What Qualifies as a Disability?

December 17,2018
imgpsh_fullsize (15)

What Conditions Qualify for SSD and SSI?

Each year, the federal government issues a release in which they describe the various conditions that would qualify an applicant for SSD or SSI. This is known as the Blue Book. None of what is mentioned there is entirely useful, though. That’s because those with the conditions mentioned in the Blue Book are denied all the time. On the other hand, others with conditions that are not listed may qualify. Technically, the conditions would “automatically qualify” an applicant for benefits but only if specific criteria are met. Those specific criteria are more important than the condition itself.

Why, then, does the Social Security Administration put out a pamphlet each year regarding conditions that qualify one for disability while granting disability benefits to those who have conditions not listed in the book? Nobody knows. One popular theory? The SSA has a budget that they have to spend in order to get funding for the following year.

My Condition Is Listed in the Blue Book, But My Symptoms Don’t Match Entirely

This happens often. The Blue Book is a guideline for those applying for disability. It might give some helpful information in some instances. Still, those who find that their symptoms match the Blue Book listing exactly will be denied. However, others will qualify for benefits even when they don’t have all of the symptoms.

The most important factor that the court will use when granting an applicant benefits is the extent to which the disability prevents the applicant from working.

The Blue Book Doesn’t List My Condition

You’re not alone. There are a number of conditions that aren’t listed in the Blue Book that nonetheless should and do qualify an applicant to receive disability benefits. One such condition is migraines. If you have persistent migraines that your doctor has well documented, you can apply for disability. The SSA will grant you benefits if your migraines severely impair your ability to sustain gainful employment.

Then How Does the SSA Determine What Qualifies as a Disability?

Confused? Don’t worry. The underlying factor is always going to be whether or not you can work. This doesn’t just mean applying for a job and staying there for a few months until your condition flares up and you need to be replaced. It means that you can sustain gainful employment for an extended period of time in a field that you are reasonably qualified for.

The SSA will make a determination as to your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). For instance, paralysis may be a disorder the Blue Book has in its listings. But those who can’t walk can still type or do other kinds of labor in spite of not having the use of their legs. If the individual had only minimal use of their arms and their legs, then they would likely not be able to find employment anywhere.

The SSA will work with a state agency known as the Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDS will employ a medical consultant whose job it will be to determine what you can do. They will look at your medical records and your employment history. They will then determine how your disability has hampered your ability to sustain employment.

What if a doctor has disqualified you from doing manual labor? The RFC may find that you are able to sedentary work. But if your work history provides no evidence that you are qualified for such work, you still may be able to get disability.

In other cases, your ability to perform physical tasks may not be a factor at all. For instance, if you can lift 300 lbs with your pinky but suffer from severe mental illness, your mental illness will factor into your ability to sustain employment, even if you are physically able.

Talk to a New York Disability Attorney to Learn More About What Qualifies as a Disability

By working with a disability attorney, you can increase the odds that you will present a complete picture to the SSA and DDS when you apply for benefits. Hermann Law Group, PLLC will work tirelessly to help you. We will collect data, reach out to doctors, and ensure that your application shows as complete a picture as possible. Contact us today.

Are You Likely to Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

Do you fulfill the strict eligibility requirements needed to apply for Social Security disability benefits? You can evaluate whether you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits by carefully answering the four questions listed below.

Are You Likely to Qualify for Social Security Disability?

Social Security disability benefits are available for those who qualify due to eligible health conditions. Do you suffer from a health condition that you feel makes you eligible? Review the following four questions to better understand if you qualify for SSD benefits and what steps you need to take next. For more information about your case, call a New York Social Security disability lawyer.

Social Security Benefits for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

NY social security disability attorneyNothing is more frustrating than having a disease that is difficult to diagnose. Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) both mimic an array of other conditions and are often difficult to prove. Most doctors diagnose these conditions by eliminating the possibility of other impairments before finally settling on a diagnosis of fibromyalgia or CFS. While you are waiting to obtain a diagnosis, your disease may become so severe that you cannot work. If you suffer from fibromyalgia or CFS, and have been unable or expect to be unable to perform substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months, you should contact a Bergen County disability lawyer to discuss making a claim for Social Security disability benefits.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a condition that results in musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, impaired memory, mood disorder, and sleep difficulties. Although the exact cause is unknown and all of the symptoms are not fully documented, it is believed that fibromyalgia makes pain worse by affecting the way your brain’s receptors perceive it.

Fibromyalgia sometimes occurs after trauma, surgery, severe infections, or chronic stress. Symptoms may occur gradually over time with no indication of cause or suddenly after a triggering event. Although fibromyalgia often masquerades as arthritis, it does not cause widespread inflammation of joints, muscles, and other tissue like arthritis does. It also does not appear to damage tissues permanently.

Fibromyalgia was first diagnosed in the 1800s; however, it was long-treated as an arthritis-related disease. It was not until 1987 that the American Medical Association recognized it as an autonomous disease. Only recently have specific task forces been created to focus on finding treatments and a cure for fibromyalgia. It can affect anyone of any age, but it is most common in women.

Treatments for fibromyalgia often focus on alleviating the symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause. Pain medications, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, physical therapy, moist heat, relaxation, and stress reduction techniques are often used to treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. The goal is to reduce symptoms so that you can sustain a productive lifestyle. However, often the disease results in symptoms that are so severe you cannot work for extended periods of time.

What Is CFS?

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disorder that results in continuous extreme fatigue that cannot be explained. The fatigue may be manifested physically and mentally. It may become worse with activity and stress; however, it does not improve with rest and relaxation. CFS is difficult to diagnose, and often doctors eliminate other diseases first before settling on a diagnosis of CFS.

The cause of CFS is unknown; however, it may be triggered by viral infections, psychological stress, hormonal imbalances, or immune system problems. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain, headache, constant need for sleep, and extreme exhaustion lasting longer than 24 hours after physical exercise or mental strain.

Tests are often used to eliminate diagnoses of diabetes, adrenal gland issues, HIV/AIDS, thyroid conditions, or other diseases that can cause symptoms similar to CFS; however, there is no test that diagnoses CFS. Thus, it is important to document all other medical evidence possible to prove your CFS is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits.

How to Prove Fibromyalgia or CFS Is “Severe”

Unfortunately there are no specific tests used to diagnose fibromyalgia or CFS. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires objective medical evidence to prove that a condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits.

In order to receive disability benefits, you must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity on a sustained basis (i.e., a full time job) for at least 12 months. You may document your symptoms in the following ways:

Daily Journal – Keep an ongoing record of your symptoms, their severity, and any treatment that you receive. Document how your disease affects your life, and how it limits your daily life.

Doctor’s Notes – Although there are no specific tests that can be completed to prove Fibromyalgia or CFS, a doctor can assess your situation from a professional perspective and note how those conditions affect your life. Your doctor can also indicate whether he or she believes you are a malingerer, or whether you’re inclined to exaggerate symptoms. The SSA puts significant weight on the medical opinions of a licensed professional.

Medication and Treatment Record – You should carefully document the medications and treatments you receive for your conditions. A recorded account of how those medications affect your condition will show the SSA how you’ve reacted to treatment. Seeking and following treatment is persuasive evidence that you actually suffer from the symptoms you claim to have.

Description of Functionality – Your doctor can complete a functionality assessment to describe your abilities. An Adult Function Report details your conditions, onset, prognosis, daily activities, personal care routines, social activities, physical and mental limitations, and endurance. If you do not have this information fully documented, the SSA may send you to a doctor to determine your functionality. You may also submit a statement from someone who knows you well to show how well you can complete activities of daily living.

Get Help from a Bergen County Disability Lawyer

It can be extremely difficult to prove your fibromyalgia or CFS is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. A Bergen County disability lawyer will help you collect all the information necessary to prove you have a severe condition. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in your condition or in Social Security disability documentation. If you are seeking Social Security disability benefits for fibromyalgia or CFS in Bergen County or elsewhere in the New York Metropolitan Area, call the Hermann Group at 877-773-3030 for a free evaluation of your case.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Social Security Disability Cases

Disability LawyersEveryone gets tired or worn out from time to time, but for some people, fatigue is a debilitating way of life. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical disorder that causes those who suffer from it to experience what the Centers for Disease Control calls an “all-encompassing fatigue,” greatly limiting their ability to function from day to day. Other common symptoms include weakness, muscle pain, insomnia and impaired memory and concentration. While there is currently no cure for the disorder, these symptoms can be treated through a combination of cognitive therapy, diet, sleep management and various medications.

A person who is unable to work for a year or more due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Disability lawyers at Hermann Law Group, PLLC have represented hundreds of people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, successfully winning their claims for Social Security Disability benefits.

By the time they come to us, many of our clients have been to multiple doctors in search of a clear diagnosis, and they are depressed and discouraged at the lack of support they have received. Sometimes mistaken as laziness or general exhaustion (and subject to stigmatization by people who don’t understand the extent and intensity of its symptoms), CFS’ incapacitating effects cannot be cured simply with rest and may even be worsened through physical and mental activity, making it difficult for those who suffer from it to work, go to school or run a household.

We know that CFS is often misdiagnosed and extremely difficult to treat. Some people are even told, “it’s all in your head.” Often, physicians’ notes are vague and do not adequately describe the degree to which their patient is incapacitated. At Hermann Law Group, we have the expertise and experience to coordinate with treating medical providers to ensure that our clients’ medical records contain all of the necessary information that will clearly support a finding of disability. We also have forms specific to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that we will ask your doctor to complete. These forms respond to the issues we know the judges have to deal with in deciding a CFS case.

Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 for a consultation at no cost to you. You can also visit our website to give us your information and request that our office contacts you.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to persons who are unable to work for at least one year due to a physical or mental impairment or a combination thereof. The SSA makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children, regardless of income and resources, if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system.

In order to be approved for benefits, a disabled person must file a claim with the SSA, starting what is unfortunately often a long and complex process. The SSA initially rejects the majority of claims filed, including many with merit. A person whose claim is initially denied must file an appeal in order to obtain benefits. We believe that so many claims are denied at the Initial Application stage in order to discourage people from pursuing their claims.

At Hermann Law Group, our Social Security disability attorneys share a combined 50-plus years of experience representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who are seeking disability benefits. We focus exclusively on disability cases and draw on our litigation skills and experience to pursue claims quickly and vigorously, while providing clients with the best in personalized, caring attention. Year after year, we are successful in well over 90% of the claims we handle, and we can offer you the expertise and support that you need during this stressful, difficult time. We are so confident in our abilities that, in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Fibromyalgia Social Security Disability Cases

Disability ClaimFibromyalgia (FM) is a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Additional symptoms run the gamut from fatigue and stiffness to irritable bowel syndrome. While fibromyalgia’s specific causes are unknown, “the FM patient experiences pain amplification due to abnormal sensory processing in the central nervous system,” according to the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association. The disorder affects roughly 5% of the world population—including an estimated 10 million people in the U.S.—and is more prevalent in women, who make up anywhere from 75 to 90% of sufferers.

People who suffer from fibromyalgia and other chronic pain may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if the condition is severe enough to prevent the person from working for at least one year.

At Hermann Law Group, PLLC, our Social Security disability lawyers have helped obtain Social Security Disability benefits for hundreds of disabled individuals suffering from fibromyalgia. We have more than 50 years of combined experience representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the claim process, and we understand the issues facing people who suffer from this debilitating and painful disorder.

In all Social Security Disability cases medical evidence is required to support the claim. Often treating physicians and physical therapists intend to be helpful, but their notes are too vague to help prove a claim of disability.

In July of 2012 the Social Security Administration issued a new Ruling (SSR 12-2p) clarifying first of all, that Fibromyalgia IS “a medically determinable impairment” as some of the Administrative Law Judges had refused to credit it, and second, issuing guidelines as to what must be in the medical records to support the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the limitations that doctors and patients claim to be results of the condition.

Though the Ruling is dense with footnotes and citations, the takeaway is that Social Security will accept the diagnosis if there are findings in accordance with either the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Criteria that talks about tender points or the more recent 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria that replaces the tender points with six or more symptoms or signs and the exclusion of other potential disorders that could cause the symptoms. Widespread pain is needed for both definitions and the diagnosis must come from a doctor (not a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner) but can be supported by statements from other sources.

At Hermann Law Group, we will coordinate with your medical providers to make sure that their notes are clear and provide the level of detail you need to win your claim. Contact us toll free at 877-773-3030 for a consultation at no cost to you, or visit our website to give us your information and request that our office contact you.

In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a person must have made sufficient payments into to Social Security system. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, on the other hand, are available to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. In order to obtain disability benefits, a person must file a claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that operates the national disability and retirement benefits programs. Unfortunately, the SSA initially denies the majority of claims filed, including many with merit. A person whose claim is denied must typically request reconsideration and often a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in order to continue the process. If the claimant is unsatisfied with the ALJ’s decision, he or she may ultimately appeal in federal court.

We focus our practice exclusively on disability claims. We are not merely claimant “representatives” or “advocates.” We are licensed attorneys who can argue your claim both before an ALJ and in a federal appeal, if necessary. We proudly maintain a success rate of over 90% for all decisions received over the past twelve months. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

At Hermann Law Group, you’ll meet with an attorney from the start. We will assist you in the Social Security disability claims process by helping to gather the evidence – medical and employment records, etc. – necessary to prove your claim, file the claim on your behalf and represent you at hearing or trial. We draw on our litigation skills and experience to pursue claims quickly and vigorously, while providing clients with the best in personalized, caring attention.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Social Security Disability Cases

Disability AttorneyChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death and illness worldwide, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease encompasses a number of impairments, including emphysema and chronic asthmatic bronchitis, that block the flow of air as a person inhales, making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Since COPD is often caused by smoking, it can be avoided by not smoking or – for current smokers – kicking the habit. Lung damage caused by COPD cannot be reversed, however, so treatment typically focuses on controlling symptoms and minimizing additional damage. In other words, COPD means a lifetime of breathing difficulty for those who suffer from it, which limit a person’s ability to earn a living as well as his or her daily activities.

A person who suffers from COPD is generally eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if he or she is unable to work for one year or more as a result of the disease. In order to obtain benefits, the individual must file a claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that oversees the disability benefits system. The claims process is often complex and confusing and may involve several levels of review. Unfortunately, the SSA initially denies more than 60% of the claims it reviews, including many with merit. We feel that the initial denial is often designed to discourage people from appealing. A person whose claim is denied must continue the claims process – via an administrative hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge and perhaps in a federal appeal – in order to seek benefits.

Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a full service disability law firm, representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who suffer from COPD and other serious diseases in seeking Social Security disability benefits. We have successfully represented thousands of disabled people suffering from COPD in their Social Security disability claims, and we have expertise in understanding the nature of this disease and what information is required to win a COPD disability claim

In all Social Security Disability claims, medical evidence is necessary to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are disabled. Doctors mean well when they write “patient is doing well,” or “no change,” at each visit, but these notes often fail to detail that you are unable to walk a few steps without shortness of breath, or that you have difficulty carrying on an extended conversation because of your difficulty breathing.

We at Hermann Law Group know that in order to win your claim you need clear supporting medical evidence to prove that you are unable to work and therefore should receive disability benefits. We have the expertise to explain to the treating physicians what details need to be noted in your records, and we will coordinate with them to make sure that we get it! We also know that the success of your case will rely on the results of your Pulmonary Function Test, and we have the ability and expertise to interpret them and present them clearly to the judge. We are dedicated to pursuing your claim quickly and vigorously, while providing you with the best in personalized, caring attention. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 or visit our website for a consultation at no cost to you.

At Hermann Law Group, our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers can assist clients in the claims process by gathering the necessary evidence to prove the client’s disability, filing the claim on behalf of the client and following up with local SSA staff to ensure that it has all of the information it needs to decide on the claim. While many disability advocates rely on non-attorney “clamant representatives” to act on behalf of their clients, we are licensed attorneys who understand the intricacies of the applicable law and how to present a client’s claim in the most clear and convincing manner. We are also skilled litigators who can represent clients on appeal in federal court if necessary.

Our disability lawyers have more than 50 years of combined experience representing clients in Social Security disability claims. Year after year we are proud to maintain a success rate of over 90% of all the Social Security cases we handle. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Lyme Disease Social Security Disability Claims

Social Security AttorneyThe sight of a tick is enough to make some people’s blood crawl. And with good reason. These clingy, spider-like creatures are not only hard to get rid of once they attach themselves, but they also serve as vectors of a number of serious diseases, including Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by blacklegged ticks, some of which are so small that they are nearly impossible to notice. While early symptoms are similar to the flu, Lyme disease can have serious, lasting effects on an individual as it spreads through the body, including muscle weakness (and possible facial muscle paralysis, or Bell’s palsy), fatigue, arthritis, speech problems and heart palpitations. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 10 to 20 percent of patients with Lyme disease have symptoms that last months to years after treatment with antibiotics

Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a full service disability law firm representing clients who suffer from Lyme disease, as well as other physical and mental impairments in Social Security Disability claims. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 or visit our website for a consultation at no cost to you.

A person who contracts Lyme disease and is unable to work for a year or more as a result is generally eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to obtain benefits, the person must file a claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), starting what is unfortunately often a long and complicated process.

With more than 50 years of experience representing clients – including those with Lyme disease – in Social Security Disability claims, the lawyers at Hermann Law Group understand the debilitating effects that that the disease can have on a person’s day-to-day life, let alone his or her ability to work. We have successfully represented clients suffering from Lyme disease, and we understand the types of evidence necessary to prove a claim for someone who has the disease.

Indeed, medical and other evidence is the key to proving a Social Security disability claim. At Hermann Law Group, we know not only what evidence is needed to substantiate a claim, but also how to get it. We will obtain any necessary medical records and ask your doctors to complete forms concerning the specific issues that must be resolved in a claim based on Lyme disease. In the event that those records and forms are unclear, we may also ask your doctor for a more detailed explanation of your problems.

We are not only knowledgeable about Social Security Disability claims, we are also skilled litigators. The SSA initially denies a majority of claims filed, including many with merit. A claimant should not be discouraged, however, because the next step in the process – an administrative hearing – is often the best shot at proving a claim. We represent clients in these hearings, presenting evidence, arguing before a judge and questioning witnesses, and in federal appeals, if necessary.

We proudly maintain a success rate of over 90% for all decisions received over the past twelve months. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Bipolar Disorder Social Security Disability Cases

Social Security Disability Benefits for Bipolar DisorderBipolar Disorder is a debilitating psychiatric disorder often referred to as “manic-depression,” which causes those who suffer from it to cycle between “highs” (periods of extremely happy or irritable moods) and “lows” (depression). The manic phase is characterized by hyperactivity and easy distraction and often results in poor judgment and reckless behavior, while the depression phase is marked by profound, all-encompassing sadness. The periods can last for days, even months. There is no clear cause for the manic or depressive episodes, which return in most patients, even if they are being treated.

Anyone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder knows how incapacitating the condition can be when it comes to daily activities, including work. If you are unable to work for one year or more due to Bipolar Disorder, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

Many people do not realize that if they suffer from a debilitating mental illness, they may be eligible for disability benefits. Whether Bipolar Disorder is the primary basis of a claim, or the reason you are applying involves both mental and physical issues, the medical evidence must be clear in order to win your claim.

Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a full service disability law firm with more than 50 years of combined experience representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who suffer from Bipolar Disorder and other serious impairments and are seeking Social Security Disability benefits. We have expertise in handling claims for individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder and other mental illnesses. We know what medical evidence is necessary to prove your case, and we will coordinate with your treating physicians to make sure that your claim is complete so that you can win. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 or contact us through our website for a consultation at no cost to you.

In addition to obtaining your necessary medical records, we will ask your doctors to complete forms that respond to the specific issues that must be resolved in a claim for Bipolar Disorder. Also, in our experience we have found that in many cases psychiatric or psychological records do not note a patient’s limitations or problems, only any changes from visit to visit or medication levels and tolerance. In those cases we may also ask your doctor for a more detailed explanation of your problems. Occasionally, testimony from others may also be of value at your hearing.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency that operates the national disability and retirement benefits programs. The SSA generally offers two types of disability benefits. The SSA makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children, regardless of income and resources, if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system.

In order to obtain disability benefits, a person must file a claim with the SSA. The disability claims process is often long and complex; it may include an administrative hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge. Unfortunately, the SSA initially denies the majority of claims it reviews, including many with merit. A person whose claim is initially denied must appeal in order to continue to pursue the claim.

The Social Security disability lawyers at Hermann Law Group do one thing: represent disabled individuals. We are not just attorneys; we are also skilled litigators. We know the claims process, the local SSA staff and many of the SSA ALJs. When we prepare your claim, we know what the SSA’s analysts and judges are looking for, and we know how to present your claim in the strongest possible light. We take claims as far in the administrative process as necessary to prevail. We are licensed attorneys, authorized to appear on your behalf in federal court.

We proudly maintain a success rate of over 90% for all decisions received over the past twelve months. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Social Security Disability Following a Stroke

Social Security Disability Following A StrokeIf you have suffered a stroke and the consequences are so severe that you are unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  A stroke is a type of traumatic brain injury or TBI.  The event can leave you with devastating conditions that may seem impossible to overcome.  The symptoms are recognizable.  One side of your face may droop.  Your mouth may droop on one side and your speech may be slurred.  Arms and /or legs on one side may be partially or fully paralyzed.  The symptoms can be permanent or there can be partial or complete recovery.

What It Takes to Qualify

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must be able to prove that you are unable to participate in substantial gainful activity because you suffer from a physical or mental impairment, or a combination of impairments, that is expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months.

The Duration Requirement

Under the Social Security Administration’s qualifying rule, one of the first things that must be determined is how long the symptoms of the stroke are likely to last.  They must have lasted, or be expected to last 12 months.  This can be impossible to predict early on in the case of a stroke, or any other traumatic brain injury (TBI.)  The SSA will need to decide what symptoms or limitations were caused by the stroke and, if a year hasn’t passed since your stroke, also predict the length of time the symptoms are likely to last.

Qualifying Because of Medical Findings under the Listings

The Social Security Administration refers to a stroke as a “central nervous system vascular accident” or CVA.  It is one of the types of traumatic brain injury included in the Listing of Impairments that the Social Security Administration considers severe enough to create an assumption of disability.  To qualify for the assumption of disability, the stroke must result in the symptoms listed in the SSA’s description of a CVA.

What injury or impairment does Social Security look for as limitations that qualify you for disability if you have had a stroke?  Under the Listing of Impairments, the injury to your brain must have caused either aphasia, which is impairment of your ability to speak, write, or understand language, or have resulted in the total or partial loss of the use of at least two of your extremities.  This can be any combination of arms, hands, legs, or feet.  Because of the difficulty in determining the severity and permanency of neurological injuries, both aphasia and loss of use of the extremities must exist for more than three months following the accident before the assumption of disability will apply.

The Social Security Administration defines the loss of use of the extremities as “significant and persistent disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.”  In other words, loss of use of extremities requires weakness or total paralysis in large muscles used for pushing, pulling, lifting, or carrying, or similar limitations in muscles necessary for fine motor skills such as writing, typing, or other use of the fingers.

If your medical records establish that your symptoms are equal to the requirements listed for strokes, then you may qualify for disability.

Qualifying Because of Functional Limitations

You may qualify for Social Security disability even if your medical records do not clearly establish that you meet the specifications listed for a central nervous system vascular accident or a stroke.  Looking back at the qualifying rule, you can see that the key language is your inability to engage in substantial gainful activity.

To determine what type of gainful activity you can do, the Social Security Administration assesses your residual functional capacity (RFC). The SSA defines your RFC as the most you can still do despite the limitations of your impairment or condition.  To make a final decision on your application for benefits, the SSA will determine if your impairment prohibits you from performing your past work or any other suitable work that exists in the economy. Your condition or impairment and any related symptoms such as pain or muscle weakness may cause physical limitations that affect what you are able to do in a work setting.  Since age can affect you ability to adapt to or perform new tasks, consideration can be given to your age as well as your education and work history.  The older you are and the more physically demanding the tasks required for your past work, the better the chances that you will be found disabled using the SSA’s Medical-Vocational Guidelines.

Tips for Success

Accurate and complete records medical records are essential to win your case.

  1. Visit your doctor regularly and follow his or her treatment recommendations.
  2. At each doctor’s visit, fully explain how your condition is affecting your ability to function. Be very specific.  Are you able to concentrate on the task at hand?  Do you have trouble communicating?  If you have memory loss, describe this to the doctor.  How far can you walk?  How long can you sit and stand?  Can you pick up and manipulate small objects with your hands and fingers? Do you get upset with family, friends, or acquaintances for little or no reason?
  3. Have a family member or friend accompany you and describe your limitations to the doctor.
  4. Tell the doctor how your medication is affecting you. Does it make you sleepy, irritable, or nauseous?
  5. Let your doctor know the efforts that you have been making to get back to where you were before the injury.

Competent legal assistance will substantially increase your chances.

  1. If you applied for disability on your own and have been turned down, you should continue your medical treatment and get legal advice about how to file for reconsideration.
  2. If you have requested reconsideration on your own and have been turned down, get legal advice about how to ask for a hearing before an administrative law Judge.

The required “findings” for a stroke or central nervous system vascular accident make it important that you or your representative understand what is required to meet the definitions of the SSA.  The attorneys at the Herman Law Group have many years of experience in Social Security Disability cases.  We can make sure that the necessary information is in your file and that it is presented in the manner most likely to result in a favorable decision. Call us at 914-286-3030 to schedule a consultation.

Stroke Social Security Disability Cases

Social Security DisabilityAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 140,000 people die from stroke in the U.S. each year. For the more than 600,000 more Americans who suffer a stroke each year, this medical emergency can be completely disabling. During a stroke, the flow of oxygen is cut off to a certain area of the brain, which causes brain cells to begin to die within minutes. Often linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol as well as smoking (efforts to curb these factors have reduced the number of strokes in recent years), a stroke can cause permanent or temporary paralysis, as well as walking, speaking, reasoning and vision problems.

A person who suffers a stroke may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) generally provides benefits to individuals – as well as their spouses and children – who are unable to work for one year or more due to a physical or mental impairment or combination thereof. In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a person must have made sufficient payments into to Social Security system. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, on the other hand, are available to disabled individuals with limited income and resources.

Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a full-service disability law firm focusing exclusively on disability cases and representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 for a consultation at no cost to you. You can also visit our website to give us your information and request that our office contact you.

The Social Security disability claims process begins when a person files a claim for benefits with the SSA. Unfortunately, the Administration initially denies the majority of claims filed, including many with merit. A person whose claim is denied can seek reconsideration and/or a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which, as experienced Social Security disability attorneys, we believe is a claimant’s best opportunity to prove his or her claim. Many claimants, however, simply give up after the initial determination and do not take full advantage of the claims process.

At Hermann Law Group, our disability attorneys share more than 50 years of combined legal experience to represent claimants at every stage of the disability claims process. As local attorneys, we are familiar with the area SSA staff and understand how to present a claim to them in the most compelling manner. As skilled litigators, we also understand how local judges analyze claims and, therefore, the evidence necessary to persuade them that a particular claimant is eligible for benefits. We proudly maintain a success rate of over 90% for all decisions received over the past twelve months. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

How to Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits for Mental Illness

Social Security Disability for Mental IllnessGetting Social Security disability for mental illness is often much difficult than for a physical illness. There are many reasons for that, which this post will get into. But it is possible to have your Social Security disability application for a mental disorder approved. That is why having a lawyer on your side at the start of the process is a good idea.

The experienced disability attorneys at Hermann Law Group, PLLC have successfully helped disabled workers apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits for mental illness. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How the SSA Reviews Claims for Disability Due to Mental Illness

What Is the Blue Book?

Social Security disability claims examiners will review your claim for benefits due to mental illness using a set of disability listings for mental disorders. This official listing of impairments, referred to as the Blue Book, contain medical conditions that the government categorizes as “inherently disabling.”

These include:

  • Depression and mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder;
  • Anxiety-related disorders, such as PTSD;
  • Developmental and learning disabilities, such as autism and ADHD;
  • Brain disorders, such as traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis;
  • Substance abuse disorders; and
  • Personality disorders.

These conditions are considered disabling. They prevent those afflicted from performing even simple, unskilled work.

Do You Meet the Listings Requirements?

Disability claims examiners will determine whether you meet the requirements of the disability listings by reviewing three items:

  1. Clinical notes of mental health professionals;
  2. Third-party questionnaires from your friends who report on your condition and normal daily routine; and
  3. An “Activities of Daily Living” questionnaire that you complete.

Unfortunately, Social Security disability claims examiners are not licensed psychiatrists. They don’t have to train to understand fully the disabling effect of all mental disorders. They also may not be aware that it isn’t easy to evaluate symptoms of mental conditions. Unlike physical disabilities, mental disorders have very few tests for measuring their severity.

So, if your disorder is not included in the official listing or easily understood, your claim will likely be denied. It is no surprise then that disability claims for cognitive, psychological, and psychiatric problems more often receive approval on appeal.

Why Claims for Disability Due to Mental Illness Get Denied

Even if examiners were competent to review claims based on mental illnesses, other issues could cause your claim to be denied. Below are four things that could hurt your Social Security disability claim:

  1. Lack of Treatment Notes. If your mental health specialist kept poor treatment notes or simply submits a synopsis of their notes to the disability claims examiner or judge, they will not be very helpful to your case.
  2. Lack of Mental Health Treatment. A doctor’s prescription for medication to treat a mental condition is not enough to support a claim. You will need substantial medical treatment records on hand to back your claim.
  3. Not Taking Prescribed Medication. The claims examiner will look at what you are able to do despite the limitations of your mental condition. Your limitations can’t be measured if you’ve been diagnosed and prescribed medication, but are not taking it. The examiner may make an exception, however, if you haven’t taken the medication because you can’t afford it.
  4. Having a Recurring Illness. The disability examiner could deny your claim because your condition hasn’t lasted or isn’t expected to last a year. If you suffer from a mental illness with symptoms that fluctuate, such as bipolar disorder, this will be an issue.

How Claims for Disability Due to Mental Illness Can Get Approved

To improve your chances of getting the SSA to approve your application, you should see your psychiatrist or psychologist regularly. Inform them how your condition affects you on a daily basis and take the medicine that they prescribe.

Even if the official disability listings does not include your mental illness, you could still be able to obtain disability benefits. More than likely, you will win on appeal. And only if you can prove you can’t perform even the simplest, unskilled job due to your disorder.

Depending on the severity of your illness, your age, education, and skills, you could receive a medical-vocational allowance.

Talk to a New York Disability Attorney to Learn More

By working with an experienced disability attorney, you can increase your chances of receiving Social Security disability for mental illness. Hermann Law Group, PLLC will work tirelessly to help you. We will collect data, reach out to doctors, and present a complete picture of your limitations to examiners and judges. Contact us today.

Social Security Disability Benefits For People With Mental Illnesses

Disability AttorneyThe terms “mental illness” and “mental disorder” refer to a wide range of impairments—including autism, bipolar disorder, and depression—that affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, mood, and ability to relate to others, and as a result make it more difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life. According the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly one in four American adults (about 57.7 million people) experiences a mental health disorder each year. While all people are at risk, doctors believe that factors such as genetics, environment and social influences determine a person’s propensity to develop a mental illness.

Depending on the nature of the condition, mental illnesses are treated through medication, and psychosocial, behavioral and interpersonal therapies as well as support groups and other community services. Treatment is largely aimed at managing the condition’s effects, allowing the person to significantly reduce the illness’ impact on his or her independence and achievement.

The attorneys at Hermann Law Group LLP represent persons suffering from both mental and physical impairments in claims for Social Security disability benefits. We’ve represented thousands of clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut over a combined 50 years of experience. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 for a consultation at no cost to you.

A person suffering from mental illness may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if he or she is unable to work for a year or more as a result of the impairment. The SSA categorizes mental disorders in nine categories:

  • Organic mental disorders
  • Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Affective disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Substance addition disorders
  • Autistic disorder and other developmental disorders

If your disorder meets the requirements of one of these categories, you must still show that it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months and that the condition is severe enough to prevent you from working. Persons whose mental impairments do not meet the requirements of one of these categories can still be eligible for benefits if the person provides the necessary medical documentation to show that the impairment is sufficiently severe.

The Social Security claims process is long and often difficult to navigate. As a result, persons who think they may be eligible for Social Security benefits should apply as soon as possible. While many disability firms use non-attorney “claims representatives” to work on behalf of a claimant, at Hermann Law Group, you will meet with a disability attorney from the start. We will work diligently to obtain the medical documentation necessary to prove your disability, file the claim for you and appear on your behalf at hearing, if necessary.

We understand what the local Social Security Administration staff and Administrative Law Judges are looking for in reviewing a benefits claim and are can present your claim in the most compelling and effective manner. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in Westchester and Dutchess counties in New York, as well as Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to make an appointment.

Our Social Security Hackensack NJ Disability Attorneys Discuss Depression

Social Security Hackensack NJA Social Security Hackensack NJ attorney with Social Security disability hearing tips for claimants says depression is the primary, usually nonfatal disabling medical condition in the United States. The various forms (major, dysthymia, and manic) are mood disorders manifested by feelings and expressions of dismay, sadness, inadequacy, and despair. With these emotions, the depressed often suffer from low energy levels and chronic fatigue.

Etiology

When it comes to causes, there seem to be physiological and genetic as well as environmental and situational factors for depression. Some families seem to display a predisposition towards depression that afflicts members across generations. Unduly stressful events also can be a precipitating causes of the disability.

Depression can be in reaction to the death of a parent, sibling, or child, to a divorce, or to an involuntary termination of employment, but these externalities cause periods of depression mostly temporary and short-lived. If an episode with severe daily manifestations of depression lasts more than two weeks, the condition may qualify as a major clinical depression. Such pathological states disable the ability to cope with challenges and stresses of daily life or to function effectively in trades and professions or in family affairs.

Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, a claimant with depression must meet certain disability criteria listed in the Social Security impairment manual or obtain approval for a medical-vocational allowance according to a combination of the severity of the depressed state and on the presence of other impairments, on employment history, on age, and on educational attainment.

Disability Listing for Depression

The Social Security Administration publishes a list of common, serious illnesses for which afflicted claimants can qualify for disability benefits if they satisfy specific criteria. The list facilitates and expedites the qualification process so claimants with severely disabling conditions can receive benefits quickly. Impairment Listing 12.04 under “Affective Disorders” covers depression. To qualify for either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits for depression, the claimant must present at least four of the following specific symptoms:

  • Disinterest or lack of enjoyment in most activities,
  • Low energy levels,
  • Anorexia or binge eating,
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep,
  • Impaired mental concentration or focus,
  • Immobility or indolence,
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, or regret,
  • Paranoid delusions or hallucinations, or
  • Contemplations of suicide.

In addition to the presentation of symptoms, the Administration requires claimants to show that depression causes them serious difficulties in

  • Everyday life activities,
  • Social functions,
  • Focus on thoughts, or
  • Decompensation in extended periods of progressively aggravated symptoms.

As an example, a claimant diagnosed with depression who doesn’t relate well with others, can’t focus on simple tasks, and has difficulty maintaining personal hygiene might qualify for the depression disability listing.

A claimant who endures recurrent episodes of depression over at least two years might qualify for disability if the depression responds well to antidepressant medication or to intensive social support, but recovery is only tentative and a setback predictable if the claimant returns to work or changes a daily routine.

Claimants regularly seeing psychiatrists or psychologists should have comprehensive records of their symptoms. If not, they can track their conditions on self-rated depression scales.

Qualifying Without the Impairment Listing

The impairment listing isn’t the only way to obtain disability benefits for depression. Instead, claimants can be granted a “medical-vocational allowance,” which in fact is how the Administration approves most disability claims for depression.

To determine whether to grant disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance, the Administration considers how depression symptoms affect the ability to do unskilled work that demands abilities to

  • Comprehend, remember, and execute simple instructions,
  • Make simple decisions necessary for the work,
  • Respond properly to supervision and cooperate with co-workers, and
  • Adapt to changes in routine.

If depression is the only impairment claimed on the disability application, an award of benefits is a long shot unless the condition is a major case, severe, and obviously disabling. But with a concomitant physical or another mental impairment in addition to depression, there is a better chance for benefits.

If the Administration decides that the mental impairment makes even simple, unskilled work impossible, the claimant will receive disability benefits. If the Administration decides that the claimant has the mental and emotional ability to do unskilled work but that a physical impairment requires sedentary work, the claimant could receive disability benefits if not qualified to do any available sedentary jobs.

Appeals from Denial of Benefits for Depression

Claimants denied benefits but feel their cases have enough merit for success on appeal should consider contacting disability lawyers for Social Security disability hearing tips. Appellants represented by lawyers have better success rates than do those who represent themselves.

Consult Our Social Security Hackensack NJ Disability Attorneys

Many disabled workers unable to do their usual jobs for 12 months or more don’t even bother to apply for disability benefits to help them through hard times because they do not understand that they still can do other jobs while receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security disability attorneys at Hermann Law Group LLP can help claimants with Social Security disability hearing tips so they understand the complex process and assist and represent them in navigating its full course. The Social Security Administration denies about 65 percent of all initial claims, but only a minority of claimants appeal from their denials. The rest seem to be so confused by the process or discouraged by the first denial that they give up in frustration. Our Social Security disability attorneys have 50 years of experience in helping and representing Social Security Disability claimants successfully. Call 877-773-3030 today to schedule a free case consultation.

Cardiac Disease Social Security Disability Claims

Disability LawyerThe term “cardiac disease” broadly encompasses a wide range of diseases affecting the heart, including those related to blood vessels (cardiovascular), as well as heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), infections and genetic heart defects. The term is often used interchangeably with “heart disease” and “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiac impairments are one of the three most common conditions listed on Social Security Disability claims.

The lawyers at Hermann Law Group, PLLC know what information is needed from your doctors to obtain a favorable decision in your Social Security Disability claim, and we will insure that your claim is presented favorably to Social Security. For some reason it is very common for doctors in cardiac cases to scribble “my patient is disabled and cannot work,” on their note pads and expect that will be enough to win a claim. Unfortunately, that really does not help at all–but we have the experience and ability to tell the doctor what is needed to win a claim, along with the staff and tenacity to make sure we get it!

In any Social Security case medical evidence has to be obtained to support the claim. But what happens when all the records are in but your doctor simply notes “no change,” or “patient is doing well,” at each visit, while failing to explain that you can’t walk without shortness of breath or that you suffer angina or arrhythmias unpredictably?

Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a full-service disability law firm, representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut seeking Social Security Disability benefits. Our attorneys have won disability claims for hundreds of clients suffering from disabling cardiac impairments. We have extensive experience understanding the issues facing our clients with all types of cardiac conditions who are no longer able to work due to their condition, and we are uniquely skilled at building a successful Social Security disability claim that involves this disability. Using our extensive experience we will present questions to your doctors that are designed to obtain the information that the judges need to decide a claim favorably. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to persons who are unable to work for one year or more due to a physical or mental impairment. A person seeking Social Security Disability benefits must file a claim with the SSA, starting what is often a lengthy and confusing process. Though we can and do file initial claims for about half our clients, we tell our clients that the initial denial is designed to discourage them, and that is what it does for many of the people who are initially turned down.

An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can play a vital role in the claim process by gathering the necessary information and documentation to prove the claim, completing the claim forms and submitting them on behalf of the claimant. At Hermann Law Group, our experienced Social Security disability attorneys have represented thousands of claimants over combined 50-plus years of experience. Year after year, we are successful in well over 90% of the claims we handle, and we can offer you the expertise and support that you need during this stressful, difficult time.

We are not just attorneys; we are skilled litigators. When we prepare your claim, we know what the Social Security Administration’s analysts and judges are looking for, and we know how to present your claim in the strongest possible light. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Obtaining Cancer Social Security Disability Benefits

Cancer Social Security DisabilityA diagnosis of cancer can be devastating. Cancer can result in major upheaval to all facets of your life, including your ability to work and earn a living. If you are in this situation, you may be able to replace some of your lost income with disability benefits for cancer.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands that cancer can be debilitating. Even the treatment for cancer can make you very ill. If your pain and symptoms become so overwhelming that you cannot work for a sustained period of time (at least 12 months), you may qualify for disability benefits.

What Is Cancer?

Cancer is a general term used for a collection of related diseases. Cancer is made up of abnormal cells created by a person’s own body. According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer occurs when abnormal cells “begin to divide without stopping and spread to surrounding tissues.” It can occur anywhere in the body.

The abnormal cells may continue to form until they become growths called tumors which can interfere with the functioning of the body’s organs and systems. Cancer that occurs in the blood, such as leukemia, may not form solid tumors, but the cancerous cells replace the normal blood cells and prevent normal function.

SSA’s Cancer Listings

Although any type of cancer may result in disability, the SSA specifically lists cancers that are commonly severe on the Adult Listings (Part A), Category of Impairments 13.00. Each of these listings includes a description of medical findings that qualify as “severe.” If your medical findings match or are equally as severe as the findings for your type of cancer in the listings, you will qualify for benefits. The following cancers are listed:

  • Soft tissue cancers of the head and neck
  • Skin
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  •  Multiple myeloma
  • Salivary glands
  • Thyroid gland
  • Breast
  • Skeletal system–sarcoma
  • Maxilla, orbit or temporal fossa
  • Nervous system
  • Lungs
  • Pleura or mediastinum
  • Esophagus or stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Liver or gallbladder
  • Pancreas
  • Kidneys, adrenal glands, or ureters–carcinoma
  • Urinary bladder–carcinoma
  • Cancers of the female genital tract–carcinoma or sarcoma
  • Prostate gland–carcinoma
  • Testicles
  • Penis
  • Primary site unknown
  • Cancer treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation
  • Malignant melanoma

Even if your medical findings do not match or equal the listing for your type of cancer or you have a type of cancer that is not listed, you may still qualify for benefits. You will need to prove that your condition is expected to last for more than 12 months or result in death, and you cannot do your past work or adapt to other work that would be appropriate given your age, education, and experience.

How to Prove Cancer Resulted in Your Disability

When evaluating the severity of cancer, the SSA considers the following:

• Where your cancer began – You need to provide verifiable tests or other evidence that indicate an onset date for your cancer. The site and body parts that are affected should also be described thoroughly.

• How widespread your cancer is – Images and test results should also show how large or how extensive your cancer is. The size and area affected should be shown through tests like MRIs, CAT scans, or laboratory blood work. The SSA will also want to know exactly how the cancer is limiting your abilities.

• Efficacy and effects of cancer treatment – The SSA wants to see if your cancer has reacted positively, negatively, or at all to any treatment. At times, anticancer therapies may cause additional limitations on your abilities. It is important to show what kind of treatment you have received since the onset date and how it has affected you.

• Long-term consequences and residual effects – Cancer can have life-altering effects. Although cancer may go into remission, and your tests indicate that you are no longer afflicted with the disease, you may still be limited by residual effects of the disease and treatment that you underwent.

Medical evidence provided to the SSA must include specific information. You must show the type, extent, and site of the primary, recurrent, or metastatic cancer. Even if you and your doctors don’t know where your cancer started, proof that it exists in specific locations or which body part it is affecting can be enough.

You should be able to provide operative notes, pathology reports, and other medical documents describing hospitalizations and other medical treatment you’ve received. Your medical documents should show both the severity and endurance of your cancer so that the SSA can make a determination about disability.

A cancer diagnosis can be scary, especially if your symptoms are debilitating. You may have to endure treatment that causes you just as much pain and sickness as the disease itself. Despite this, to prove that your cancer is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits, you will probably need to provide extensive medical documentation to the SSA.

Our Social Security disability attorneys can help you gather and organize your evidence before you apply for disability benefits for cancer. If you claim is denied, we can represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge. Call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030 for more information about how we can help you.

Metastatic Cancer Social Security Disability Claims

Disability BenefitsMetastatic Cancer is the term used to describe any type of cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another, often the lungs, bones or liver. The cancer spreads by breaking away from a tumor and traveling through the blood stream or lymph system. In most cases in which a person diagnosed with cancer and treated is later diagnosed with cancer for a second time, the person is experiencing metastatic cancer. While researchers are experimenting with new methods for fighting the spread of tumors and some forms of metastatic cancer can be cured currently, most cannot, according to the National Cancer Institute.

At Hermann Law Group, PLLC, we have represented many clients with metastatic cancer in claims for Social Security disability benefits and we understand the physical, emotional and financial pain that the disease can cause. If you are unable to work for one year or more due to metastatic cancer and have paid into the Social Security system, we can take one thing off your mind by assisting you in obtaining disability benefits. Contact our firm toll free at 877-773-3030 or visit our website for a consultation at no cost to you.

In any Social Security case, medical evidence must be submitted to support the claim. Yet gathering the evidence is sometimes easier said than done. Our Social Security disability attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience representing disability claimants and we know what evidence is necessary to prove a claim. Utilizing this extensive experience, we will present questions to your doctors that are designed to obtain the information that the judges need to decide a claim in your favor. Unlike some firms, we handle claims from start to finish, gathering the necessary evidence, filing the claim on the client’s behalf and following up with Social Security Administration (SSA) staff to ensure that they have the information they need to decide on the claim.

Unfortunately, the SSA initially denies the majority of claims it reviews, including many with merit. It is important to understand that the initial denial is designed to discourage claimants, and that is what it does for many of the people who are initially turned down. A person whose claim is initially denied may request an administrative hearing before a Social Security judge, however. This is often the best chance at winning a claim.

Unlike so-called “claim representatives,” we are licensed disability attorneys who can represent you in an administrative hearing as well as in an appeal before a federal court, if necessary. We are also skilled litigators: we understand how to present a claim in the most clear and convincing manner.

We are successful in almost 90% of the claims we handle each year, and we can offer you the expertise and support that you need during this stressful, difficult time. We are so confident in our abilities that in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Traumatic Brain Injury, Social Security Disability Claims

Disability AttorneyTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain, such as when the head is violently struck by an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. Symptoms vary widely from mild (a concussion or other brief change in mental status or consciousness) to severe (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia). TBI may also cause functional short- or long-term changes affecting thinking, sensation, language and emotions. Roughly 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, the majority (75%) of which is concussions or other mild forms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While repeated mild TBIs occurring over an extended period of months or years can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits, the CDC warns that repeated mild TBIs in a short period of time can be “catastrophic or fatal.”

Established in 2003, Hermann Law Group, PLLC is a New York Social Security disability law firm with offices in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of experience representing disabled persons, including those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury, in Social Security disability claims.

Persons affected by TBI may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, which are generally available for someone who is unable to work for one year or more due to a physical or mental impairment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children, regardless of income and resources, so long as the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system.

Because the severity of a mental impairment may change in the months following TBI, the SSA warns that a disability benefits claim regarding TBI may be delayed so that the actual affects of the injury can be determined. Nevertheless, given the length and complexity of the claims process, it is imperative that a person who believes that he or she may be entitled to benefits file a claim as soon as possible in order to start the process.

At Hermann Law Group, we do only one thing: represent disabled individuals. We will take the hassle and burden off you by completing and filing all forms for you, obtaining the necessary medical documentation to support your claim and representing you on appeal, if necessary.

Year after year, our Social Security disability lawyers are successful in well over 90% of the claims we handle. We are experienced litigators, not non-attorney “Claim Representatives.” We know what SSA analysts and judges are looking for, and we know how to present your claim in the strongest possible manner. We will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey, and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call us toll-free at 877-SSD-3030 (877-773-3030) or contact us to set up an appointment.

White Plains Social Security Disability: Concussions, Head Injuries, and Social Security Disability

Concussions and Head InjuriesYou’re 50 years old and have worked steadily for the last 30 years.  You suffered a concussion and a broken leg in a car accident 6 months ago.  Your broken leg and cuts and bruises have healed but you have been unable to go back to work.  You tried going back to work but couldn’t focus on task and left after a couple of hours.  Your doctor says that you are dealing with depression that is a result of the concussion that you suffered in the accident. The fact that mental symptoms are continuing long after your other injuries have healed is an indication that you are dealing with an “organic mental disorder.”  In other words, you are experiencing mental problems caused by the blow to your head during the accident.  Your problems may diminish or get worse.  You may recover completely or the problems may be permanent.

You want and need to go back to work but most of the time you just sleep or sit and do very little. What about filing for disability?  Our White Plains Social Security lawyers know that disability claims based on mental problems following an accident, a fall, or some other traumatic event are among the most difficult to present.  There is usually no way to know for sure how long the problems are going to last.  Statistics indicate that it is fairly common for victims to have considerable recovery within the first 6 months.  Even if you do not fully recover, you may be able to do some work that exists in the economy.  The question is not whether or not you can return to your original job.  The SSA needs to determine whether or not you can do any type of work.

PROVING THAT YOUR CONCUSSION OR OTHER HEAD INJURY CAUSED A DISABLING ORGANIC MENTAL DISORDER

The SSA describes organic mental disorder as “psychological or behavioral abnormalities associated with a dysfunction of the brain.”  The impairment requires a history or examination that demonstrates the existence of a specific organic factor, etiologically related to (which is the cause of) the abnormal mental state and loss of previously acquired functional abilities.  In other words, there must be some evidence that an event (the blow to the head in the accident) caused change or injury to the brain.  The facts need to support a finding of an abnormal mental state that did not exist prior to the event and the loss of skills that existed prior to the event.

Organic mental disorders are included in the list of conditions or impairments that, if severe enough, create a presumption of disability.  The listing for organic mental disorders includes specific symptoms that must exist in order for the impairment to rise to the level of severity necessary to create the presumption.  These symptoms include such things as confusion or disorientation, memory loss, hallucinations, depression, changes in personality, mood swings and loss of IQ points.

The existence of these symptoms alone is not the determining factor.  The symptoms must cause disruptions in your daily life.  They must affect your performance at work as evidenced by inability to get along or cooperate with co-workers and inability to stay on task.  In addition, there needs to be evidence that these conditions exist and have existed or are likely to exist for a considerable period of time.

A key factor for this diagnosis is change.  There needs to be evidence that these issues did not exist prior to the accident.  This may require a review of your medical records from before as well as following the event.  Keeping careful records or developing complete records is critical to success.  A person who is suffering from a mental disorder may be unable to properly document or describe the problems that have developed.  The person may be unable to remember how long symptoms have existed or even what the symptoms are.  Doctor’s records need to correctly reflect progress or lack of progress as well as a clear indication that the doctor’s treatment plans have been followed.

The guidance of an experienced attorney or advocate can be the difference between success and failure.  A treating physician may be very skilled at diagnosing and providing care for the medical problems associated with the injury but the doctor will not have the experience necessary to understand what the Social Security Administration requires for a successful application for disability.

FINAL TEST TO PASS

The issue in your case, as in all disability cases, is whether or not you have a medically determinable impairment or condition that is prohibiting you from engaging in substantial, gainful, activity.  You may qualify for disability even if your records do not establish that you meet the level of severity required for the presumption of disability to apply.  Everyone is different.  If you are not working and doctors verify that, for you, the impairment or condition is keeping you from working and you are not going to improve to the point that you can work, the SSA will look at what is called your residual functional capacity or RFC.  The issue is whether or not your impairment is prohibiting you from performing your past work or any other work that exists in the economy.  At this stage, consideration can be given to your age as well as your education and work history.  Since age can affect your ability to adapt to or perform new tasks the older you are and the more physically demanding the tasks required for your past work, the better the chances that you may be found disabled.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

  1. Ask for help.
  2. Have someone help you keep a record of issues that you experience as a result of your condition. Do this even if you feel that you are capable of doing this yourself.
  3. Be a cry baby! Your doctor visits are not the time to be a hero or a tough guy or gal.  If you are having problems, make sure you mention all of them to your doctor.  If the doctor asks you how you are doing, don’t say “I am better” unless there is nothing at all bothering you.  Your answer to “how are you doing” should be a list of everything that is still different than it was before the event.  The doctor’s notes should reflect that you are still having problems with a, b, and c …. Not that you are “better.”
  4. Follow all of your doctor’s treatment orders. This includes taking all medication prescribed.  Let the doctor know if your medication is helping, making things worse, or having no effect.
  5. Get the help of an experienced attorney. The White Plains Social Security lawyers at The Herman Law Group understand concussions, head injuries, and Social Security disability.  They know that these cases are complicated and require the willingness to spend the time necessary to get the best result for you.  Don’t try to go it alone.

Call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030 to schedule your free case evaluation today.

Obtaining Disability Benefits for Migraines

obtaining disability benefits for migrainesMigraines affect more than 38 million people in the United States, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. In fact, migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world. Although some cases can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication, many people suffer from chronic migraines that greatly impact their daily lives. For some, migraines can even lead to disability. However, obtaining disability benefits for migraines requires evidence that your condition is severe, pervasive, and prevents you from substantial gainful activity. For help obtaining disability benefits for migraines, call our experienced disability attorney at Hermann Law Group.

What Is a Migraine?

A migraine is a neurological condition that is usually identified by a severe headache; however, migraines are much more than a simple headache. There are four distinct phases of a migraine: prodrome, aura, headache, and post-drome. Not all people experience all stages.

  • The prodrome stage may occur as much as two days before a severe migraine headache and may be indicated by mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst, and frequent yawning. Any change in behavior or mood may indicate the beginning of a migraine cycle.
  • The aura stage typically occurs hours before the headache begins and may include disturbances in visual, sensory, motor, and speech abilities. Muscle weakness, vision loss, weakness or numbness, difficulty speaking, and hallucinations are all common.
  • The headache stage of a migraine is typically what people refer to when describing their symptoms. It can last anywhere from four to 72 hours if untreated. Headaches may include severe pain on one or both sides of the head, pulsing, throbbing, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and fainting.
  • The post-drome stage can occur for up to 24 hours after a migraine headache attack. It can include weakness, confusion, moodiness, dizziness, and even elation for some people.

Migraines often go undiagnosed and untreated; however, because they can have a severe impact on the lives of those who suffer them, obtaining disability benefits for migraines is important. Some people experience migraines infrequently, but others are inundated by frequent cycles that prevent them from working.

 When Are Migraines Disabling?

The Social Security Adult Listings of Impairments do not provide specific criteria for when migraines will be presumed to be disabling. But if you have a documented history of persistent and severe migraines that interfere with your ability to work, you may qualify in obtaining disability benefits for migraines.

There are general criteria that all claimants must meet to be found disabled regardless of condition.

You may be considered disabled if:

  • You have a physical or mental impairment that is “severe”;
  • You are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (essentially full time work) because of that impairment; and
  • Your impairment is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

You will need medical and vocational evidence to prove that you meet these requirements. Medical evidence will come from your medical records and medical providers, especially licensed physicians.  Try to see a doctor who specializes in treating migraines if you can.  Vocation evidence may come from employers, coworkers, friends, family members, and perhaps even a vocation expert who will evaluate your functional capacity (ability to work).

A condition is considered severe if it (1) interferes with basic work-related activities (abilities necessary for most jobs, like walking, standing, sitting, and understanding and following simple instructions, for example) or (2) impairs your activities of daily living (such as eating, bathing, and dressing).  Your doctor and your employer can provide evidence about the severity of your condition.  Your doctor can write a report listing your restrictions and your employer can write a letter or give testimony describing your difficulties at work.

Because migraines are not predictable, it can be difficult to prove they are expected to last at least one year at a level that is frequent enough to prevent you from working. You must seek medical treatment each time you experience a migraine or keep a journal of your signs and symptoms each time so that you can prove that your condition is ongoing and pervasive.

The more information you can give the SSA, the better your chance of qualifying for disability benefits.

For Help Obtaining Disability Benefits for Migraines

For help obtaining disability benefits for migraines, call the Hermann Law Group today at 914-286-3030. We will gather medical and vocational evidence to show the SSA that you are unable to work and that you qualify for disability benefits.

Neck and Back Injury, Social Security Disability Claims

Disability ClaimAnyone who has suffered from neck and back injury knows firsthand that these ailments can be both painful and completely debilitating. These injuries often occur as a result of damage to the various ligaments and muscles lining the vertebral column and protecting the spinal cord and, in serious cases, damage to the cord itself or the surrounding nerves. Neck pain, furthermore, can be caused by spinal problems as well muscular tightness in the upper back, joint disruption and pinching of the nerves.

People sustain neck and back injuries in a number of everyday activities, including playing sports or doing housework, as well as in car and other accidents. For example, the term “whiplash” refers to a range of neck injuries – muscle strain, tearing, etc. – resulting from sudden distortions of the neck that commonly occur in rear-end crashes

In addition to causing pain, neck and back injuries often greatly limit a person’s range of movement. Treatments vary depending on the specific injury, but generally may include medication, icing, bed rest, physical therapy or surgery. Doctors caution that some neck and back injuries can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, using the legs to lift objects and using lower-back support when sitting

Hermann Law Group, PLLC. is a disability law firm whose experienced attorneys represent persons in claims for Social Security disability benefits. We have over 50 years of combined experience representing clients in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We are not just attorneys; we are also skilled litigators.

A person who is unable to work for a year or more due to neck and/or back injury may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. The SSA also provides Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to disabled persons, their spouses and children, regardless of income and resources, if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system. A person seeking either or both of these forms of benefits must file a claim with the SSA explaining the nature of the person’s impairment(s) and the resulting inability to work. The claims process is often long and confusing; for many claimants, one or more appeals must be filed in order to obtain benefits

At Hermann Law Group, we focus exclusively on disability claims, drawing on our significant experience representing clients and dealing with local SSA staff and judges to give our clients the best possible representation. We proudly maintain a success rate of over 90% for all decisions received over the last year. We are so confident in our abilities that, in Social Security disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Danbury, Connecticut and Hackensack, New Jersey. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Neuromuscular Disease Social Security Disability Claims

Neuromuscular diseaseMore than 40 million Americans are affected by neuromuscular disease, a term referring to disorders that weaken voluntary muscles throughout the body. Progressing over time, the disease generally results in muscle weakness and fatigue as well as heart and respiratory problems. While there is presently no cure for the disorders, which doctors believe are inherited, many people who suffer from them are able to maintain a long, happy and productive life with the proper treatment and assistance. Nevertheless, the effects of the disease are significant and can be completely debilitating, limiting a person with nueromuscular disease in everything from standing and walking to eating and speaking.

Many people who suffer from neuromuscular disease are unable to work. These individuals are generally eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, which the federal government provides to people who are unable to work for a year or more due to a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments. The Social Security Disability attorneys at Hermann Law Group, PLLC have more than 50 years of combined experience representing clients in Social Security Disability claims. Our clients include those with neuromuscular disease, for whom we’ve successfully won benefits claims.

We understand how difficult the disease makes every day living activities and that, for a large majority of people who suffer from it, working is simply not an option. Even for those with early-stage nueromuscular disease, we understand that the impairment is not something that can be overcome by simply working to strengthen the muscles.

While the significantly limiting nature of this disease is clear to anyone who suffers from it, a claimant must provide clear and convincing evidence of the impairment and its effect on his or her ability to work in order to get a claim for disability benefits approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA), the federal agency that operates the benefits program. Medical evidence in particular is the key to proving a claim. Naturally, much of this evidence – records, opinions, doctors’ notes, etc. – is prepared for the purpose of treating the patient, rather than proving a Social Security Disability claim.

At Hermann Law Group, we have the expertise and experience to coordinate with treating medical providers to ensure that our clients’ medical records contain all of the necessary information that will clearly support a finding of disability. We focus exclusively on disability cases and have represented thousands of clients in Social Security Disability claims process. We understand the nature of neuromuscular disease and the information required to win a neuromuscular disease disability claim.

Year after year we are proud to maintain a success rate of over 90% in all the Social Security cases we handle. We are so confident in our ability that, in Social Security Disability cases, we will not charge you a fee unless we win your case.

Our offices are conveniently located in New York’s Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as in Hackensack, New Jersey and Danbury, Connecticut. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Social Security Disability and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

complex regional pain syndrome, crpsYou have been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS.)  You have missed a lot of work and your doctor tells you that your symptoms will get worse.  At this point, you are concerned that you may not be able to go back to work.  Do you qualify for Social Security disability?

Before we answer that question, let’s look at how the Social Security Administration decides whether or not someone is disabled.  You may have heard someone talk about the “blue book” that contains a list of the various medical conditions that the SSA considers serious enough to be disabling. It is a common belief that if your illness or condition is on the list, you will automatically be considered disabled and entitled to benefits and if it is not on the list, then you will not qualify for disability.  This belief is not totally accurate.

How Does the SSA Determine Disability?

It is true that there is a list of serious impairments or conditions that is referred to by the SSA disability decision makers.  The list is an important tool that the adjudicators have available but their decision is not based on whether or not your condition or impairment is on the list.  A determination that you are disabled can be made only after an adjudicator has conducted an evaluation of your condition and determined that you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.

When you file an application for Social Security Disability, or SSDI, your file is assigned to a representative or adjudicator.  This person examines the information included with your application.  If necessary, additional information will be requested such as medical or employment records.  Social Security disability adjudicators use a 5-step evaluation process to determine if you are disabled.

Step One

The first step of the process is to learn whether or not you are currently engaged in “substantial gainful activity”.  If you have a job and are working, then you are not currently disabled.   If you are not currently able to work, your application can proceed to the second step.

Step Two

The second step in the evaluation process is to learn why you are not able to work.  In order to qualify for benefits, you must be unable to participate in substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable, physical or mental impairment (or a combination of impairments.)  The impairment must be severe which means that your condition interferes with basic work related activities and has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months, or is expected to result in death.  If you are not working because your employer went out of business and you can’t find a new job, then you will not get past step 2.  If you are off work because of a serious medical condition, then your file will progress to the next step.

Step Three

It is during the third step of the evaluation process that the adjudicator refers to the list of impairments that the SSA considers severe enough to indicate disability.  If you have made it through steps 1 and 2 and your condition or illness is on “the list” there is no need for additional proof.  You are disabled.

Step Four

The fourth step of the process requires that the adjudicator decide whether or not you are (1) capable of performing the tasks required for a job that you have had in the past and (2) are you able to perform those tasks at the same performance level that is expected now from others doing that work.  If the decision is that you are able to do that past work at the required performance level, then you are not disabled.  If you are not able to do so, then your application can move on to the next step.

Step Five

This second part of the third step requires the adjudicator to do an assessment of your residual functional capacity or RFC.  The assessment amounts to a decision by the representative or adjudicator as to whether or not, despite your limitations, you should be able to work full time.  Full time means 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  If you are capable of working full-time, then you are not disabled.  However, if the adjudicator decides that you are not able to work full time, your application will progress to the fourth step.

If you have made it to the fifth step, then you have established that you are disabled.  You will be entitled to benefits unless the SSA is able to prove that there are jobs available that you could do or could learn to do despite your current condition of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).  At this stage, your age, education and previous work experience are all considered.

To Learn More About Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Social Security Disability

The Social Security disability attorneys at Herman Law Group, PLLC have successfully argued many cases involving impairments that are not on the “list.” They will be able to tell if you should apply for disability now or if you should wait until you see how your condition progresses. Proper handling of a claim involving Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) will have an impact on your ability to take care of yourself and your family.  Be sure that you make the right decisions.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

Disability claimMultiple Sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “[a]pproximately 400,000 Americans have MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. World-wide, MS affects about 2.5 million people.”

The disease is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. Inflammation along the brain, optic nerve or spinal cord damages the sheath, slowing down or even stopping nerve impulses in the inflamed area. While the cause of the inflammation is unclear, many researchers believe that it is the result of a virus, genetic defect, or a combination of the two. More than twice as many women as men have MS, and studies indicate that people with a family history of MS as well as those who live in certain geographic areas have a slightly higher risk of the disease.

Symptoms – which come and go, often lasting for days, weeks, or months – include loss of balance and coordination, weakness, difficulty walking or moving, numbness, decreased attention span and reasoning problems. Although many who suffer from MS remain able to walk, they often require an aid, such as a cane or crutches, and some use a scooter or wheelchair. MS can also affect a person’s bowel and bladder system causing incontinence and constipation.

While there is no known cure for MS, a variety of medication, physical and occupational therapy is used to treat and sometimes slow the disease.

People who suffer from MS and, as a result, are unable to work for one year or more are eligible for federal Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have limited income and resources. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), on the other hand, is available to disabled persons, their spouses and children – regardless of income and resources – if the disabled person has made sufficient payments into the Social Security system. Some persons may be eligible for a combination of SSDI and SSI, but the typical wage earner will have a large enough SSDI benefit that no SSI will be payable.

Although more than two million people file for Social Security benefits each year, about 65% of all claims are initially rejected nationwide, including many valid claims. If your benefits claim is denied, you are entitled to appeal the decision in a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This is the best opportunity to prove and win a case. At the hearing, you have the opportunity, through a New York Social Security disability attorney if you choose, to explain the case. Specifically, you may testify before the judge, present evidence and bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will cross-examine Social Security medical and vocational experts and make closing statements.

The attorneys at Hermann Law Group have over 50 years of experience in successfully representing Social Security Disability claimants. Year after year, our New York disability lawyers are successful in well over 90% of the claims we handle, and we can offer you the knowledge and support that you need during this stressful, difficult time. We will not charge you a fee unless we win your case. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.

Multiple Sclerosis and Disability Claims

New York long-term disability lawyers

Multiple sclerosis, also known as MS, is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system of the body and has no known cause. It can affect the brain, eyes and spinal cord and may cause a large number of associated maladies. Not every case is severe, but most people with multiple sclerosis will suffer from a range of debilitating symptoms that can affect their ability to work and lead a meaningful, productive life. If you are having symptoms of MS, you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. In the unfortunate event that you have already been diagnosed with this terrible disease, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced New York long-term disability lawyer to discuss your legal, financial and healthcare needs.

Like other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis is caused when your body’s immune system begins attacking otherwise healthy tissue. With multiple sclerosis, the tissues of the spinal cord, optic nerve and brain can suffer substantial damage. These organs and tissues are responsible for conducting nerve impulses throughout the body and for critical senses such as sight, smell and hearing. Damage to these areas of the body can be very debilitating and lead to crippling disability or even death.

Every year thousands of people are diagnosed and there is a large scientific effort to understand and treat the disease. Unfortunately, a cure has not been found and many people will continue to face disability. Nobody should have to face this disease and the associated financial hardship alone. The New York long-term disability attorneys at Hermann Law Group are here to help you.

Symptoms of multiple sclerosis

MS damages the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve cells in the central nervous system. When the layer of myelin is damaged, destroyed or inflamed, the nerve is unable to conduct electrical impulses throughout the body. This causes miscommunication between the brain and the body’s organs and appendages. As a result, you may experience adverse side effects, including:

  • Blurry vision or loss of eyesight
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Loss of urinary or bowel control
  • Paralysis
  • Numbness and tingling in arms, hands, legs and feet

The effect on your life can be profound. From difficulty walking, to slurred speech, cognitive impairment or blindness, your ability to work and earn a living can be significantly impacted.

Types of multiple sclerosis and long-term prognosis

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there are four types of multiple sclerosis. The types vary in severity expression. Hence, one person’s MS may qualify them for disability benefits while another person’s may not. This is why it is important to consult with a New York long-term disability lawyer who understands the nuances of disease progression and disability law.

  • Primary-Progressive: this form of MS affects about 10 percent of sufferers. It is characterized by a steady and continuing worsening of the symptoms with only minor periods of improved neurological functioning. Relapse or remission is not apparent because of progressive nature of the condition.
  • Secondary-Progressive: this type of MS generally follows a period of relapsing-remitting MS. Patients who are diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS often “progress” into this state where the disease begins to worsen steadily without periods or relapse and remission.
  • Relapsing-Remitting: individuals with this form of MS have “attacks” where their neurological function will get substantially worse for a period of time and then go into a period of remission and improved functioning. This is the most common form of MS and affects 80 to 90% of multiple sclerosis patients. Many relapsing-remitting patients will progress into secondary-progressive MS and their symptoms will become more stable but won’t necessarily improve or worsen.
  • Progressive-Relapsing: this is the least common form of the disease and patients see a continual worsening of symptoms from the outset with very minor periods of remission, if any. Progressive-relapsing multiple sclerosis causes a steady worsening of neurological function.

As far as treatments go, most therapies focus on minimizing or managing the symptoms and trying to improve quality of life. This often involves a strong course of corticosteroids over the course of several days to reduce inflammation in the central nervous system.

There are also a number of “disease modifying agents” that may be available depending on the type of multiple sclerosis that you have. These drugs can help to reduce the activity of the disease and in some cases slow down its progression. There is no known “silver bullet” cure for multiple sclerosis.

Qualifying for disability benefits with multiple sclerosis

Applying for disability benefits is a long and arduous process regardless of the disease you are fighting. Multiple sclerosis can be particularly challenging because there is no set course for how the disease will progress. Some people are completely functional and can manage the disease with medication. In other cases, the disease progresses rapidly and the patient’s condition continually worsens. There is no “cookie cutter” approach for MS disability cases and you need a New York long term disability lawyer who has experience handling complex medical disability cases.

Contact New York Long-Term Disability Lawyers

If you have already applied for Social Security disability benefits and were denied, you only have 60 days to appeal the decision. You will need an attorney immediately to make sure that your rights are protected. Call the New York long-term disability lawyers at Hermann Law Group today for a free case consultation! We can be reached at (877) 773-3030.

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits When You Have Multiple Sclerosis

Disability attorneyIf you have multiple sclerosis (MS), you may have experienced severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that MS is a potentially disabling condition that could qualify you for Social Security disability benefits.  If you have MS and want to apply for Social Security in White Plains or elsewhere in the metropolitan New York area, the Hermann Law Group can help.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis, widely known as “MS,” is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects your central nervous system, which includes your brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.  It occurs when your immune systems attacks the fatty myelin sheaths surrounding the axons in the brain and spinal cord.  Without the protective myelin, your nerve fibers become damaged which impairs your brain’s ability to send signals throughout your body.  MS is a progressive disease that gets worse as time passes, eventually causing loss of functions even if you had periods of few or no symptoms.

There are fours types of MS:

  • Relapsing-remitting (RRMS) – the most common type of MS, you may have temporary periods (relapses), flare-ups or exacerbations when new symptoms appear.
  • Secondary-progressive (SPMS) – most people with RRMS transition to SPMS. Your symptoms worsen more steadily overtime, with or without occurrence of relapses or remissions.
  • Primary-progressive (PPMS) – an uncommon type of MS, your symptoms slowly worsens over time with no relapses or remissions.
  • Progressive-relapsing (PRMS) – a rare form of MS, you have a steadily worsening of the disease from the beginning, with acute relapses but no remissions, with or without recovery.

What Are the Symptoms for MS?

The most common symptoms you may experience include:

  • Numbness, tingling, tremors or weakness in your extremities
  • Loss of balance
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Vision impairment such as blurred, double or loss of vision
  • Cognitive impairments such as memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Bowel and bladder problems such as constipation or frequent urination 

How Do I Medically Qualify for Disability Benefits?

If your MS is advanced, you have an increased chance of obtaining disability benefits.  One way to qualify for disability benefits is by meeting or equaling the criteria in the “Listing of Impairments,” Social Security disability regulations that list medical criteria for various disorders.  A person is who meets or equals these criteria is disabled. If you do not qualify under the MS listing, you may still be disabled if you can prove that your symptoms severely limit your functions substantially preventing you from engaging in gainful work activity for at least twelve consecutive months.

“Listing of Impairments”

In order to meet the MS listing, you must show you have at least one of the following:

  • Disorganization of motor function. Significant and persistent motor function disorganization in at least two extremities, such as paralysis, paresis (partial paralysis), ataxia (loss of full control of bodily movements), tremors and/or sensory disturbances.
  • Visual Impairment. Vision in your better eye is 20/200 or worse while wearing any prescribed glasses or contacts.
  • Mental Impairment. Involves behavioral and psychological abnormalities attributed to a brain abnormality, or manifested by the presence of certain mental disorders.
    • The abnormality must be severe enough to significantly reduce cognitive function, such as memory loss, personality changes, or disorientation to time and place.
    • Abnormalities must cause more than moderate restriction in your daily life (eating, sleeping, etc.), difficulty in social setting or concentration problems.

Your mental impairment could also meet this listing if, for at least two years, your impairment resulted in:

  • Significant limitation in your ability to do basic activities despite diligently taking your medication and use of proper social support;
  • Repeated periods of significant worsening;
  • Extreme inability to handle even small changes; or
  • Inability to function outside of a highly supportive living environment.
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue. Significant, increasing muscle weakness and fatigue after you are engaged in an activity and was the result of neurological problems in the areas of your central nervous system known to be affected by MS.  Thus, you must provide evidence that you suffer from MS-related muscle and physical fatigue.  Generally, this could be proven with evoked response test exercise.  If your muscle weakness occurs without any activity, then you do not qualify under this listing.

“Medical Vocational Guidelines”

If you’ve been diagnosed with MS but do not meet the criteria for the MS listing, you may still qualify for disability under the medical vocational (or “med-voc”) guidelines (or allowances).  The guidelines evaluate your ability to perform basic work-related activities based upon your age, education, prior work experience, and residual functional capacity (RFC). Your RFC is the most you can do despite your mental and physical limitations caused by your impairments and symptoms.  This also means that if you have other symptoms caused by other impairments, then SSA will consider all of your symptoms and impairments collectively when determining whether you qualify for disability.

What Medical Evidence Do I Need?

To strengthen your claim for disability benefits for MS, our Social Security lawers in White Plains suggest providing the following medical evidence:

  • Tests performed to obtain your MS diagnosis, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), lumbar puncture, or nerve function study.
  • Corroborating neurologist’s diagnosis of MS with a long-term record of symptoms and impairments provided by your primary care physician.
  • Detailed information about your symptoms, especially the limitations imposed on your day-to-day functions.
  • MRI proving demyelination.
  • Spinal tap showing increased myelin basic proteins.
  • Evoked Potential Tests, such as VEP, BAEP’s and SSEP’s, that evidences slowed, garbled or halted nerve impulses.
  • Medical records documenting how your MS affects you, such as doctor’s notes recording any of your reported symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, impaired vision, memory loss, etc.
  • Prescriptions for any assistive devices, such as cane, walker, scooter or wheelchair.
  • Your diary documenting your everyday symptoms and your daily activities.

Contact us

If you are considering filing for SSDI or SSI benefits for MS, or wish to appeal a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys at the Hermann Law Group will:

  • Evaluate your claim.
  • Prepare your initial application or appeal for SSD benefits.
  • Review your medical records and other evidence for consistency and thoroughness.
  • Obtain witness statements from co-workers, employers, friends and family regarding the effect of your symptoms and how they affect your daily activities and work life.
  • Obtain your treating physician’s report regarding your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment, functional limitations, and prognosis.
  • Offer suggestions for how you can increase your chances of a successful application, such as keeping a symptom diary, obtaining regular medical care, and attending all of your medical appointments.

For assistance with a claim for Social Security in White Plains or elsewhere in the New York metropolitan area, call the disability attorneys at the Hermann Law Group at 877-773-3030.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of a Tricky MS Disability Claim

Disability AttorneyWithin the disability spectrum, our clients who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis tug at my heartstrings just a little bit more than most. Perhaps because they are invariably vibrant, successful people who are totally blindsided by the disease, they are very sympathetic clients and we usually expect their claims to be decided favorably.

However, there are two reasons why winning an MS disability case is not always as easy as it might appear at first glance.

The first is that in many cases, people suffering from MS are not actually diagnosed or treated until many years after their symptoms arise. They might see many doctors before they are correctly diagnosed, or they might not see a doctor at all. Just this week I reviewed a set of records where the claimant was diagnosed with MS and spent the next year treating for Lyme Disease before accepting that MS was the cause of his problems and starting to take Copaxone.

The result of a delayed diagnosis in some cases is a loss of retroactive benefits. In the worst case scenario, a correct diagnosis is not reached until after the claimant’s disability coverage has expired, and no claim at all can be brought. Other than asking a doctor for a retrospective opinion, which the judges often do not credit, we can’t do much about this problem.

The other reason that MS claims can be tricky to win is that very often the medical records don’t contain all of the claimant’s relevant medical complaints or they state that the claimant is “doing well.” There are two reasons that happens, and both can be dealt with by an experienced attorney.

Often, patients don’t tell their doctors the full extent of their problems, and sometimes the doctors either are not paying attention or do not see the need to record the patient’s medical complaints in detail. Both of these situations can be remedied by having the client make a special appointment with their physician to go over their complaints, and to make sure that their chart is accurate and that the doctor notes the length of time the complaints have been present.

When the records say “doing well,” it usually means “no change,” or is in relation to a baseline that relates to the patient’s medical condition, not that he or she has no problems or limitations. When we see a notation like that in the records, we have the doctors complete a Functional Capacity Assessment in which they have to note the patient’s specific limitations and the findings that support them. Most neurologists who deal frequently with MS patients are quite willing to complete these forms for us.

My best advice to anyone with MS fighting a disability claim is to seek treatment immediately, and make sure to tell your doctor about all of your medical complaints. And that goes back to what I always tell ALL of my clients when they ask me “what do I have to do?” I tell them: “your job is to try to get better, and we’ll take care of your claim.”
Lew Insler, Esq.

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Asthma

Social Security disability benefits for asthmaThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 25 million Americans (about 8 percent of the population) have asthma. Obtaining Social Security disability benefits for asthma can be difficult; most cases of asthma are controllable. However, a small percentage of people with asthma are unable to work because of their condition. If you are one of them, you may be eligible for benefits.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects millions of people. It causes the airways to become inflamed and the muscles around the airways can tighten when an attack is triggered. Muscle tightness and uncontrollable inflammation may result in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In severe cases, it can cause a person to faint and may even be fatal.

Asthma can be extremely painful. It can cause prolonged irritation and inflammation. It can result in chest tightness that may be confused for a heart attack. The pain caused by asthma can make it difficult to move and perform activities of daily living, including working.

People who have asthma must do what they can to prevent an attack, which can have devastating results. Allergies, exercise, and stress can all provoke an asthma attack. Frequent attacks and inability to prevent the symptoms can lead to disability.

Asthma can also cause an increased susceptibility to other lung infections and breathing disorders. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers complications of asthma as contributors of disability.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Asthma on the Basis of Your Medical History and Records

Asthma is included on the Adult Listing of Impairments in Category 3.00 Respiratory System. Section 3.03 describes when asthma is severe enough to qualify you for benefits based on your medical history and records.

Asthma may result in disability when:

  1. Chronic asthma results in frequent bronchitis, which is evaluated as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  2. Asthma attacks continue despite prescribed treatment and require physician intervention at least once every two months or at least six times a year. If in-patient hospitalization is needed for longer than 24 hours to control asthma, that hospitalization counts as two attacks.

Even if your asthma does not exactly match this description, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your asthma has reduced your ability to function to such a low level that you are not capable of working. (See below.)

Verifiable Medical Evidence Is Important

You must have verifiable medical evidence from reliable medical sources to prove the existence and severity of your asthma. Your subjective account of your condition is not enough to prove that you are disabled.

Verifiable medical evidence may include any of the following:

  • X-rays or other radiological imaging.
  • Lung function tests.
  • Allergy tests.
  • ER records.
  • Doctor’s office notes.

Although doctor’s office notes are acceptable as medical evidence, they must include specific information. Your treating physician must document the onset date of your condition and any verified attacks. Office notes should detail your symptoms from an objective medical viewpoint.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Asthma on the Basis of Low Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

If your asthma does not match the description in the Listing of Impairments, you must prove that your RFC (the most you are able to do despite your asthma) is so reduced that you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity (i.e., a full time job).

Your treating physician can complete a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment that details your abilities and proves that you are unable to perform work on a sustained basis.

An RFC Assessment asks your physician to evaluate the following:

  • Exertional limitations – how much you can lift, stand, walk, sit, push, and/or pull.
  • Postural limitations – your ability to climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and/or crawl.
  • Manipulative limitations – your ability to reach, manipulate objects, and/or feel.
  • Visual limitations – including near acuity, far acuity, depth perception, accommodation, color vision, and/or field of vision.
  • Communicative limitations – your ability to hear and speak.
  • Environmental limitations – your ability to tolerate extreme cold, heat, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, poor ventilation, and/or hazards.

People with asthma typically have limitations in multiple areas, including exertional and environmental limitations.

A Seasoned Social Security Attorney Can Help You

It is possible to obtain Social Security disability benefits for asthma.  The Social Security Administration recognizes asthma as a condition that can cause severe impairments. If your medical records show that you meet requirements in the Listing of Impairments, you will be automatically qualified. However, even if you do not have the required number of attacks in one year, if your condition causes significant limitations, you may still be eligible.

If your asthma attacks are making it difficult or impossible to work, call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030 for a no cost, no obligation evaluation of your case.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Crohn’s Disease or Colitis

Crohn's or Colitis Social Security Disability ClaimsAn estimated 1.6 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), with more than 70,000 new cases each year, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). If you are suffering from an IBD such as Crohn’s disease or Colitis, you know the debilitating symptoms and limited treatment options. You may feel hopeless and afraid as it affects your job, relationships, and entire life. If you are debilitated from IBD, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

What Is IBD?

Inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These diseases are chronic and cannot be cured. IBD can be diagnosed at any age. More than 80,000 children in the U.S. suffer from IBD, and that number grows annually. Because IBD cannot be cured, it can greatly affect quality of life and may result in extreme financial burden.

IBD causes chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract when the body’s own immune system overreacts to things like bacteria and viruses. The GI tract helps digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste. When it becomes inflamed, the esophagus, liver, stomach, intestines, and other related body organs do not function well. The inflammation can result in inability to process food properly and failure to take in vitamins, minerals, calories, and other valuable nutrients. People who suffer from severe IBD often experience diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fatigue.

While Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis both involve inflammation of the GI tract, they affect the system differently.

  • Crohn’s Disease – Crohn’s disease may affect any level of the GI tract, from the oral cavity to the anus; however, it most commonly affects the small intestine. Crohn’s does not affect the entire system equally. It may appear in patches throughout the GI tract. Crohn’s results in severe inflammation that can impact the entire thickness of an organ’s wall.
  • Ulcerative Colitis – Ulcerative colitis occurs in the large intestine and rectum areas, and it only causes inflammation of the inner layer of the organ wall. It may affect the entire colon and rectum instead of patchy areas.
  • Indeterminate Colitis – Sometimes doctors cannot determine the extent of IBD and whether it is caused by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. In that case, a diagnosis of indeterminate colitis is given.

If you suffer from IBD, your condition may be severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. If you are unable to work due to your impairment, you should contact a Fairfield County disability lawyer today.

How Does Social Security Evaluate IBD

Like any other impairment, IBD may be severe enough to qualify you for benefits if it prevents you from substantial gainful activity for at least 12 months.

Some characteristics of IBD that are severe enough to qualify for disability benefits include the following symptoms occurring within specified time periods:

  • You have obstructions in the small or large intestines that have required hospitalization or surgery.
  • Your IBD has resulted in anemia or serum albumin of 3.0 g/dL or less.
  • You have a tender abdominal mass with pain or cramping that is not controlled by prescription medication.
  • You have perineal disease with draining abscesses or fistulas causing severe pain.
  • You have experienced involuntary weight loss due to IBD.
  • You need to supplement your nutrition daily because of your IBD.

Even of you don’t have these characteristics, you may still qualify if you can prove with acceptable evidence that you are unable to work. Nearly everyone with IBD experiences severe symptoms at least once in their lifetimes. Because there is no cure, the disease has the potential to affect all areas of your life. Symptoms like severe pain and frequent diarrhea can prevent you from working at least 40 hours per week. You may be unable to stand for long periods of time, and the fatigue you experience may limit your ability to think clearly and follow directions. These symptoms may be embarrassing and they may put stress on your personal relationships.

The best methods used to document IBD include endoscopies, biopsies, radiographic imaging, blood tests, and operative findings written up by your surgeon. Your testimony of the symptoms you experience is not enough to prove that your condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits.

Tips for Applying for Social Security Disability When You Have IBD

You can improve your chances of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits for Crohn’s disease or colitis by following these tips.

  • Continuous Medical Treatment – You should seek medical treatment as soon as you experience symptoms of IBD, and continue to see a medical professional throughout your disease. Crohn’s and colitis can be severe; however, there are treatment options. The SSA will want to see that you have sought treatment, but that treatment has not worked well enough to allow you to perform substantial gainful activity.
  • Qualified Physician – If you suffer from IBD, you should obtain medical treatment from a qualified, licensed medical provider. The SSA will only consider medical opinions and test interpretations from licensed doctors. Opinions from chiropractors, massage therapists, and other providers without medical licenses do not hold much weight with the SSA. See a gastroenterologist (a specialist in digestive diseases), if possible
  • Medically Acceptable Tests – You should prove your disease through medically acceptable tests, such as endoscopies, biopsies, radiological imaging, operative findings, blood tests, and other objective tests. Your description of your symptoms is not enough to prove that your condition is severe. Further, if your doctor’s notes only recount your description of symptoms, his or her notes will not carry as much weight with the SSA. You must have objective evidence.

How a Fairfield County Disability Lawyer Can Help You

It can be difficult to prove that your condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. A qualified Social Security disability lawyer can help you gather the evidence to convince Social Security decision makers that you are unable to work, or that your condition results in marked and severe functional limitations. Your lawyer will obtain medical evidence, statements from friends and family, and any other evidence needed to show that you need disability benefits in order to recover.

To discuss your case with a Fairfield County disability lawyer, call the Hermann Law Group at 877-773-3030.

A New York Social Security Disability Law Firm on Diabetes and Disability

Disability Law FirmDiabetes mellitus, more commonly known as diabetes, can be a serious disease that dramatically affects the person so inflicted. Many who suffer from diabetes and file a disability claim are denied by the Social Security Administration; the denial, however, may not be conclusive.

The Disability Process

Generally, the SSA may find diabetes’ claimants disabled under one of three scenarios:

  • The claimant’s diabetes is sufficiently severe to “meet” a SSA’s listing of impairments, or
  • The claimant’s diabetes otherwise “equals” a SSA’s listing, or
  • The claimant’s diabetes prevents working in previous jobs or other types of employment in consideration of all the circumstances.

Meeting a Listing

Despite the SSA’s listing of diabetes, only a limited number of cases will qualify:

  • Diabetes with severe nerve damage to two extremities such that it impacts the claimant’s ability to walk, stand, and move (neuropathy), or
  • Diabetes that creates a serious blood chemistry problem requiring regular hospitalization (acidosis), or
  • Diabetes with damage to the retina resulting in a significant loss of vision (retinitis proliferans.)

Equaling a Listing

Equaling a listing typically involves a New York Social Security disability law firm arguing that some other impairment, which in conjunction with diabetes, allows the SSA to conclude the claimant is disabled.

Inability for Gainful Employment

SSA’s criteria for a disability determination focuses initially on jobs held within the past but also considers the ability to gain employment in other jobs in consideration of age, skills, and education. This determination requires comprehensive medical documentation of all symptoms and a medical explanation of how those symptoms prevent the ability to perform specific work tasks.

Establishing the Claim

As important as the complete medical record is, the claimant’s own words can be the most persuasive evidence in the ultimate outcome. One effective way to establish the claim is to maintain a daily diary of symptoms and limitations.

Contact New York Social Security Disability Law Firm for Legal Advice

A claim for disability is a process. Maximize your ability to receive a favorable determination. Call Hermann Law Group, PLLC, a New York Social Security Disability Law Firm, at (914) 286-3030.

Lupus: Systemic Lupus erythematosus Disability in New York

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease that New York Social Security lawyercan manifest itself in a variety of ways and can have a significant impact on your ability to earn a living. The symptoms of lupus vary widely and the disease can be very hard for doctors to pinpoint. As such, you will need a New York Social Security lawyer who can analyze all of your symptoms and diagnoses and build a solid case for disability benefits.

Lupus causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy tissue in the body.  Like other autoimmune diseases, doctors do not fully understand the causes of lupus. It may be caused as a result of genetic predisposition, as a reaction to medication or it may occur after experiencing a severe infection. Lupus can be mild and temporary or it can affect many organs of the body and cause severe complications. Most people who have lupus go through periods of remission with occasional flare-ups. As such, your inability to work may vary over time despite that the fact that lupus is permanent. This can cause complications for your disability filing if your doctor cannot readily identify current symptoms.

Symptoms of lupus

Lupus or SLE typically has certain general symptoms that may also cause symptoms that are particular to the specific organ(s) that are affected. General symptoms of lupus include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to sun exposure
  • Sores or abscesses in the mouth
  • A roughly “butterfly” shaped rash that covers the nose and cheeks
  • A fever that is otherwise unexplained

If the disease has affected a certain organ or organs, lupus sufferers can also experience more specific symptoms. Commonly affected organs include the kidneys, lungs, heart and skin.

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Vision problems
  • Kidney inflammation or nephritis
  • Headaches, dizziness or vertigo
  • Seizures or other neurological problems
  • Skin rash such as psoriasis or eczema

Lupus treatment and long term prognosis

Given the variety of symptoms that can be evidence of lupus and the overlap between lupus symptoms and many other common diseases, lupus can be very difficult to diagnose. Without the diagnosis, developing a treatment plan can be tricky. Your doctor will run a variety of diagnostic tests depending on your symptoms. These could include blood tests, x-rays, or rheumatology tests.

Because the cause of your lupus may not be firmly identified your doctor may have to try several treatments to find the best fit for your symptoms. If the lupus is organ specific, it is easier to form a treatment plan by process of elimination.

During the course of diagnosis and treatment, it is important to regularly remind your doctor to document all of your ongoing symptoms in your medical records. If you see multiple doctors, it is important to explain any treatments or diagnoses to all of them so that there is consistency throughout your medical records. This will assist your New York Social Security attorney with proving a continuous track record of the disease.

Much of the treatment for lupus will focus on mitigation of symptoms and trying to improve functionality and quality of life. Most people will be able to lead a fairly normal life despite their diagnosis, but in more extreme cases (such as organ failure) your life can be significantly impacted. Ultimately, your level of functionality will determine whether or not you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The New York Social Security lawyers at Hermann Law Group, PLLC can provide an accurate forecast of what you can expect as your case progresses.

How can I qualify for disability benefits if I have already been diagnosed with lupus?

A definitive diagnosis of lupus does not automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits and you will have questions that can only be answered by an experienced New York Social Security lawyer. Because lupus symptoms can be so difficult to clearly identify, the Social Security Administration has developed very specific guidelines for disability qualification.

  • You must be experiencing symptoms that affect at least two of your organs or bodily systems. For example, you may have both kidney inflammation (urinary system) and difficulty breathing (cardiovascular system).
  • The symptoms for at least one of the affected systems must be of moderate severity or worse.
  • You must have had repeated occurrences or flare-ups that affect your daily activities or your ability to work and carry out tasks in a reasonably efficient manner. A good example of this could be a situation where you have repeatedly left work because migraine headaches limit your ability to concentrate on tasks and be productive.

The attorneys at Hermann Law Group, PLLC have many years of experience advocating for disabled clients and they can answer any questions you have about qualifying for benefits and filing the necessary documentation for your condition.

Contact A New York Social Security Lawyer

If you are having symptoms of lupus or have already been diagnosed and your ability to work or earn a living has been diminished, it is imperative that you contact a New York Social Security lawyer right away. Applying for disability benefits can be a long, complicated process and if you inadvertently miss a deadline your claim can be jeopardized. If you have already applied for benefits and were denied, you only have a short window to file an appeal. Call our office at (877) 773-3030 for a complimentary case consultation!

Social Security Disability Benefits for a Seizure Disorder

New York Disability Claim

If you have seizures, you know how scary they can be. Seizures may render you helpless, and those around you may be confused and unsure of how to assist. Millions of Americans suffer from seizures. Seizures are the fourth most common neurological problem following migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, and strokes, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

An experienced Hackensack disability lawyer can help you understand how to obtain disability benefits for a seizure disorder.

What Are Seizures?

Seizures are episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain that can cause muscle spasms. Muscle spasms may result in major convulsions of your entire body, or you may have mild twitches or other symptoms without visible shaking. Seizures are basically misfires in the brain that give inaccurate information to muscles, nerves, sensory organs, and other parts of the body.

Although there are many different types of seizures, they fall into two categories: primary generalized seizures and partial seizures. The difference between these is where and how they initiate. Primary generalized seizures are characterized by widespread electrical misfiring of both sides of the brain at once. Many of these are caused by genetic factors. Partial seizures are limited to one area of the brain, often causing changes in awareness or consciousness. They may be caused by genetic factors, but are often traumatic in origin.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of seizures include the following:

  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Changes in behavior or mood.
  • Drooling or teeth clenching.
  • Eye movements.
  • Grunting and snorting.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Shaking or twitching.
  • Sudden falls.
  • Bitter or metallic taste.

Types of Seizures

When people think of seizures, they often envision “grand mal” seizures, or the kind that cause intense shaking and tremors throughout the body. Also known as “tonic-clonic” seizures, they can cause unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity.

However, there are several other kinds of seizures, including the following:

  • Absence – Seizures that result in a brief loss of consciousness caused by irregular electrical energy in the brain. Symptoms may include vacant stare, confusion, headache, drowsiness or small repetitive movements like lip smacking and eyelid fluttering.
  • Myoclonic – Seizures that are characterized by sporadic, isolated jerking movements. These seizures do not happen repetitively, but may be a slight facial or other muscular twitch.
  • Clonic – Seizures causing repetitive jerking movements. Clonic seizures are often preceded by muscle stiffness that then leads to repetitive, sometimes quickly, jerking muscles that can affect any part of the body. Such twitches cannot be stopped by repositioning the body or restraint.
  • Tonic – Seizures that result in muscle stiffness and rigidity that usually last up to 20 seconds. Tonic seizures can become worse over time, and may occur during sleep without knowledge.
  • Atonic – Seizure resulting in loss of muscle tone. Atonic seizures are the opposite of tonic seizures, which involve muscle tightening. They can cause falling, trauma, loss of consciousness, and other symptoms.

Seizures may be caused by many different conditions. The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists seizures under neurological disorders on its Listing of Impairments. Seizures may be the result of any of the following impairments:

  • Epilepsy – convulsive epilepsy, (grand mal or psychomotor seizures).
  • Epilepsy – nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor, or focal seizures).
  • Brain Tumors.
  • Brain Trauma.
  • Cerebral Palsy.
  • Spinal Cord and Brain Lesions.
  • Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Myasthenia Gravis.
  • Many other disorders.

How to Prove Your Seizures Are Disabling

The SSA evaluates seizure conditions according to the type, frequency, duration, and nature of seizures you experience. A disability examiner will review medical records, functionality reports, and any objective medical tests that have been performed on you. He or she will determine the type and nature of your seizures. You must have documented evidence of seizures, along with a medical history that indicates onset, severity, and treatment you’ve received.

The examiner will consider when your seizures occur, how often you have seizures, and how long they last. Seizures may occur primarily during the day or at night due to sleeping patterns, hormonal fluctuations, and medication release. You may experience one seizure every week or dozens each day. Seizures may be simple twitches that last for 5 minutes, or they may involve loss of consciousness and confusion for a longer period of time.  The more frequent your seizures and the longer they last, the more likely they are to be disabling.

Your doctor should complete medical forms that completely describe your seizures as well as how they affect you now and in the long term. If possible, your doctor should document the cause of your seizures. You may have suffered a traumatic brain injury that caused lesions on your brain that result in seizures, or you may have endured a lifetime of epilepsy. The cause of your condition may help the SSA determine the expected length of time you have been and will remain disabled.

Applying for disability benefits for a seizure disorder can be daunting. You must provide adequate medical evidence as well as proof of impaired functionality. There are many things that can make that process easier, including continuous medical treatment, seeing a specialist, and getting a report from the specialist assessing your functionality. A knowledgeable Hackensack disability lawyer at the Hermann Law Group can help you navigate the complex legal process of applying for disability benefits for a seizure disorder. Call us at 877-773-3030 for a free evaluation of your case.