News

Older Age Makes it Easier to Prove Social Security Disability

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

If you are over the age of 50, it is much easier to prove that you are entitled to Social Security Disability and SSI. The reason is that the law assumes that you are less able to adjust to new kinds of work as you get older. Things get even more favorable at age 55 and age 60.

For example, if you are age 50 and you have worked your whole life in jobs that required you to be on your feet most of the day, it is easier to prove your case for Social Security Disability. In this case you don’t have to be unable to do all types of work. If you can do a job that is seated all day, but you don’t have skills or education that could be used for seated work, you can be found disabled under Social Security rules.

Whether you meet the requirements for Social Security Disability is different for each person. No two cases are the same. So, we must learn about your education and work background, in addition to your medical condition, to advise you in a Social Security Disability case.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Military Sexual Trauma, Let us help.

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

If you experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault, or rape during your time in the service, you may be able to file a VA claim for Military Sexual Trauma (MST). To prove a claim for MST, you need medical evidence diagnosing the condition and credible evidence that the event occurred. We know that many cases of MST go unreported because the event is so personal. Although there may not be direct evidence of the incident, there are other ways to prove that something happened, such as a request for transfer, change in behavior, or statements from family or friends. We have experience helping people with MST claims and we understand. If you or someone you know would like help with an MST claim, please give us a call at 1-800-728-0434 or email us at Lifehealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com

I Have Respiratory Disease. Can I Get VA Disability?

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

Yes, you can. The extent of the rating will depend on how bad your breathing is. The rating schedule goes higher according to your Pulmonary Function Test (PFT). How the test is evaluated by VA depends on what indicators the doctor thinks are most important. Is your diffusion capacity the key? Or is it your forced expiratory volume? These rules can get very complicated, to say the least.

Remember, also, that you must be able to prove that you had an event or injury in the service that is as likely as not to have resulted in your asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and the like. If you served in Southwest Asia (Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and Afghanistan), you may be able to take advantage of a presumption that connects your respiratory disease to your service.

We believe that these cases must be reviewed carefully to put the pieces in place. If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 1-800-728-0434 or Lifehealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com.

How to Prove a Child’s SSI Case

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

To be honest, these cases are hard to prove. Years ago, the rules were changed to make it harder for parents to get SSI for their children. And, recently, there have even been proposals to stop awarding benefits to children. This would be a sad result because many children are in need of Medicaid for treatment and need help affording medication and treatment. Without these things, a disabled child has much smaller chance to become a productive member of society– not to mention the financial burden on their parents!

In view of the difficulty proving these cases, we ask parents who contact us to obtain a medical source statement from the child’s doctor to help us prove the case. Our attorneys will draft the questions for the doctor to answer. In the answers are favorable, we can then proceed with the case.

If a child is not receiving medical care for the alleged disability, we usually will not accept the case because medical records are key to proving the child’s condition. Without medical treatment, Social Security may conclude that the condition is not severe enough to entitle the child to benefits– because, if it was, the child would be getting treatment.

If you have a possible child’s case, please call us for more information, including where you may receive free or low-cost treatment for your child.

Don’t Wait to Get Denied Before Finding an Attorney

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

It’s a popular urban myth that you should wait to get denied before hiring an attorney for your Social Security disability case. We are not sure where this idea comes from, because retaining an attorney during the initial application process may have many benefits.

Some people think that by waiting to retain an attorney, they can see whether they get awarded at the initial level, and save paying an attorney’s fee. We understand the reasoning, except that if your application is denied, you will probably have to wait a long time for your appeal to be decided. Currently, the wait is about eighteen months! So the question is: Would you rather pay an attorney’s fee at the beginning, and have a better chance of winning, or wait a long time for your case to be resolved on appeal?

And, since attorney’s fees are based upon the amount of past benefits you are owed after a favorable decision, the attorney’s fee is usually less at the beginning of a case than after an appeal.

Most important, though, is that a qualified attorney knows how an initial application should be drafted, and what specific opinions to obtain from your doctors to help prove your case. So, this about which alternative is better. While we can’t guarantee a favorable result, we file many application for clients at the initial level and secure awards for our clients.

Am I Entitled to Survivor’s Benefits/DIC/Widow’s Benefits?

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

Both Social Security and VA provide for survivor’s benefits. The requirements for these two programs are very different, however. For Social Security, if your spouse dies you may be entitled to a survivor’s benefit equal to one-half of your spouse’s benefit. The cause of death does not matter, you just have to apply for the benefit.

For VA, though, the cause of death has to related to a service-connected condition. Or, if the veteran was rated 100% or received Individual Unemployability (IU)for at least 10 years, the cause of death can be any reason. The ten year period is a strict requirement; missing it by a day disqualifies the spouse from this benefit. There are other rules that may result in survivor’s benefits, but they are not usually applicable. The VA survivor’s benefit is known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or DIC benefits.

An interesting wrinkle in DIC rules is that an application for Social Security survivor’s benefits is also considered as an application for DIC. This means that even if a surviving VA spouse does not specifically pursue VA, the spouse may possibly be awarded VA survivor’s benefits all the way back to the date of the Social Security survivor’s application. This is rarely the case, but sometimes these rules apply very favorably depending on the facts of the case.

If you have questions about Social Security survivor’s benefits or VA DIC benefits, please give us a call. We are here to help! http://friedmanfirmpc.com/contact/

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Disability Case?

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

The disability claims process for VA and Social Security is supposed to be easy enough for most people to figure out themselved. And, to be sure, you can file an application pretty easily on your own. But, the questions is: What should you write in your application? What should you submit to the government to support your claim? What, what, what?

Unfortunately, the claims process often has hidden problems that may affect your case if not stated precisely or supported properly. We know this from our experience working with VA and Social Security. Sometimes, just not using the right words can have an unintended effect on your case. It’s just the way it is — certain words mean certain things to the government — that they may not mean to you.

If you have questions about your case, feel free to contact us: http://friedmanfirmpc.com/contact/

IQ and Social Security Disability Benefits

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

Sometimes a client will have a lower IQ than normal and may be placed in Special Education Classes or have an Individual Education Plan. These are indications of an IQ that may entitle you to disability benefits – – especially if you also suffer from another medical condition that restricts your activities.

These cases are not straight-forward, and they are often denied by Social Security. Your attorney must obtain evidence to support not only a low enough IQ score, but also proof that it restricts the clients activities. For example, if the client holds down a full-time, regular job, without the employer being extra lenient on the client, it may be hard to prove an IQ disability.

If you have questions about low IQ cases, feel free to call us.

I Think VA is Waiting for Me to Die!

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

We hear this a lot of veterans– The VA is stalling so that I will die and they won’t have to pay my benefits. Well, this is something that people can argue about and never get it resolved. While there are certainly delays in the system — which may go on for years — we encourage veterans instead to determine whether there is anything they can do to speed up their claims. In other words, try to be proactive to get your claim resolved if you possibly can.

For example, recently we have found that not requesting a hearing at the Board of Veterans Appeals may shorten the time involved. This is because at present there are many more claims at the Board than judges to hear them. So, if you don’t request a hearing, the claim can be decided on the record.

If we feel that testimony from the veteran is needed, we can submit it in the form of s statement from the veteran. Another advantage of submitting a statement instead of having a hearing is that the veteran won’t have to testify.

What is effective to speed things up today, though, may not be effective next week or next month. The situation can change for the better if the VA hires more employees; or it can change for the worse if they don’t. In addition, every case is different. So, if you have questions about what might be best for your case, please contact us at 205-879-3033 or LifeHealth@FriedmanFirmPC.com. We are here to help.

VA and Social Security Partner Up

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

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have partnered to create a more cost efficient, secure way to help Veterans who apply for social security disability. This initiative is anticipated to significantly speed up the disability decisions for Veterans by allowing the SSA to access medical records electronically rather than through a manual process.

The Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) program gives the VA and participating community providers access to Veterans’ health information for purposes of treatment. Now, the SSA will have access to this program for purposes of processing benefits for Veterans and their dependents. 

This partnership is a step in the right direction to better assist our Veterans. 

Full Article Link: http://bit.ly/2fCPBbl 

Please feel free to contact our office at 1-800-728-0434 if you have any questions regarding Veterans Disability or Social Security Disability Law.