Social Security to increase in 2017

It will be a small increase, but it IS an increase!

According to a USA Today report, there will be a 0.2% increase in Social Security benefits in 2017.

The small increase in Social Security next year — which equals an extra $2 for someone getting a $1,000 monthly check — would come after retirees got no increase in Social Security benefits in 2016 for the third time in four decades.The final COLA figure is typically not determined until the fall.

While we wish we could see a larger number for those struggling to get by on their benefits, hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

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Update for Pee Dee Area Disability Applicants

Historically, my Pee Dee area disability applicants have all been through the Columbia, SC ODAR office. This means that although you may have applied for Social Security disability in Florence, SC, the judges were actually headquartered in Columbia. We recently underwent a major change and were switched to the Charleston, SC ODAR office. It has meant there has been a delay in pending hearings but I am happy to report that hearings now appear to be moving along in scheduling.

Here is data about all of the South Carolina offices:

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 11.59.04 AM

As you can see- the average HEARING wait time is 15 months. That does not include the time from the time you apply, get denied, ask for reconsideration, get denied. It is from the time you ask for a hearing after your second denial. This is a long and difficult process!

We look forward to this change and working with the Charleston judges even more than we were before. If you have any questions about applying for disability in any area of South Carolina please call Rangeley at 843-667-0400 or (843) 900-6LAW or email rbaileyATjebailylaw.com at any time. Thank you!

handicap key

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Pass 62 at Florence School District One

I thought this was good information for Florence disability clients as well as those older than 62:

The PASS 62 allows senior citizens, 62 years of age and over, as well as totally disabled persons, to attend district athletic, choral, and drama events (except the Football Jamboree, post-season play, and fundraisers) free of charge. It also provides the cardholder the opportunity to eat lunch at the elementary school in cardholder’s attendance zone for the current adult lunch price. The PASS 62 is non-transferable, and does not expire.

More information here.

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Disability for Migraine Sufferers

As a person that suffers from chronic migraines, I understand all too well how disabling this can be. However, it is not easy to get disability based on migraines alone. Frequently claimants have chronic headaches, which is not the same as migraines. If you are able to take over the counter medicine and have a headache resolve, it is unlikely it reaches the severity of an actual migraine.

There is not a listing for migraines in the SSA rules. The ALJ would have to look at your residual functional capacity, your medical records, and consider your testimony in making a decision. Further, a Q and A by Social Security states “Under our general policy, you cannot establish the existence of any MDI (Medically Determinable Impairment) based solely on a diagnosis in the evidence or on a claimant’s reported symptoms. There must be clinical signs or laboratory findings to support the finding. A diagnosis of migraine headaches requires a detailed description from a physician of a typical headache event (intense headache with more than moderate pain and with associated migraine characteristics and phenomena) that includes a description of all associated phenomena; for example, premonitory symptoms, aura, duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, and effects of treatment.”

Certain things the ALJ will be looking for:

— Emergency room or urgent care visits for migraines that won’t respond to recovery medicines (generally triptan medicines)
— CT Scans or EEG
— preventative meds such as topomax, elavil, depakote, etc.
— headache journal documenting the days you would be unable to work from symptoms or occurences, as well as the time you would be considered “Off task”
— a pattern of headache events

Listing 11.03 for non-convulsive epilepsy is somewhat instructive in how the ALJ will review your migraines. In this Listing it states: 1) Documented by detailed description of a typical headache event pattern 2) Including all associated phenomena (ie: permonitroy symptoms, aura, duration, intensity, accompanying symptoms, treatment. 3) occurring more than once weekly and 4) with alteration of awareness and 5) significant interference with activity during the day (ie: need for darkened room, lying down without moving, sleep disturbance that impacts daily activities)

I see many claimants that claim that a pain medication that is for their back or other body part is also being used for their headaches. Narcotics are generally not the first line of defense for migraines, a whole other class of drugs are used. Should you wish to hire me as your attorney, I will review your treatment and medical history to see if it accurately depicts migraines.

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Hearing Wait Times

Here is a link to the average wait time for a Social Security Hearing. Keep in mind these times are calculated from the day you ask for a hearing- not the day you first apply for benefits. Requesting a hearing happens after you apply the first time, wait, then if denied you request reconsideration, wait, THEN if denied you request a hearing. Columbia, SC has a wait time of 16 months currently. Charleston, SC is 14 months. Greenville is 16 months.

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What PTSD Really Looks Like

This photo series about what PTSD Really Looks Like to our veterans… is haunting and heartbreaking.

We must do better for those that serve and protect us.

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Resources when you are applying for Disability

Many of our clients in Florence and the surrounding areas struggle while they wait for a disability hearing. I talked about this in a prior post titled “SC needs more free and reduced medical clinics.” As a follow up, Dillon, SC now HAS a free medical clinic that has greatly benefited our clients!

Hope Health and Mercy Medicine continue to serve Florence and CareSouth is another great resource in the surrounding areas.

Listing of providers:
Hopehealth, Inc. (many locations in the Pee Dee)
Location: Florence, SC – 29506-2851
Contact Phone: 843-667-9414

Mercy Medicine Clinic
Location: Florence, SC – 29501
Contact Phone: 843-667-9947

Dillon County Free Clinic
310 East Washington Street, Dillon, SC 29536
(843) 774-4243

Care South (Many locations in the Pee Dee)

Also don’t forget these resources:

SC Commission for the blind
SC Autism Society
Florence County Disabilities and Special Needs
Pee Dee Speech and Hearing
SC Office on Aging
SC Brain Injury Association

(I will continue to update this post!)

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SC Disability Law Facebook Page

Please “Like” our facebook page!

We also have a website with even more resources!

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How to Apply for Social Security Disability in South Carolina

We meet with many people before they even apply for disability. They have questions about quitting work, the time they will be without income, and how the process works. I am always happy to sit down and discuss the details– even if you have not yet applied for disability.

When it is time to apply for disability, you have a few options. You can apply online through the Social Security Administration here.

You can also apply by phone: By phone – Call us at 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call us at TTY 1-800-325-0778.

You can also go to your local Social Security office. If you live in Dillon, Darlington, Marion, and surrounding areas you apply at the Florence Office. The Florence office is listed below.
Social Security Office Information
Address: 181 DOZIER BLVD
FLORENCE, SC 29501
Phone: 1-888-385-1173
TTY: 1-843-667-6571
Hours:
Monday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

If you live in Loris, Conway, and surrounding areas, your office is:
Social Security Office Information
Address: 1316 3RD AVE
CONWAY, SC 29526
Phone: 1-888-577-6601
TTY: 1-800-325-0778
Hours:
Monday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

(If you need to look up where your local office is, please use this link.)

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Proving Epilepsy

We seem to have more than a few clients that suffer from epilepsy. Social Security has two listings that define how epilepsy can be disabling.

    ONE

11.02 Epilepsy – convulsive epilepsy, (grand mal or psychomotor), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once a month, in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With:

A. Daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures) or

B. Nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the day.

AND

    TWO

11.03 Epilepsy – nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor, or focal), documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern including all associated phenomena, occurring more frequently than once weekly in spite of at least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With alteration of awareness or loss of consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior or significant interference with activity during the day.

Epilepsy is especially difficult to prove if you don’t continue to get medical documentation to support the number of seizures you have. We gather all the medical records as well as attempt to get your doctor to fill out a Medical Source Statement. In many cases we will also gather letters from your family, friends, and former coworkers substantiating your case.

(Rangeley C. Bailey is an attorney at Jebaily Law Firm, PA in Florence, SC. Please do not see this as legal advice, but feel free to contact me to set up a free consultation for Social Security Disability claim.)

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