Can You Win a Disability Claim for Meniere Disease in Spokane, WA?

Can You Win a Disability Claim for Meniere Disease in Spokane, WA?

If you have Meniere Disease and are finding it hard to work, you may qualify for Meniere Disease Disability Benefits.

In fact, depending on the severity of your symptoms and if you meet the SSA requirements, you may automatically qualify.

What Meniere Disease is

Meniere Disease is a disorder of the inner ear (vestibular labyrinth) which is the area that controls your balance and positional awareness.  If you have Meniere Disease, you do not constantly have symptoms, but rather attacks that come on quickly and without warning.  These attacks include extreme vertigo, hearing loss, and a full feeling in your ear.  Because of vertigo, you are at risk of falling and causing injuries.  With hearing loss, you may be unable to use the phone or verbally communicate because you cannot hear what is being said to you.  These attacks may happen in a short period of time, or they may be isolated incidents that happen every few years.  Most attacks are very debilitating and take several hours to recover from.

How to Automatically Qualify for Meniere Disease Disability Benefits

Meniere Disease is listed in the SSA blue book under SSA listing 2.07– disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function as a disability that automatically qualifies you for Social Security disability benefits.  However, to automatically qualify you must:

  1. Have both, disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth demonstrated by caloric or other vestibular tests; and hearing loss established by audiometry.
  2. Be earning less than $1180 per month (unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity)
  3. Have symptoms that last or are expected to last at least 12 consecutive months. Because Meniere Disease’s symptoms come and go, it is important to provide medical records from each time your symptoms occur from your primary doctor (or any other doctor that has treated your Meniere Disease) and your audiologist.

What to do if You Do Not Meet the Automatic Qualifications

Even if you do not meet the qualifications to receive Meniere Disease Benefits automatically, you should still apply for Social Security Disability.

SSA will create a residual capacity assessment (RFC) that will detail your ability to perform certain work-related activities.  Additionally, SSA will use the medical evidence that you submit and possibly ask you to see a doctor or audiologist hired by the SSA.

The RFC will look at your ability to perform basic work activities such as:

  • Walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
  • Seeing, hearing and speaking
  • Understanding/carrying out and remembering simple instructions
  • Responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work situations
  • Dealing with changes in a routine work setting

SSA should take into consideration side effects caused by the medications you take for your Meniere Disease.

For example, your medications may cause sleepiness and fatigue.  This could impact your ability to work around or with heavy machinery.  It may also affect your reliability and productivity.  If you can prove that your productivity is ~20% less than what it was before your Meniere Disease diagnosis, then you may be found disabled.

After your RFC is created, the SSA will use a formula to decide whether your RFC and your vocational factors put you in the disabled category.

You Can Get Help!

If you have Meniere Disease and are not sure if you should apply for Social Security Disability, please contact us.  We want to help!  If you have been denied, you should file an appeal, asap.  We will show you how.

Get Help With Meniere Disease Disability Claims!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What Can I Expect In My VA C&P Exam?

What Can I Expect In My VA C&P Exam?

As part of your disability application & evaluation process, you will experience a VA C&P Exam.

 The C&P Exam is short for, Compensation and Pension exam, and it is typically performed by a VA doctor or contracted health care professional.

Here’s what can you expect from your VA C&P Exam.

Before Your VA C&P Exam, Know The Purpose of the Exam

Before your exam, you will want to be prepared to recount the entire medical history of your conditions.  This is something that the doctor(s) will ask you during your exam.  Regarding your medical concerns, when did it begin, how have you treated it, what is the severity now.  Recall, this all points to a nexus, you need to understand how service nexus plays into your disability claim, it will matter to how you answer these questions.  After the exam, the doctor will be writing up an opinion on the current condition, when it began, and whether or not it is related to your military experience.

During Your VA C&P Exam

The VA C&P exam is simply a doctor’s appointment that evaluates your physical or psychological conditions that you are claiming to be service connected. If you have more than one condition, the doctor will evaluate each one, and you may be sent to a specialist for certain conditions.  For instance, the doctor will probably be a general practitioner, so anything special, such as Vision, Hearing, Dental, Psychiatric, and other conditions, will be referred out.

When you arrive for your C&P exam, you will be given an opportunity to file a travel claim for mileage re-reimbursement.

During your exam, the doctor may do any or all of these things:

  • Review your claim file with you
  • Ask you questions based on the medical records in your claim file. These may include questions from the Disability Benefits Questionnaire for each service-connected condition you’re claiming.
  • Take a look at the Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).
  • Perform a basic physical exam
  • Ask you to get other tests—like X-rays or blood work—if needed

*Source* 

If you have a psychological condition or disorder the doctor will ask you questions and have you describe the symptoms you have experienced.  Be sure also to tell the doctor how the stress has affected you.  You may be asked to complete some standard psychological tests.

If you have a physical condition, illness, or injury, the doctor will ask you questions, order lab work, and conduct standard medical tests specific to your condition.  Remember to be completely honest with all questions you are asked.  For example, if the doctor asks how you are, do not say fine.  Be truthful and tell him or her that you are depressed or in pain if that is how you feel.  Make sure you don’t leave things unsaid.  If it’s unsaid, it cannot be claimed.

After Your VA C&P Exam

After your exam, the doctor will send the results to a VA claims processor.  The claims processor will then decide to approve or deny your claim based on the exam results along with other medical and military records. It can take  3-4 months for a decision to be made.

If your claim is not approved, you can file an appeal.  You have the right to good representation in your VA compensation case and more often than they should, the VA makes a mistake in its initial determination.  A good VA claims advocate attorney or service officer will look at your claim & the VA decision and be able to figure out what went wrong and help you fix it.  It’s ok to ask for help.

Get Help With Your VA Claim Today

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

When should I talk to a disability lawyer?

When should I talk to a disability lawyer?

When you apply for disability, a disability lawyer can significantly increase your chances of approval.

Up to 70% of all initial applications get denied. 

Having a disability lawyer can increase your chances of receiving disability benefits up to 50%.

When to Contact a Disability Lawyer

The sooner you contact a disability lawyer the better. If you have questions about the initial application process, you can call an attorney and set up a time to go over the procedure, your reason for filing, what to expect, and any other questions you have about the process or benefits you should be receiving.

If you already applied, you can still contact a lawyer and they will help you to figure out what to do to best approach whatever step you are at in the application or appeals process.

Contact A Disability Lawyer Today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What a Disability Attorney Will Do

Some positives to having a disability lawyer on your side are:

  • They will avidly work so that your case is seriously considered and give you the best chances possible at getting awarded
  • They will go over your medical history to properly present your case
  • They prepare you for questioning that is bound to happen in court
  • They gather further evidence from physicians and so on to further prove your case
  • They directly ask critical questions at the time of cross-examination
  • They can appeal your claim to the federal district court level
  • They will NOT miss critical filing deadlines!

Hassle Free & Less Stressful For Everyone!

Most disability lawyers will offer you a free consultation to go over your case.  We certainly do!  They can also review your denial letter and request your original claim file.  The disability lawyer can look through your file and see if you missed any important information that will help your case.  They can also see if you made any mistakes in the initial application.

Cost of Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Something else to keep in mind while deciding on hiring a disability lawyer is that they work on contingency. Contingency means your lawyer will only get paid if you win your claim.  In the end, your hired lawyer can only receive 25% (up to $6000) of your back pay for their fees.

Feel free to do your research on lawyers. There is a long road ahead of you! Most Disability lawyers will gladly do a free initial review of your claim. Doing so will open up the opportunity early on to decipher the good and the bad of your original claim.

Give us a call if you need assistance, we’d love to help you figure out your next step.

How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection

How PTSD and Disability are Related for VA Service Connection

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common mental health problem experienced by Veterans who have encountered combat or combat training.

This data is according to the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).  How PTSD and Disability are related is one of the most common questions we receive from Veterans seeking treatment and compensation for their service-connected injuries. 

PTSD and Disability, Broken Down

Before we cover how PTSD and Disability are related for VA purposes, we should cover PTSD can occur when someone is put in a situation that elicits fear of or actual death, serious injury, witnessing an event of death, or learning of the death or serious injury of a family member or friend.

For you to receive disability benefits for PTSD, you must Establish a direct service connection if the PTSD is combat related. To establish a direct service connection, you no longer need to prove the traumatic event that caused PTSD occurred. This applies to both combat veterans and any veterans that experienced hostile or terrorist activity.

PTSD Disability Requirements for Service Connection

The requirements to establish a direct service connection to PTSD And Disability:

  • Current diagnosis of PTSD
    • This diagnosis must be done by a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed social worker or another behavioral health practitioner.
    • The PTSD diagnosis must meet specific criteria and the doctor must provide a report on why it is believed you have PTSD and how your symptoms fit the specific criteria.
    • You may file for service connection for PTSD or a related behavioral health condition, but you will need a diagnosis before your service connected decision is granted.
  • In-service stressor
    • You must show that an event or series of events caused (or made worse) your PTSD during your service. You do not need to have been in combat, but there is a different requirement for combat vs non-combat events.
    • Records that may prove combat experience include your DD214, medals and/or awards received, and unit records showing the dates and locations of unit assignments.
    • For non-combat events, you may be able to include statements from fellow veterans that served with you and statements from friends and family that knew you before and after your service and can attest to your changes.
  • Any proof you may have of the stressor event or conditions occurring. This clear event stressor is not strictly required but makes for a less challenging fight with the VA.
  • A Department of Veterans Affairs or VA contracted psychologist/psychiatrist’s opinion the stressor was sufficient to cause PTSD. If you are near a Vet Center they can help with this. They have licensed social workers that can document the connection between your diagnosis and the stressor.
  • Veterans who have experienced rape or sexual harassment that caused PTSD are also eligible for disability benefits, but they do have to prove that the sexual trauma occurred.
  • Other events can happen that can cause PTSD in veterans before they even join the military. In that case, to receive service-connected PTSD and Disability benefits, they must prove that their service has made the disorder worse.

After Meeting the Criteria: PTSD and Disability Compensation

Once you apply for disability benefits and it is established you have PTSD, and that there is a service connection, the VA will assign a disability rating. The rating is based on a percentage of disability, how severe your symptoms are, how often they occur, the length of remissions or improvement, and how much you can work and socially function.

Service Connected Disability benefits are measured in severity increments of 10%; from 10% to 100%. For example, a veteran who has mild PTSD or if the symptoms are infrequent and are controlled well with medication, the disability rating might be 10%. The VA uses the disability rating to determine what benefits you are eligible for and how much compensation you may receive. Benefits can include health care, compensation, and treatment for your PTSD.


If you are considering or fighting a VA disability claim for PTSD, you might want to look at this article about PTSD and Social Security as well!


Can You File a Social Security Disability Claim for Pseudoclaudication?

Can You File a Social Security Disability Claim for Pseudoclaudication

Do you suffer from excruciating back pain?  Is it making it difficult for you to work?

You may be wondering if you can file for social security disability if you suffer from Pseudocladication. 

Let’s look at the qualifications of social security disability. 

What Is Pseudoclaudication?

The term pseudoclaudication is used to describe a condition known as lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), which causes inflammation of the nerves emanating from a person’s spinal cord. This condition occurs when your spinal canal narrows in the lower part of your back. Bone spurs, bulging disks, or a thickening of the ligaments in the back of the spinal canal may all be to blame. The most common symptoms of pseudoclaudication include tingling or cramping in the lower back, the hips, legs, or the buttocks. You may also feel heaviness or weakness in your legs.

The roots of the nerves that control the movement of your legs pass through narrow areas in the spinal canal. If those passages become too narrow, it may put pressure on the roots of those nerves, causing pain. The pain could intensify while standing or walking and can often be relieved by sitting or lying down.

How to Qualify for a Disability with a Spinal Disorder Including Pseudoclaudication

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits related to pseudoclaudication, you first must be diagnosed by a physician with one of the following disorders:

Nerve Root Compression

Nerve Root Compression is usually caused by a herniated disc or a pinched nerve in the back. This condition can result in limited motion in their spine, muscle weakness, or reflex loss; all of which play into the discussion of how the symptoms might prevent you from earning a wage.

Spinal Arachnoiditis

This disorder results from inflammation of the arachnoid – one of the several membranes that protect the nerves of the spinal cord. One of the keys to seeking Social Security Disability when you have this condition is to ensure that you have a confirmed diagnosis by a physician performing; either a tissue biopsy or an MRI scan.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

This condition may be caused by degenerative arthritis. To qualify for SSDI benefits with a diagnosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis you usually must have limited motor control, muscle weakness accompanied by pseudoclaudication, or spinal stenosis. This condition must typically be documented by a T scan, an MRI scan, or an x-ray.

Lumbar stenosis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. However, some doctors may suggest surgical treatment for these types of conditions if other non-surgical treatments have failed to work for the patient.

What Medical Evidence is Required For Pseudoclaudication?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will request/need your medical records from the doctor that is currently treating you for pseudoclaudication or related conditions. These records should include an imaging test that confirms the diagnosis of spinal stenosis.

The records should reflect that a doctor has done a complete and detailed physical exam; including, testing your reflexes, muscle strength, range of motion, and your ability to walk, bend, squat and rise.

Medical records should also show whether nerve root compression is causing pain, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, or limited range of motion.

Other Considerations for SSDI Claims for Pseudoclaudication

When filling out an application for disability benefits, you need to include descriptions of how your back pain and impairment affects your ability to work. You also need to describe how it impacts your overall daily life. Do not forget how back considerations may cause you to be experiencing behavioral health conditions, such as depression or anxiety due to chronic pain. Be sure to list all of your symptoms that you are currently experiencing.  For help, here is a step by step discussion about disability claims and appeals.

Clearly, there are many hoops to jump through when back conditions are the basis for a Social Security Disability claim (or appeal). Reading blogs like this can be helpful in gaining a better understanding. We hope it is at least. However, reaching out to a good disability attorney is also something you might want to consider. If you have any of these conditions, pseudoclaudication – etc., send us a message. We will help you figure out how to approach a Social Security Disability claim or appeal.

Lies and Truths About Waste and the Growth of Social Security Disability

Lies and Truth About Waste and the Growth of Social Security Disability

 

In July and August of 2016, we produced a four-part blog series titled:
Social Security Myths.” In Myth #4 we focused on the rhetoric that Social Security disability claims were soaring, and sought to evaluate the sensational assertions using facts that are readily available, for anyone who cared to look anyway.

Recently, this false claim regarding disability was put forth again for the sole purpose of making some hard to understand, and politically charged, points when the President’s budget director stated the following in an interview on CBS:

“Do you really think that Social Security disability insurance is part of what people think of when they think of Social Security? I don’t think so. It’s the fastest-growing program. It grew tremendously under President Obama. It’s a very wasteful program, and we want to try and fix that.”

We called this type of statement, “The Typical Spin,” in our Myth #4. The view expressed above solely identifies SSDI as both the “fastest growing program” and a “very wasteful program.” Let’s keep it simple here, and break down, what’s inaccurate and just plain incorrect about this statement.

 

 

 

Social Security Disability is the Fastest Growing Program?

The rate of claims for disability has gone up and down in recent years, correlating strongly with the economic environment. However, the rate of all the claims that are granted has remained consistent with respect to the total number of workers in the workforce.

 

Social Security Disability Denial Rates 2005-2014
Social Security Disability Denial Rates 1975-2014

 

Approximately 0.5% of all workers are awarded disability benefits per year (about 1 in 200). This rate has been consistent for at least the last ~20 years.

It is important to look at this data as rates and percentages instead of as absolute totals. If we were to compare absolute numbers, the number of claimants would always be increasing, if the number of workers increased. More workers, more injuries, more disability.

This last point is also very notable in this discussion. Workers: Injuries: Disability: SSDI. SSDI is a benefit for workers; it is an insurance program they (workers) have paid into through their payroll, and is not “welfare,” in the pejorative sense.

In fact, looking at the data, even in recent years – while the rate of those claiming disability has gone up, the rate of the award has remained at the 0.5% we just discussed. By this measure, Social Security has been more restrictive than expected in awarding claimants’ disability benefits.

Taking all this into account, it is tough to see how the “fastest growing program” is the program that has become more restrictive to applicants over the last couple of years. Of course, this is because SSDI is in fact, NOT the fastest growing program administered by the Social Security Administration.

 

It’s Not Just Our Take on This…

The LA Times dug into this issue – comparing in precise numbers the rise in awards for SSDI (in absolute terms) vs. the increase in awards for SSI. While SSI enrollment has grown by 10 million in the last eight years, SSDI enrollment has increased by only 1.2 million in the same amount of time, and in fact, decreasing since 2014.

 

Social Security Disability is a “Very Wasteful Program?”

Sadly, the President’s budget director only let out this tiny soundbite. However, when you are already telling a fib, why not tell another. Again, we covered this in our series on Social Security Myths. In particular, Myth #2: People Are Denied Benefits Because of Fraud in Social Security Claims.

To concede a point, we will call something a waste whether the intent to receive improper benefits was purposeful or merely a happy accident.  We will be very loose in our definition to give the absolute best interpretation of the Budget guru’s words.  So how do they bear out?

Between 2005-2014, Social Security found that 0.7% of those receiving benefits knowingly or unknowingly received some level of benefits they should not have.  That’s $11 Billion over 10 years.  A pretty big number!  So, how does this rate of fraud, waste, and abuse compare to other government programs? Or even, the private sector?

In 2011, it was estimated that ~7% (10x SSDI by %) of Medicare spending was lost to fraud and abuse. In real terms that is $11billion lost in 10 years for Social Security disability and $177billion lost in 1 year for Medicare. That is not a typo – it’s the Economist.

Private Sector: In 2014, a study by the National Retail Foundation and the University of Florida found that shrink (lost product to theft) averaged, 1.38% (2x SSDI by %). In total numbers, that is $44 billion lost in 1 year to private sector retail theft, vs. $11 billion over ten years for SSDI.

 

Consequences and Why We Should Care

It is honestly a head scratcher how Social Security Disability is the “most wasteful program.” For that matter, how it is the “fastest growing program.” By all analytical accounts, it is neither. However, it is the easiest program to bash, and that has genuine consequences.

When truly legitimate applicants seek disability benefits, they already face an uphill battle. Social Security is already more likely than not to deny a claim on the first go-round. This barrier is on top of the terrible realization that their injuries are in-fact obstacles to employment. Shaming remarks towards the benefit itself or those who need it very likely will make people avoid pursuing it or avoid letting their support network know they are seeking it.

If you are reading this, and think you might need Social Security Disability benefits, please reach out to Lilac City Law. We will help you figure this out, without spin.

 

Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

5 Questions to Ask your Social Security Disability Attorney

5 Questions to ask your Social Security Disability Attorney

 

The process of obtaining Social Security can be time consuming, stressful, and confusing. 

Whether you’re filing your initial disability claim or working with a Social Security Disability Attorney on an appeal to a denial of your claim, you may still not have much personal knowledge of where you are in the process. 

For this reason, we put together this list of 5 questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney about your claim. 


A Primer on Social Security Disability

Before we cover the five questions you should ask your Social Security Disability Attorney, let’s get a brief overview of what a social security disability insurance is and why it is so important to hire an attorney for it.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that works in favor for people who are severely ill or physically impaired to provide them with monthly support in the form of financial compensation.   A Social Security disability attorney helps you in planning out your appeal and represents you in any administrative law hearings related to it.  The amount of work a Social Security attorney may end up doing on your behalf could vary widely depending on the particulars of your claim and/or appeal.  So, as you’re considering who you want to work with, you may also want to consider these five questions to ask your (potential) Social Security disability attorney as well.

 

What Other Benefits Do I Qualify For? 

The primary benefit you’re seeking with Social Security disability is compensation.  Monthly income.  In some cases, you may qualify for additional benefits or even compensation through other benefits programs, in addition to SSDI.

These could include some retirement benefits, long term disability benefits through a private insurer (or your previous employer), VA service-connected disability compensation, and more.  You should also look at state and local benefits that may be available.  This is yet another great reason to work with a local disability attorney.  They will have a better understanding of what might be available locally, as well as a firm grasp on how Social Security disability interacts with other federal and commercial financial benefits.

Ask your social security disability attorney what you qualify for and what benefits may be provided to you along with the social security disability benefits.

 

What Can I Do To Help My Own claim?

The first thing you need to understand is that most applicants are denied on their first attempt. So the first thing to do is not to panic. However, if you and your Social Security disability attorney stick with your claim, it is likely you’ll eventually find success in your claim.  To help your attorney they’ll probably ask you for all your recent medical records and all paperwork that can help you in your case.  These represent objective facts, and are hard to argue against – that’s why your attorney wants to have them available.

However, there are truths about your claim that may not be represented on paper.  You may know things that your attorney doesn’t know about your claim.  An astute attorney will know what kind of information you might still have, that they need.  But it requires two-way communication.  The best way to start that is to ask how you can help in the first place.

 

How Will We Plan to Prepare for a Hearing?

The Social Security hearing is a stressful event for most claimants.  Planning ahead will help everyone involved.  However, do a quick google search and read a few reviews of Social Security attorneys.  The low reviews almost always state something to the effect of, “attorney met with me two hours before hearing,” or, “attorney met me the day before hearing, that’s the only time we talked.  Didn’t know my claim at all!”

This happens often enough that it’s almost the norm… Though, it shouldn’t be.  You can pre-empt this nightmare scenario by asking your Social Security disability attorney, “how will we plan to prepare for a hearing?”  If they can’t lay out a process that makes sense, they may be putting you in front of a judge at some point, unprepared.  Be aware of attorneys without plans.

 

How Do You Prefer We Stay in Contact?

Communication is vital in dealing with a Social Security disability denial and all the events, and coordination an appeal to it requires. That is why you and your Social Security disability attorney should decide the best possible form of contact.

Whether the communication plan is face to face meetings, emails, traditional mail, fax, text message, or smoke signals, you need to lay out a system that enables effectiveness.  And it needs to work for both of you.

 

Do You Have All My Doctors’ Contact Information?

It is very important to give all the healthcare information you have to your Social Security disability attorney. This means all your medical records, related documents plus all your doctors’ contact details. This should also include their contact number, office address and in some cases, home address for emergency situations.

Make a personal copy of all this information too, to keep for your own records, and to provide as a source for future copies needed by another attorney (if need be), other benefits providers, and/or for other reasons not yet realized, such as a will or estate plan.

 

Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.