Good News about a Cost of Living Increase

Good News from the Social Security Administration:

There’s been a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits in 2015! The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 58 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2015. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2014. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More good news! There will be no increase in the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium for 2015!
Learn more at http://www.medicare.gov/your-medicare-costs/costs-at-a-glance/costs-at-glance.html

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

We have had clients that have been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. What is CRPS?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet), usually after an injury or trauma to that limb. CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to, or malfunction of, the peripheral and central nervous systems. The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system involves nerve signaling from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. CRPS is characterized by prolonged or excessive pain and mild or dramatic changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the affected area. (Source)

Here is a video further explaining CRPS and the effects on the people that suffer from the same.

While CRPS is not a listing in and of itself with Social Security, it can cause significant limitations to your ability to work.
Here is a link to a 2003 Social Security Ruling about CRPS. Generally, persons suffering from CRPS will have an emotional component to their case, as these debilitating diseases often cause depression as well.

As always, please contact an attorney for legal advice or with any questions you may have about applying for disability. This post is not intended to be legal advice

Initiative for expedited process for Veterans with 100% VA Disability

While Social Security Ruling 06-03p states that Disability Determinations of other agencies are not binding on the Social Security Administration, this is very helpful news:
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, along with Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) today unveiled a new initiative to expedite disability claims by veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T). Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from Wounded Warriors.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and it is only right that we ensure they have timely access to the disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “Social Security worked with Veterans Affairs to identify those veterans with disabilities who have a high probability of also meeting our definition of disability. I am proud of our collaboration and happy to announce this new service for America’s vets.”

In order to receive the expedited service, veterans must tell Social Security they have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter.

The VA rating only expedites Social Security disability claims processing and does not guarantee an approval for Social Security disability benefits. These veterans must still meet the strict eligibility requirements for a disability allowance.

Social Security plans to launch the expedited process in mid-March.

For information about this service, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability-pt.htm.

For more about Social Security’s handling of Wounded Warrior’s disability claims, please visit
www.socialsecurity.gov/woundedwarriors.

My Firm

This website is primarily where I write about my Social Security practice. However, Jebaily Law Firm practices Workers Compensation law (helping injured workers), automobile accident and car wreck law (also known as “personal injury law”), family law, criminal law, and probate law. There are times when a client needs all areas of our practice. It is not uncommon that someone may get injured in a car accident that is not his or her fault, while on the job, and become permanently disabled. Sometimes, that renders them unable to pay child support and takes a real toll on their life.

While that is a worst case scenario, our firm has the resources to help a client when it seems like everything is going wrong. You may have more than one attorney working on your case. In those situations, the different attorneys work together and coordinate to bring you the best result for your case. This is why we ask you to let us know everything that is going on with you when you come in– every detail!

Social Security is still open during the shutdown…

However, expect delays. Social Security is open, but not operating at full staff. Those that are working are doing their best, and we all have to be patient right now.

From NY Daily News:

BENEFIT PAYMENTS
“Social Security and Medicare benefits continue to be paid out, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. The Social Security Administration is also delaying the announcement of the size of next year’s cost-of-living adjustment, which was supposed to come out on Oct. 16. Unemployment benefits are also still going out.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/shutdown-impact-13-days-federal-government-closed-affects-felt-man-article-1.1484061#ixzz2hkzye7Jj

South Carolina ALJ Statistics

The majority of my cases are in the Columbia, SC Social Security office, though I also have many in the Charleston office. The Pee Dee Region is predominantly handled by one of those two offices.

According to disabilityjudges.com, the average hearing wait time for the Columbia office is now 14 months from the date you request a hearing (not the date you initially apply)>. That is actually faster than it has been for the past few years. Greenville and Charleston are a little faster at 12 months.

The website also has the approval ratings of specific judges. Each judge has a different approval rating. That means that some judges approve more or less cases than others. There is no way to control the judge you are assigned. One of the things that is important to me is preparing your case for the specific judge assigned to hear the case. Each judge has a different way they want information prepared, and we work hard to make sure that you are properly prepared before you step foot in the hearing room.

Currently, the Columbia office has 5339 cases pending and EIGHT judges. You can see why it is such a long process when you see how many cases one office is processing!

Sedentary jobs and your back

Sitting all day at a desk can be bad for you physically. I was on the Washington University School of Medicine Web Site and found this “At your desk Exercise Manager.” I have it on my computer and so far and am enjoying it. It reminds me to stretch at certain intervals throughout the work day and even gives me examples of good stretches. Even if you don’t do the recommended stretch, it is a good reminder to stand up and move around. I am emailing it to my office as law firms tend to be sedentary in nature.

NOSSCR Conference

I just returned from the Spring NOSSCR Conference in Baltimore. I heard some great speakers, talked to employees of the Social Security Administration, and met other disability lawyers from across the country. This is a great conference with a lot of information poured into four days.

I also fell in love with Baltimore! What an absolutely wonderful city. We had some great meals, great shopping, and even a night out in DC.

Any lawyer that is starting to do Social Security Disability cases, or even if you have for a while– you should join NOSSCR. It is a great resource!