Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Mobile Social Security Disability Law Blog

Inflammatory bowel disease can keep you from working

Every now and then Alabama residents suffer from digestive illnesses such as a stomach bug or food poisoning. They would probably say this is one of the worst sicknesses they ever experienced. The difference between you and them, however, is that they recover. You have a chronic and incurable condition called inflammatory bowel disease.

IBD is the umbrella condition for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Regardless of which condition your doctor diagnosed, it substantially interferes with your ability to do the things you want to do, including work. In fact, estimates indicate that IBD costs companies with employees somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 million a year in lost productivity, but that probably isn't your primary concern.


The Social Security Administration published a notice on November 15th that they propose to enter a rule regarding the appearance of Claimants and Representatives at Social Security hearings. Currently, SSA allows you to decide whether you wish to appear in person or by video hearing. They are proposing to do away with this option. This change would affect all Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearings and any hearings with Disability Hearing Officers on continuing disability claims. 

War-related injuries series: Ankle and foot

Welcome you to the first post in our new war-related injuries series. In this series, we will take a closer look at a few of the common injuries soldiers in post-combat deal with on an everyday basis. Upon returning home, our veterans then find themselves in a new war - one to obtain both VA and Social Security disability benefits.

Thousands of soldiers return from war with ankle and foot injuries. The vast majority of them are still younger individuals with a long life-expectancy ahead. They need, and deserve, the ability to maintain an active, productive lifestyle. Ankle and foot injuries can be blast-related. If improperly treated in the field, they can result in extreme deformities and chronic pain. Some individuals also experience muscle dystrophies. Major injuries can result in amputation.

Disability Reconsideration in Alabama

In October 1999, the Social Security Administration began testing the Disability Redesign Prototype model in 10 states, including Alabama. This prototype model eliminated the reconsideration process and sent initial determination appeals on disability issues to the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) for a hearing. This eliminated a step in the disability process.

2019 COLA and SGA increases for Social Security recipients

2019 will bring about some highly anticipated increases in benefits to both Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability recipients.

Beginning January 1st, all beneficiaries will receive a 2.8% cost of living raise (COLA). This means that monthly payments, whether a person receives Supplemental Social Security benefits, Social Security Disability benefits, or regular SSI retirement income, will increase. For example, if a person receives a check on the first of every month for $1,000, that amount will be increase to $1,028.

What Happens to Social Security Disability Benefits during a Government Shutdown?

As of January 2, 2019, the United States government has been partially shut down for 11 days. A partial government shutdown means that around 25% of the United States federal government has no funding. While parts of the government have been funded and will remain open, 9 of 15 federal agencies have not been funded and around 800,000 federal employees are going without pay.  These agencies include the Department of Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and the Treasury.

What is a Continuing Disability Review?

Many times when a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim is approved, an Alabama judge will also order a Continuing Disability Review, also known as a CDR. Some illnesses for which claimant's apply for disability can have significant improvement with the correct treatment and patient compliance. In many cases, especially those in which a claimant is diagnosed with a progressive disease, such as diabetes, symptoms worsen drastically over time without treatment.

Administrative Law judges hear case after case where a claimant has not received proper, or even any, ongoing medical treatment due to lack of insurance and income. Had that person had the means to obtain medical treatment, the condition would likely never have gotten to the point of a need to file for disability. In these cases, a judge can approve a disability claim with a recommended CDR.

What is the difference in SSI and SSD benefits?

Many may think that Supplemental Social Security Income and Social Security Disability benefits are one and the same. However, they are two separate Social Security programs with differing purposes and qualifying criteria.

Supplemental Social Security Income, also called SSI, is a benefit for very low-income families and the elderly population. Referred to as Title XVI benefits, the funds for this program are derived from general tax funds rather than money that an individual has paid into Social Security over the years. Its purpose is to provide income for the very basic of needs such as food, clothing and shelter. While there is no work requirement qualifier, this program does have strict guidelines on the ownership of assets. The value of owned assets will be taken into careful consideration throughout the qualifying process. All except eight states within the United States provide funding for SSI.

Do you qualify for disability benefits?

At some point, everyone experiences an illness or injury that puts them on the sidelines for a few days or weeks. A bad flu, surgery or traumatic health event may require hospitalization and a long recovery before you are feeling fit enough to get back to work and into the swing of life again.

However, what happens when that illness or condition does not resolve and you see no end to your suffering? If you find yourself unable to work because of your condition, you may soon be struggling financially. This may be when you begin considering whether you are eligible for assistance through the Social Security Administration. Qualifying for Social Security Disability is not always easy, but the first step is understanding the terms of eligibility.

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