Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

In The Community Archives

My Role as the Volunteer Lead for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

This year, I have had the privilege of being the Volunteer Lead for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The walk this year will be held on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. in Bienville Square in Mobile, Alabama. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a 3.5 mile walk throughout downtown Mobile, Alabama where thousands of people will walk to celebrate and honor breast cancer survivors and caregivers. The walk not only celebrates survivors but also serves to educate the community about prevention and detection so as to help reduce the risk of breast cancer and to raise funds to help end breast cancer. Money raised at the event will fund research to help find a cure for breast cancer as well as provides information and help to those who are currently battling breast cancer.

SNAP -that was easy!

One of the biggest struggles for those filing for disability and without income is how do I feed myself and my family and how do I pay my bills. There is help for food services if you meet the income requirements. The food stamp program is now called SNAP which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP's purpose is to help with nutrition by providing monthly benefits to eligible low income households with the means to buy the food they need for good health.

Consultative Examinations

Our office has been advised that due to low funds, no consultative examinations will be scheduled by the Disability Determination Services of Alabama through September 15, 2019 through September 30, 2019. A consultative examination (CE) is an examination by a physician that is ordered by Social Security for Claimants to help decide whether they meet the criteria for Social Security disability. CEs are usually ordered by either the Disability Determination Services or an Administrative Law Judge at the hearing level when the Claimant's own medical sources are inadequate to determine if the Claimant is disabled. A CE is not conducted in order to provide the Claimant with medical advice or treatment. Rather, it is an examination that is supposed to assess the severity of a Claimant's medical impairments as well as any limitations that are a result of these impairments. The examination can either be a physical examination or psychological examination. It can also be blood work, x-rays, or a nerve conduction study.

Function Reports for Social Security Disability

When you apply for Social Security disability, one of the first things you receive in the mail from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a function report. A function report will ask you various questions regarding your activities of daily living. For example, what do you do from the time that you wake up until you go to bed? Other questions ask how your medical impairments affect your ability to dress and bathe yourself, prepare your own meals, perform household chores, shop, travel, and perform any other activities of daily living.

Lawsuit Filed Against VA Secretary Over Blue Water Benefits Delays

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.

Will I Continue to Receive my Social Security Disability Benefits forever?

After being award Social Security disability benefits, many clients ask how long they will be able to keep receiving their benefits. The simple answer is that if your medical condition has not improved, you can receive disability benefits for a lifetime. However, all recipients of Social Security disability benefits are subject to periodic continuing disability reviews. During a continuing disability review, Social Security will ascertain whether you have had any improvement in your medical condition that would allow you to return to work. If there has been no improvement in your medical condition, you will continue to receive disability until the next review. Although there is no set length of time for Social Security to review your case, typically Social Security conducts either a 3 year or 5 to 7-year review. However, reviews can be quicker depending on the nature of your medical condition and/or whether or not an Administrative Law Judge expected you to improve with medical treatment.

YOUR RIGHTS TO REPRESENTATION

Did you know you have the right to representation before the Social Security Administration (SSA)? When you appear for a hearing for Social Security disability if you do not have a representative, the first thing the officer or judge SHOULD do is ask you if you want a representative. If you or someone you know has a learning disability, you should be sure and understand this right or make sure you are with them to help them understand this right. The officer or Judge has a legal obligation to advise you of this right and allow a onetime postponement of the hearing for you to obtain such representation.

Onset Date of Disability

When a Claimant first files for Social Security disability, he or she is asked for the onset date of disability or the date that he or she first became unable to work as a result of a disabling medical condition. For some, this question can be answered easily if they became disabled after a car accident or after having been diagnosed with cancer. The onset date of disability would be the day of the accident or the day they were diagnosed. Most disability applicants allege that they became disabled on their last day of work.

Is Your VA Rating for Hypertension Based on Successful Control with Hypertension Medication?

Hypertension is described as high arterial blood pressure.  It is present if the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is 90 or more and systolic pressure (top number) is 140 or more, or if both are present.  It has to be confirmed by readings taken two of more times on at least three different days. 

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