Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

January 2019 Archives

War related injuries series: Hearing and vision loss

In this post, we would like to discuss hearing and vision loss among military service members. Hearing loss and tinnitus are especially prevalent among members of the military due to time spent around loud noises, such as gunfire or explosions. Vision loss can be related to injuries from shrapnel, or other medical conditions.

VA Must Pay Disability Benefits to "Blue Water" Vietnam Veterans

On January 29, 2019, a 9-2 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned past court opinions and stated that the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot deny disability benefits to Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants merely because those veterans served in the waters off the coastline of Vietnam and not inland. This is a major victory for "blue water" Navy veterans who have fought for years over these denials.

Accelerated SSD claims for compassionate allowances

The Social Security Administration has created what is known as the Compassionate Allowances program. The purpose is to allow claimants who have certain severe conditions that have been determined to clearly meet Social Security Disability guidelines to be accelerated through the claims process. For the most part, the listings are rare and so severe that their quality of life is significantly diminished.

On the Record Decisions

An "on the record" (OTR) decision is a favorable decision by an Administrative Law Judge that finds the Claimant to be entitled to Social Security benefits without having to go to a hearing. An Administrative Law Judge will issue an OTR decision after having reviewed the Claimant's medical records and any other pertinent evidence and decided that a hearing was not necessary in order to grant a finding of disability. OTR decisions help expedite the process for Social Security disability benefits as those who receive one do not have to wait for a hearing.

War-related injuries series: Traumatic brain injury

In the second post of our war-related injuries series we would like to highlight traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These have been noted as the "significant injury" of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Approximately 350,000 TBI diagnoses have been made among military members since 2000. A range of 11-23% of those were among individuals who were deployed.

Social Security Disability and SSI Approval Rates for FY 2018

Social Security recently released their approval rates for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018) at the Initial and Reconsideration stages.  Unsurprisingly, the approval rates for Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida fell on the low end of the spectrum.  The approval rate for initial claims in Alabama was 31%.  In Mississippi, the approval rate was 25.3% at the initial level and only 8.1% at reconsideration.  In Florida, it was 34.3% at the initial level and 13% at reconsideration. The national approval average was 35% at the initial level and 12.6% at reconsideration. 

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.

NEW VIDEO HEARING REQUIREMENTS FROM SOCIAL SECURITY

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.

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.

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.

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