Pashler law review article cited favorably by Judge Posner for a Seventh Circuit panel when granting claimant’s benefits.

Read the decision: click here.

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Documentation for Medical Leave or Disability Benefits

Buffalo disability lawyerA Buffalo Disability Lawyer on Steps to take Before Applying for Disability

Many people struggle with disabling medical conditions for some time before they face the reality; they are no longer able to work. However, as a Buffalo disability lawyer can attest, the mere fact that an individual can no longer work does not guarantee they will be approved for benefits. It is essential that a claim be submitted in the proper way with the proper documentation. There are steps a Buffalo disability lawyer can recommend prior to applying that will greatly increase the likelihood of an approval of benefits.

Inform Your Primary Doctor

Most people have a long history with their primary care physician yet a Buffalo disability lawyer is often surprised to learn they applied for disability benefits without even discussing it with their doctor. Of course your complete medical record and evaluation from your doctor will be required for the disability application, but your doctor may be helpful to you if they know of your intentions in advance.

Speak with Your Doctor about Your Restrictions and Activities

An important part of any disability evaluation is an objective review of what you can and cannot do due to your medical condition, which as your Buffalo disability lawyer will further explain, is a two part analysis. First, the reviewers will need to know exactly what work-related restrictions you may have. For example, are you limited in how many pounds you can lift? Do you need to sit down with great frequency? These are important questions not only as they relate to your current job but also as to your ability to perform other work.

Have your daily activities been affected? Are there things you used to do that you can’t do anymore? Can you care for yourself?

A Buffalo disability attorney understands that discussing these issues with your doctor will prepare both of you for the disability review.

Keep a Medical Log

Begin a daily journal to record your symptoms. You will be asked about your symptoms, how often they appear and how severe they are. A Buffalo disability lawyer will emphasize how much more powerful a log is than an estimate made from memory. It is important to include any reactions you may have had from medicine or other treatment you were prescribed. Be as accurate as possible and don’t exaggerate, but also be sure to include how your medical condition makes you feel emotionally.

Obtain a Copy and Review Your Medical Records

The disability examiners will be looking at this; you should too, there may be errors. Even if accurate, a Buffalo disability lawyer cautions that some doctors don’t keep particularly precise records. If you have regularly complained about certain symptoms and the records don’t reflect that, you may be able to explain to your doctor how inclusion of this information may be helpful to your claim.

Contact Buffalo Disability Attorney for Legal Advice

The disability process can be a complex one and denials are not uncommon. Improve your chances of approval. Call Chris Pashler, a Buffalo disability attorney, at 716-874-1739.

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How State Agency Determinations and Hearing Decisions Differ

disability lawyer in BuffaloThe outcome of a Social Security disability case can differ dramatically depending on whether it’s considered by a state agency or by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Each evaluates disabilities differently, but one thing they have in common is that the decision regarding the disability can’t contradict the available medical evidence. An experienced Buffalo social security disability lawyer understands this an can plan accordingly.

State Agency Determinations

As any skilled Buffalo social security disability lawyer knows, state agencies strictly review cold files when making determinations. In most cases, the Listing of Impairments weighs heavily or is the only evidence that is used to come to a favorable decision. Although it’s rarely made obvious, the Listing of Impairments is often used as the basis for denials too, particularly for claimants under the age of 50, even though several successful lawsuits have been filed.

Buffalo social security disability lawyers understand that state agencies typically use specific formulas to assess Residual Functional Capacity when it comes to certain conditions. This results in claimants with certain conditions to be treated the same regardless of extenuating circumstances. It’s exceedingly rare for a claimant to be found unable to do less than a broad range of sedentary work.

ALJ Decisions

Any Buffalo social security disability lawyer will tell you that ALJs, on the other hand, use claimants’ medical findings to set the parameters for a broad array of potential RFCs, so it’s more common for findings of disability to be made. Not surprisingly, this also means that claimants under 50 whose cases are assessed by ALJs are more likely to be found to be disabled.

Retain an Experienced Buffalo Social Security Disability Attorney

If you need a Buffalo social security disability attorney, Pashler & Devereaux can help. Our Buffalo social security disability lawyers are well-versed regarding ALJs, state agencies and how they arrive at their decisions. Attempting to handle this kind of thing without a talented Buffalo social security disability attorney is a bad move. With help from our skilled Buffalo social security disability lawyers, things are more likely to end up in your favor. Call Pashler & Devereaux at 716-874-1739 to get started now.

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Disability Attorneys in Buffalo on Receiving VA Benefits and Social Security Disability at the Same Time

disability attorneys in BuffaloIndividuals may receive both Veteran’s Administration (VA) compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits simultaneously, and many veterans apply for both at the same time. Unlike other types of benefits, disability attorneys in Buffalo emphasize that there is no offset involved for those who receive both VA and SSD payments.

VA Benefits

Veterans who were not dishonorably discharged that sustained a service-related injury or illness or who had a condition made worse by military service may apply for benefits. According to disability attorneys in Buffalo, a veteran need not be totally disabled to receive VA benefits. Once the VA has received a complete application, it will review the information and arrive at what disability attorneys in Buffalo call a “compensable rating.” Essentially, this is how disabled the VA considers the applicant to be and is measured in percentages in increments of 10: 0 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent and so forth. Benefits are available for those with a rating as low as 10 percent.

SSD Benefits

In contrast, disability attorneys in Buffalo will explain that the SSA defines disability in all or nothing terms; either a claimant is totally disabled or they are not disabled, and their claim will be denied. Although any medical condition, not just a service-related condition, qualifies one for SSD, there is a requirement that the applicant have earned a sufficient number of work credits to be eligible. For most people, this means they must have worked five out of the last ten years. Importantly, disability attorneys in Buffalo report that military service is included in this determination. Unfortunately, if a veteran has not worked at all in recent years, they may not be eligible for SSD.

The Treating Physician

Under SSD guidelines, the claimant’s treating physician’s opinion and recommendations are given deference. Often, this can be the difference in approval of benefits or denial. Conversely, disability attorneys in Buffalo will tell you that the VA bases its decision on the entire file and no special weight is given to a treating physician’s opinion.

How a Decision in One Agency Impacts the Decision in the Other

The VA does not place much weight on an SSD finding of disability. Primarily, as a Buffalo disability law firm indicates, that is because SSD is looking at disability resulting from any cause not just from military service. However, the VA is required to review the SSD file.

In contrast, if a claimant is rated at least 70 percent disabled by the VA, the likelihood of approval of SSD benefits is significantly increased. A 70 percent rating by the VA indicates to Social Security that the person is either incapable of working or would find full time work extremely difficult.

Contact a Buffalo Disability Law Firm for Legal Advice

If you are a veteran with a service-related condition, it is important to fully understand all that you are entitled to. Call Chris Pashler, a Buffalo disability law firm group, at 716-874-1739.

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A Buffalo Disability Law Firm on How Workers’ Compensation Impacts SSD Benefits

 

Buffalo disability law firmAlthough it may seem counterintuitive to many, it is possible to collect both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits at the same time. In fact, a Buffalo disability law firm reports this to be not uncommon.

Separate Eligibility Requirements

The typical scenario a Buffalo disability law firm sees is when a person is injured on the job, initiates a workers’ comp claim and begins receiving weekly benefits. At some point thereafter, they realize that the work injury, some other medical condition or a combination of the two renders them disabled, and they apply for SSD benefits, which they receive. Although workers’ comp is administered by each state and SSD is a federal program, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has rules that limit the amount a person can collect from certain public benefits payments; workers’ comp payments are one of those that limit SSD benefits.

Workers’ Comp Offset

SSD will calculate what a Buffalo disability law firm describes as the “applicable limit”, which is the maximum amount of total monthly benefits a person is allowed to receive under federal law. If the amount of the workers’ comp benefit plus the SSD benefit the recipient would be entitled to exceed the applicable limit, the SSA will reduce the SSD benefit accordingly. As a practical matter, a Buffalo disability law firm indicates this offset impacts low wage earners more so than those who previously earned higher wages.

Calculating the Applicable Limit

The most the recipient can receive in monthly benefits is generally determined as 80 percent of the individual’s pre-injury income, or what a Buffalo disability law firm refers to as the “average current earnings.” If any family member of the recipient is also receiving SSD benefits, though, that may also be a factor.

Calculating the Average Current Earnings

Although there are other methods, most worker’s average current earnings are determined by what is known as the “high one” method. As explained by a Buffalo disability law firm, SSA looks at the worker’s average monthly earnings from one calendar year, either the year the disability began or any one of the five years preceding that year.

Minimizing the Offset for Lump Sum Settlements

Often a workers’ comp recipient will ultimately settle their case. For offset purposes, the SSA will typically consider lump sum to be a continuation of monthly benefits. For instance, if the monthly benefits were $1000 and the lump sum was $20,000, the SSA would offset the SSD benefit $1000 for another 20 months. A Buffalo disability lawyer may be able to devise a strategy to minimize the impact of an offset. The SSA will look at the specific language of the settlement agreement; if the agreement calls for the lump sum to be meant as a monthly payment until the recipient reaches 65, for example, this could reduce or entirely eliminate the offset.

Contact a Buffalo Disability Lawyer for Legal Advice

If you qualify for both workers’ comp and SSD, make sure you are receiving all that you are entitled to. Call Chris Pashler, a Buffalo disability lawyer, at 716-874-1739.

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Establishing “Good Cause” When Your Appeal Is Late

Buffalo veteran disability claims lawyerAs any Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer can attest, the disability process can be a bureaucratic pain. You may find you have missed essential deadlines and may fear that you’ve lost your right to benefits. But with the help of a Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer, you can convince the SSA to grant you extensions.

The deadline for filing an appeal is an important one to meet. If you fail to meet the deadline for this step known as the request for review of the determination or decision, then you should work with a Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer for guidance.

Your Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer will help you to file your appeal with a letter that has the details for why your documents did not meet the deadline. Depending on your story, the SSA will determine whether you had good cause for delaying your appeal. They may require an affidavit in some cases. It’s best to work with a Buffalo Social Security disability attorney such as those at Pashler & Devereaux when you’re dealing with a late request for review.

The law also states that the authority handling the appeal is the entity responsible for the “good cause” decision. Therefore, if the Request for Hearing form is late, the administrative law judge will decide if there was good cause. If the Request for Review of Hearing Decision is late, the Appeals Council will make the decision.

A late appeal is deemed to have good cause if there was a physical, mental, linguistic or educational impairment or limitation that prevented a timely appeal or prevented you from understanding the deadline. A Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer can help you determine if you may meet the good cause requirements.

Social Security Ruling 91-5p claims that if the claimant lacked mental capacity for understanding the requesting review procedure, then there is no limit to how much time can pass. The claimant can still establish good cause, as any Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer can attest. But this is only the case if a claimant had no one legally responsible for the claim’s prosecution such as a parent, legal guardian or attorney. According to the ruling, the evidence must show that the claimant lacked the mental capacity to understand the procedures for requesting review. A Buffalo Social Security disability attorney can help you determine this.

When you’re navigating the Social Security system, it’s important to work with a Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer to ensure you are taking the proper steps. Call a Buffalo Social Security disability attorney at Pashler & Devereaux at 716-874-1739.

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Social Security FAQs

Buffalo disability attorneyAs you discuss your case with a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo, many questions will likely arise. Here are just a few of the common questions that a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo can expect to hear and the corresponding answers.

Do I Have to Obtain Medical Records for My Social Security Disability Lawyer in Buffalo?

No. Your Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo can handle this task and he or she may even prefer to take care of this.

What Do I Do If I Am Given a Report?

Even if you do not seek out certain information yourself, you may be given some type of medical record by your treating physician. If you get this information, send a copy to your Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo.

What Do I Do If I Get a Form from the Judge?

In some cases, claimants may receive a form that is to be completed by their doctor. This form usually centers around the claimant’s ability to complete certain work activities. If you do receive a form of this nature, contact your Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo immediately for advice on what to do.

Should I Send Information to the Judge?

As a general rule, you should not submit any information to the judge without first discussing it with your Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo.

Should I Send My Social Security Disability Lawyer in Buffalo the Acknowledgement that I Receive with the Notice of Hearing?

Simply indicate on the notice of hearing whether you will be attending the hearing. This should be sent to the judge. However, your Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo may recommend that you do not send anything else to the judge.

Do I Have to Fill Out Forms Before the Hearing?

Typically the judge will send you a variety of forms that you must complete before the hearing. These forms may ask you about medications that you have been taking and medical treatment.

If you have any other questions, contact a Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo from Pashler & Devereaux – New York Disability Law Firm at 716-874-1739.

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The Function of the Administrative Law Judge in a Social Security Disability Case

SSD lawyer in BuffaloClients represented by an attorney from the Buffalo Social Security disability law firm frequently have questions about the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Your Buffalo Social Security Disability Attorney Explains the Functions of The ALJ

The ALJ will hear the case for benefits presented by you and your attorney from the Buffalo Social Security disability law firm. Your case having been denied after you first applied and requested reconsideration doesn’t matter in a hearing before an ALJ. The ALJ will not be clad in black robes and you won’t have to stand when he or she enters or leaves the room. However, the ALJ needs to be respected. The ALJ will listen to the evidence in the case and make an independent judgment on whether or not you’re entitled to receive disability benefits.

An Attorney from a Buffalo Social Security Disability Law Firm Is Familiar with These Hearings

The hearing before the ALJ is not an adversarial situation for you and your Buffalo Social Security disability attorney. You won’t be cross-examined by another attorney. It’s unlikely that the judge will cross-examine you. The judge is simply seeking facts in order to make a decision; that’s all.

Your Buffalo Social Security Disability Attorney Will Advise You on How to Behave

While you might feel anger at your claim having already been rejected twice when you go before the ALJ, your attorney from the Buffalo Social Security disability law firm will tell you that it is unwise to take that out on the judge. The judge didn’t have anything to do with it and is your last and best chance to win an appeal. Treat the judge respectfully and use your own words, not legal or medical jargon you don’t understand. Act as if the judge is a longtime friend.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer from the Buffalo Social Security Disability Law Firm

If you have questions about the ALJ, an attorney from the Buffalo Social Security Disability Law Firm can help. Call Pashler & Devereaux – New New York Disability Law Firm at 716-874-1739 today.

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Questions You May Be Asked at Your Disability Hearing

Buffalo disability attorneyFollowing is a list of questions that you may be asked at your disability hearing by either your Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo or the administrative law judge. Some of these questions may not seem relevant to your disability case.

The most important part of your testimony before the judge is the information that demonstrates your limitations to the judge, says a Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo.

Basic Information

According to a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo, you will need to provide the ALJ with your basic information, including your name, address and your Social Security number. You will also need to give your date of birth, your current age and the age you were when your disability began.

Educational Background

The ALJ will also want to know about your educational background, says a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo. The judge may ask you:

  • What was the highest grade you completed in school?
  • If you did not finish high school, did you obtain a G.E.D.?

If English Is Your Second Language

The ALJ will want to get an idea of your ability to do different jobs. According to a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo, if English is your second language, the judge may ask you the following questions:

  • Were you born in the U.S. or in another country?
  • If you were born outside the U.S., what country were you born in?
  • What was your first language?
  • Where did you attend school?
  • When did you move to the U.S.?
  • When you are at home, what language do you and your family speak?
  • Do you read the mail at your house? Or does someone else read the mail?
  • Can you read in your first language?

Literacy Levels

Many jobs require workers to read and write at a certain level, says a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo. The judge may ask questions about how well you read and write. Following are some example questions:

  • Did you attend any special education classes in school?
  • Would you classify yourself as an average reader, if you know that an eighth-grade level is considered average?
  • If your reading abilities fall below an eighth-grade level:
    • Are you able to read and follow newspaper articles?
    • Would you be able to read or write down a simple list or instructions to do something?
  • If you are not able to read, an ALJ may ask you the following questions, says a Social security disability lawyer in Buffalo:
    • Does anyone read for you? If so, who reads for you?
    • Does someone help you fill out job applications? If not, how do you handle them?
    • How did you fill out your forms for SSA?
    • How were you able to get your driver’s license?
    • Are you able to do basic math such as adding, subtracting or making change?
    • Did you ever receive any vocational training? If so, did you finish the program and when?
    • Can you describe any on the job training that you have received?
    • Were you in the military? Can you describe any training you received from the military?

    The above questions deal with your overall background. Most of them do not deal directly with your disability, says a Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo. The judge will also ask you questions about your medical condition and how it affects your daily life. If you have questions about applying for disability benefits, you may want to speak to an experienced Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo. Call the offices of Pashler & Devereaux – New York Disability Law Firm at 716-874-1739 to speak with a Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo.

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Tax Questions about Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability lawyer in BuffaloAfter you have been approved for Social Security disability benefits, you may wonder how this will affect your personal budget. In particular, there are certain tax ramifications that you may wonder about. Here are just a few of the questions that a Buffalo SSD attorney is accustomed to hearing:

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Social Security Disability Benefits I Receive?

Your Buffalo SSD attorney can explain that most of the time claimants do not have to claim taxes on benefits. However, your Buffalo SSD attorney will likely tell you that there are exceptions. Your Buffalo SSD lawyer can tell you that taxes are based on your total income. However, individuals who have combined incomes that are greater than $35,000 or individuals who have incomes greater than $25,000 will be required to pay income tax on part of their benefits. To come up with the adjusted gross income, the Internal Revenue Service uses the figure listed on Form 1040, in addition to one-half of the total amount of benefits that were received for the calendar year. Additionally, your Buffalo SSD attorney can explain that non-taxable interest is also added in. Single individuals with incomes in excess of $34,000 or married couples who have incomes in excess of $44,000 will have to pay tax on a higher portion of their benefits.

How Will Receiving a Workers’ Compensation Offset Affect My Tax Liability?

One of the more complex subjects that your Buffalo SSD attorney can discuss with you is how your workers’ compensation claim can affect your tax liability. For example, your Buffalo SSD lawyer may inform you that when a claimant’s benefits are reduced, the claimant must include the benefit amount that was not paid when calculating their benefits’ taxability.

How Will Receiving a Workers’ Compensation Offset Affect My Child’s Tax Liability?

Your Buffalo SSD attorney can explain that if your child gets benefits on your account, these benefits will only count for when considering whether the child has to pay taxes on the benefits that he or she received.

If you have any other questions, a Buffalo SSD attorney may be able to answer them. Contact a Buffalo SSD lawyer from Pashler & Devereaux – New York Disability Law Firm at 716-874-1739.

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Understanding Vocational Experts

disability attorney in BuffaloIn some SSD cases, the administrative law judge (ALJ) might seek testimony from a vocational expert (VE). While the judge often appoints their own expert, your Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo could also introduce testimony from a VE. Even if your Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo does not call a VE, they could offer a written opinion from their own VE in the case. 

The Role of a Vocational Expert

When people think of expert testimony, they often think of medical experts. However, VEs are used much more frequently in SSD cases than medical experts. However, our Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo has discovered that VEs do not always have the same type of training and background, so, when they testify, they could offer a wide range of opinions because of huge differences in their experience and knowledge. In addition, our Social Security disability attorney in Buffalo has found that they could be prejudiced against clients.

The Purpose of a Vocational Expert

The SSA uses VEs in order to prove that they have the right to deny benefits. However, our Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo reports that the judge is usually seeking a further explanation and more details about a person’s disability. While the Medical-Vocational Guidelines provide some information, the testimony of a witness gives a personal touch and allows for give-and-take dialogue in the case. The VE elaborates on the ability of the claimant to work when considering work history, age and education.

Our Social Security disability lawyer in Buffalo will review options for expert testimony with you, including the possibility of putting a vocational expert on the stand or submitting a written opinion. If you have questions about your SSD case, call Pashler & Devereaux at 716-874-1739.

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