The Social Security Administration has added 52 new conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances. The additions include neurological disorders, cancers, and rare diseases.
Recently, we were able to secure Social Security Disability benefits for our client with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, or POTS. Based on the medical records and a written submission, benefits were awarded without the need for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
Administrative Law Judges for the Social Security Administration are tasked with determining the credibility of claimants who come before them seeking disability benefits. In other words, they are responsible for deciding if a claimant is lying or exaggerating their symptoms in order to get disability benefits.
Starting a new job usually includes a review of the benefits plan with a human resources representative. The summary sheets give a broad overview of health and dental plans, life insurance and short- and long-term disability insurance. Most of the time, that's the last time the employee thinks about those benefits -- until he needs them.
Social Security claims are generally premised on physical disability such as back pain or migraine headaches, but the loss of a sense such as seeing or hearing is just as disabling.
Wisconsin workers who suffer from severe workplace injuries or other disabling medical conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Disability benefits are available as a type of insurance benefit for workers that have paid into the national disability insurance system and are no longer able to work due to a disability. Supplemental Security Income benefits are similar to disability benefits and available to individuals with short or nonexistent work histories.
At a time when disabled individual's are waiting months, and sometimes years, to appear before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing on their application for Social Security Disability benefits, it is imperative that the ALJ's consider all the evidence and make sound decisions. When an Administrative Law Judge fails to properly consider the evidence however, an appeal is necessary.
In this case, the claimant had a hearing in Madison before an Administrative Law Judge. She was a 51-year old woman with less than a high school education. Her past relevant work experience was as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Her disability primarily resulted from neuropathy in her feet and legs, which made it difficult for her to walk, requiring regular use of a cane and exposed her to the risk of falling. She also had a mental impairment that affected her memory and speech, and on occasion resulted in episodes where she blacked out but did not lose consciousness. According to Social Security's definitions, the claimant was also considered obese.
The Administrative Law Judge heard testimony not only from the claimant but from Medical and Vocational experts. The vocational expert testified that the claimant's restrictions and limitations, especially the use of a cane would preclude work above a sedentary level. Social Security's guidelines dictate that an individual of the claimant's age without a high school education restricted to sedentary work is considered disabled. The Administrative Law Judge however, declared that the claimant was capable of light work, without providing support in the record for his conclusion, and denied benefits.
With the help of Attorney Jennifer Allen, the claimant filed an appeal of the ALJ's decision, identifying the many missteps taken by the ALJ to deny the claimant's benefits. The Appeals Council reviewed the claimant's case and determined that the ALJ had not properly considered all elements of the claimant's conditions and resultant restrictions and limitations. Rather than remand the case back to Madison however, the Appeals Council reversed the ALJ's decision, issued a fully favorable decision, and awarded the claimant her benefits, resulting in almost 4 years of past due benefits. This successful appeal is just another reason why disabled individuals should contact an attorney when applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
As discussed previously in this blog, Compassionate Allowances Conditions are those medical conditions where the nature of the disease or condition meets the statutory standard for disability. A claimant with a diagnosis of a Compassionate Allowance conditions benefits from a quicker decision and award of benefits. These types of claims are "fast-tracked" for a decision.
Investigations into Social Security Disability fraud are important because investigations help reexamine who should properly receive disability benefits. People who are not legally entitled to receive Social Security Disability but still receive benefits harm the system for people in Wisconsin and elsewhere who legitimately need disability benefits. One man who lives as an "adult baby" has recently been cleared of Social Security Disability Income fraud.
During our last post, we wrote about how thousands of Americans are incorrectly reported as dead to the Social Security Administration. The mistaken death reports, though made innocently, have a real and detrimental impact on those who receive Social Security Disability Income and other federal benefits. Last time we also spoke about the story of one woman who was mistakenly reported as dead, and this time we will talk about what can be done if the same thing happens to you.