Have Questions About the Disability Claims Process for Social Security or Veterans Benefits? Check Out Our FAQs
Dealing with the disability application or appeals process always comes with plenty of questions. Whether your questions are about Social Security or VA Disability, here are some of the questions we hear the most at our Omaha law firm.
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Are RFC forms completed by my medical provider necessary for my case?
RFC refers to Residual Functional Capacity, which is an evaluation of your ability to consistently complete fundamental physical and mental tasks needed in the workplace. The form will take into account relevant issues, such as the impact your disability has on your ability to stand for long periods, sit, walk, retain training, or interact with people.
Obviously, the RFC form is crucial in the evaluation of your disability claim. In fact, it’s so important that if you don’t submit one, a consulting medical professional at Disability Determination Services will write one up for you on your behalf. DDS will work from your medical records, not an in-person examination.
Also, while the Disability Determination Services examiners and judges deciding your claim have a great deal of experience with medical records, they aren’t doctors, and can’t be expected to interpret medical records as reliably as a doctor would.
The compassionate and knowledgeable Omaha Social Security disability lawyers at Cuddigan Law understand how frustrating it is to receive a claim denial from the SSA. They can work with you to see if your treating medical provider will complete a RFC form to support your disability claim. If you need help, call us at 402-933-5405 today.
Also order your copy of our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.
May I Receive Unemployment Benefits While I Wait For My Social Security Claim to be Decided?
SSA's policy has been long been that the receipt of unemployment benefits is a factor to be considered in the disability decision but is not determinative of whether an individual can work. When an individual applies for unemployment benefits it is in effect a statement that individual can work but is unable to find a job. When an individual applies for disability it is a statement that the individual is unable to work.In August 2010, the Chief Judge of Social Security issued a memorandum telling the ALJs that the receipt of unemployment benefits is only one of many factors to be considered. Social Security's position is that a person need not choose between applying for disability and applying for unemployment benefits. The ruling is more subtle in application to individual cases as some ALJs use the reciept of unemployment to deny applications. However facts such as the physical demands of the jobs that an applicant is seeking, the age of the applicant and the efforts of the applicant to find work are relevant.You should seek the advice of an experienced disability lawyer to help answer these questions.
My adult son has autism and is unable to work full-time. Although my son has never worked, I was told that he can apply for SSDI benefits as a disabled adult child. What does the Social Security Administration’s mean by disabled adult child?
If your child is over 18 and unable to live independently or support himself because of a disability, you may have financial concerns. You may worry about meeting your child’s expenses during retirement. You may worry about the care of your child if something should happen to you.
Social Security Administration (SSA) allows some disabled adults to apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) based on a parent’s earning record. To qualify as a disabled adult child, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
- The applicant is over the age of 18.
- The applicant is unmarried.
- The applicant has a qualifying disability.
- The applicant became disabled before age 22.
- The applicant either has a parent who receives Social Security benefits (SSI or SSDI) for age or disability, or has a deceased parent that was receiving Social Security benefits at the time of death.
If your child has a qualifying disability and meets the definition of a disabled adult child, he will be eligible to receive monthly SSDI payments.
A qualifying disability is a condition or impairment that meets all of the following criteria:
- The disability began before age 22.
- The disability has lasted at least 12 months, or is expected to last for at least 12 months, or result in death.
- The disability prevents the applicant from performing substantial work for pay.
- The disability meets all the criteria for of a condition that is included in Social Security Administration’s Blue Book list of impairments or is equivalent in severity to a listed impairment or is unable to perform any work based his limitations
A child who qualifies for SSDI as a disabled adult child may receive benefits as long as he is unmarried. The benefits will be terminated if the child marries, but an exception may be made if a disabled adult child marries another disabled adult child.
Not sure if your child qualifies as a disabled adult child? He may be eligible for SSI or other benefits. Our Omaha disability attorneys can help you find the best option for your family. We’ll even help you through the application process.For a free case evaluation, contact the Nebraska Social Security lawyers at Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.
What does it mean when Social Security determines I can do light work?
Social Security defines light work as being able to lift 20 pounds and 10 pounds frequently. In order to perform light work you have to be able to stand and walk for six hours out of an eight hour day. When SSA decides that you can do light work this means SSA has determined that you have the residual functional capacity (RFC) for light work. Residual Functional Capacity(RFC) is the most you can do despite your limitations. If you are limited to light work and you are over age 55 and none of your past work this finding is helpful to you.
May I go to college while I wait for the decision on my disability claim?
Yes, however in order to be considered disabled, Social Security needs to find you would not be capable of performing your past work or any other work in the national economy. Obviously going to school is not the same thing as working. School is often less physically demanding than a job, and professors are often more accommodating than an employer. But attending college could still raise some questions about why you can’t work. For example, your statements that you have trouble carrying heavy objects, sitting for long periods of time, or issues with concentration could be questioned if you are sitting in class, carrying heavy books, and completing difficult coursework. If you think that going to school might help you train for a new career talk to Vocational Rehabilitation and advise your lawyer.
I applied for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) at the same time as an acquaintance. She is already receiving benefits while I am still waiting for a decision. Why do some people get their benefits faster?
In Nebraska, the average wait time for an initial decision on Social Security disability benefits is four months. If you are denied and request reconsideration it takes another two to three months for a decision. If you have to appeal and request a hearing it will take another 12 to 14 months for hearing.This doesn't mean that everyone will wait 18 months for a decision. There are several factors that determine how quickly you will get benefits after applying for Social Security disability.
Severity of the Disability
The first factor is the severity of the disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers faster processing for people with certain disabilities. People who qualify for Quick Disability Determination (QDD) or Compassionate Allowances (CAL) may receive benefits in as little as a week after applying.
CALs are available only to those with one of the 200 conditions approved by Congress for the Compassionate Allowance Program. These conditions include late stage cancers, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other conditions that are so severe that the SSA does not need a work history in order to make a decision about benefits. A decision can be made as soon as the SSA receives medical proof of the condition.
Quick Disability Determination uses a computer-model to screen all initial applications for cases where medical evidence is readily available and a favorable disability determination is likely. If the criteria for a QDD are met, then the application is sent to a special QDD examiner for review and an expedited decision. Unlike other cases, applications that qualify for QDD do not have to be reviewed by a medical consultant for approval. If your application is denied by the QDD examiner, it will be reviewed by a medical consultant and will go through the normal determination process.
The SSA also expedites disability decisions for terminal illness cases.
Completeness of Application
Another factor in the amount of time it will take to get a decision is the completeness of your application. It is very important that you fill out the application completely and provide all necessary supporting information. It only makes sense that your wait time will be longer if the SSA has to track down your doctor’s address in order to get your medical records, or if they can’t make a decision because you haven’t received a proper diagnosis.
If filling out paperwork and tracking down your medical records is a challenge, a Nebraska disability lawyer can help. The Omaha SSDI attorneys at Cuddigan Law have helped many applicants through the Nebraska SSDI application process, improving their chances of a positive decision. To learn more, request a free copy of our booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.
I am over age 50, and can't do my past work, will that help my case?
Social Security recognizes that as a person becomes older it can be more physically more difficult to perform other work. If you cannot do the type of work you have done in the past because of your physical and mental limitations, Social Security will determine whether there is any other type of work you could perform. Social Security considers several factors including your age,education, transferable skills from your past and your residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine whether you could perform another type of work. Social Security rules are more favorable if you are over age 50 (and even more so at age 55) when deciding whether you can adjust to other work. If you are over age 50 and cannot do the type of work you have done in the past, and are limited to" sedentary" work you could be found disabled even though a younger person with the same impairments might not be found disabled.If you are over age 55 and cannot do the type of work do the type of work your have done in the past and are limited to "light" work you could be found disabled. The other factor that is involved and has to be addressed is whether the job that you had in the past has transferable skills. If you have transferable skills that transfer to another that is less strenous and the same or lower skill level. If Social Secuirty makes a decision that you cannot do other work based only on physical limitations, age, education and transferablle skills then this is called a Medical-Vocational decision.
My back hurts a lot, but my doctor can’t find a reason why. Can I get disability benefits for back pain without a known cause?
According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, back pain is the second leading cause of lost workdays.
There are many possible causes of back pain. These include aging, disease, traumatic injury, over-exertion, stress, repetitive motions, and poor posture. Back pain can be a symptom of muscle strain, osteoarthritis, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or nerve damage. Sometimes, back pain has no obvious cause, but most pain can be traced to a general cause (such as overexertion) or a specific condition (such as osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease).
Risk Factors for Back Pain:
- Poor physical fitness
- Sedentary work
- Heavy physical labor
When you apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) for back pain, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will want medical documentation showing the cause of your symptoms. It is unlikely that you will be approved for benefits without medical evidence of injury, physical damage, or abnormality.
There are two reasons for this:
- In order to receive SSDI benefits, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year. A doctor cannot provide a prognosis when he doesn’t know the cause of your pain.
- Pain levels are subjective. Your pain may seem severe to you, but the Social Security Administration cannot evaluate your disability claim based on your word alone. There must be some type of medical documentation of your condition.
If you have persistent back pain that prevents you from working, it is important that you get a good diagnosis. If your doctor cannot find a cause for your pain, ask him to refer you to a specialist. Once you have a diagnosis, you will be able to seek treatment or apply for SSDI.
For more information about the SSDI application process in Nebraska, request a free copy of our booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case. To speak to a Lincoln SSDI lawyer for a free case evaluation, contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 or email [email protected] We meet clients by appointment at 3800 Normal Boulevard, Ste 201, Lincoln, NE 68506
Does Social Security award partial disability or short-term disability programs?
No. Other government programs, such as the Veteran’s Affairs or Worker’s Compensation, handle disability on a percentage basis. Social Security does not do this. You will either be found disabled or not disabled. Many private insurers offer short-term disability, however Social Security does not make that distinction. To qualify for Social Security disability, your impairment must last at least 12 months.
I have stage-4 bladder cancer. Someone suggested that I apply for SSDI under the Compassionate Allowance Program. What is the Compassionate Allowance Program?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) realizes that some disabilities are so severe that a person may not have months to wait for a decision on benefits. The Compassionate Allowance Program provides faster application processing for applicants with certain severe disabilities. Applicants who are approved for the Compassionate Allowance Program can receive a decision within weeks of providing medical documentation of their diagnosis. Ideally, applicants are able to receive benefits within a month.
To qualify for fast-track processing through the Compassionate Allowances Program, an applicant must have one of the 200 compassionate allowance conditions. These conditions include late-stage cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, some types of muscular dystrophy, and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Bladder cancer can qualify for a compassionate allowance if the applicant has documentation of any of the following:
- The bladder cancer is inoperable.
- The bladder cancer cannot be completely removed, even by surgery.
- The cancer has spread to other parts of the body or distant lymph nodes.
Qualifying for a compassionate allowance is not enough to guarantee benefits. Your claim forms must be properly filled out, and you must provide the SSA with your complete medical records. For this reason, it may be a good idea to consult with an Omaha SSDI attorney before submitting your application.
For more information about how our Omaha disability lawyers can help you, request a free copy of our booklet, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405.