Slepian Smith, PLLC

Phoenix Arizona Disability Law Blog

Impact of SSDI and SSI claimants' alcohol and drug use

Social Security laws have changed over the years in how they treat alcoholism and drug addiction when determining whether disability prevents working for purposes of eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, or SSDI and SSI, respectively.

It's worth talking to a lawyer about your SSDI or SSI application

You may think your disability is obvious and there should be no problem getting your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income - usually referred to as SSDI and SSI - approved. After all, your doctor may have ordered that you not work, or you may be unable to take care of your basic daily needs.

Arizona SSDI rejection rate high after doctors' file review

A recent investigative journalism piece revealed that some doctors hired to review applications for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income may be working too fast to achieve a high degree of accuracy. The Nashville Tennessean said in May that the federal government does not have data readily compiled about doctors in each state who review medical and other records to determine whether claimants are disabled and eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits.

When the USA Today Network made an information request about these doctors' workloads and the speed with which they work, the government said it would cost more than $2 million to compile the information requested.

Disability determination should use multiple sources, study says

When deciding if someone can work despite having severe physical or mental medical impairments, ordinarily the decision-maker should consider multiple sources of information, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Evidence from vocational testing, medical records and other sources may be necessary to adequately assess a person's ability to sustain productive work activity over time.

The Social Security Administration, called the SSA, sponsored the study in the context of the agency's responsibility to assess disability that prevents work for purposes of eligibility for federal disability benefit programs.

SSA may change rule allowing consideration of English proficiency

Since 1978, Social Security Administration regulations have recognized that a Social Security Disability Insurance applicant’s inability to speak English impacts whether there are jobs the person can do. In the SSDI (and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI) application process, English proficiency as part of educational background is weighed along with physical and mental limitations caused by their impairments, age and work experience. The SSA, however, has proposed changing this rule.

If the agency amends this rule, it will no longer consider that a claimant cannot speak English as relevant to the ability to work.

Hepatitis C as a qualifying disability for SSDI

We represent Social Security Disability Insurance claimants with many physical and mental impairments that prevent them from performing meaningful work. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that can cause severe disability for some of our clients.

Migraine awareness: Headaches can cause disability

At our law firm, we fight for people whose headaches prevent them from working, either alone or in combination with other physical and mental impairments. Migraines and other headaches can cause excruciating pain and a variety of other difficult symptoms that may prevent productive work activity and can form the basis for an award of Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI.

The American Migraine Foundation has established June as nationally recognized Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. In that spirit, we discuss the kinds of symptoms that victims of severe headaches endure.

How does the Social Security Administration determine disability?

When you apply to the Social Security Administration for Social Security Disability Insurance, it can seem mysterious what the agency is doing behind the curtain to decide if you are disabled and eligible for SSDI.

Remember, disability for this purpose is different from disability for workers' compensation or private disability insurance. SSDI is essentially public disability insurance that does not pay for partial or short-term disability. Eligibility depends on the presence of a physical or mental medical impairment (or impairments) expected to last at least a year or result in death and that is severe enough to prevent meaningful work.

June is PTSD Awareness Month: Honoring our clients with PTSD

At our law firm, we work with clients who have posttraumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, a serious disorder based on severe symptoms that manifest from previous trauma like that experienced in combat or disaster or from abuse or violence. We work hard to help PTSD claimants gather evidence the Social Security Administration requires for purposes of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income to prove that the PTSD is an established diagnosis that prevents meaningful work.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 3.5% of adults in the country have PTSD, and women have double the risk of men. PTSD can occur from direct traumatic experience, from trauma experienced by a loved one or from working in a profession that deals with traumatic situations.

Part 2: How does the SSA evaluate fibromyalgia?

Today we continue our look at fibromyalgia, a potentially disabling illness that afflicts many of our clients. We work with them and their doctors to solidly establish their disability before the Social Security Administration (SSA) in their applications for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, known as SSDI and SSI, respectively.

As we explained in part 1, fibromyalgia can be one of the harder impairments to prove because of the subjectivity of most symptoms, including pain, fatigue and problems with concentration and clarity of thought.