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Get Social Security benefits via video hearings

Usually, claimants looking for Social Security disability benefits will have to appear in person in front of an administrative law judge. These hearings will be within 75 miles of the claimants house, according to the Social Security Administration, but there is now an option to appear at a Social Security hearing via video.

“Often an appearance by video hearing can be scheduled faster than an in-person appearance,” the SSA said on its website. That means less waiting time. Also, a video hearing location may be closer to your home. That might make it easier for you to have witnesses or other people accompany you.”

Forbes said the SSA has been facing a large backlog for years, but the video hearing allows for new measures to be taken that will mitigate some of the backlog. There are almost 2 million people waiting for benefits, so a video hearing can help cut down on the wait. The website said applicants who want a video hearing should expect it to be similar to regular hearings, so they still must come prepared with medical evidence and dress appropriately.

The Law Offices of Harold W Conick & Associates is skilled in trial proceedings and have successfully represented thousands of claimants for over 25 years. Video hearings require the same trial skills as hearings where the administrative judge is present physically. It is important for claimants to understand that their medical records are critical pieces of evidence that must be before the judge prior to either a video or face-to-face hearing before the Social Security Administration in order for the judge to fully understand their claim and approve their case.

Social Security Administration may drop ‘mental retardation’ term

Anyone with a mental disability has a hard enough time in life, but there has been a stigma around the term “mental retardation,” still under use by the Social Security Administration today. Now, the administration is considering changing the phrase for those seeking disabilities seeking benefits to “intellectual disability.”

According to a post by the agency on Regulations.Gov, they want to adopt the term as an official part of Title II of the Social Security Act and Title XVI concerning the Supplemental Security Income for people who are disabled.

No matter what this is called, the Social Security Administration said there is a need for medical evidence and an assessment of how severe the patient has it.

“We measure severity according to the functional limitations imposed by your medically determinable mental impairment(s),” the Social Security’s website said. “We assess functional limitations using the four criteria in paragraph B of the listings: Activities of daily living; social functioning; concentration, persistence, or pace; and episodes of decompensation.”

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates have successfully represented hundreds of mentally challenged adult and child clients seeking disability benefits for over 25 years. We are experts in obtaining credible medical evidence that enables the Social Security judges a basis to approve our clients claims.

VA trying to cut wait time for veterans benefits

In an effort to get more veterans benefits out to former military personnel, the Department of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of a lengthy process to roll out the Veterans Benefits Management System. FCW said the Hartford, Connecticut branch is leading the way thus far, which switched over at the end of 2012. The paperless system is used in 18 VA offices but expected to be in all 56 of VA offices by the end of this year, according to The Washington Post.

How this system pans out could be a huge issue for veterans that are in the midst of a lengthy wait for necessary benefits. VA said VBMS is a way to cut down on the processing time of a claim from 240 days to 119 and added that this system should work to cut down on  huge backlog of files. While the system cost $537 million, it should hopefully save a lot of time, money and energy on the behalf of veterans with even nominal success.

“While the elimination of the backlog will be a welcome milestone, we must remember that eliminating the backlog is not necessarily the same goal as reforming the claims processing system, nor does it guarantee that veterans are better served,” Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, told FCW in a post, warning that this system will not solve every issue. “The backlog is a symptom, not the root cause.”

VA’s backlog is well known and defers timely justice to veterans. While it is a step in the right direction that VA has decided to come into the 21st century with an improved claims processing system, it is still imperative that veterans closely follow their claim and meet all filing deadlines. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates is available to assist its veteran clients in the pursuit of their benefits.

Veterans benefits process could be sped up for brain injuries

U.S. veterans who suffered brain injuries while in action may have an easier time getting veterans benefits if a new federal plan goes through. The Department of Veterans Affairs is now taking comments on proposed rule at Regulations.gov, which will end February 8. If this rule were to go into place, veterans suffering from parkinsonism, unprovoked seizures, dementia, depression or diseases of hormone deficiency could have these illnesses accepted as secondary disorders relating to a traumatic brain injury.

“Parkinson’s is difficult to live with, mentally as much as physically, and is an especially harsh payback for a young person’s sacrifices,” one of the comments on the proposal reads. “We owe it to those afflicted in this way to understand and treat their disabilities with the best possible basic and clinical research and therapies. Thanks very much.”

If this new rule goes through, the New York Times reported that it will be easier for thousands of troops to get benefits, healthcare and compensation for their illnesses.

Veterans suffering from service connected traumatic brain injury should seriously consider claiming additional benefits from VA for the disorders. The Law Office of Harold W. Conick and Associates are committed to assist veterans in securing their benefits.