?
    • Are you limited in other ways?

    There are a number of other factors that should go into your residual functionality, but these are not always clearly explained in the medical records.

    When these other factors are not clearly explained in your medical records, Social Security may find that you can perform these tasks.

    Some factors that should be considered are the ability to twist, bend, stoop, reach, grasp, handle/finger, kneel, crawl, and climb.

    Additionally, other non-exertional factors can play a role in establishing your residual functionality as well. These factors can include things such as the ability to follow directions, maintain concentration, pace, and persistence, ability to get along with co-workers, reliability (do you show up), and a host of other issues.

    Your overall residual functional capacity is your remaining physical and mental ability after taking into account your physical and mental limitations.

    Oftentimes, the medical records that I review do not discuss a number of factors essential to a proper determination of your RFC. The reason is that many of these factors are irrelevant to a doctor’s actual treatment of your medical condition. However, they are important for Social Security Disability claims because SSA’s determination is focused on your functional ability – not your medical history.

    Social Security defines residual functional capacity as sedentary, light, medium, or heavy.

    If you do not meet a listing, your RFC needs to be at a certain level to qualify you for social security disability benefits.

    Your RFC needs to prevent you from performing your past relevant work and all other types of work that exist in significant numbers.

    The specific RFC needed to show that you cannot perform your past relevant work or other types of work is dependent on your age, education, training, and past work history.

    A thorough understanding of all of the factors that go into an RFC determination is important if you want to have the best chance of success with your SSDI claim. As a Louisiana SSDI attorney, I can help you understand the residual functionality you will have to prove in order to give your disability case the best chance of success. Give me a call at 985-240-9773.

  • How do I apply for SSDI or SSI?

    You can apply for social security disability benefits or supplemental security income benefits in a number of ways.

    The best and most reliable method is to go to your local social security office and apply in person.  I am listing a few Louisiana Social Security Offices here for your reference:

    • 1616 Joe Yenni Blvd, Kenner, Louisiana
    • 400 Poydras, Suite 500, New Orleans, Louisiana
    • 115 Terry Parkway, Terrytown, Louisiana
    • 19375 North 4th Street, Covington, Louisiana
    • 205 Arkansas Street, Bogalusa, Louisiana
    • 2100 Robin Avenue, Hammond, Louisiana
    • 2nd Floor Federal Building 206, 423 Lafayette St., Houma, Louisiana

    If an office close to you is not listed, you can find the office that serves you by using Social Security’s Find An Office tool.

    You should be aware that the in person application, while the most thorough, can take a few hours between the waiting and the application.  You should prepare to be there the whole day and have as many records as possible with you. You can also call in advance for an appointment at 1-800-772-1213.

    You can also apply for social security disability benefits online.

    How does Social Security determine if I qualify for SSDI?

    Under Social Security rules and federal law, in order to qualify for SSDI, you must have a total disability that has or is expected to last for at least 12 months (or result in death) and you must have worked enough to be insured under Social Security law. Benefits are not payable for partial disabilities or for a short-term disability.

    Social Security defines disability as your inability to do the work you performed before your disability began and the Social Security Administration determines that because of your disability you cannot adjust to other work. Your disability must also last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death. 

  • How much does a disability attorney charge?

    As a New Orleans area disability attorney, one of the first questions I am usually asked is "How much will this cost me?

    There are many falsehoods and misconceptions out there about how much it costs to hire a disability lawyer.

    How much can a lawyer charge for disability?

    Federal disability law fees are set by law and cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits.

    In many cases, the maximum is $6,000 (if we win at the first hearing). That’s because I generally use the fee agreement process.

    AND that amount is only due if I am successful in representing you. If your claim is denied, you owe no attorney fees.

    For example, let’s assume that we are successful in getting your disability benefits.

    Your onset date is set 24 months prior to today’s date (that means that SSA will owe you back benefits). Due to SSA laws, you can be paid 19 months of back benefits in this scenario (because SSA does not pay for the first 5 months). If your benefit amount is $850 per month, your back benefits would equal $16,150 ($850 X 19). The attorney’s fee on this amount would be $4037.50 ($16,150 X 25%).

    Will a disability attorney take a percentage of my future benefits?

    Here is another important aspect of a disability attorney’s fee: you do not owe a fee based on future benefits.

    That is, you will not have to keep paying your disability attorney 25% of your monthly disability check.

    Once the disability lawyer is paid from the back benefits, that is all you owe with respect to fees.

    In some cases, disability attorneys charge costs (which are different from fees) whether your claim is successful or not.

    What about costs?

    Costs include things such as expenses incurred for medical records, long-distance phone calls, mail, parking at your hearing, and other costs paid to develop your disability case.

    As an SSDI attorney in Louisiana, I generally handle the cost issue on a case-by-case basis. You should ask your disability lawyer (or disability representative) how they charge costs.

    One thing to keep in mind if you use a disability representative from a national firm that must travel to your area is whether or not those travel costs will be charged to you.

    This could include airfare, rental car, hotel stay, and meals. These costs can get expensive and really decrease the amount you end up with at the end of the day.

    While the maximum amount of fees is limited by the law, costs are not limited in the same manner.

    Thus, you need to watch costs and be mindful of them when you hire a disability lawyer. In Houma and other places, these costs can get excessive.

    There is a possibility that a disability attorney may get more than the $6,000 if your case involves extensive work (usually because of multiple appeals to and from SSA and federal court).

    However, even in that case, the fee charged to you cannot exceed 25% of your back benefits. In this case, the fee petition process would have to be used.

    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.

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

    **Click here for information on how the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns will affect Social Security Disability**

    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.

    The government briefly shut down fully twice in under a month in early 2018.  On December 22, 2018, the government entered a partial government shutdown after President Trump would not sign the temporary spending bill passed by Congress.  This shut down was only a partial shut down due to the fact that some departments had already been funded through September 2019.  The Department of Health and Human Services which includes Social Security was included in this previous spending bill and therefore was not affected by this partial shutdown.  

    WILL I STILL RECEIVE MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS IN 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?

    What happens to Social Security Disability during 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.  

  • 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.

    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.

    Can I get SSDI for Anxiety?MEETING THE LISTING FOR AN ANXIETY DISORDER

    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;

    AND

    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.

    OR

    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.

    DOES YOUR ANXIETY DISORDER PREVENT YOU FROM YOUR PAST WORK OR ANY OTHER WORK?

    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.

    MENTAL RFC

    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.

    INABILITY TO PERFORM EVEN UNSKILLED WORK

    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. How do 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

  • 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.

    CAN I APPEAL A PARTIALLY FAVORABLE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY DECISION BY AN ALJ?

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

    IF I APPEAL A PARTIALLY FAVORABLE DISABILITY DECISION, CAN I LOSE MY AWARDED BENEFITS?

    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.

    IF I APPEAL A PARTIALLY FAVORABLE DISABILITY DECISION, WILL I RECEIVE MY AWARDED BENEFITS DURING THE APPEAL PROCESS?

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

    SHOULD I APPEAL A PARTIALLY FAVORABLE DECISION?

    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 888-LJB-4-SSD or submit an online case evaluation and we will get back to you within one business day.

  • 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, 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.

  • 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

  • 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.