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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

Injury or illness can put Houston workers in dire financial shape

In the current economic environment, it is difficult enough for workers in the Houston area to earn enough income to pay for all of their recurring living expenses. But when a person's health leaves them unable to maintain full-time employment, they may feel that they have little hope for being able to keep up with their bills. For people who suffer a long-term injury or illness that renders them unfit to work, this problem can quickly become a terrible reality.

At our Houston-based law firm, we understand just how scary it is to be unable to work. However, this is the kind of situation where Social Security Disability benefits may be an option. Attorney David Dopkin concentrates his practice on helping people navigate the SSDI system and secure benefits so that they can pay their medical bills and other living expenses.

Skin disorders can qualify a person for disability benefits

When people worry about exposure to chemicals in the workplace, the first concern that comes to mind is usually the danger of inhaling those chemicals on a daily basis. Because exposure to chemical inhalation in the workplace can pose such an immense health risk to workers, organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have pushed to implement regulatory changes to guard against these problems. However, inhalation is not the only potential health hazard that people face when they work around chemicals.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, millions of workers throughout the U.S. may be exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. Like chemical inhalation, absorption of chemicals through the skin can lead to occupational diseases and work-related illness.

How does memory impairment relate to functional capacity?

People in Houston who are familiar with this blog probably know that when a person suffers from a mental or physical problem that limits their ability to work, they may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. But how does the Social Security Administration assess whether a person can work and earn a living?

Under the Code of Federal Regulations, one of the factors that the SSA evaluates when determining whether an applicant is eligible for benefits is the applicant's "residual functional capacity." A person's residual functional capacity is a measure of the maximum work that a person can do, mentally and physically, despite their disability.

Help that is available in addition to SSI benefits

The Social Security Administration recognizes that people in Houston and across the nation who have minimal income and are blind, disabled or are 65 years-old and up, need special help when it comes to covering their expenses. Thus, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is designed to help people who are in this position.

A prior post on this blog discussed the fact that people who receive SSI benefits can still pursue employment income. Likewise, SSI recipients can also receive benefits through other governmental programs, without jeopardizing their SSI benefits.

New budget act breathes life into SSDI system

During the past few months, the insolvency of the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) system has loomed large while Congress has debated ways to handle the cash-strapped program. As a prior post on this blog explained, the most recent report from the Social Security Trustees showed that the Social Security Administration (SSA) would have to slash Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits by as much as 20 percent at the end of 2016 if Congress was unable to find a solution to the program's dire financial problems.

However, Houston residents may be interested to hear that recently, Congress did find a way to keep paying out full SSD benefits, at least through the year 2022. As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which Congress passed and President Obama signed into law, payroll taxes will be the primary method of keeping the SSD program afloat without cutting benefits to the nearly 11 million Americans that rely on the monthly payments. The Budget Act re-allocates a small percentage of Americans' current payroll taxes toward the SSD program.

A back injury can derail a person's career

In a prior post, this blog discussed back pain and the fact that nearly 30 million Americans suffer from it at some point in their life. For many people in Houston, this might mean chronic aches and pains that worsen over time. For others, back pain can be a more immediate and severe problem. In either case, back pain can greatly affect a person's life, leaving them virtually helpless when it comes to doing the things that they are used to doing on an ordinary basis.

When back pain becomes so severe and pervasive that the person suffering from it cannot work, they may be able to seek Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Whether a person sits in an office chair and works at a desk all day long, or works in one of Houston's various businesses related to the oil industry, extensive back pain can make performing their daily job-related tasks virtually impossible.

Liver disease can have many causes, varying symptoms

Every living person has a liver, and it plays a vital role keeping the person alive and healthy. The liver helps people digest their food and it filters the blood to get rid of toxic substances. When a person in Texas has a problem with their liver, they might not even know it at first because in many cases, the early stages of liver damage do not cause any recognizable symptoms. On the other hand, as they progress, liver problems can lead to other debilitating conditions.

When people think about liver disease, the first thing that may come to mind is alcohol abuse. However, it can be caused by other factors unrelated to alcohol consumption including genetics, viruses and toxic chemicals. Likewise, liver disease can affect people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Study sheds some new light on schizophrenia

Doctors and researchers in Houston and throughout the country go to tremendous efforts to understand various illnesses so that they can eventually find new ways of helping people who suffer from those conditions. Likewise, organizations and private individuals pour a great deal of time and money into helping the medical community achieve its goals. Despite these efforts, some human conditions continue to present challenges when it comes to understanding and treating them.

Schizophrenia is one such mental illness that has mystified researchers over the years. Although more than three million people in the U.S. suffer from schizophrenia, doctors have had difficulty figuring out ways to diagnose the early stages of the disease. Recently, however, a new study uncovered some interesting results pertaining to the early diagnosis of schizophrenia.

What does the Texas DDS do for SSI benefits?

As prior posts on this blog have explained, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that helps people with few financial resources, and who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65, to pay their daily living expenses. The SSI program, which is centrally managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a vital lifeline for many people in the Houston area. But how does the State of Texas come into the picture as far as helping disabled Texans get the benefits that they need?

The Disability Determination Services (DDS) is a division of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, and its mission is to make disability determinations to help Texans get benefits. A person who is seeking SSI benefits, or other benefits through the SSA, starts by submitting an application to the SSA. Once the application is submitted at the local SSA office, the DDS gets the application and assigns it to a specialist within that division.

We can help with your Social Security disability claim

Houston workers have the ability to access disability insurance through Social Security when their illnesses and injuries qualify them for financial assistance. However, the process of securing such benefits can be complicated and confusing for individuals who have never before had to work within the Social Security system. When you begin to investigate if and how you should pursue a Social Security Disability Insurance claim, you may choose to work with a legal professional who can help you navigate the requirements of the government program.

David Dopkin includes in his practice the pursuit of Social Security Disability Insurance claims. Many SSDI claims begin with an individual filing a claim with a local Social Security office. That local office may evaluate a SSDI claim for important information not related to the claimant's health. The claim may then be sent to a Disability Determination Services office for review of the medical component of the claim.