San Diego Social Security Disability Law Blog | Law Office of Jennifer Zorrilla
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San Diego Social Security Disability Law Blog

Experienced counsel can facilitate SSD application

Many times people feel that the system is working against them-paperwork for federal programs seems never-ending and complicated and it is commonly accepted that most people are rejected when they file for Social Security Disability benefits for the first time. When one already has limited financial resources and a disability preventing them from earning a stable income and enjoying life, it can seem even more frustrating and that the tiles are stacked against one.

California residents familiar with the SSD benefits process are probably aware that it takes a great deal of time and effort to collect one's documents for filing a claim and when a rejection results, people either feel highly disheartened and give up or end up sending the same documents all over again, without reviewing them for possible mistakes. This could be because a lay-person cannot recognize what mistakes they have made-if they could, they would have probably not made them in the first time.

A brain injury could qualify for SSD benefits

Most forms of injuries have a significant impact on the person suffering from the injury and often limit their ability to function normally as they recover. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can be even more traumatic as it prevents a person from not only being unable to take care of himself or herself but it could also affect their ability to communicate with others. The symptoms depend largely on the type of injury sustained and the severity of the injury, but it could range from being unable to dress oneself to being unable to work.

There are many ways a traumatic brain injury could prevent someone from working. If a California resident is unable to communicate effectively, they cannot answer phones or even talk to their co-workers. If the injury has resulted in memory loss or loss in concentration, performing basic duties at work can become impossible and if the injured person is suffering from dizziness or visual problems, they are setting themselves up from getting hurt once again. If the injury is causing numbness or tingling in limbs, then simple tasks such as grasping items or even holding a pen can become physically impossible.

Will qualifying for SSD become more difficult in 2018?

For those receiving Social Security Disability benefits and those intending to apply for them in 2018, October is a month of reckoning. The Social Security Disability Administration often changes the federal regulations around SSD benefits around the middle of the month and whether it is advantageous or not, it represents a change in the laws that people have just begun to understand. Some of the anticipated changes for 2018 are explained below, but it is important to keep in mind that this is just an overview and not to be considered legal advice.

One of the most important changes is that beneficiaries will be getting a raise-the cost of living adjustment will be two percent in 2018, the highest seen in the last six years. In reality, this amounts to an extra $27 dollars a month. But that's not all-the maximum monthly payment also increased quite a bit-it will increase by $101 a month, to $2788 a month.

Can I receive SSD benefits for PTSD?

It is an unfortunate fact of life that people witness traumatic events on a daily basis-a situation that causes extreme stress, helplessness or fear within the person viewing the event. Many people recover from this trauma over time, but a number of people experience debilitating symptoms of a disorder known as post-traumatic-stress-disorder and cannot perform day to day functions anymore.

Many California residents may associate PTSD with combat situations and expect only veterans to suffer from the disorder, but this is not the case. The syndrome can affect survivors of rape, abuse, violence or even a catastrophic natural disaster such as flooding or hurricanes. Not only does PTSD have a psychological affect, increasing the risk of depression, drug addiction and suicide, it also has physical affects such as chronic pain and heart disease. Some of the symptoms psychologists are looking for when diagnosing PTSD are flashbacks or upsetting dreams about the traumatic event, feeling hopeless and avoiding activities, difficulty concentrating and visual or auditory hallucinations.

Residual functional capacity in assessment of mental disorders

When a San Diego resident files a claim for Social Security disability benefits based on a medical or mental disease or disorder they must substantiate their claim with evidence. They may have to submit to evaluation in order to prove that their condition prevents them from earning an income and for each individual the process may take a different path. For individuals who file benefits claims based on mental disorders the determination of their residual functional capacities will determine if benefits will be offered.

An individual's RFC can fall into one of four categories. A person can be determined to have a disability that (1) does not significantly limit their ability to work; (2) moderately limits their ability to work; (3) markedly limits their ability to work; or (4) the evaluation provides insufficient evidence to make a determination.

Finding happiness through disability

If you've suddenly found your life turned upside-down, where everyday tasks have become difficult or impossible and you're unable to work, then you are likely living with some sort of disability. Learning to live with a disability can be tough, especially since we tend to take our health for granted until it is unexpectedly snatched away from us. Yet, despite your hardship, you can live a healthy and happy life. We hope that these tips will help you find the road to personal fulfillment, despite your medical condition.

The first step, of course, is simply learning to accept your disability. At first, it is necessary to allow yourself to mourn your loss of health. Going through emotional ups and downs is normal, so you shouldn't fight it. You should also refrain from trying to act happy when you aren't. This can only make you feel worse. Once you feel like you've accepted your disability, then you can move on to the second step.

Compassion and knowledge key to helping SSD claimants

Social Security disability benefits can provide a financial life raft to those who are unable to work on account of a debilitating injury or illness. That being said, not everyone who thinks they are disabled will be deemed worthy of benefits. This is because the Social Security Administration strictly scrutinizes all SSD claims it receives, looking for any reason to give a denial. So, disabled individuals need to know the evidence the SSA is looking for and how best to present it in an attempt to meet federal requirements.

Although an individual can certainly choose to pursue their claim on their own, many find the assistance of an experienced legal professional to be extremely valuable. After all, attorneys in this field know the process, how to satisfy certain disability requirements and how to aggressive appeal adverse decisions.

SSD claim appeal wait time continues to balloon

Living with a disability is a challenge in itself; however, seeking benefits to ease a person's life can also be a struggle. Putting together a successful Social Security disability claim can take time. Of course, some of this time is spent building an initial claim that seeks to meet the federal requirements. But even those who think they have put together a strong case may see their claim denied. When this happens, the process can be lengthened considerably.

In fact, new statistics show that the average wait time for an appeal is 596 days. That's nearly two years, rising from a wait time of 353 in 2012. One reason for the excessive delay is that there is a backlog of cases waiting to be heard. It currently stands at more than 1 million cases, which the Social Security Administration attributes to aging Baby Boomers who are now more susceptible to disability.

Social Security disability's evidentiary requirements

Californians who have suffered a debilitating injury or illness need to fully understand the legal options available to them. After all, financial relief may be available to those living with a disability; however, only after successfully applying for Social Security disability benefits. When obtained, these benefits can provide monthly payments to an individual suffering from a disability, allowing him or her to find the financial stability he or she deserves. Although the Social Security Administration lists the injuries and illnesses that may qualify for SSD benefits, proving that one meets the federal requirements necessary to be deemed "disabled" can be quite challenging.

The SSA has strict evidentiary guidelines. Although it may be obvious that medical evidence is of paramount importance to one of these claims, what may not be as obvious is the fact that it must demonstrate that the claimant suffers from impairment. That evidence must be garnered from an acceptable medical source. Of course, "acceptable medical source" is defined by the government.

SSD benefits available for those with bone marrow disorders

The sudden onset of an injury or illness can turn your life upside down. You might have to flip the bill for unexpected medical expenses, find yourself subjected to physical pain and suffering and your emotional wellbeing may take a hit. When one of these conditions leaves you unable to work, you might find yourself facing extensive financial hardship. Those who find themselves in this position may be able to find financial relief through the Social Security disability system, though.

However, in order to recover compensation from this government program, individuals must show that they meet federal requirements that qualify them as "disabled." The specific requirements that must be met are dependent upon a condition from which an individual suffers, and they must be backed by medical evidence. For an example, let us look at the Social Security Administration's requirements for those suffering from bone marrow disorders.