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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How to Appeal a Disability Denial

disability attorney in BuffaloAccording to statistics from 2011, less than 40 percent of initial applications for SSDI were approved. Since almost two-thirds of applications for disability are denied, it is worthwhile to explore the appeals process, says a disability attorney in Buffalo. In fact, the rate of approvals climbs significantly when cases are appealed and heard by administrative law judges. 

Request for Reconsideration

The first step following a denial of an initial SSDI application is the request for reconsideration. According to a disability lawyer in Buffalo, once the SSA receives the request, it will have a different person evaluate the application a second time.

Request for Review

If the request for reconsideration is also denied, you can file a request for review, according to a disability attorney in Buffalo. At this point in the process, the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Administrative Law Judge.

As a disability attorney in Buffalo will tell you, the ALJ works for the SSA and conducts hearings to review testimony, evidence and other information. The purpose of this hearing is so that the ALJ can decide whether the SSA’s original decision should be overturned or upheld.

The claimant is allowed to bring additional evidence in support of his or her case, says a disability lawyer in Buffalo. In addition, the claimant and witnesses, such as family members, friends and medical experts may testify before the ALJ at the hearing. Individuals who wish to file a request for review often seek the help of a disability attorney in Buffalo.

Appeal before the Appeals Council

The third stage of the appeals process is the filing of an appeal with the SSA’s Appeals Council, according to a disability attorney in Buffalo. Once the Appeals Council receives the request, says a disability attorney in Buffalo, it will either conduct the review or send it to an ALJ for review.

At every stage in the process, the claimant has the opportunity to provide more evidence to support his or her claim. A disability lawyer in Buffalo may be able to help you gather the additional evidence for your case. To speak with a lawyer about your disability case, please call the office of Chris Pashler at 716-874-1739.

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Disabled Veterans and Disability Benefits

Buffalo disability lawyer As a Buffalo disability lawyer can explain there is a difference between the application process for Social Security disability and veterans’ disability. The requirements for SSDI are also different than those for veterans’ disability. For example, a claimant must have worked and paid an adequate amount of Social Security taxes prior to becoming disabled.

Once a claimant submits his or her application, it can take a few months before the claimant receives a decision, according to a Buffalo disability attorney. However, veterans may qualify for an expedited decision if they were disabled on or after October 1st, 2001. According to a Buffalo disability attorney, to have the process expedited, the claimant will need to ask the SSA for the “Exhibit – Critical Request Evaluation Sheet,” or I-2-1-95.

A Buffalo Disability Attorney on Disability Decisions

Many disability applications are denied initially, and veterans’ applications are no exception. In the event that the application is approved, the claimant will receive written notification informing the claimant how much he or she will receive and when the benefits will be paid.

If the application is denied, a Buffalo disability attorney might advise you to appeal the decision. The next step will be a scheduled hearing with an administrative law judge. Applicants may wait several months for a hearing. As with the initial application, veterans who were disabled in connection with their military service may qualify for an expedited hearing, says a Buffalo disability attorney.

Obtaining Legal Counsel for the Appeals Process

According to a Buffalo disability attorney, many people who have been denied benefits seek the support of legal counsel for the appeals process. A Buffalo disability lawyer may help a claimant obtain additional medical evidence to support the case.

As a Buffalo disability lawyer can explain, veterans may choose to seek legal counsel before filing their initial application for SSDI benefits because there are several differences between the process of applying for veterans’ benefits, versus, applying for SSDI benefits. For example, SSDI benefits are not based on a rating system like they are with veterans’ benefits.

If you are a disabled veteran and have questions regarding SSDI benefits, you may wish to speak with a Buffalo disability attorney. To schedule a private and confidential appointment, please call the office of Chris Pashler at 716-874-1739.

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Multiple Sclerosis and Social Security Disability

disability lawyers in BuffaloThousands of people are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the United States every year. Individuals who have received a diagnosis of MS may qualify for medical and income benefits through the Social Security Administration, say disability lawyers in Buffalo.

Symptoms of MS may include the following:

  • Cognitive issues
  • Muscle tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness
  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue

It can be difficult for a doctor to diagnose MS because, in its early stages, symptoms can mimic other conditions and may also be minimal. In order to correctly diagnose MS, you may have to undergo blood tests, neurological tests and a spinal tap procedure, according to disability lawyers in Buffalo.

The Listings of Impairments Manual

In order to evaluate whether or not a claimant is disabled, administrative law judges and disability examiners refer to the Listing of Impairments manual. As disability lawyers in Buffalo will tell you, the manual lists medical conditions and criteria for finding a person disabled.

Seeking Legal Counsel from Disability Lawyers in Buffalo

As disability attorneys in Buffalo can explain to you, it can be difficult for claimants to meet the standards listed in the Listings of Impairments manual. For instance, many of the symptoms associated with MS are subjective; they cannot be detected in an MRI or other diagnostic test. Fatigue and pain are both symptoms of MS that are not detectable on tests. According to disability lawyers in Buffalo, your medical records are an important component of your case. In addition, disability attorneys in Buffalo might advise you to keep a journal of your daily activities that includes how often you need to rest and how long you need to rest. If you are experiencing pain due to MS, you will want to include a description of your pain in the journal.

Disability lawyers in Buffalo may help you collect medical records, journal entries and other evidence to help build a strong disability case. If you wish to speak with disability lawyers in Buffalo regarding your diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or other medical condition, please call the office of Chris Pashler at 716-874-1739.

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How Obesity Affects Your Disability Claim

Buffalo disability lawyerWhile obesity itself may not be considered an impairment, your Buffalo disability lawyer can explain that it can have a significant impact on your disability claim, as well as when obesity is or is not considered such an impairment.

Definition of Obesity

Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which a person has accumulated body fat to a degree that it impacts his or her health. A body mass index is generally used by dividing your weight by your height. If this ratio is over a certain amount, you will be considered obese.

Symptoms of Obesity

Common symptoms associated with obesity include fatigue, difficulty breathing and pain. Your Buffalo disability lawyer may ask you a series of questions regarding how obesity impacts your ability to perform certain activities and movements. Obesity can impair a person’s ability to lift, carry heavy weights, reach, bend, stand or walk.

Severity

The Buffalo disability attorney who represents you can explain that obesity is considered a severe impairment when it significantly impairs your ability to perform basic work functions.

Combination of Impairments

As your Buffalo disability lawyer pursues your claim, he or she may argue that your obesity should be considered as a combination of impairments that result in a severe impairment on your life. He or she can help the administrative law judge have a better understanding of your condition so that he or she can make a better informed decision. Even if obesity is not considered, by itself, to be a disabling impairment, your Buffalo disability attorney can argue that your obesity combined with a mental or physical impairment results in your disability. He or she may be successful by showing that your ability to sit, walk or stand for an extended period of time is limited and prevent you form performing basic work functions for an extended period of time.

For help with your disability claim, contact Chris Pashler at 716-874-1739.

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Can I Receive SSDI Benefits While I Am Imprisoned?

Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer If you have learned that you will be imprisoned, you may wish to consult with a Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer to learn how your benefits will be impacted. There are specific rules that your lawyer can review with you so that you can better understand your specific situation.

Suspension

For example, your SSD lawyer can explain that your SSDI benefits will be suspended once you are imprisoned for 30 or more days that are served consecutively. You will not be able to receive benefits as long as you are incarcerated. Similarly, if you receive SSI benefits, your payments will be suspended while you are imprisoned.

Termination of Benefits

Your lawyer can explain that your SSI benefits will be terminated if you are imprisoned for at least 12 consecutive months. In order to receive your benefits again, you will need to file a new application. Your lawyer can help assist you with the process of filing a new application.

Reinstatement of Benefits

Your lawyer may also help walk you through the reinstatement process. He or she can explain that your SSDI benefits can be reinstated the month after you are released. For SSI benefits, you can have them reinstated the same month that you are released. In order to have your benefits reinstated, your Buffalo Social Security disability attorney will need to provide the Social Security Administration with documents that show that you were released. This step requires that your Buffalo Social Security disability attorney have official documents from the facility where you were imprisoned.

Family Benefits

If your family receives benefits on your behalf, they will continue to do so, as long as they continue to be eligible.

Warrants

You should be warned that you will be ineligible to receive your benefits if there is an active warrant out on you.

If you would like assistance with this process, Buffalo Social Security disability lawyer Chris Pashler can be reached at 716-874-1739.

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The Role of the Advocate

Buffalo SSD lawyer As a Buffalo SSD lawyer understands, claimants have many questions regarding their Social Security Disability case including who approves the claim and what role an advocate plays in the process. The first thing a Buffalo SSD attorney might explain to you is that the process is time-consuming and involves a great deal of documentation, paperwork and approvals.

How to Submit Documentation

Once you have completed your paperwork and gathered your documentation such as medical records, you can submit it either online or in person at your local Social Security Administration Field Office. The non-medical requirements of your claim will be reviewed at the field office. Once the review is complete, the field office will forward it to Disability Determination Services for evaluation.

Evaluation by Disability Determination Services

As your Buffalo SSD attorney will explain, your medical documentation will be reviewed by Disability Determination Services. The office will begin by reviewing the medical evidence you have provided. If the evidence is sufficient, the office will make a decision and will then send it back to the field office. In the event that more evidence is needed, DDS will arrange a consultative evaluation. The purpose of the CE is to gather enough evidence to make a decision.

The CE could be with a third-party physician; however, the DDS prefers to use your own doctor. Following the CE, the DDS will make a decision, which it will forward to the field office. Next, the field office will contact you and inform you of the decision.

The Role of an Advocate

As your attorney will tell you, most claims are denied in the beginning. However, you can appeal the decision and have your claim evaluated by an administrative law judge. Many people seek the help of a legal advocate to file a stronger claim with better medical evidence. A legal advocate can also help a claimant prepare for a hearing with an ALJ by going over practice questions.

There are several ways that an attorney can help you with your disability case. If you would like to learn more about how a Buffalo SSD lawyer can help you with your Social Security Disability claim, please call the office of Chris Pashler at 716-874-1739 to schedule a confidential appointment.

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Applying for SSD after an Auto Accident

 Buffalo disability attorneyThankfully, most auto accidents do not result in major injuries, and those involved recover relatively quickly and resume their normal life; other crashes result in catastrophic injuries. Many lie somewhere in between in terms of the severity of injury. The question of whether a person injured in an auto accident can collect Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be best explored by a Buffalo disability attorney.

Basic Eligibility

Not all people who are wage earners or who are self-employed are eligible for SSD benefits. As a Buffalo disability attorney explains, an individual must have accumulated sufficient work credits as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines before benefits may be payable. For most workers, this means they must have worked five out of the last ten years, although a Buffalo disability attorney indicates younger workers may have different eligibility thresholds.

Disability as Defined by SSA

The SSA does not provide benefits for those deemed partially or temporarily disabled. Citing SSA regulations, a Buffalo disability lawyer reports a person is disabled for the purpose of collecting SSD benefits if:

• They suffer from a severe medical impairment
• That is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death; and
• That prevents them from engaging in any substantial gainful employment.

Some New York workers are covered by short term disability coverage provided by their employers for injuries not sustained at work. This however, as a Buffalo disability attorney explains, is not a SSA benefit.

The Nature of Auto Accidents

Not only do auto accidents result in a range of potential injuries to the parties involved, the cause of and liability for the accident are variables. Although determination of these issues is relevant to insurance companies, personal injury lawyers and the people involved, liability for an accident is not an issue the SSA will consider. Your attorney will emphasize that even if a SSD claimant was 100 percent liable for the accident that led to their disability, they nonetheless can receive benefits if all the other criteria for determining disability have been met.

The Nature of Auto Accident Injuries

There is little doubt that those who have suffered a catastrophic injury in an auto accident are totally disabled, even by SSA’s stringent standards. Amputees, people who have suffered major spinal column damage or head trauma are clearly disabled. For others with less severe injuries, the determination of disability may not be so clear. More problematic perhaps is where there is a combination of impairments, none of which alone are disabling but in combination may be. For all applicants, not just those applying for disability after an auto accident, your lawyer will tell you the denial rate is 60 percent or higher.

Contact a Buffalo Disability Lawyer for Legal Advice

Denials are common, but appeals present a greater opportunity for approval. Find out what you can do to improve your chance for success. Call Chris Pashler, a Buffalo disability lawyer, at 716-874-1739.

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Chronic Pain as a Disabling Condition

Buffalo social security disability lawyerTo qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD), the Social Security Administration (SSA) must find that a claimant has a severe, medically determinable physical or mental impairment. By its very nature, pain is subjective, which, as a Buffalo social security disability lawyer can attest, makes a claim for SSD based on chronic pain difficult to establish.

Pain and the Inability to Work

Pain often accompanies many medical conditions and may persist even after the underlying condition is treated. A Buffalo social security disability lawyer defines chronic pain as severe, persistent and extending long term, which cannot be treated by standard medical treatment.

Objective Evidence

The SSA will not make a determination of disability on symptoms alone; that is, the claimant cannot merely state they are in constant pain and expect to be approved. For the SSA to even consider pain as a disabling condition, there must be lab tests, x-rays and the results of physical exams and other tests that indicate there is some physical or mental impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce the reported pain.

Listing of Impairments

The SSA has created a list to assist SSD examiners determine if a claimant’s impairments fit SSA’s definition of total disability. A Buffalo social security disability lawyer will explain that although pain is not a listed condition, the presence of pain is an important factor in several disabling conditions that are listed. Some of the conditions cited by a Buffalo social security disability lawyer include:

• Inflammatory arthritis;
• Neurological disorders;
• Somatoform disorders;
• Back injury;
• Chronic renal disease;
• Inflammatory; and
• Inflammatory bowel disease.

RFC Assessment

A residual functional capacity assessment assists the SSA in determining what type of activities a disability claimant can perform in consideration of their medical conditions. It is an unfortunate fact that the examiners for an RFC assessment often seem less than open to the consideration of pain. However, this issue has been the subject of federal court cases and the holdings of those cases mandate that SSA must evaluate the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of pain on the claimant’s ability to perform basic work tasks.

Limitations on Daily Activities

Part of the SSA’s evaluation of a claimant’s disability application focuses on the person’s activities of daily life. It is important that the claimant communicate in precise terms how, for example, that although the individual may be able to perform a certain function, it takes three times as long because of the necessity to rest often to alleviate the pain.

Medical Treatment

One factor a Buffalo social security disability attorney will emphasize is the regularity and consistency of treatment. An examiner will be more likely to believe chronic pain is an issue if the claimant has a medical history reflecting ongoing medical care.

Contact a Buffalo Social Security Disability Attorney for Legal Advice

There are many medical impairments for which the SSA routinely denies disability benefits. If you have been turned down, you need to explore your options. Call Chris Pashler, a Buffalo social security disability lawyer, at 716-874-1739.

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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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