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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

Disability benefits for panic attacks

Anyone who suffers from panic attacks faces a double burden: the attacks themselves can be terrifying, and they often prevent a person from functioning in a job, a relationship or both. Modern psychiatry has developed many techniques and medicines for helping persons who suffer panic attacks, but the medicine is not perfect. Many people living in Houston still suffer from panic attacks that are severe enough to interfere with their ability to perform their jobs. Fortunately, panic attack sufferers may be able to obtain Social Security disability benefits for their condition from the Social Security Administration if they satisfy the regulatory criteria for eligibility.

The SSA has labeled panic attacks as a form of "anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders." Symptoms and signs of an anxiety disorder include excessive anxiety, worry, apprehension, fear, restlessness, difficulty with concentration, hyper-vigilance and muscle tension. Other disorders in this category are generalized anxiety, agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Disability benefits for a terminal illness

Anyone who receives a diagnosis of terminal illness, or has a loved one who has received such a diagnosis, usually is not very interested in the financial aspects of the illness and the expected death. Nevertheless, many Houston residents can obtain significant financial assistance from the Social Security Disability Insurance for illness program even while the illness progresses.

Many people receive disability payments during their working years, and these payments convert to retirement payments when the recipient reaches age 65. If the person receives a diagnosis of a terminal illness on top of the previous illness, the amount of benefits will not increase. However, anyone who is not receiving SSDI benefits and is stricken by a terminal illness may be able to receive disability benefits.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for a traumatic brain injury

Brain injuries can be life changing events. Houston residents who have suffered such injuries are often unable to work even after the injury has healed. A common question from victims of these injuries is whether they are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. As with many serious injuries, the answer to this question depends upon the nature of the injury, its effect on the victim's ability to work and the prognosis for future recovery.

To obtain SSDI benefits, a person must be totally disabled by virtue of an illness or injury. Total disability means that the victim is unable to perform the duties of employment and is unable to earn more than the maximum prescribed by the Social Security Administration. (The 2019 income limit for non-blind individuals is n $1220 per month.) In addition, the injury must be expected to endure for at least twelve months or to cause the death of the victim. These conditions apply to every application for SSDI benefits, regardless of the type of disabling injury suffered by the victim.

What are "work credits" and how do they affect SSDI benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a tremendous boon to any Houston resident who has been totally disabled by an injury or illness. Many of these same individuals are mystified by the application process that is required to receive SSDI benefits. This post has frequently discussed the definition of disability and the factors that make a disability total. In this installment, the concept of "work credits" will be explained.

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, a person must have accumulated enough work credits to pass the minimum threshold established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). A person earns one work credit for a calendar quarter when he or she earns at least $1,320 during the quarter. A person can earn up to four credits per year. The amount of earned income necessary for one work credit is changed -- usually upward -- by the SSA every few years.

Planning for financial survival while waiting for Social Security

Social Security and Social Security Disability both help people who cannot earn a wage to support themselves. These very necessary programs provide a lifeline to thousands of Americans each year. Unfortunately, there is usually a long waiting period for Social Security Disability benefits.

Even in the simplest of circumstances, applicants can find themselves waiting up to two years for the approval of their application. If the situation involves a denial and an appeal, it could take even longer. During that time, individuals will struggle to support themselves financially. Thankfully, there are some options available to those waiting for disability income.

Obtaining SSI benefits for children

Houston parents whose child is either blind or disabled may not be aware of financial assistance that is available under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), and it provides financial assistance for children suffering from conditions that prevent them from working.

To receive SSI benefits, a child must be either blind or disabled. A child is anyone under the age of 18 or under the age of 22 and regularly attending school. Blindness is defined as a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye or a visual field limitation in the better eye that restricts vision to an angle of no greater than 20 degrees. Disability for a child is defined as a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that causes marked and severe functional limitations and can be expected to either result in death or persist for at least 12 months. When the child reaches the age of 18, the SSA evaluates the disability according to the definitions that apply to adults.

Obtaining disability benefits for peripheral neuropathy

Many residents of the Houston area have experienced a disorder of the nervous system known as peripheral neuropathy. The disorder manifests itself as weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. The pain is often described by patients as burning, stabbing or tingling. Peripheral neuropathy can be the basis for a successful claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if the symptoms interfere with a person's ability to perform the duties of his or her job.

The first sign of peripheral neuropathy is often the gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in the feet or hands. If the neuropathy is present in sensory nerves, the first symptom may be jabbing or burning pain, extreme sensitivity to touch and lack of coordination. Muscle weakness may be a symptom if the neuropathy affects the motor nerves. Medical evidence of the condition must be provided by qualified medical professions who have treated the patient or who have examined the patient for the purpose of establishing the cause and extent of the neuropathy.

What evidence will support an SSDI claim for mental conditions?

Many people in the Houston area suffer from mental conditions that may support a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, but they are afraid to make a claim because they do not know what kind of evidence they must provide or, worse, they are afraid that proving the claim will require them to disclose personal information that they consider to be extremely embarrassing. Proving a claim for disability benefits based on a mental condition can be far less traumatic than most people imagine.

The SSDI regulations recognize many mental conditions as adequate grounds for awarding disability benefits. The conditions include neurocognitive disorders, schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders and many others. Regardless of the specific disorder, the evidentiary requirements are similar. Most importantly, the applicant must provide evidence that he or she suffers from a medically provable disorder. The evidence must be provided by an acceptable medical source and cannot be limited to the claimant's own subjective experiences.

Preparing for an SSDI hearing - Part II

In our last post, we presented general guidelines for preparing for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. In this post, we will cover specific pointers for ensuring that the claimant can present oral testimony that is clear, persuasive and effective.

The most important rule is to "tell the truth." Give testimony plainly and clearly. Exaggerations can be as detrimental as an outright falsehood because most exaggerations cannot withstand cross-examination by the ALJ. A claimant must take pains to understand the case by reviewing the medical record. A claimant is not required to testify with the same level of expertise as a physician, but the testimony should nevertheless clearly express the claimant's understanding of the medical and employment issues the disability claim rests.

Social media could impact your Social Security Disability claim

Connecting with Social Security Disability when you need that income is not a simple process. All too often, people find themselves waiting a year or even two years before they receive benefits. A large number of people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits initially receive a denial of their claim, often for strange or seemingly frivolous reasons.

It is always in your best interest to take great care when applying for Social Security Disability. You want to make sure that you fill out the application accurately and thoroughly. You also need to obtain documentation from your doctor about your condition and how it impacts your life and ability to work. Finally, you should be cautious about how you socialize and how you use social media while awaiting a response on your claim and for the duration of your benefits.