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.)

990,399

That is how many cases behind the Social Security Administration is behind according to this article in the Washington Post.

I often have clients that NEED their case moved faster. I WANT to move cases faster– I would be happy to move them faster. Unfortunately, there is little that we can do to make this happen. Currently, Columbia is ranked 139 out of 163 in processing time for cases with an average of 502 days. (The Columbia office covers a lot of the Pee Dee area including Dillon, Florence, Darlington, Sumter, Clarendon, Bennetsville, Chesterfield, Marion, Kershaw, etc.) Greenville Office is ranked 151 and the Charleston office is ranked 73. (Source: NOSSCR Volume 36, Number 10; November 2014).

While we can file a dire need request in the most serious of circumstances, that can only be filed once a hearing has been requested. Sadly, many clients get sicker as they wait for a hearing. Some clients even die as the hearing approaches. Many can not afford medicine or medical treatment. It is truly a sad situation.

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.

Webinar on “Ticket to Work”

Many of my clients are curious about attempting to work while receiving disability benefits or while applying for disability benefits.  Each situation must be analyzed on a case by case basis, and I ask that my clients call me when they are contemplating this so that we can discuss the regulations.  There is an upcoming webinar by the Social Security Administration’s  on February 26th called “Ticket to Work: Free Support Services for People Who Have a Disability and Are Ready to Work.” Learn about it and register here.

 

(For further information, attorney Gordon Gates has written a blog post on Trial Work that provides some useful information as well.)

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!

Breakdown of Approvals and Denials in 2012

The chart below is a helpful breakdown of exactly what happened with applications for Social Security Disability in 2012. Of all the initial applications, 33% were approved and 67% were denied. Of those that were denied that went through with asking for reconsideration– only 12% were allowed while a whopping 88% were denied– making reconsideration the toughest point to win a favorable decision. Following the denial at reconsideration, those applicants that appealed again were asking for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. That is the first time the Claimant was actually in front of a judge and allowed to answer questions about his or her disability. At that level, 52% were allowed, 16% were dismissed, and 32% were denied. The nest step within the Social Security Administration is to appeal to Appeals Council. That is the final administrative appeal before one must file a civil action in Federal Court. At the appeals council level, only 2% were approved, while 18% were remanded back to the ALJ, 4% were dismissed and 77% were denied.

I will post the 2013 statistics later. (Click the image to enlarge.)

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!