News

We Fight for Our Clients’ Benefits!

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

Social Security denied benefits to our client who has a 68 IQ and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We believed in our client’s right to benefits, so we appealed the case to the Appeals Council, then to District Court, and then to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (one court below the U.S. Supreme Court!).

After three years, on September 14, 2017, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Judge’s decision and sent it back for another hearing to be held. We are very excited about this case for our client, who is claiming disability since 2008. We are optimistic that the case will be awarded this time. We fight for the benefits our clients have earned! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Are You Eligible for Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

If you worked for the railroad for at least five years after 1995, you are eligible for Tier I disability, which is the amount you would get from Social Security Disability and an additional disability benefit, known as Tier II annuity.

To prove that you are disabled, you must show that you cannot perform any job at all. But if you have a current connection with the Railroad and have worked for at least twenty years, or are between the age of 60 and the full retirement age with at least ten years of service you may qualify instead for Occupational Disability. In general for Occupational Disability, you only must prove you cannot perform your own occupation with the railroad, as opposed to proving that you cannot perform any job at all.

If you have not worked for the Railroad for at least five years after 1995, you can still apply for Social Security Disability. If you have any questions regarding Railroad Disability, please give us a call at 1-800-728-0434.

Get Paid at the 100% VA Rate if Your Conditions Prevent You from Working.

By Jessica M. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

If you have a condition that prevents you from maintaining a job (a “substantial gainful occupation” in the VA’s language), you may be entitled to a benefit called Individual Unemployability (“IU”). When a person gets IU, they are paid at the same rate as if they had a condition rated at 100%, but their rating is actually lower than 100%. There are certain conditions and ratings which, due to the severity of their symptoms, we think should automatically raise the question for the VA about whether you are entitled to IU. For example, a 50% rating for migraines is the highest rating available. At 50%, the VA has found that you have “very frequent and completely prostrating and prolonged attacks” which cause severe economic inadaptability—do you think someone with symptoms like that could hold a job? What about someone who has a mental condition “with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment thinking, or mood” due to symptoms such as panic, depression, or obsessional rituals? That person would only have a 70% rating, but they probably can’t work, right? So, we think they should be entitled to IU, which could mean a big difference in how much they get paid. A single person (unmarried, no children) who has a 50% rating gets $838.64 per month in 2017, but a person on IU gets $2,915.55—more than $2,000 more per month! The difference between a 70% rating ($1,338.71) and IU is more than $1,500 per month. If you have a rating for a condition that prevents you from working, give us a call and we can help you get the benefits you deserve. Phone: 1-800-728-0434; Email: LifeHealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com.

What Happens at a Social Security Disability Hearing?

By Jessica M. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

Your hearing is your opportunity to explain to the Judge how your conditions affect you. Someone else may have the same conditions as you, but they can work. Why do your symptoms keep you from working?  How do you spend your days? Do you lay down during the day to ease pain or because of fatigue? Does your medication make you tired and cause trouble concentrating? These are the things we will discuss with you to prepare for your hearing.

If you have a Social Security Disability hearing coming up and would like to discuss your case with us, please contact us at 205-879-3033 or Lifehealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com

What is Military Sexual Trauma and How Do I Get Treatment?

By Jessica M. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

The term Military Sexual Trauma (MST) encompasses many experiences, not only rape. MST includes sexual harassment, pressure for sexual activities in return for promotion, and unwanted sexual advances. It does not matter if you were on or off duty or whether you were on the base when it happened. The identity of the harasser does not matter, nor does it matter whether you were on active duty at the time of the incident. What matters is that you experienced an event which was against your will.

To receive free treatment for MST, you do not need to be service connected for a resulting medical condition or be have proof of the incident. Just contact the MST Coordinator at your local VA and/or your local Vet Center and ask for help.

If you have a condition resulting from MST (depression, anxiety, PTSD, among others) and would like help filing a VA claim, please give us a call at 205-879-3033 or email us at Lifehealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com

We Focus on Getting Disability for Veterans Who Cannot Work.

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

It takes the same amount of time to prove that a veteran is entitled to an increase of 20% to 40%, as it does to prove a vet is entitled to an increase of 20% to 100%. The reason is that the elements of proof are the same. For VA disability you must prove: 1) an event or injury in the service; 2) a current medical condition; and 3) a medical nexus between numbers 1 and 2. The medical nexus must be a medical opinion from a medical professional.

So, the elements of proof are the same for a 40% case as for a 100% case. As a result, we made the decision years ago to devote our law firm to the veterans who are the sickest and/or most injured. It has been a rewarding practice and the best way to use our law firm resources.

If you are not able to work because of your VA disability, please contact us. We can advise you on both Social Security and VA disability – – two claims that are often closely intertwined. Call us at 1-800-728-0434 or email at LifeHealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com.

What They Don’t Tell You About VA Disability Claims.

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

We have many veterans who come to see us because they don’t understand why the VA won’t pay their compensation claims. They often spread out their paperwork and documents on our conference room table in a very organized display. Then they pull documents out in response to our questions. It’s amazing how well organized some veterans are, especially after years of collecting records to support their claims.

Unfortunately, the VA often does not clearly explain what is needed to prove a VA claim. Instead, they send reams of paperwork to the veteran, and often any explanation of what is needed is lost in the shuffle.

It’s really simple what is needed: 1) a current medical condition, 2) an event or injury in the service, and 3) a medical nexus connecting 1 to 2. But the devil is in the details.

One of things that they don’t tell you is that you just about always have to have a medical diagnosis to meet the requirement of a medical condition. We routinely tell veterans to get a diagnosis first before filing a claim.

Another thing is that the common sense way to prove an event or injury in the service often does not apply. You can get sick years later and still be covered, so some research and legwork may be required.

Finally, your doctor can provide a Disability Benefit Questionnaire to meet the medical nexus requirement – – but the DBQ does contain a most important question: Whether the event or injury in the service “is as likely as not” to have caused the current medical condition. This is just a 50-50 proposition. Your doctor does not have to state with any certainty that your current medical condition is caused by an event or injury in the service.

We will discuss other things that they don’t tell you in future posts to this blog. Please call us if you have any questions about how to prove your case. You can reach us at 1-800-728-0434 or at LifeHealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com.

Your Social Security Disability Was Denied? But You Know You Can’t Work!

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

We have many clients who come to us and do not understand why their Social Security case has been DENIED. If you can’t work, why won’t the government give you the benefit you’ve paid for? When you can’t work, but wish you could, getting denied is disheartening, but DON’T GIVE UP!

The Social Security rules are complicated and sometimes the Social Security Administration does not act to help a disabled worker. While we believe that most employees at Social Security try to do what’s right, sometimes, due to their heavy case load, it just does not happen.

We are here to help you find your way through the Social Security maze at any level. Starting with your initial application, we can complete the Social Security forms for you and know what’s important so that your case is presented in the best light possible. We will gather the evidence to support your case.

Social Security is supposed to be construed liberally to favor the worker. Our job at Friedman Law Firm is to do our best to see that the laws are fairly applied to your case. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at LifeHealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com or 1-800-728-0434.

Doug Friedman to Speak at Conference for Life Insurance Professionals

By Jessica M. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

On August 9th, 2017, Doug Friedman will present at First Protective’s Advanced Planning Symposium, held in New Orleans. Doug’s presentation, “Sales Ideas from an Advanced Sales Attorney,” will discuss sales ideas based on cases we work on with agents.

Don’t Understand Why Your Social Security Disability Was Denied?

By Douglas I. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

We often have disabled workers who come to see us and they say: I know I am disabled and entitled to Social Security Disability – – but I keep getting denied. I don’t know what to do any more. Can you help me?

It can sometimes take years to get Social Security disability, but knowing how to present a case in its best light, and without unnecessary information, is sometimes the key to success.

So, this is what we tell our clients: We only have to get the nose of the football over the goal line to win your case. We don’t have to ram the football through the wall at the end zone.

This is what we mean by that. Imagine yourself working at the Social Security Administration reviewing claim files, which often are very long. How would you like to see the claim presented? We believe that the decision maker wants to see a summary of the case, with just enough information so that the case can be awarded easily and quickly.

This means that we don’t go into detail on every single thing that is wrong with a client. Instead, we ask Social Security to focus on the key pieces of evidence to support an award. We have been told that this approach is favored by the decision-maker. In fact, we sometimes tell clients that if they can’t win their case based on their three or four main medical conditions, they probably won’t win.

That is how we present cases so that they may be awarded. No guarantee of success, but this approach makes sense in view of the heavy case load at Social Security and what reviewers tell us. Again, think of what you would want if you were working there!

If you have any questions about your case, feel free to contact us at 1-800-728-0434 or Lifehealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com