Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Social Security Disability Attorney vs. ADHD Vocational Expert

What does the Administrative Law Judge have to decide at your hearing for ADHD?
The judge needs to determine whether you are able to return to your past work, and if not, whether you can perform any other job that exists in the national economy. You are found disabled if you are unable to perform any job. If your ability to return to work is not evident from your physical limitations, age, education and work skills a vocational expert’s opinion will be necessary.

What does a Vocational Expert testify about?
A Vocational Expert is a person who knows about an injured person’s ability to perform work or household tasks. The Vocational Expert conducts research and provides expert evaluations and testimony for cases, which involve employment and earning capacity issues.  At the hearing the judge will ask hypothetical questions to the expert, describing a person with the same limitations you have and ask whether there is any job you could perform.

What can your attorney do when the Vocational Expert says you are able to work?
When the Vocational Expert gives the judge examples of jobs you can perform and states how many of these types of jobs exist in the economy, your attorney should question this expert’s research.  The expert did not go out and count the number of jobs.

Where does the Vocational Expert get the numbers stating how many and which types of jobs exist?
Vocational Experts use the numbers from the US Census directly or from a private company (US Publishing) who puts the US Census numbers in a more user friendly package. 

What is wrong with the Vocational Expert using Census data?
The problem with the Vocational Expert using these numbers during his/her testimony is they are not consistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). The Vocational Expert is regulated by the court to be consistent with the DOT. Census data does not assess physical demands or skill levels.  Census data does not use the same job titles as DOT. There are 800 job titles in the Census and there are 12,000 job titles in the DOT.  This is why US Publishing states it is “virtually impossible” to calculate number of jobs from the Census data into DOT jobs without conducting an inspection to gather needed information.

What can your lawyer do to discredit the Vocational Expert in front of the judge?
If the Vocational Expert testifies that his/her numbers came from the Census rather than conducting an inspection, your attorney can point out the above mentioned problems with that. If the Vocational Expert states “in his 25 years of experience he conducted studies”, your attorney should;
  • ask when and where these studies were conducted. 
  • ask for the written report
  • ask whether the study included part-time work because in a disability claim all part-time work should be excluded. 
Regarding the jobs the Vocational Expert says you can perform, your lawyer should expose any jobs that are outdated, meaning due to technology the job does not exist or requires computer skills.
The source of the Vocational Expert’s testimony should be questioned. An honest Vocational Expert will admit the shortcomings of calculating the data.  This might be enough to overcome a Vocational Expert’s testimony, which is not supportive to your case.

·     Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Work Credits and Insured Status: Determining Disability Eligibility for ADHD

Your "credits" and your "insured" status can be some of the most confusing factors in determining your eligibility for ADHD disability benefits. They can be simple to figure out, however, with a bit of patience.

Credits and Earnings
Quarters of credit – also called “credits” – are obtained when you earn more than a certain amount in a year, varying by each year (the Social Security Administration’s website provides a handy table to see what the cutoff is for a given year).  You can earn a maximum of 4 credits in any year: for example, the earnings required for 1 credit in 2007 was $1,000, so anything more than $4,000 would only result in 4 credits.

The number of credits you need to be eligible for disability benefits will depend on your age when you became disabled:
  • Before age 24 – You will need to earn at least 6 credits in the 3 years immediately before when your disability started.
    • Example: You become disabled at age 22. You earned 1 credit at age 19, 2 credits at age 20, and 3 credits at age 21. You have 6 credits, and may qualify for disability benefits.
  • Age 24 to 31 – You will need credits for working half the time between age 21 and when your disability started.
    •  Example: You become disabled at age 27. That is 6 years between age 21 and when your disability started.  You will need credits for working half of that time, or 3 years.  SSA holds that a year of work equals 4 credits, so you will need 4 x 3 or 12 credits to qualify for disability benefits.
  • Age 31 or older – You will need at least 20 credits, increasing with age until the maximum of 40 (the SSA website provides another handy table to determine how many credits you need based on your age).
Insured Status
To be considered “disability insured” by SSA, you must meet two separate requirements:
  •  You must earn 1 credit for each year between age 21 and when you became disabled (sometimes called “fully insured”)
    • Example: You are 45 when you become disabled.  That is 24 years between age 21 and when your disability started.  You will need at least 24 credits to be considered “fully insured.”
  • You must earn at least 20 credits in the 10-year period before you became disabled (sometimes called “currently insured”) 
    • Example: You are 45 when you become disabled.  You were employed since age 38, resulting in 28 credits (7 years x 4 credits).  You earned more than 20 credits in the 10-year period before you became disabled, and would be considered “currently insured.”
There are separate rules for claimants with previous disabilities, claimants who are under 31, and claimants who are statutorily blind (speak with an attorney or with SSA for these specific rules).
 Credits and insured status are bars that many people would not even think about when they become disabled, but they are no less important than the medical evidence and hearing process that come later.  Knowing where you stand now can save you time and frustration later, and speaking to an attorney can be the easiest way to determine if you are eligible.

Disability Group Inc.
Disability Group Inc was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at http://www.socialsecuritylaw.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Social Security Disability Benefits and Eligibility for ADHD

What are the two different types of Social Security benefits available if I become disabled due to ADHD?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two federal disability programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. The Social Security Administration funds both programs.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits fall under title II of the Social Security Act signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the New Deal. This federally funded program was to provide insurance to workers who could no longer work because of old age or disability.
Who qualifies for SSDI? In order to qualify for SSDI you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI works similarly to a pension, where you pay into the plan throughout your working years.  Social Security establishes whether you have worked long enough by assigning work credits to your wages/SS taxes you paid per year.  For grown adults you need 40 work credits. Once you have 40 work credits you have “insured status.” SSDI benefits are paid to those who have been found disabled as defined by Social Security and have “insured status.”
What benefits do I receive if I’m found disabled and have “insured status”?The amount you receive each month is calculated from your previous earnings. SSDI monthly checks range from $500 to $2000. You receive these benefits regardless of whether you have other adequate resources.  Being wealthy does not make you ineligible. Also, if you have minor children they are eligible to receive benefits.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)? Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on you being found disabled and in financial need.  It is funded by general tax revenues and not by Social Security taxes. SSI falls under title XVI of the Social Security Act and is the result of Richard Nixon’s effort in 1972 to reform the nation’s welfare programs.
Who qualifies for SSI? How much do I get per month? You qualify for SSI if you are found disabled as defined by Social Security and are found in financial need. Unlike SSDI, wealth makes you ineligible for SSI. If you have $2000 in the bank or in assets, you are ineligible for SSI.  Also, your minor children cannot receive benefits under SSI. As of 2010, if you qualify for SSI you can receive up to $674 per month. Some states supplement the SSI amount.
Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney for ADHD?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process by yourself, while suffering from ADHD, is not easy.  Due to the various rules, deadlines and terminology, it can be a very confusing process.  However, a disability attorney has specialized knowledge in this field and is your best chance at getting your claim awarded, for several reasons.

  1. First, a disability attorney will know the rules and deadlines very well.  Because they handle so many of these types of claims, they know the process inside and out.  They can make sure that your claim does not get dismissed for violating a rule or missing a deadline.
  2.   Aside from knowing all of the rules and how to best navigate the disability benefits process, an attorney is a good resource to have if you want to do something like an ”On the Record” request or a “Dire Need” request.
    1.  An On the Record request is a way to get your claim awarded without a hearing. 
    2. A Dire Need request is a way to get your claim processed faster.  Both of these are something that can be written by an attorney, who knows what the qualifications are, and which rules and laws apply.  Additionally, sometimes judges ask for letters to support an application for benefits called “briefs”. Attorneys write these, using a combination of law, facts and argument to persuade the judge to award your claim.
  3. In addition to knowing the rules and doing the writing, a disability attorney will do the work to gather evidence to support your claim. They will get records from your doctors, file your paperwork and communicate with the Social Security Administration on your behalf. 
  4. And very importantly, a disability attorney will represent you at your hearing.  They will prepare you for the hearing so you know what to expect and will be there to speak to the Administrative Law Judge.  They will do all of the prep work prior to going to hearing and be able to tell the judge why you should be awarded benefits. Also, an experienced disability attorney will become familiar with the judges they interact with the most and will therefore be better prepared on how to present your claim in way that make a particular judge more likely to award it.
Finally, none of this work will cost you anything unless you win.  Disability attorneys, generally, work on a contingency basis.  This means that they only get paid if you get paid.  And the amount an attorney makes is controlled by Social Security and capped at a certain amount.  From knowing the law and the judges, doing the writing and other work on your claim, and representing you at your hearing, an attorney is your best chance to have your claim awarded.

Disability Group, Inc. was founded on the principles of dignity and respect. We are a national law firm focused exclusively on helping people receive the Social Security Disability benefits they deserve. For more information about Social Security, or to see if you qualify for benefits, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Improving the Speed and Quality of the Social Security Disability Process

In 2008, the Social Security Administration (SSA) outlined four goals it wishes to achieve by 2013.  To those applying for disability benefits in, the most important goal is improving the speed and quality of the disability process.  Here are the ways that SSA is trying to meet this goal.

  1.  Quick Decisions for Clearly Disabled Claimants In order to speed up the process for the most disabled claimants, SSA has established a “Quick Disability Determinations” process (QDD).  Almost 3% of new cases are identified for QDD processing and almost 96% of those cases are awarded within six to eight days.  Also, SSA’s “Compassionate Allowance” program also allows for the quick identification of individuals who are clearly disabled due to the terminal nature of their conditions.  SSA expects to be fast tracking six to nine percent of initial applications by the end of 2012.
  1.  Online Filing of Disability Applications SSA has implemented an online system in which individuals can file for Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits.  The goal is for claimants and their legal representatives to be able to conduct all of their business with SSA online.  This will reduce the demands on Social Security employees who will be able to focus on preparing the claims for adjudication.  SSA hopes to reach an online filing rate of 25% for initial applications by 2012.
  1.  Timely Updating of Policies and Procedures SSA is focusing on updating their policies and procedures. For example, the Listings of Impairments is being updated to include rare diseases and conditions that represent clearly disabling conditions.  SSA is also planning to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which is relied upon in determining whether there is any work the claimant can do, with updated definitions and objective measures of requirements of work.
  1.  A Common Processing System for DDS Offices SSA is working to develop a common case processing system for each of the 54 DDS offices.  Currently, each of these offices has a unique system, making any proposed changes very difficult.  A common system will promote efficiency and improved quality of the application process.
  1.  Making it Easier For Disabled Individuals to Return to Work SSA is continually updating its policies to allow for easier reentry into the workforce.  It is in the best interest of all parties if a disabled individual experiences enough improvement to return to work.  However SSA understands that disabled individuals may be unwilling to risk the benefits they are already receiving when they do not know if the improvement is permanent or if they will be able to meet the demands of a particular job. 
The best way to ensure that your claim is handled properly is to hire an attorney. Your disability attorney will stay on top of all paperwork and requests from Social Security and make sure that all your medical records have been received. For more information, visit us at www.socialsecuritylaw.com.