Roeschke Law, LLC discusses how to avoid the most common mistakes when applying for social security benefits.

Avoiding Common Mistakes Regarding Social Security Disability Benefits

Q: Why Should I Hire a Disability Benefits Attorney?

“How does my disability impact my work life?” That’s a question Arizona disability lawyers handle daily in determining how to help people who have been disabled through illness or accident apply for Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) when they can no longer work. 

Applying for disability benefits is a complex process. There are many common mistakes people make when applying for benefits without the assistance of a skilled disability benefits attorney. A significant percentage of initial applications are denied often for reasons that could’ve been prevented if an experienced attorney was involved in the application process. Fortunately, even if an initial application is denied, an attorney can help with appealing the denial of benefits. 

What qualifies for Social Security Benefits?

There are many qualifying physical and mental impairments that are recognized as conditions that may warrant awarding Social Security disability benefits. These conditions are listed in the Social Security Administration’s so-called “Blue Book”, which is organized by specific body systems and divided into adult and childhood disability assessments.

But having a disability benefits application approved is not as simple as obtaining a doctor’s note that says the applicant is suffering from a particular Blue Book diagnosis. Many other factors can impact the outcome of the application or appeal including:

  • the severity of the condition 
  • how long it has lasted or is expected to last
  • whether the applicant has followed the doctor’s medical advice and/or continued treatment
  • whether the applicant can perform or be trained to perform any other type of work
  • whether the applicant has worked and earned the required number of work credits

An experienced Social Security disability benefits attorney knows how to make an application or appeal stronger, maximizing the chance that benefits may be granted. 

Sometimes Social Security disability benefits are permanent and other times they are temporary. Sometimes an applicant’s condition will improve to the point of them wanting to attempt a return to work. There are systems in place that may allow someone receiving Social Security disability benefits to return to the workforce on a trial basis without jeopardizing their benefits. It is particularly important to consult with an experienced disability benefits attorney before attempting a return to the workforce to avoid jeopardizing existing benefits. 

One young woman, stricken in her early 20s with severe food poisoning suffered bladder and bowel failure that left her with two stomas after her bladder and colon had to be removed. An ileostomy to her small intestine and urostomy to her urinary system were needed to collect stool and urine in separate bags protruding from her abdomen. She reportedly was “homebound” and in extreme physical pain for many years. The condition not only impacted her work life but also her love life as her physical condition reportedly impacted her ability to maintain a romantic relationship, leading to anxiety and depression. 

Today, she feels physically better and reportedly works as an advocate to raise awareness of “sex and disability” and also is a “patient partner at her local hospital”, making improvements in patient-care. 

Contact Our Arizona Disability Benefits Attorney

If you need assistance applying for disability benefits or with appealing a denial of disability benefits, or have questions about returning to work while collecting disability benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Roeschke Law, LLC discusses why medical schools should mandate training in caring for disabled patients.

Medical Schools Should Mandate Training in Caring for the Disabled

Q: Are Doctors Trained to Recognize and Treat Intellectually or Developmentally Disabled Patients?

Disability attorneys of Arizona are trained to help disabled people and their families navigate the complex process of accessing federal government disability benefits. 

Applying for disability benefits requires the applicant to meet the federal government’s definition of being “disabled”, meaning they suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in a substantial gainful activity and that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death. For people applying for Social Security disability benefits, there is a list of impairments in something known as the “Blue Book”. The Blue Book outlines many recognized mental and physical conditions that are considered to be disabling.

While the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits programs both require the applicant to meet the definition of “disabled”, the similarities in the programs end there. SSDI is available to applicants who satisfy the work credit history requirements and who paid into the Social Security system through payroll deductions before coming disabled. SSI does not require the applicant to have ever worked and is available only to those who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65 and who also have income and resources that fall below the government-prescribed threshold which is currently $2000 for an individual or $3000 for a married couple.

Qualifying for disability benefits in either program requires submission of a great deal of personal, financial and medical information including detailed medical records. Accordingly, the relationship between the applicant and their physician is critically important not only to the patient’s treatment but to the outcome of their disability benefits application. 

Recognizing this, disability advocacy groups are pressuring medical schools to mandate, within the standard medical school curriculum, specific training of future doctors in how “to treat people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Reportedly, “some providers incorrectly assume that people with disabilities don’t have a good quality of life or people with intellectual and developmental disabilities don’t experience pain.” 

How can these false assumptions and “disconnects” negatively impact the medical care of the disabled—and their disability benefits applications?

While some medical schools are open to voluntarily increasing efforts to train future doctors on the special needs of disabled patients, there has been pushback on mandating curriculum changes.

Contact Our Arizona Social Security Disability Attorney

Because the majority of initial claims for disability benefits are denied, having a skilled disability benefits attorney assist in the application and/or appeals process can be the difference between the ultimate granting or denial of these important benefits. 

If you need assistance with a Social Security disability benefits application or appealing the denial of an application, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona. 

The shortage of care attendants negatively impacts independent living for disabled.

Shortage of Care Attendants Impacts Independent Living for Disabled

Will an attendant shortage force disabled people into institutional care?

Some people are born with a physical or mental disability and others develop a disability through illness, accident, or injury at some point during their lives. Fortunately, the federal government, through the Social Security Administration, offers assistance to the disabled. 

Although both federal disability benefits programs require applicants to meet the government’s definition of “disabled”, the similarities end there. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to those who have worked the requisite number of work credits and paid into the Social Security fund through their payroll taxes before becoming disabled. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to those who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 and have extremely limited financial resources. Sometimes people are eligible for both programs. 

The process of applying for disability benefits

Applying for disability benefits is a long and complex process. So, many people hire skilled disability benefits attorneys to increase their chances of having their initial application approved. Attorneys can also help in the event appealing a denial of disability benefits is necessary.  

Unfortunately, qualifying for disability benefits and having an application approved doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing ahead. 

The shortage of attendants

Many disabled patients who rely on attendants for assistance with basic tasks, like “getting out of bed, bathing cooking and transportation to doctor appointments”, are finding a shortage of available attendants to assist them. This is due to “paltry and stagnant wages” and no employee benefits. In fact, the hourly pay for fast food workers or gas pump attendants is significantly higher, which is making it difficult to retain qualified attendants who are struggling to make ends meet. 

Without in-home assistance, some of these disabled patients are forced into institutional care against their will. While costs and programs differ from state to state, attendant care can cost states about 30% less than nursing home care. Still, some state legislatures are reluctant to allocate enough money to raise attendant’s wages. 

Assistance for Social Security disability benefits

If you need assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we represent disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.

Good News for Social Security Disability Recipients

Q: Is the Social Security disability benefits fund solvent?

For what may feel like forever, national headlines and financial analysts have warned of the impending insolvency of the Social Security retirement fund and have urged major program changes so the money paid into the fund– through the payroll taxes of generations of Americans– will be there for them to support them after they retire.

Some of the suggestions for dealing with the problem have included pushing back retirement ages, adjusting the amount of the benefits, and increasing payroll taxes. Currently, the retirement fund is projected to become insolvent in only 16 years.

For those who qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits (“SSDI”), the future is much brighter.

Thanks in part to a “temporary reallocation” of $120 billion from the Old-Age Survivors Insurance program “(OASI”) and improvements to the SSDI program, in just about 3 years the projected insolvency of the Social Security disability benefits fund has unexpectedly been pushed back nearly 3 decades–from 2016 all the way to 2052. Here are some reasons for this remarkable “save”:

  • fraud-reducing administrative changes
  • initial determination process improvements
  • appeals determination process improvements
  • helping people stay at work.

In addition to those changes, the SSDI program has been strengthened by the improving economy —more people are working and generating increased payroll tax revenue, the number of SSDI applications is down, and the worker recovery rate is “higher-than-normal” due to reductions in disability review backlog.

There are now more jobs open than people to fill them, which means there are also more jobs for those with disabilities.

While no one ever expects to become disabled and need SSDI benefits, the extended projected solvency of the program and the many changes in recent years to expedite the processing of SSDI appeals and initial claims are much-needed good news for those who rely on these benefits to survive.

If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for SSDI benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.

Source: http://www.crfb.org/blogs/good-news-social-security-we-have-more-time-improve-disability-insurance

Social Media Accounts and Disability Benefits Determinations

Q: Should social media accounts determine disability benefits eligibility?

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long and difficult process in the best- case scenario. The federal government offers two different disability benefits programs for those who meet its definition of “disabled” and each program’s different eligibility requirements.

The government’s definition of “disabled” is “the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last a minimum of 12 months or result in death”. There is a long list of physical and mental impairments that the government generally recognizes as qualifying conditions.

The difference between the two disability benefits programs is that Social Security disability insurance benefits (“SSDI”) require the applicant to be between 18-65 years old and to have previously worked and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes for a minimum amount of time (work credits). Unlike SSDI (which is not based on an applicant’s financial resources), Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is only available to applicants who are severely limited in financial resources and who are generally disabled, blind or over the age of 65. For SSI, there is no work credit prerequisite.

Disability attorneys, advocates, and disabled individuals themselves are concerned about a proposal that could have Social Security Administration officials “routinely examine the social media accounts of people who have applied for or receive disability benefits as part of determining whether they qualify”.

The arguments against this proposal are numerous including:

  • how somebody appears in a social media post “is not necessarily evidence of [disability] fraud”
  • photos/videos “tell you very little about their physical and mental health”
  • photos/videos don’t tell if the person “can do [the activity] on a regular basis…how much pain they are in, or the price they pay afterward”
  • studies show that people generally “present themselves in the best possible light on social media”
  • legitimately disabled people may “share the joy of having a good day” on social media rather than sharing that they feel bad, had a treatment or saw a doctor
  • social media posts about “working” might mean volunteering and doesn’t necessarily mean they are “capable of substantial gainful activity”
  • pictures don’t always show wheelchairs, assisted devices, and personal support staff that may be just behind the edge of the photo
  • it’s particularly discriminatory to those with “invisible” disabilities.

For these and many other reasons disabled people, who may already struggle with shame regarding their inability to work, will likely be afraid to post on social media, resulting in more isolation and the inability to access needed support services provided by social media groups.

If you need assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families in all aspects of Social Security disability benefits law.

Source: https://themighty.com/2019/03/social-security-disability-benefits-monitoring-social-media/

Are LTD benefits automatically paid upon submission of a claim?

Some people are lucky to work for companies that include short- or long-term disability insurance as part of their employee benefits package. Others may decide to purchase disability insurance privately if they can afford the added expense—which can be substantial. Alternatively, some people figure they will file for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits with the federal government if they become disabled.

In general, these non-government disability insurance policies partially replace about 60% of your regular income in the event you become disabled and can no longer work. Generally, short-term policies are less costly (due to the shorter term of the benefits payout) and they cover workers for 3-6 months; long-term policies are more expensive because they can provide coverage for periods that can range from a couple of years to the rest of your career.

As you age, you are more likely to get injured, so disability insurance becomes more costly if you wait to buy it until you are older. Generally, those who work in a dangerous profession where the likelihood of getting hurt is high as well as those who are the primary or sole income earners for their families, should seriously consider long-term disability (“LTD”) insurance.
Just as people who file for SSDI benefits from the federal government can have their applications denied, those who have an LTD policy can be denied by their insurance company when they submit a claim. This may come as quite a surprise to many policyholders who assumed coverage and payouts were guaranteed.

LTD benefits attorneys help disabled people apply or appeal a denial of LTD benefits. They can gather medical evidence, vocational experts’ letters or testimony, personal statements and more to support your long-term disability appeal. It’s important to note that the window to file an LTD appeal of the denial of a claim may be very short, especially if the plan is governed by ERISA, so immediately contacting a skilled disability law attorney for assistance may be your best chance for success on appeal.

If you need help filing for long-term disability benefits or appealing the denial of an application for long-term disability benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled individuals throughout the state in all aspects of disability law. Let us be your advocates in the fight to get you the disability benefits you need.

Will the college admissions scandal hurt disabled students?

The college admissions scandal has disability attorneys of Arizona and others across the nation worried about the impact the scandal will likely have on legitimately disabled students who need testing accommodations for college entrance exams and other purposes.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits based on a mental impairment is generally much more difficult than qualifying for college entrance test accommodations – – the latter of which is relatively easy to get for students who already have an IEP (an individual education plan) in effect. And if the college admissions scandal allegations are true, it’s even easy for those without disabilities but with enough cash to get an accommodation.

Many of the mental impairments which would qualify a student for college testing accommodations like “autism, traumatic brain injury, and psychiatric conditions” are also noted as part of the Social Security Administration’s recognized list of “cognitive, emotional, and mental disorders” that may qualify for disabled applicants for Social Security disability benefits.

The testing accommodations for exams like the ACT and SAT, are designed not to give the disabled student an advantage over their typically-developing peers, but instead to level the playing field so they may have an equal opportunity for admission. Examples of some testing accommodations may include allowing a student to take the test alone if their condition is exacerbated by distractions, or allowing a student extra time if their disability requires they have it in order to complete the exam.

Reportedly, part of the alleged scam was accomplished by “helping students fake learning disabilities” for which they were allegedly given special testing accommodations of either extra time and/or private settings where their wrong answers were allegedly either corrected or another student took the exam for them.

Anticipated crackdowns on granting applications for special accommodations for testing can only hurt legitimately disabled students who desperately need them.
If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all parts of the disability benefits application process.

Do celebrities help raise disability awareness when they become disabled?

Disability attorneys in Arizona and across the nation know that when a Hollywood or sports celebrity is diagnosed with a disability, it provides an opportunity to educate the public about the medical condition itself, whether it is life-threatening or incurable, and what it is like to live with that disability. For many, popular actor, Michael J. Fox has become the face of Parkinson’s disease due to his decades-long battle with the debilitating neurological disease. Fundraising to research for a cure for these diseases is often spearheaded by afflicted celebrities.

Approximately four months after announcing her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, actress Selma Blair attended a post-Oscar’s party in an elegant gown and fashionable cane. Admitting she didn’t think she’d get “this bad”, she said she struggles with “movement, memory dressing and… her vision” and worries if she is “hireable” now.

Multiple Sclerosis, or “MS” for short, is one of the many disabling conditions under the Social Security Administration’s fairly extensive list of conditions that satisfy the government’s definition of “disabled”. Qualifying for disability benefits requires suffering from “a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death”.

Many people seek the assistance of a skilled Social Security disability attorney when applying for disability benefits because the process is complex and 2/3 of all initial applications are denied. Appealing the denial of disability benefits is possible but the wait time for a hearing is substantial and can be nearly 2 years. So, it is advisable to engage competent legal counsel as early in the process as possible to maximize the chance of your application being properly completed, and hence more likely to be granted.

If you need assistance with an initial application for Social Security disability benefits, or with an appeal of a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we represent disabled individuals throughout Arizona and our practice is limited to disability law.

Can an employer make a disabled workers job description more difficult?

Walmart has historically been a company open to employing workers with disabilities, enabling many to avoid applying for Social Security disability benefits because they were gainfully employed. Many disabled employees hold the position of “store greeter” –a job that merely requires greeting customers with a friendly hello and goodbye as they enter and exit the store. But Walmart recently announced plans to change its “store greeters” policy– and its plans have unleashed an extreme backlash from the public and the disabled community.

“Store greeters” are reportedly being replaced by “customer hosts”. Unfortunately, the new position requires additional responsibilities that may be difficult or impossible for disabled individuals to handle. Rather than just greeting customers, which can be done by someone in a wheelchair, the customer host position requires employees to do additional duties including but not limited to “lift 25 pounds, clean up spills, collect carts and stand for long periods of time”. Obviously, workers with certain physical and mental disabilities will not be able to perform some or all of these additional tasks and are reportedly subject to termination.

Many of these workers struggle with physical and mental conditions that are on the government’s list of conditions that are generally recognized as qualifying for social security disability benefits—such as cerebral palsy. These workers, like many disabled people, strive to work for despite their disability if they are able to do so and may have chosen not to apply for disability benefits because of the relatively easy greeter position and the opportunities for socialization that it adds to what otherwise could be a more isolated life.

Some of these workers– at Walmarts throughout the country– have been employed for approximately 20 years and fear losing their jobs. In response to the backlash, Walmart is reportedly extending the date for the changeover in policy and will review how the new policy will affect disabled workers on a case-by-case basis.

If you or a loved one need help applying for Social Security disability benefits, appealing the denial of benefits, or have any questions regarding disability benefits law, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona we regularly represent residents in those areas in all aspects of disability law.

Why Don’t People Realize Some Disabilities Are Invisible?

The universal symbol for being handicapped is a blue and white placard with a wheelchair symbol. This designation helps disabled people locate handicap parking, handicapped bathrooms, and more. It’s also intended to put non-handicapped people on notice that such parking spaces are reserved for those displaying proper permits.

Unfortunately, this symbol is so connected to the public’s idea of “disabled” that it may be doing the disabled community a disservice and may actually be placing some of its members in harm’s way.

As those who have applied for social security disability benefits from the federal government know all too well, not all disabilities are physical in nature and not all disabilities are visible.

In fact, there is an extensive list of both physical and mental conditions that the government recognizes as qualifying for federal disability benefits. Examples of some physical conditions include Multiple sclerosis, cancer, Crohns’ disease and more. Some examples of qualifying mental conditions include PTSD, anxiety disorders, bi-polar disorder, OCD, depression, and more.

A woman suffering from multiple sclerosis since 2012 allegedly recently became a victim of which she reportedly described as a hate crime after she parked her car in a handicapped spot with her handicap permit displayed. Upon returning to her car she found it covered in feces and remembered receiving dirty looks from people nearly at the time she parked there—looks that implied she wasn’t actually handicapped because she didn’t “look” handicapped.

Not everyone who is disabled or handicapped is wheelchair-bound. This is one reason why a change in the universal handicapped symbol is being considered. Life has enough challenges for many disabled people and it’s disheartening to hear of such alleged actions against legitimately disabled people.

If you need help applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. It’s all we do. Contact us today for a free consultation.
With offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona, we represent disabled clients and their families in all aspects of disability law.