Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

social security disability benefits for illness Archives

Can those suffering from bipolar disorder claim SSD benefits?

Mental illnesses are probably the most difficult of all medical conditions that a patient may suffer from. Those illnesses can greatly hamper even the most basic day-to-day activities. An example of one such mental illness is bipolar disorder. As many people in Alabama may know, bipolar disorder is an illness of the brain that severely affects the mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to perform daily chores.

Can I be denied disability because I didn't do what my doctor said?

There is a lot that goes into filing for disability and it seems there are always new rules for denying claims. I want to discuss a new ruling regarding following prescribed treatment. SSR 18-3p went into effect October 29, 2018 and will apply to any decision after that date. This ruling state that someone can be denied benefits if he or she fails to follow prescribed treatment without good cause and that treatment would be expected to restore his or her ability to work.

Qualifications for Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a federal income supplement designed to help the aged, blind, and disabled who have little to no income. SSI is different from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in that SSDI benefits are paid to Claimants who have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSI is not based on prior work. The medical standards for SSI and SSDI are the same. Disability for both SSDI and SSI is awarded when a person has a diagnosed physical or mental impairment that is severe and can be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and the person, because of the impairment, must not only be unable to do his/her previous work, but must also be unable to do any other type of substantial gainful activity.

Adult Children With Disabilities

Adults with disabilities who have never worked may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, as long as he or she meets the income requirements for SSI.  They cannot have more than $2,000 in personal property or income (or $3,000 if married) and any monthly household income must be below a certain threshold. 

Substitution of Parties

Given the lengthy process of applying and receiving Social Security benefits and the severity of many Claimants' illnesses, it is sadly not uncommon for a Social Security disability Claimant to die during the pendency of the process. However, if a Social Security disability applicant dies before being approved for benefits, it may be possible for a family member of the Claimant to receive any benefits owed to the deceased Claimant. The rules concerning substitution of parties in the case of a deceased Claimant depend on the type of disability claim filed.

CHANGES MAY BE ON THE HORIZON FOR RESIDENTS OF PUERTO RICO

Presently, residents of Puerto Rico are only able to draw under the Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) or Title II program for Social Security, and are not able to draw under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. This is due to the fact the Social Security Act excludes Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, from the SSI benefits program. However, these rules may be changing soon which would greatly help disabled residents of Puerto Rico who have been unable to work. Similarly, most children's claims for disability fall under the SSI program. This would vastly expand the number of Puerto Rican children who are allowed to receive disability benefits.

Biestek v. Berryhill

The United States Supreme Court has affirmed the 6th Circuit's decision in the case of Biestek v. Berryhill. In a 6 to 3 decision, the United States Supreme Court found that "a vocational expert's refusal to provide private market-survey data upon the applicant's request does not categorically preclude the testimony from counting as 'substantial evidence.'" Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion. The Supreme Court in its decision refused to adopt a categorical rule as had been done in the 7th Circuit. The Supreme Court further explained that there must be a case-by-case basis when determining whether the vocational expert's testimony can qualify as substantial evidence. In applying a case-by-case basis, the vocational expert's testimony as well as the rest of the administrative record must be taken into account. The Court stated that in some cases, the refusal to disclose data taken into consideration with other short comings would prevent the court from finding that 'a reasonable mind' could accept the expert's testimony. However, in this specific case, the refusal of a vocational expert to provide private market-survey data did not preclude the Administrative Law Judge from accepting the vocational expert's testimony as substantial evidence.

AVOIDING PITFALLS BEFORE A HEARING

I want to discuss some things people need to know before they get a Social Security hearing. I have worked in Social Security law for almost 19 years now and I can tell you there is a lot of information that is needed before having a hearing date and here are some things to remember.  

Social Security Disability benefits for HIV/AIDS patients

HIV/AIDS is among the most serious illnesses that any person can suffer from. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration understands the gravity of the diseases and how it they affect the lives of patients and their loved ones. Therefore, the agency offers Social Security Disability benefits to those HIV/AIDS patients who meet the SSA's established disability guidelines.

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