Wonderful News!

Social Security has done away with the “Secret ALJ Rule”. This rule kept representatives from knowing who the ALJ would be– sometimes until we walked in the hearing room. There were many reasons that I disliked this rule, but primarily because I could not adequately prepare my clients for what to expect from the ALJ.

We will now go back to knowing who our ALJ is prior to the hearing. This is really a win for Claimants, because they deserve to be given the chance to know what the particular ALJ will be expecting.

Alternative therapies and medicine

I’m fascinated by this article about alternative therapies. While the Social Security administration doesn’t put much credence in alternative therapies, this article shows how the medical community is beginning to embrace alternative therapies.

These statistics are fascinating:

At Regional’s three-year-old Center for Health and Healing, clients attend an eight-week mind-body program to learn proper breathing, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis and more to reduce stress, fatigue and pain and improve sleep and mood, says manager Hunter Mahon. And three-quarters of those who have attended reported a benefit, she says.
Nearly 100 Michelin employees have gone through the program, said Jim West, manager of employee life services for the company, which contracts with Regional to provide the service. And as reported by the employees, anger and hostility were down 54 percent, depression and anxiety were reduced by 45 percent, and fatigue had declined by 33 percent, he says.

I do think there is a valid role of alternative therapy in testimony. I usually ask claimants “what other things do you do to manage your pain?” Most respond with heating pads, hot showers, ice packs, etc. I don’t see a downside to answering that you get a massage, do yoga or practice meditation and deep breathing exercises. It shows a commitment to trying to find a pain free life.

Alternative medical treatment that is doctor prescribed will be more helpful in your case. Social Security prefers hard medical evidence. Unfortunately, they don’t give much weight to chiropractic care or other forms of alternative medicine. If your doctor prescribes it and you follow through, that will help your case more.

I recently had a client that had done a lot of research and was self treating with herbs and supplements. Not only can that be dangerous, it will not be persuasive to the judge.

The best course of action is to talk through these things with your lawyer and consider how to best present them at your hearing.

(This post and all posts on this blog are intended to generate thought and discussion and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Please contact an attorney in your state for further assistance.)

Complicated cases

I just received notice of award in what was a very complicated case. My client, his family and I have worked together very closely for the past two years. His case was actually approved by an attorney with the Social Security Administration and after much conversation and research we made the choice to proceed to a hearing.

We needed an earlier onset date than the attorney was able to give. My client knew that if he took the onset date he received a sure thing in SSI. However, we all believed that the case was one that warranted regular Social Security disability.

It was a hard fought case and receiving the Notice of Award was one of the best feelings I have had this year!

Preparing for your Social Security Hearing

When I first started practicing Social Security law, I found Gordon Gates Blog. His blog has been an enormous help to me, and I have discovered other Social Security sites through him. Mr. Gates has recently written an e-book for his clients, “Ten Steps to Prepare for Your Social Security Hearing.” I printed it out and read it over the weekend, and I am so impressed. This e-book explains to clients exactly what the Social Security process entails, and breaks it down into easy to understand steps.

Mr. Gates gives this book to his clients and now you can also download a copy, with no cost or obligation. I have a copy and believe that it will be helpful in my own practice. It is a very nice outline that explains to a client not only how to prepare, but what to expect. I have found that clients fear is generally rooted in their fear of the unknown, and hopefully this guide will alleviate those concerns.

Here is a direct link to the .pdf document.