Articles Posted in Boston SSDI

People who are too sick to work are waiting sometimes a year or more to obtain approval for SSDI benefits in Massachusetts. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance, and while it is a federal program, offices are located in each state to process requests, hearings and other issues. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Social Security Administration released a report detailing pending hearing backlogs not long ago, revealing 1.1 million pending claims on average await a decision at any given time, with an average wait time of 318 days. That’s a significant increase from the 705,000 cases that were back-logged in 2010.SSDI attorney

Of course, there are some who would use a figure like this to assert it’s the result of exploitation of the system. However, this ignores the underlying issues that have led to higher enrollment and greater backlogs. Those issues include:

  • An aging workforce, more susceptible to injuries and illnesses;
  • An increase of women in the workforce;
  • Cuts to the SSDI program, resulting in fewer personnel to usher cases through the system.

SSDI attorneys in Boston at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman recognize that for some, this is an inordinate amount of time to wait without income. We work diligently to help our clients’ cases move as quickly as possible through the system with meticulous preparation and exploration of resources that may be able to assist while the case is pending.  Continue reading

  • “Do you really think Social Security Disability Insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so.” – Mick Mulvaney, the Office of Management and Budget’s director, May 2017
  • “Over half the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club. Who doesn’t get a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts?” -Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), January 2015
  • “It’s hard to say what came first or caused the other, the population decline or increased (SSDI) usage. Or maybe economic stagnation caused both. Regardless, there seems to be at least at the county and regional level something like a disability tipping point.” -Sen. Tom Cotton, (R-AR), November 2015SSDI attorney

These are the kinds of justifications made by politicians aiming to slash the SSDI program, painting it as a welfare program for people who are simply too lazy to work. Of course, as our SSDI lawyers in Massachusetts know well, this is a common misconception that ignores the reality of the situation. Specifically, it ignores the fact that a person has to have worked for least five of the last 10 years in order to be eligible for SSDI, and further that the average disability recipient has worked 22 years prior to getting benefits. Continue reading

When a claimant applies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in Massachusetts, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) will only approve an application if they are convinced claimant is eligible for SSDI benefits by having paid into the system through enough years of working and has subsequently become disabled. Disabled means unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, which is defined as one’s ability to earn more than approximately $1,120 in any given month.  SSA will look at all medical evidence and opinion statements, or testimony should there be a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), to determine a claimant’s residual functioning capacity.

Residual Functioning Capacity in Boston Social Security Disability Claims

Boston SSDI CaseA claimant’s residual functioning capacity or “RFC” as it is often called by ALJs and Boston disability attorneys, is one’s ability to work despite having one or more serious medical conditions. The way this is supposed to work is SSA reviewers look at all evidence and then look to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).  The Dictionary of Occupational Titles contains a long list of many different jobs in the local (Boston area) or national economy, and includes a list of the requirements needed to obtain and keep one of these jobs. If the claimant cannot lift, bend, crouch, squat, stand or sit, for example, a job may not be appropriate for this claimant. If SSA determines claimant can work one of these jobs, even if it pays much less than claimant’s previous type of employment, SSA will likely deny any disability benefits via a finding of no disability. Continue reading

Once an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits has been rejected by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), the next thing which will happen in the appeals process is claimant must complete and submit what is known as a Request for Reconsideration. This is done by filing form SSA-561, and there is a very decent chance this written request for reconsideration will also be rejected as nearly all of them are.  At this point in the long process, claimant can request an hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).  While it may take a year or even two for this hearing to occur, ALJ will likely hear testimony from a Vocational Expert or “VE” as they are often called by SSA.

SSDI Cases BostonA Vocational Expert is an employee of SSA who is supposed to be an expert on what jobs people are capable of working when they have various disabilities or a combination of disabling conditions. The VE becomes an expert by being trained in how to use and interpret a guide book called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.  This book, which was written decades ago and not updated all too often contains what the drafter believed to be nearly every job in Boston and the rest of the nation (they use the terms local or national economy), and whether people with mental and physical disabilities can attain and hold those jobs, with or without accommodations.  Continue reading

As 2017 ended and another year began we found ourselves watching congress fight over the federal budget to the point of months without a finalized budget, a series of temporary continuing resolutions and at least one relatively short partial government shutdown and the possibility of future shutdowns to come. Many people are wondering what happens if the government is shut down and whether they will be paid Social Security disability benefits during a time when the government is far less than fully operational.

SSDI and SSI Benefits During A Government Shutdown

Boston SSDI Cases While people often use the term government shutdown, what we really have is a partial government shutdown. This means while most federal employees will be on a furlough, others will be required to work as they are considered essential employees. This may sound like good news for those employees still on the job, but since they do not get paid until after the government reopens, it’s not all great news. These essential employees work on essential functions and this includes the military and some aspects of the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).  Continue reading

Applying for Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI,” seems like it should be a quick and easy process. The reality is most cases involve a long, drawn-out process during which an unrepresented claimant is at a major disadvantage. Seeking help from a dedicated SSI attorney in Boston can give you an edge and help guide you through what is often a confusing bureaucracy.

The process begins with filling out an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA).

SSI BostonThe requirements for applying for Supplemental Security Income are that you must fit into one of the following categories:

  • A disabled adult
  • A disabled child
  • A person over the age of 65

In the case of a disabled child, it will be a parent or other guardian who actually completes the application and handles the matter on the behalf of the child during the entire process.  This does not mean that they cannot not also obtain an attorney, which is a good idea and there is no reason no to do so. Continue reading

The Need for Strong Medical Evidence in Boston Social Security Disability Insurance Cases

Medical evidence often plays a crucial role in disability cases. Most Boston Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants will not be successful when they initially apply for benefits.  This has less to do with whether claimants are  disabled and more to do with how the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) runs the program due to political reasons and budgetary constraints.

Following the initial application is summarily rejected as is the next step in the process, which involves a written request for reconsideration, the claimant will have to do have hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). It is in this hearing when a claimant must prove they are actually disabled within the meaning of the SSA regulations, and this is where the use of medical evidence by the claimant is of utmost importance.

The Weight of Medical Evidence During Boston SSDI ALJ Hearings

Boston SSI casesIn Wellington v. Berryhill, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, claimant applied for SSDI benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI benefits are a different type disability benefits under a program also administered by SSA.  In some cases, there is little chance of obtaining SSI benefits, but claimants who are often unrepresented when they first file the application will check every box in hopes of obtaining some much needed benefits. In other cases, such as this one, they are relevant to the matter at hand.  Continue reading

Proving you are disabled is not always as easy at is should be. even when your treating physician agrees you cannot work due to your disability.  The reason it’s often such a challenges is it is not your doctor, but an administrative law judge (ALJ) has the power to decide. The ALJ can overrule the opinion of treating physician based upon other evidence. While they are able to do this, they are technically only able to do this when the evidence on record fully supports the decision.  In some cases, an ALJ may fail to establish there was sufficient evidence detailed in the record of benefits to justify denial. In these cases, an appeal is often necessary. The first appeal can be made the SSA Appeals Commission. However, that appeal is discretionary, so commissioners can decide not to hear it.

SSDI Claims BostonIf this happens or a commissioner hears claimant’s appeal and affirms the denial of benefits, the claimant can either submit a new application (starting the process all over again) or appeal to the U.S District Court.  In cases that originate in Massachusetts, the proper court is the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which is located on Boston’s waterfront.  This will be a hearing before a federal magistrate.  If that does not go in the claimant’s favor, the next appeal would but the U.S Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Continue reading

The Republican Party made it a major priority to pass the “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” before the end of 2017 to show a legislative win for the GOP and President Donald John Trump.  For better or worse, they have accomplished this goal, but it looks like one of the consequences to this bill, aside from ending Obamacare as Mr. Trump acknowledged, is it will also likely result in large cuts to other public benefits such as Social Security disability benefits including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, as well as major cuts to Medicaid.

SSDI lawyerWhile many many do not realize this, Medicaid, is a major benefit to those on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, because under the complex web of federal regulations such as Section 1902 of 42 USC 1396a, states are allowed to give Medicaid benefits to anyone who was qualified for SSDI as long as they have been receiving the benefits for more than one year.  Most states have decided they do not even want to handle Medicaid on their own, so they have delegated the  Medicaid signup process to the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), which is the federal agency that runs the SSI and SSDI programs, as well as the Old Age and Retirement benefits program with which most Americans are more familiar.  This is the program that provides money for any working American when they reach the age of federal retirement. This age goes up from time to time as a way to save money, but eventually you will age into the system if you live long enough.  It is also possible to get these benefits earlier if you give up some of the total benefits. Continue reading

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been without an appointed commissioner for around two years.  The previous commissioner stepped down at a time when there were many issues being reported about the federal agency, the operations at some of its locations around the nation, and the problems pertaining to the agency’s administrative law judges (ALJs).

SSDI lawyerSSA is the federal agency that administers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits program, as well the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The agency also administers the Old Age and Retirement benefits program.

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