David Dopkin, Attorney at Law-Attorney At law

Call for a free consultation with a trusted,
experienced SSD and SSI lawyer

Toll free
view our practice areas

Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

Use these 4 tips to improve your odds of a successful SSDI claim

The vast majority of Social Security Disability (SSD) claims are denied during their initial applications and on the first round of appeals, which forces many genuinely disabled people to endure long months of waiting before they can actually plead their case in person to an administrative law judge. If you want to avoid that possibility, there are some steps you can take that will improve the odds your claim will get approved more easily.

1. Make sure your medical provider's information is complete and correct

What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can affect almost anybody who has suffered through a significant, traumatic or life-threatening event. Whether you're the direct victim of physical abuse or a first-responder who has witnessed some horrific accidents, you may experience neurochemical changes in your brain that permanently alter your ability to cope with ordinary events or function normally.

How do you recognize the long-term effects of severe trauma? Long after any physical wounds have healed or a violent incident ended, trauma survivors may experience:

  • Intrusive memories of the traumatic event that are deeply upsetting
  • Flashbacks that cause them to relive their trauma all over again
  • Problems sleeping because of the nightmares and night terrors related to their trauma
  • Panic attacks or other severe emotional and physical reactions (like hyperventilating) to reminders ("triggers") of their trauma
  • Problems controlling their stress reactions, including a hyper-sensitive startle reaction
  • Hyper-vigilance and scanning, as if they are always suspecting violence or some renewed attack
  • Self-destructive behavior, like drinking or drug use, that may subdue their memories for a while
  • Angry outbursts and difficulty regulating their emotions, particularly when triggered
  • Trouble retaining friendships, romantic relationships or familial ties because of their outbursts, apathy or other emotional problems
  • Suicidal thoughts and overtures, especially when distressed
  • Memory issues, difficulty concentrating and problems completing organized tasks
  • Panic attacks or a general avoidance of people, places or situations that could remind them of their trauma

Is mental illness really a disabling condition?

One of the cruelest remarks made about the Social Security Disability (SSDI) program in recent history was a senator's comment that "over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts."

Statements like that do a great deal of harm to the public perception of how the disability program works, who receives disability benefits and the nature of mental illness (and, quite frankly, back injuries). That kind of dismissive statement also unfairly stigmatizes the victims of mental illness and mocks their particular struggles.

How do you prove you can't do sedentary work?

It takes quite a bit of convincing before the Social Security Administration (SSA) will agree that someone is disabled and unable to earn a living. For most disability applicants, the biggest hurdle is getting past the question about whether or not they're capable of doing any other kind of work -- especially sedentary jobs.

Sedentary jobs are considered the least physically taxing types of work activity. Someone who applies for Social Security Disability due to a back injury, for example, may clearly be unable to return to work as a bricklayer -- but SSA may insist that they could work a desk job at a phone bank with no real problem.

Social Security has new rule that will hurt around 10,000 yearly

A new Social Security Administration (SSA) rule goes into effect on April 27 that is likely to make it a lot harder for around 10,000 people every year to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Part of SSA's decision-making process on each disability claim is looking to see if the claimant could do some other kind of work that is more suitable to their physical and mental limitations. In the past, a claimant's inability to speak English was generally considered to be fairly limiting when it comes to job opportunities or retraining. That's particularly true for middle-aged and older applicants who don't have a lot of education.

Applying for Social Security Disability with diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common afflictions in this country. Roughly 34.2 million people -- slightly more than 10% of the population -- suffer from some form of the disease.

Many people with diabetes live full, productive lives with little interruption to their work or personal lives. Others have a lot more trouble. The Social Security Administration recognizes that diabetes can, sometimes, be disabling.

Proposed federal budget puts Social Security Disability at risk

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide an essential lifeline to millions of disabled Americans of all ages. Since the definition of "disabled" is so strict, applicants have to go through a lengthy and stringent approval process. Many wait months or years for their benefits to start after going through unfair denials and finally getting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Why make keeping those benefits any harder?

Don't fall out of touch with the SSI Disability examiner

When you file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you probably already know you're in for a long wait before you hear any kind of answer on your claim. However, it's important to stay in touch with the Disability Examiner (DE) that's handling your case. Otherwise, you could put your entire claim in unnecessary danger.

Here's what you need to know:

Social Security could take a giant leap backwards in time

Imagine this: You develop a serious condition that's disabling, chronic and progressive. You know that you'll never get better, so it's a huge relief when you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) and the related medical benefits.

But your relief doesn't last for long. A mere two years after you start getting benefits, you're asked to prove -- again -- that your condition is disabling. A mistake in the process -- even a missing letter from your doctor -- and you're suddenly told that you no longer disabled and your benefits are about to be cut off.

Can you get Social Security Disability benefits for OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a pervasive mental disorder that can disrupt a victim's entire life. Beset by obsessions, or thoughts that cause anxiety, and compulsions, or repetitive behaviors that are responses to those obsessive thoughts, sufferers may be unable to function normally in their daily life and also be unable to work.

The National Institute of Mental Health says that OCD is both chronic and long-lasting, and notes that there are genetic, traumatic and neurological causes behind the condition.