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Idaho Disability Lawyers

Chronic Fatigue

As any good disability lawyer will tell you, there are some conditions that are more difficult to get on disability for than others.  One of those conditions is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS.  This is primarily because CFS seems to be a diagnosis that is used to describe a loosely related set of symptoms that can not be explained by any other means, the primary symptom of which is fatigue. If you have been told by your doctor that you have CFS, contact a Boise disability lawyer in our Boise, Idaho office today to get more information on how you can prepare your case to successfully apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.

social-security-disability-attorney-justice-300x199In 2014, Social Security released SSR 14-1p entitled “Evaluating Claims Involving Chronic  Fatigue Syndrome” to help claimants and their attorneys to better understand how CFS fits into Social Security’s set of medically determinable impairments.  SSR 14-1p replaced SSR 99-2p, which was published in 1999 and first established how Social Security would deal with claims of Chronic Fatigue.

One of the key concepts in Social Security Disability that a disability lawyer must make sure every claim has is a medically determinable impairment or “MDI”.  Certain conditions such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are a set of symptoms that can’t otherwise be explained, which makes them difficult to diagnose, except by eliminating other sources of the symptoms.  SSR 14-1p helps establish when chronic fatigue can be established as an MDI.

In general, SSR 14-1p defines Chronic Fatigue as a clinically evaluated, persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that :

  1. Has a specific onset
  2. Is not explained by another identifiable condition or illness
  3. Is not related to exertion
  4. Is not alleviated by rest
  5. Results in a significant reduction in your ability to perform important occupational, social or personal activities.

Diagnostic Symptoms:  Social Security points to the CDC case definition of Chronic Fatigue states that a person must have four or more of the following specific symptoms for 6 or more months:

  • Tiredness after exerting yourself that lasts for 24 hours or more
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration
  • Soar Throat
  • Tender lymph nodes in your neck
  • Muscle Pain
  • Headaches
  • Waking unrefreshed
  • Muscle weakness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Visual difficulties
  • Fainting, dizziness or fatigue with prolonged standing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cardiovascular abnormalities
  • Stomach Problems

There are also certain conditions that people with Chronic Fatigue also commonly suffer from, including:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint syndrome
  • Irritable Bowell Syndrome
  • Interstitial systitis
  • Raynauds phenomenon
  • Migraines
  • Chronic Lymphocitic Thyroiditis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • New allergies or sensitivities (cold all the time)

Disability lawyers know that Social Security will not simply take your doctor at his word that you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  You will need a good Social Security attorney to help Social Security to find evidence of the above signs and conditions and show if you have other conditions that may be causing these signs and conditions.  Social Security will require medical signs or laboratory findings that support your diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue before they will consider that it constitutes an MDI.

Medical Signs—Social Security will look for one or more of the following medical signs that last longer than 6 months:

  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes  on physical examination
  • Sore throat (nonexudative)
  • Tender Points
  • Other, less persuasive, signs such as Frequent viral infections, Sinusitis, Ataxia, Extreme pallor, Pronounced weight change

Laboratory Findings—Your Disability Attorney should point out the following to Social Security to indicate your diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue is legitimate:

  • An elevated antibody titer to Epstein-Barr virus capsid antigen equal to ore greater than 1:5120, or early antigen equal to or greater than 1:640
  • Abnormal MRI of the brain
  • Hypotention
  • Abnormal exercise stress test
  • Abnormal sleep studies

In addition to those discussed above, your disability lawyer may be able to point to other medical signs and laboratory findings that Social Security may accept in deciding your Chronic Fatigue diagnosis constitutes an MDI.  The key is that your doctor explains carefully what medical sings and laboratory findings he has considered in making his diagnosis.  A diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue will be much stronger the more conditions that have been ruled out as possible causes for your signs and symptoms.

Contact our Boise disability lawyers today for a free case evaluation and find out if you meet the criteria for Social Security Disability.

A Social Security Attorney On Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment Benefits Part II | Social Security Attorney

A Few More Thoughts On Unemployment

If you are receiving unemployment compensation benefits, can you still receive Social Security disability benefits? The answer to this question is quite complex, and if you are receiving unemployment you should consult a Social Security attorney with our office. You can receive benefits from both programs, but it can be tricky.  As a general rule, our disability attorneys strongly discourage applying for unemployment benefits while applying for disability benefits.

The problem is that you are saying two different things when you apply for both Social Security disability and unemployment compensation benefits. You are telling one government program that you are able and willing to work and the other that you are so handicapped either mentally or physically that you can no longer work. So while Social Security guidelines to not provide a bright line prohibition against granting disability benefits to someone on unemployment, most judges will see it as a question of credibility and it can be very damaging to your case—as every disability attorney will tell you, credibility is everything when it comes to applying for Social Security disability.

older-coupleThe first thing to consider is your onset date. If you claim that you are disabled the date you were laid off from work, you must also consider that this is probably also the date you started telling the unemployment compensation people that you are ready and willing to work.  You should consult with your attorney about moving the onset date forward to avoid this conflict. However, before you do this you should understand that the judges that will be determining the outcome of your case have very different views about the people who receive unemployment compensation benefits during the time that they are also claiming to be disabled. If possible, you should try to find out what your judge’s view on the matter is, which is only possible if you are using a local Social Security attorney who knows the local judges.

Also keep in mind that there are some cases where there is no conflict and moving your onset date is unnecessary. This kind of case usually occurs with claimants can not do their past relevant work and legitimately receive unemployment compensation because they are willing to try something new. This will usually occur for claimants fifty years old or older who can also be found disabled using rules from the Medical-Vocational guidelines.  However, some states claim that a limitation to sedentary work does not qualify a claimant for unemployment compensation benefits because there is a requirement that the claimant be capable of performing more jobs than just sedentary ones.

Your attorney might also argue that you would have attempted to work if you found a job during the time you were receiving unemployment compensations benefits, but you would not have been able to sustain the work. This makes the unemployment compensation benefits legitimate but also provides a basis for the disability claim. If you are unsure whether or not your unemployment compensation benefits are going to be a problem, please contact one of our Social Security attorneys.

As mentioned earlier, administrative law judges vary in their views. There is no regulation or ruling that says you cannot receive unemployment benefits and still get Social Security benefits. However, some judges might think of this as double dipping and will not find you disabled during the time that you received unemployment compensation. This could be the case even if you present a legitimate claim that you can

receive both benefits. The judge may ask you to move the onset date to when you last received unemployment compensation benefits, but he may also expect you to move the onset date based on your medical condition worsening and not based on when your benefits stopped. Both could mean a significant loss of back benefits. For other judges, it isn’t a big deal that you are receiving benefits from both programs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that an application for unemployment benefits will be considered together with all of your other medical evidence. Lots of the time, underlying circumstances will be more important than the fact that you applied for unemployment benefits.  If you are clearly severely disabled and have significant objective evidence of your disability, a judge may decide to  overlook your unemployment compensation.

For help with your disability claim, you can contact one of our Social Security attorneys. They can help you correctly place your onset date and put together the best possible case.   For a few more thoughts on unemployment benefits and applying for disability, see Unemployment And Disability.

Originally posted 2015-02-02 16:50:05.

Social Security Attorney

Onset Dates — Social Security Attorney

As you prepare to file for Social Security disability, it is important for you to choose the correct onset for your disability.  Your alleged onset date is the date that you claim you could no longer work because of your disability.  There are several important factors to consider when choosing this date, so please contact a Social Security attorney with our Nampa or Boise office for a free case evaluation and to discuss what an appropriate onset date for you would be.

Your onset date you choose is very important.  Among other things, it will determine how much back pay or past due benefits you will receive. If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you want your onset date to be back as far as possible because you can get paid back benefits up to twelve months. The ideal period is seventeen months, because there is a five month waiting period after you become disabled where you cannot receive benefits. If you are approved for SSI you can only get paid benefits from the month you apply.

As a general rule, the farther back your onset date is, the more back benefits you receive. However, it is not always in your benefit to push back your onset date. In some cases, mostly with younger workers, an earlier onset date can actually decrease monthly benefits. This would happen if you were a young worker whose earnings after the earlier onset date were relatively high compared to your earnings in prior years. And, as your disability attorney will tell you, if you go further back than your medical records support, you can also loose credibility.

Social Security Attorney

Social Security Attorney

Another thing to keep in mind is that Social Security might not always agree with your onset date.  An onset date that you set is called the alleged onset date, or AOD. An onset date that the Social Security administration determines is called an established onset date, or an EOD. If Social Security disagrees with the onset date you have provided, then they will establish an EOD. To do this, they must have medical evidence that contradicts your AOD.

If the Social Security administration does change your onset date, it will probably cause you to lose some back benefits that you would have otherwise received. If this happens, your disability attorney can appeal the decision by asking the DDS (disability determination services) to reconsider the EOD. Be careful, though. If you appeal the decision, the DDS or the Social Security administration can always decide that your onset date was sooner than even the EOD, costing you more money. It’s a good idea to consult a Social Security disability attorney before appealing.  The EOD and AOD are not always different. If your claim is approved, then the AOD becomes the EOD.

Your onset date is often the date you last worked, but that doesn’t mean you have to set the onset date the day you lost your job. Your last job might not have been substantial gainful activity, or it could have been an unsuccessful work attempt. In either case, your onset date might be earlier than you think. In most cases, you will need to show that any work done after your onset date was not substantial work activity or gainful work activity, it was done under special conditions, it was subsidized, or that it was an unsuccessful work attempt.

Work that lasted no longer than sixth months and that you were forced to stop because of your disability may qualify as an unsuccessful work attempt. You can have more than one unsuccessful work attempt after your onset date, and earnings will not be considered when the Social Security administration is deciding whether or not your work is substantial gainful activity or not. If you don’t know whether your last job was an unsuccessful work attempt or if you have gone over the substantial gainful activity limit, you can talk to a Social Security attorney in our Nampa or Boise office. You need to be careful when setting your onset date. You want it to be as far back as possible, but you don’t want to place it incorrectly either.

If you have questions about onset dates, unsuccessful work attempts or substantial gainful activity, you can contact a Social Security attorney with our Nampa or Boise office. They can help you make all the right decisions when it comes to your Social Security disability claim.

Originally posted 2014-10-06 19:31:37.

Boise Social Security Attorneys

Common Disability Forms

Common Forms You Will Be required To Complete In Social Security Disability Benefits ClaimSocial Security Attorney

You’re disabled and have decided that you want to receive Social Security disability benefits. What do you do next?  To start the process, you will be filling out a lot of forms, both from the Social Security administration and from a Boise Social Security Attorney with Advocate Attorneys.  Below is a brief overview of some of the most common forms you will be completing.

Your disability attorney will send you several forms you need to complete for him. Two of these forms are the SSA-1696 and a fee agreement. The 1696 is the form that appoints your Social Security disability lawyer as your representative. You’re not supposed to name an entire law firm as a representative, but you can name multiple lawyers as representatives if you wish. If you do this, you will have to indicate a main representative because Social Security will only send copies of notices to one representative.

The fee agreement establishes how your disability attorney gets paid.  You will simply have to sign and return it. Typical language used in a fee agreement form is as follows. “There will be no fee unless I win my case. If my claim is approved at any time in the initial, reconsideration, hearing, appeals counsel level, I agree to pay a maximum fee of the lower of (a) twenty-five percent (25%) of past due benefits, or (b) $6,000 (or such higher amount as the Commissioner of Social Security may allow that is in effect at the time of a favorable decision).” If you see language much different than this, of if the attorney wants to charge you an upfront fee, find someone else to represent you.  Your disability lawyer may also send you Form SSA-3288, which is simply a form that allows them to release your records to your representative.

You will also receive Form SSA-827 from Social Security. This form will allow Social Security to request your medical records. Your medical records are very important, because the Social Security administration and the DDS office will look at them to determine whether or not you will receive benefits.

Your initial claim will take somewhere between 90 to 120 days.  Unfortunately, most people are denied at the initial level. The thirty percent or so of claimants who are approved usually have very severe cases that are documented very well by medical records. Don’t get discouraged if you are denied—there is always the reconsideration and the hearing.

If you are denied initially, typically you or your attorney will complete an online version of the Form SSA-561, which is the request for a reconsideration. This form will just briefly ask you why you disagree with the decision. The reconsideration process will usually take another 60-90 days. About 10% of people who file for reconsideration are approved.  If you are denied again, then you or your attorney will complete an online version of the Form HA-501, which is the request for a hearing with an administrative law judge. These forms must be completed within 60 days or your case will be closed.

Waiting for your hearing takes the longest, lasting anywhere from nine to twelve months. If you can show that you are in dire need, you may have your case expedited.  Your disability attorney may also decide that you are a good candidate for an on-the-record-decision, which means you may not have to go before a judge and the process could take much less time. If you do have to go before a judge, don’t be discouraged—this is where most people get approved. Our Boise disability lawyers get 85-90% of our claimants approved at the hearing level.

There are two other very important forms you will see: the SSA Form 3373 (The Function Report, sometimes called the Activities of Daily Living Report) and the SSA Form 3369 (The Work History Report).  These forms are so important that a separate article has been dedicated to completing these forms.  You should seek tips from your Social Security Attorney before completing these forms.

If you have any questions about forms or the disability process, please contact one of our Boise Social Security disability lawyers. Not only can our Social Security lawyers help you fill out all these forms, but they can help you fill them out in a way that helps your case and avoids costly mistakes. They can help you properly state your claim, and they can help answer questions about the forms.

Originally posted 2014-01-02 17:16:27.

Idaho Disability Lawyers

After You Have Won Your Disability Benefits

Boise Idaho–Once your disability claim has been approved you aren’t automatically guaranteed benefits for the rest of your life. The Social Security Administration will periodically look at your case to make sure that you are still disabled. If you need help with this process or if you have questions, you can contact one of our Social Security disability lawyers in Boise Idaho.

Social security disability lawyers in Meridian, Idaho.The Social Security administration has two types of reviews. One is a medical continuing disability review that determines if the claimant still meets the medical requirements to collect disability benefits. The second is the work continuing disability review, where Social Security will look at the claimant’s earnings to see if he or she is still eligible. How often a case is reviewed varies from claimant to claimant. If the claimant has a medical condition that is expected to improve, they may be reviewed as soon as six to eighteen months. On the other hand, if the medical condition is not expected to improve, it might be as long as seven years before the case is reviewed. If it is possible that the claimant will improve, then his or her case will probably be reviewed around the three year mark.  Children who receive disability benefits will automatically be reviewed once they turn eighteen.

A continuing disability review can also be triggered by change in your circumstances. It may be triggered if you return to work, if you inform the Social Security administration that your condition has improved, a new treatment pertaining to your disability has recently been introduced, if someone informs Social Security that you are not following your treatment protocol or if your medical evidence indicates that your condition has improved. When you receive the continuing disability review, it’s important that you fill them out and return them. Social Security will send you a second notice. After that, however, if you don’t fill it out or if you don’t attend any examinations that Social Security schedules, you will lose your benefits.

If your disability claim is up for review, you will first receive a notice by mail. The Social Security Administration will have you fill out some paperwork describing what your current condition is. They will also ask you for a list of all the places where you have received treatment. Just like when you were first applying for benefits, Social Security will get copies of all your recent medical records. If you haven’t been seeing the doctor or if you don’t have enough medical records, they will schedule you for a Consultative Exam.  For this reason, it is important that you continue to see a doctor, even after you have been awarded Social Security Disability benefits. It’s better that you are seen by someone who is familiar with you and your disability than to have your case reviewed by a Social Security doctor. When you do visit the doctor, be sure that you describe your symptoms in every visit, and be as truthful as you can. Don’t exaggerate your symptoms, but don’t understate them either.

If your symptoms haven’t improved, then your disability benefits will continue. However, if your symptoms have improved, then Social Security will look so see if they still meet the disability requirements.

Social Security tries to reward people who are trying to work despite their disability, so you can still work and receive disability benefits. However, you are responsible for informing the Social Security Administration when you return to work, when your duties or pay change or when you start paying for work expenses due to your disability.

You can still work as long as you follow certain rules.  You can go over the Substantial Gainful Activity limit if it’s during a trial work period. There is also something called the Ticket to Work Program that can help you attempt working again without fear of losing your benefits.

When the time for your case to be reviewed does come, don’t worry too much. In general, it’s easier to pass a continuing disability review than it is to be granted benefits in the first place. If your benefits do stop, then you can appeal. For more information, you can contact one of our Social Security Disability attorneys in Boise Idaho.

Originally posted 2013-12-18 04:46:01.