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Social Security Disability Blog

Easy Way to Register to Vote and Absentee Ballot Voting ()

Easy Way to Register to Vote and Absentee Ballot Voting Ohio makes it easy to register to vote and to also request to vote by mail (absentee ballot). Here are the easy steps to take. If you want to register to vote, click here. If you want to vote by mail (absentee ballot), click here. You will have to print and mail in the form, but it is far easier – and safer – than standing in line. If you need help, or don’t have a printer, you can call your local board of elections and ask that an application be sent to you. Phone More...

Social Security Disability – Busting the Myths ()

If you have applied for disability, you’ll probably hear a lot from your family and friends about Social Security’s two programs for disabled Americans – Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income benefits (“SSI”). But much of what you hear may not be correct – about how easy it is or other myths concerning disability is misleading. Since the best way to dispel the myths is with facts, we’ll discuss some of the common myths: Myth #1: There are huge numbers of people who are on disability benefits. Fact: FALSE. As of 2019, there were 8.5 million Americans receiving SSDI benefits, out More...

A Focus on Our Wonderful Staff ()

A Focus on Our Wonderful Staff It is hard to pick who to spotlight as we are surrounded by dedicated, hard working people. Pictured below are Mary Ann, Valerie, Sara and Donna J. (pre-covid 19 and masks). Each have been with the firm for many years now, and have contributed mightily to helping our clients fight their way through litigation and disability issues. Mary Ann (administrative appeals) is known for her smile and wit, Valarie (legal assistant) for her energy, compassion and distinctive laugh (giggle), and Sara (bookkeeping) for her big eyes, work ethic, and family values (her mother also works in the office, 50 More...

Treating Physician’s Role Diluted at Disability Hearings ()

An important part of disability law – and your own health needs – is reliance upon the advice of your physician. Their medical opinions are vital, both personally and from a legal standpoint. Until recently, your doctor’s medical opinion on your limitations and abilities was given high priority, or a presumption of validity in legal jurisprudence. More recently however, the current administration and the Social Security Administration have reduced the value of your treating physician’s opinions. SSA now can substitute the opinion of a consulting doctor who may examine you once, or perform a simple paper review of your medical records. The traditional case law More...

Distribution of Economic Impact Checks and Program’s Effect on Social Security Checks ()

You are likely entitled to a check from U.S. government. No action needed by most people at this time – IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020 WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people… Who is eligible for the economic impact payment? Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount More...

Food Pantries, Social Service Organizations Respond to Pandemic ()

As this virus hits our world, some segments of our society get hit harder. The unemployed and disabled are at the forefront. Our firm has long been affiliated with the Hunger Network which provides and distributes food to pantries throughout Northeast Ohio. Its Food Rescue Program is more valuable than ever, getting unused food from grocery stores or restaurants (food that would otherwise go to waste) into the hands of those in need. The Food Rescue program is based on volunteer drivers that pick up and drop off food in their cars, Uber style. Looking to help? Volunteer as a Food Rescue Hero, your efforts will go a long way towards More...

Social Service Organizations Providing Assistance, Receiving Emergency Funding ()

Beyond the heroic actions of doctors, nurses, hospital workers,grocery store employees, many charitable organizations are recognizing this is the time to step up their game. We applaud the efforts of these individuals and organizations. A coalition of Northeast Ohio philanthropic, corporate and civic partners have joined together to create the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund to deploy resources to nonprofit organizations serving on the frontlines of the pandemic in the region. The COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund has given sizable grants to multiple agencies in crisis, including shelters, food pantries, domestic abuse shelters, mental health organizations, youth service non-profits, organizations for vulnerable older adults, and More...

Coronavirus Update for Our Clients ()

Update April 2020 : We are glad to report that most all of our client’s legal proceedings are still moving forward, and our office is fully functioning. We recognize how difficult this crisis is for our clientele and are here to help. You, our clients, remain our top priority. We are very grateful for the hard work by our staff and our attorneys. Social Security disability hearings are now being held by telephone, in Ohio and in many of the other states where we practice. In litigation, civil pretrials and other hearings are also moving forward, although mostly by telephone. We view this as far More...

Food As Medicine Produce Distribution ()

Food as Medicine is a free produce distribution program through the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in collaboration with health care facilities to improve health and wellbeing by giving access to healthy food. NEON (Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Services) has six different locations where produce is distributed. For times and locations of distributions see below. NEON Food as Medicine 2020 Schedule Flyer To learn more about the program, visit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank website: https://www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/programs/food-as-medicine More...

Andrew Margolius and Marcia Margolius Recognized as Super Lawyers in 2020 ()

Congratulations to Andrew Margolius and Marcia Margolius for their selection by Super Lawyers in 2020. Andrew Margolius has been recognized in the area of employment law, and Marcia Margolius has been recognized in the area of Social Security. Super Lawyers identifies the top five percent of lawyers in each state “to create a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.” Super Lawyers uses a multiphase process in order to select attorneys, which includes nomination, independent research, peer evaluation, and final selection. More information about Super Lawyers is available in their regional newsletter. More...

Compassionate Allowance ()

The Social Security Administration allows for quick hearings or an on-the-record decision without a hearing for what is vaguely described as a compassionate allowance. These cases are often difficult to identify and prove. The regulation states: Compassionate Allowances (CAL)The CAL process identifies diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the Listing of Impairments (20 CFR Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404-Listing of Impairments). For more information about the CAL initiative, see POMS DI 11005.604. Most CAL cases are identified at the initial level of adjudication, but a new condition that develops later can also qualify for CAL processing. Subsequent identification, including More...

Critical Illness Cases Can Be Expedited ()

There is also a way to get a quicker hearing date if a claimant has a critical illness. This occurs when a claimant’s illness is terminal and referred to as a “TERI case” (short for Terminally ill). In this instances the inevitably the claimant will end up passing away. Due to their sensitive time frame TERI cases are given evaluation priority for as soon as possible. Critical illness case claims will still be subject to the regular evaluation process. The regulation states: I-2-1-40. Critical Cases A. General The Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) determines a case is “critical” and requires special processing in the following More...

Dire Need Cases ()

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is well aware of how incredibly long it takes to schedule a hearing for someone asserting disability. Disability applicants often have to wait a year and a half for this hearing, even while their funds are disappearing, they are hurting, and bills are stacking up. There is no doubt in our mind that SSA needs more of a budget to employ more judges and staff to reduce the terribly long wait time for these hearings. Many applicants will win, showing that the SSA was in error for denying these people disability benefits and unnecessarily causing these hardships. Social Security has More...

Disability and Facebook ()

Recent articles indicate that the Trump Administration is expanding Social Security’s ability and funding to look at a disability applicant’s Facebook or social media accounts. This, however, is nothing new as Social Security has always been able to investigate issues like this. However, there is now more of a focus on this “evidence.” If, for example, a picture on Facebook shows you walking around a mall when you have stated you have problems ambulating, it will be evidence that you can ambulate. It might even negate another picture which shows, for example, you using a four pronged cane at a birthday party. It might also More...

Claims Designated as “Critical” at the Hearing Level (Dire Need) ()

The wait for a hearing with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) can be a long one. We hope for quick hearing dates but often must wait until the judge sets it up on his or her calendar and that can take months. Presently, in the Cleveland ODAR office, claimants can expect a hearing approximately sixteen months after a hearing is requested. Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis wait times are similar. In certain cases, however, ODAR identifies claims as “critical” so that they are expedited. Critical cases are those where: •    a claimant’s illness is alleged or identified as terminal (i.e., untreatable, irreversible, More...

Procedure and What Happens at a Social Security Disability Hearing? ()

If your initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, you will typically file an appeal (called a Request for Reconsideration).  If that appeal is denied, you must then attend a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, who will then decide if you are disabled. Currently, it takes anywhere from 12-19 months to obtain a hearing date from the Social Security Administration.  However, the hearing is arguably the best opportunity you will have to prove to Social Security that you are disabled. It is the one time in the disability process that you will have the opportunity to be in a room and speak More...

New Federal Court Decision ()

In May of 2015 a national publication of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) published the MM&A case involving a District Court’s reversal for violating the “Treating Physician Rule”: The district court remanded the case because the ALJ failed to follow the treating physician rule by not providing “clearly sufficient reasons for only affording ‘some weight’ to the treating physicians’ opinions….” The ALJ did not provide good reasons “or in fact any reason for the weight he assigns” the opinions. In his decision, the ALJ only stated that he “gave consideration” and “some weight” to the opinions. The error was not harmless More...

Blood Disorders Can Form Disabling Basis For Receipt of Disability Benefits ()

Blood disorders frequently require blood transfusions and or hospitalization and often cause crippling fatigue. The following blood disorders may be disabling: chronic anemia, sickle cell disease, chronic thrombocytopenia, hereditary telangiectasia, hemophilia and similar coagulation defects, polycythemia, myelofibrosis, chronic granulocytopenia, and aplastic anemias with bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. Simply being diagnosed with one of these conditions will be insufficient to prove that your condition disables you. The condition must also be severe enough to prevent you from working. In addition, you must meet certain additional criteria based on the condition diagnosed. Chronic Anemia In order to establish entitlement to disability benefits as a result More...

The Importance of Your Doctor’s Opinion in the Social Security Disability System ()

One of our best weapons for obtaining social security benefits is the opinion of your doctor. Both the Courts and the Social Security Administration place great emphasis on the opinions of a claimant’s doctor concerning disabilities and symptoms. Your own doctor is generally given deference regarding his or her opinion, although a judge can disregard it if they specify good reasons. The case law in our jurisdiction and Social Security’s regulations are well settled: This Circuit has stated “in all cases there remains a presumption, albeit a rebuttable one, that the opinion of a treating physician is entitled to great deference, its noncontrolling status notwithstanding.” Rogers More...

Disability and the Failure to Follow Prescribed Medical Treatment, or Inability to Access Medical Treatment. ()

How does the Social Security Administration address situations where an individual has a disability, but does not follow prescribed medical treatment, or who does not obtain treatment due to inability to afford care and due to a lack of health insurance?  Social Security Regulation (“SSR”) 82-59 addresses these situations. SSR 82-59 provides that an individual with a disabling impairment which is amenable to treatment that could be expected to restore the person’s ability to work must follow the prescribed treatment in order to be found to be under a disability, unless there is a justifiable cause for the failure to follow the prescribed treatment.  Thus, More...

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