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What you Need to Know about the Worn-Out Worker Rule in SSD Claims

Social Security Disability AttorneyA majority of workers are unaware of the little-known provision of the SSA, known as the worn-out worker rule. This rule applies to disabled workers who have an extensive employment history comprising of unskilled physical labor work. The worn-out worker rule provides employees with disability a good chance for claiming Social Security disability benefits that otherwise would be denied.

Understanding the Worn-Out Worker Rule

The SSA has set many checkpoints for workers to obtain disability benefits, one of which is the ability of an application to continue working. Several tests give priority to work that the applicant might have done in their employment history. If they do not find anything suitable, the caseworker will consider any kind of job that matches with the skills and education of the applicant. However, the caseworker runs out of options when the applicant does not have any specific skills or academics applicable to their situation.

This is where the worn-out worker rule is taken into consideration. The statutory guidelines for this rule can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations in Section 404.1562. The worn-out worker rule applies to a narrowed class of workers to determine whether they are eligible for disability benefits. There are three conditions that an applicant must satisfy:

  1. Marginal Education: The applicant must only have a marginal education. If a worker has studied till sixth grade, they will be considered eligible under this rule.
  2. Work Experience: The applicant must have an employment history of at least 35 years comprising of arduous unskilled physical labor only. According to the SSA, arduous work is defined as a job entailing physical work that primarily require high level of endurance or strength. However, there are no specific exertional level or physical actions that comes under the definition arduous work. Moreover, the SSA has not put any requirement that unskilled physical work for 35 years should be continuous – it can be divided into intervals.
  3. Severe Impairment: The worker must no longer be able to perform any kind of work due to a severe impairment expected to go on for at least a year. The impairment can either be mental or physical, or a combination of both, having more than a minimal impact on the worker’s ability to perform work-related tasks.

 

If an applicant meets the above criteria, they will not have to undergo a diagnosis to find out if they have any disability that is mentioned in the Listing of Impairments. They will not be assessed for Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) either. The caseworker will automatically classify them as disabled, and will not see if they can perform any kind of lighter unskilled work.

If a worker is eligible under the worn-out worker rule, it can increase their chances of receiving disability benefits. However, they will have to go through a lot of interpretation of the caseworker. It is important to retain the services of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to develop a deep understanding of the worn-out worker rule and improve your chances of qualification by the SSA. Contact Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd. today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Social Security Disability AttorneyChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a collective term that refers to several lung diseases. It causes damage to your lungs over time, blocks airflow, and creates breathing difficulties. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common medical conditions associated with COPD. More than 24 million people suffer from COPD in the United States, of which only 13 million are reported cases, according to the American Lung Association.

There are several symptoms of this disease that make performing daily activities and workplace duties difficult, such as:

  • Chest tightness or discomfort
  • Constant fever and coughing
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath during physical activity or even when at rest
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Wheezing

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with COPD, they can claim Social Security Disability benefits to treat their medical condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides aid to people suffering from COPD through different assistance programs.

Claiming Disability Benefits for COPD

The requirements of getting approved for disability benefits for different kinds of chronic respiratory disorders are laid out in a disability listing formed by the SSA. If you meet those requirements, you will be considered eligible to receive disability benefits. However, if your condition has not become severe enough to fulfill the listing requirements, you may still acquire the benefits by proving that your COPD affects your ability to breathe, making it difficult for you to work at any kind of job.

COPD Disability Listing

It is essential for you to be diagnosed with COPD to be considered eligible for benefits. For this, you will have to get a lung function test done by a consulting medical professional that has been hired by the SSA. The test must show that you have very limited airflow. This can be achieved through one of the following tests:

  • A DLCO test that determines the amount of oxygen passing into the blood
  • A spirometry test that measures your Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV1) value or Forced Vital Capacity (FVC).
  • An oxygen saturation test
  • An ABG test that measures PaO2 and PaCO2 in the bloodstream.

The listing for chronic pulmonary insufficiency by the SSA has different tables that show the ranges of lung function values based on age, gender, and height for the various tests mentioned above. Alternatively, if you have been hospitalized at least three times in the last year due to complications or exacerbations of your COPD, each lasting for 48 hours or more and reoccurring 30 or less days apart, you will qualify for SSD benefits.

If you have been diagnosed with advanced COPD or your condition makes it difficult to breathe while performing your work duties, you should talk to an experienced Social Security attorney and determine your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

The SSA Listings for Respiratory Disorders

Supplemental Security IncomeThe Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Blue Book to determine the eligibility of a person’s disabling condition, and whether it is a serious enough condition to be considered as a complete disability. This set of guidelines has been divided into several sections that cover different body functions and systems. Respiratory system disorders are covered in the Blue Book’s third section.

When evaluating disability claims pertaining to breathing impairments and respiratory disorders, the SSA takes into account several things, including:

  • The length of period have been diagnosed with the condition
  • The duration it is expected to last
  • The types of treatments available for treating the disease
  • Your response to the treatments that have been conducted so far

If you have filed a claim for receiving Social Security Disability benefits, it is important for you to continue getting treatment for your problem during the process, and follow all prescribed treatments.

Listings for Respiratory Disorders

People that satisfy the eligibility requirements of a disability listing as laid out in the Blue Book are automatically approved for receiving disability benefits. However, meeting the listing requirements for respiratory disorders can be difficult. Here are the three key listings available in the Blue Book for breathing problems:

Chronic Respiratory Disorders: Listing 3.02

The eligibility requirements for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be found under listing 3.02. In order to meeting the listing, you must take a spirometry test must show that the FEV1 value is equal or less than a certain amount, which varies with height of an individual.

The second part is for people suffering from chronic restrictive ventilatory disease, which causes the lung volume to decrease, to meet the listing requirements by taking a spirometry test. If the Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) is equal to or less than to the amounts given in Table II of the listing, you will qualify for SSD benefits.

The third part is for people who have problems with the supply of oxygen from the lungs to their blood. Claimants are required to take a DLCO test, which measures the levels of PaO2 and PaCO2 in the bloodstream.

Since the guidelines laid out in listing 3.02 and its tables are technical, you may have to consult your doctor regarding the tests and their results to ensure you meet the requirements.

Asthma: Listing 3.03

The listing requirements for persistent asthma attacks include three times hospitalization due to symptomatic episodes in a year. The attacks must happen at least 30 days apart, despite following prescribed treatment, and the duration of each hospitalization must be at least 48 hours.

Cystic Fibrosis: Listing 3.04

Listing 3.04 has several options for meeting requirements for cystic fibrosis, such as requiring regular hospitalizations or having low value of FEV1 or having low SpO2 levels. Additionally, listing 3.04 also covers pneumonia, pneumoconiosis, emphysema, bronchiectasis, and other lung infections.

Understanding the guidelines of the Blue Book’s listings often times is difficult. If you want to make a claim for Social Security Disability benefits for respiratory disorder, you should talk to an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

Eligibility for SSI: Income and Asset Limits

Supplemental Security IncomeFor a disabled person to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), they have to meet the asset and incomes limits, apart from fulfilling the SSA’s criteria for disability. Unlike Social Security Disability benefits, SSI is a program based on an individual’s needs and is available to people with limited resources. These resources may include cash or money in your bank, real estate, bonds and stocks, and any other asset with a monetary value.

Eligibility for SSI

To qualify for this program, the disabled person must have countable resources less than $2,000. In the case of a couple, it should be less than $3,000. Items that may not be included in the calculation of countable resources include:

  • Your primary home
  • Some personal and household items
  • Life insurance policy with face value of $1,500 or less per person
  • One vehicle used for transportation purposes
  • Any property that you or your partner uses to carry out certain jobs or business activities
  • Your burial plots or of your immediate family members

SSI limit for Income

The income limit for obtaining SSI is equal to the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). For an individual in 2017, it is $735 per month, while for a couple it is $1,103. The benefit amount changes almost every other year. You should keep in mind that not all income comes under countable resources and if you earn more than this figure, you may still be eligible for SSI.

In certain situations, the SSA may also take into account the income of household members living with the SSI recipient. If your spouse doesn’t receive SSI some part of their income will be counted when calculating your countable income. In the case of a disabled child who applies for SSI, some of the parent’s income will be considered as the child’s income.

What are State Supplements?

The state you live in also determines the amount of income you can have in order to be eligible for SSI. A majority of the US states provide supplemental payment to people receiving SSI, including Illinois. State supplements may be between $10 and $700. The limit of SSI income increases with the state supplement amount. This allows individuals qualifying for a higher amount of monthly SSI to be able to earn more countable income while still being eligible for SSI.

However, it may become hard to determine the precise income limit for SSI applying to you, as it is difficult to exact state supplement amount that you are eligible to receive. The amount varies in most states based on an individual’s living conditions. For example, if a person is a nursing home resident, they may be eligible for higher state supplements than others.

If you want to know whether you qualify for receiving SSI benefits or your application has been denied, you should talk to an experienced Social Security attorney to discuss your case. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

SSA Continues to Help Veterans and Homeless People to Access Benefits

The Social Security Administration has been fighting to reduce poverty and help homeless people to avail benefits in the United States for many years now. Recently, SSA went up a notch in their efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans and seniors. Carolyn W. Colvin, the Acting Commissioner, declared the Social Security Administration as the the most successful anti-poverty program to help vulnerable populations in United States history.

“Social Security plays a key role in reducing homelessness, and our benefit payments help people to secure and maintain stable housing,” Acting Commissioner Colvin said. “Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty program in our country’s history and collaborates with other federal, state and local agencies to ensure that veterans, people who are disabled, have lost a loved one, or are retiring have access to our benefits and services.”

Collaborative Efforts

The SSA is working in collaboration with other state, federal, and local agencies to make sure that people who have lost a loved one, are disabled, retiring, or veterans can easily access their services and benefits. The state and federal officials conducted meetings earlier this year to discuss outreach programs and initiatives for eliminating homelessness among vulnerable populations at a forum known as Ending Homelessness: Lessons Learned from the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 2015, Virginia achieved the impossible: it eliminated homelessness among veterans. Following Virginia’s example, many state and federal agencies are trying to replicate the practices to attain success. Social Security has developed several key strategies in order to connect homeless seniors and veterans to Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

The Role of SOAR

With SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access and Recovery (SOAR) initiative, the SSA has been receiving more and more disability applications. Since these applications are complete because they are filled with the help of an agency representative, their approval rate is quite high. This is especially helpful for homeless people who face great difficulty in getting medical records and documenting their cases.

Funded by the SAMHSA, SOAR is a national project initiated to provide greater access to SSDI and SSI benefits for eligible adults. They include individuals who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless and have some kind of medical impairment, mental illness, and/or substance use disorder.

In a report by Arloc Sherman and Kathleen Romig of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it has been found that Social Security benefits have helped more than 22 million Americans out of poverty. This figure continues to soar by the passing day, and it is safe to say that the SSA’s efforts are bearing fruit.

If you are eligible for availing Social Security disability benefits, but having difficulty in filing for it or your application has been denied, you should consult your case with a reliable and experienced social security disability attorney. Harold W. Conick & Associates Ltd has been successfully representing clients for over 30 years to get their rightful benefits. Contact us today at (800) 608-8881 to schedule a consultation with our Social Security disability attorney.

Vitamin D, melatonin may prove fruitful in fight against MS

Multiple sclerosis can be tough on those who suffer from it. At the Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates, we see clients who experience weakness, numbness, thinking problems, urinary problems and more from this terrible disease.

This is why we were glad to see new research from McGill University in Montreal that shows vitamin D, produced by light, and melatonin, produced in response to darkness, may help prevent and ease the symptoms of MS.

Helping reduce symptoms can be important while applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Research from the university, printed in PLOS Medicine in August, shows that a decreased level of vitamin D may lead to an increased risk of MS.

Brent Richards, a genetic epidemiologist at McGill, said those who have family who suffer should start taking more vitamin D as soon as possible via oral supplement.

The research also found that patients with lower levels of melatonin have a greater number of MS relapses. Melatonin can help produce anti-inflammatory immune cells and prevent inflammatory cells from forming, according to the study.

While this may seem like a small step toward solving the riddle that is MS, it is essential for clients applying for disability benefits to educate themselves on the disease and visit doctors. This will go a long way toward proving the case to the SSA.

Depression, anxiety more heavily affects management, study shows

Managers and supervisors at work have a greater chance of suffering from depression and anxiety, according to a recent report from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Those who find themselves suffering from depression and anxiety to the point of not being able to work should get professional medical help and apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

According to the study, the results of which were printed in the journal Sociology of Health and Illness, approximately twice the number of supervisors and managers suffered from mental health issues than than workers. For example, 18 percent of supervisors and managers suffered from depression, whereas 12 percent of workers said they did.

The study said this may be due to the added stresses of being in a position of power. Katherine Keyes, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology, said they chose to focus on these two mental illnesses due to the fact that the age of onset is usually older.

Typically, the stress of having less money and power is thought of as something that causes depression and anxiety. This study shows that may not necessarily be the case; people across all walks of life should be sure they are being attentive to their mental healthcare needs.

Depression and anxiety symptoms are, far and away, the primary reason people are unable to perform in competitive employment. The combination of depression and anxiety symptoms disables them from seeking employment and from performing work activities. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick and Associates are experts in securing and presenting evidence to win Social Security benefits for it’s clients.

More than 50 million Americans live with disability

In the midst of politicized talk of funding versus de-funding the Social Security Administration, it may become lost that those taking disability benefits are real people with serious problems. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that one in every five people, or 50 million Americans, live with a disability.

50 million Americans live with a disability (photo By Nicolai Berntsen)

50 million Americans live with a disability (photo By Nicolai Berntsen)

“This report is a snapshot of the percent of adults with disabilities in the U.S., so we can get a better understanding of who people with disabilities are,” said researcher Elizabeth Courtney-Long, a health scientist at the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

The most common disabilities include:

  • Mobility limitations which make it hard to climb stairs or walk
  • Trouble thinking or remembering
  • Inability to live independently
  • Sight
  • Self-care

The majority of those with disability tend to be 65 years or older and poor. Approximately 47 percent of people who suffered from disability made less than $15,000 annually. To compare, the median U.S. household income is about $50,500, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

For those who cannot work, it is important that they file for disability benefits as soon as possible. There is a large backlog of cases pending before the SSA and it often takes more than a year to either obtain an approval on the record or set a hearing.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates are experts in obtaining disability benefits for clients. We are available to effectively represent clients before the SSA. Initial consultations with our firm are free of charge.

Schizophrenia may make memory a challenge

Suffering from schizophrenia can be extremely challenging, as hallucinations, delusions, trouble speaking and other physical mental health issues can make it difficult to work and live. A recent study from UC Davis School of Medicine said the disease may also impact memory, an awful side effect that likely makes it far more difficult to hold a job and carry on with life.

Schizophrenia can impact how memory works (Photo by Jordan Sanchez)

Schizophrenia can impact how memory works (Photo by Jordan Sanchez)

“People with schizophrenia have difficulty retrieving associations within a context, and this creates a pervasive loss of memory that makes everyday life a challenge,” says J. Daniel Ragland, professor of psychiatry in the UC Davis School of Medicine, according to the school’s website. “You can’t work if you can’t remember the next step in what your boss told you to do.”

Dysfunction of the frontal and temporal lobe regions of the brain may be at the heart of these medical issues, according to the researchers. Trouble will often arise when trying to form relationships between items or facts, such as putting together ingredients for a meal or trying to form an anecdote.

For those suffering from schizophrenia, it is a good idea to get treatment as early as possible and apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. While this cannot make up for the loss of normalcy in life, the extra money from SSA benefits may help reduce a bit of stress and make it easier to exist.

The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates have been highly successful over the past 30 years in obtaining Social Security disability benefits for clients who are disabled from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Contact us today for your free consultation.

The problem with the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration must fix the disability program.

The Social Security Administration must fix the disability program.

Anyone who has been following the Social Security Administration over the past few years can tell you how much financial trouble it is in, but few have answers to how it can be fixed.

Bloomberg’s Matthew Philips took the institute’s pending insolvency to task in a recent article, first citing President Dwight Eisenhower’s desire to have the SSA be run efficiency and effectively to help “rehabilitate the disabled so that they may return to useful employment.” These days, the SSA is a far cry from Eisenhower’s desire.

One problem the SSA has is its lack of ability to return the disabled to work. Philips noted that economists say it does more to keep some capable out of the labor force than it doe to help them back in.

There are currently 11 million people on disability, with less than 1 percent reentering the workforce in 2013. While the lack of incentive to return to work hurts, what may hurt even more is the 1 million rejected disability benefit applications waiting for appeal, causing a gigantic backlog spanning the entire United States.

Social Security disability benefits are necessary for millions across the country who cannot work, but does the current system work as it is laid out? Economically, it doesn’t seem to be working very well, as millions wait for benefits, more millions are on benefits with no incentive to get off of them, all the while the SSA is trying to figure out how it can be funded into the future.

“What is especially problematic is that [SSDI] absorbs people who might otherwise work when economic conditions improve,” Stanford economist Mark Duggan told Philips.

What can be done to help the SSA avoid disaster and insolvency? The most likely scenario is diverting part of Social Security’s payroll tax revenues to avoid disability benefit cuts, but this is not a permanent solution in and of itself. Duggan said it often takes a crisis before Congress makes meaningful reform; SSA has all the making of a crisis coming to light one day.

With case hearing dates taking far longer come to fruition and political pressure to deny claims, it is more critical than ever for a claimant to hire competent attorney to represent them as they seek SSA disability benefits. The Law Offices of Harold W. Conick & Associates has more than 30 years of experience in successfully representing clients obtain their disability benefits.