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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  • I am applying for SSDI for peripheral artery disease (PAD). What are some of the medical tests that the Social Security (SSA) will require?

    Heart disease is one of the leading reasons why people apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). Many heart conditions are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments under Section 4.00, Cardiovascular System. Severe Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) may limit an individual's ability to walk or climb stairs.

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses these criteria in these listings to determine if an applicant is eligible to receive SSDI.  In many cases, test results are necessary to determine the severity of peripheral artery disease.

    Common tests include:

    • Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) – The exercise tolerance test is used to measure the heart’s performance during exertion. A patient is instructed to walk on a treadmill or ride a bike while the doctor records the activity of the heart using an electrocardiogram (ECG). The ETT is often used to determine the severity of ischemic heart disease or chronic heart failure. ETT are used to provide objective evidence of the functional limits of PAD.
    • Doppler test – The Doppler test uses ultrasound to observe blood flow in the legs as a patient walks on a treadmill. This helps doctors diagnose areas with reduced blood flow and potential blood clots. A Doppler test may be required for SSDI applicants with peripheral vascular or peripheral arterial disease, or with chronic heart failure.

     

    Exercise tests may be dangerous for those with severe heart conditions..Social Security will not order these tests if it will put your health in jeopardy.

    Do you have additional questions about SSDI for heart conditions or about the SSDI application process? Find the answers in our free brochure, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and ask for free evaluation with an Omaha disability benefits lawyer.

  • What are some of the medical tests that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine severity for SSDI applicants?

    Heart disease is one of the leading reasons why people apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). Many heart conditions are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book Listing of Impairments under Section 4.00, Cardiovascular System.

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses these criteria in these listings to determine if an applicant is eligible to receive SSDI.  SSA will not pay for tests. It is solely up to your doctor to determine what tests are approriate to diagnose and treat  you condition.In many cases, test results are necessary to determine the severity of the of the heart condition.

    Common tests include:

    • Exercise Tolerance Test (ETT) – The exercise tolerance test is used to measure the heart’s performance during exertion. A patient is instructed to walk on a treadmill or ride a bike while the doctor records the activity of the heart using an electrocardiogram (ECG). The ETT is often used to determine the severity of ischemic heart disease or chronic heart failure.
    • Doppler test – The Doppler test uses ultrasound to observe blood flow in the legs as a patient walks on a treadmill. This helps doctors diagnose areas with reduced blood flow and potential blood clots. A Doppler test may be required for SSDI applicants with peripheral vascular or peripheral arterial disease, or with chronic heart failure.

     

    Exercise tests may be dangerous for those with severe heart conditions. Your doctor will determine what tests are right for you.

    Do you have additional questions about SSDI for heart conditions or about the SSDI application process? Find the answers in our free brochure, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and free evlauation with an Omaha disability benefits lawyer.

  • What are the most common heart conditions that qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

    Your heart’s job is to pump blood through the body. When the heart can’t pump blood effectively, cells begin to die and organs (such as the brain, lungs, and liver) may become damaged or even shut down.

    Heart disease is one of the common reasons that people apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). The most common heart conditions are:

     

    1. Arteriosclerosis – Arteriosclerosis is a term used to describe the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries. The term refers to several conditions, including atherosclerosis, that occur when fats and cholesterol accumulate on the artery walls. The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to narrow. Arteriosclerosis can be treated, but it is not usually diagnosed until the arteries become too narrow to supply enough blood the heart or the brain. Symptoms include chest pain, numbness or weakness in the legs or arms, difficulty speaking, drooping face muscles, leg pain, high blood pressure, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction. Arteriosclerosis can cause heart attack, and stroke. It is the underlying cause of many other heart conditions.

     

    1. Coronary Artery Disease – When arteriosclerosis restricts blood to the heart, the heart is then deprived of oxygen. The heart will slow down or even stop. Symptoms of coronary artery disease may include angina (chest pain), fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.

     

    1. Congestive Heart Failure – If the heart slows down too much to provide the body with adequate oxygen, the organs will begin to fail. Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when damage from the lack of oxygen affects the kidneys’ ability to remove excess salt and water from the body. These fluids build up in the tissues, especially in the lungs and in the heart. Symptoms of CHF include fatigue, water retention, shortness of breath, sleep interruptions, nausea, abdominal pain, and increased urination. CHF affects 20 percent of Americans over the age of 40.

     

    1. Aneurysm – An aneurysm occurs when there is damage or weakness in the blood vessel walls. Blood collects in the area and causes a bulge called an aneurism. If the bulge ruptures, it may cause fatal bleeding. The symptoms depend on where the aneurysm is located. Patients with an aneurysm must be careful and avoid over exertion that could cause a rupture.

     

    Having a heart condition does not automatically qualify an applicant for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). One must either meet the criteria outlined in section 4.00 of the Social Security Administration’s listing of impairments or be unable to perform their past work and perhaps all other work in the economy.

    Many people who qualify for SSDI for heart disease are denied the first time they apply. This is not because they don’t qualify, but because they have not provided all the documentation needed to support a disability claim.

    Our Nebraska disability lawyers can help. To learn more, request a free copy of our brochure, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim, or contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and ask to schedule a free evaluation with an experienced Omaha SSDI attorney.

  • I have breast cancer. Why was I denied Social Security disability benefits?

    If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be surprised to learn that you don’t automatically qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that all applicants for SSDI and SSI meet the following criteria:

    • An applicant must earn no more than $1,040 per month from work.
    • The applicant must have a severe medical condition that interferes with basic work activity.
    • The disabling condition must be expected to last at least 12 months, or result in death.

     

    When breast cancer is detected early, aggressive treatment can lead to the remission of the disease within a relatively short period of time. Many women with breast cancer do not qualify for SSDI or SSI because their condition is not expected to last more than a few months. The SSA is likely to reject any benefit claims for Stages 0, I, and II breast cancer.

    The SSA does recognize that breast cancer can be a severe impairment; breast cancer is included in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments. In order for an applicant to receive SSDI or SSI for breast cancer, the cancer must meet at least one of the following criteria:

    • The breast cancer is locally advanced and extends into the skin, the muscle, or the chest wall.
    • The breast cancer involves multiple lymph nodes.
    • The breast cancer includes tumors that are greater than 5 mm in diameter.
    • The breast cancer is inflammatory.
    • The breast cancer that has spread to at least 10 underarm lymph nodes or to lymph nodes above or below the collarbone.
    • The breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
    • You cancer is recurrent and does not respond to treatment.

     

    Patients with stage IV breast cancer may automatically qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance Program.

    Sometimes women who are eligible for SSDI benefits for breast cancer are rejected even when they meet the qualifications for approval. These rejections are often due to inadequate documentation of the disability.

    A knowledgeable Omaha disability benefits lawyer can help. Learn more in our free brochure, Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim.

    For a free evaluation with a compassionate Omaha Social Security disability lawyer, contact Cuddigan Law today at 402-933-5405.

  • What is the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance program?

    No matter what your disability, applying for Social Security benefits takes time. Even if you fill out your application completely and provide all necessary medical documentation and supporting information, the application process will still take three to six months or longer. If you have a serious illness, you may not have six months to wait for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) understands. They allow applicants with certain serious medical conditions to receive expedited approval for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Compassionate Allowance program.

    The Compassionate Allowances program is only available to applicants who have a medical diagnosis listed on the SSA’s list of Compassionate Allowance conditions.  This list includes only medical conditions that are so serious that a diagnosis is enough to qualify an applicant for SSI or SSDI.  Some of the conditions that qualify for Compassionate Allowances include ALS, some types of muscular dystrophy, some cancers, early-onset Alzheimer's disease, liver failure, advanced kidney disease and many other conditions.

    If you have one of the 200 medical conditions that have been designated a Compassionate Allowance, the SSA will approve you for disability benefits based only on your medical records. If your medical records show you meet the medical criteria on the Compassionate Allowance list, you will automatically be approved for benefits. Many applicants receive a decision within a few weeks of application. However, the decision cannot be made until your medical records are submitted. But, even partial records may be enough to fast track your application.

    Do you have additional questions about SSI or SSDI in Nebraska? Browse our website or request a copy of our free brochure, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.  If you would like to discuss your own situation, contact Cuddigan Law at 402-933-5405 and ask to schedule a free evaluation with an Omaha disability benefits lawyer.

  • May I contiune to work while I wait for Social Security to make a decision on my disability claim?

    Social Security follows a sequential evaluation in making decisions on disability claims. Step one of the sequential evaluation is determining whether an individual is engaging in substantial gainful acitivity(SGA). In 2013, SGA for a non-blind individual,  is having more than $1040 per month in earnings. When an individual is actually engaging in SGA , Social Security makes a finding that the individual is not under a disability without consideration of either medical or vocational factors. In other words if you are making more than $1040 per month, Social Security makes a decision that you are not disabled without every looking your medical evidence.

  • If I receive Social Security disability benefits, at what point will my benefits switch to regular Social Security?

    When you reach full retirement age your disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits. The amount will stay the same.

  • How is the amount of an individual's Social Security disability benefit calculated?

    The amount of your Social Security disability benefits is based on your age and your average earnings during your work career. You can obtain an estimate of the amount of your disability benefits from the Social Security website or call your local Social Security office.

  • What is reconsideration?

    If you have received an initial denial of your disability claim and feel the decision is incorrect, you should file a Request for Reconsideration.This is the second step in the administrative process. It is important to timely appeal the denial of your claim. The deadline to file the appeal is usually 60 days from date of the decision. A request for reconsideration can be filed online or by filing a paper form or by an attorney in their office.

  • What is the definition of disability used by Social Security?

    Under the Social Security Act, "disability" means "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months."