Dianna Cannon, J.D. - Social Security Disability Attorney - Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine 2018
Recently, the SSA has added eating disorders to their disability criteria in the listed impairments. If you have an eating disorder that impacts you physical or mentally, it is possible that you could be granted disability benefits. For example, if you have Anorexia and due to that you have difficulty with your memory, interacting with others, and concentrating, you may be unable to work. Objective medical evidence that would need to be presented to the SSA about this impairment includes psychological records and records regarding your weight over a 12 month period. Below please find the criteria for eating disorders that the SSA considers.
12.13 Eating disorders (see 12.00B10), satisfied by A and B:
If you feel you cannot work due to a disabling eating disorder, contact our office for help. Call Cannon Disability Law at 801-322-2121 and see if you qualify for disability benefits. We will answer your questions for free with no obligation for you to become our client.
Many people who apply for disability benefits think that they will be awarded benefits if they simply explain their disabling impairment to a Judge. But the SSA system doesn't work like that. The law clearly states that the person applying for disability benefits has the burden to prove they are disabled and they must do so with objective medical evidence from a physician. But how can you get medical evidence if you don't have insurance to go to the doctor?
There are always ways to be treated for your disabling physical or mental impairments. Hopefully, you or your spouse or parent have medical coverage through insurance. If not, then there are free or low cost clinics and you can become their patient. Many doctors might also set up a payment plan with you. Producing medical evidence that proves your disabling is key to obtaining benefits. We have free and low cost clinics listed on this website to help you find a doctor. Regular, consistent medical treatment is they key to proving disability in your SSD or SSI claim. Call us for free to discuss your case - 801-322-2121.
How can we help you if you have symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, or some other mental illness? One of the main things that we can do if you have severe mental health impairments that prevent your from working is we can help you apply for disability benefits. Many people are overwhelmed when they face the paperwork required to apply for disability benefits. We can help you with that by helping you complete your application and filing the appropriate forms with the Social Security Administration prior to your deadlines. When you hire our law firm, we work hard to make sure that your application and appeals are filed on time and that your medical records are collected and turned into the SSA.
If you are receiving treatment for your mental illness and your symptoms are so severe that you can longer work, you should apply for disability benefits. If you have been off work for 12 months due to your disabling mental health impairments or you believe your mental health impairments will prevent you from working for over a year into the future, you are entitled to apply for benefits. We can make this process easier for you. Call Cannon Disability Law today for a free evaluation of your claim at 801-322-2121.
The Social Security Administration plans to expand CDI units and have written a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, who is Chairman of the Committee on Finance, outlining their plans to expand through the year 2022. Below please find excerpts of a letter from Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner, dated February 13, 2018, which explains their reasoning that they believe they have saved the agency billions of dollars.
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018)
Bipartisan Budget Act Reporting Requirements
Section 811 of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 requires the expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) Units. Specifically, the BBA:
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) Units - FY 2018 Progress Report As Required by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018)
Below is a three-year snapshot of agency savings from FY 2015 through FY 2017, illustrating total projected SSA savings of more than $900 million over the three-year period. In addition, below is an illustration of judicial actions during the same timeframe. According to the OIG, “Significant increases in ...[s]avings reported [in FY 2015] are the results of a major multi-year, multi- subject investigation conducted by the San Juan, Puerto Rico CDI unit.” OIG, 2015 Spring Semi-Annual Report to Congress.
Current CDI State Coverage
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018) As illustrated below, SSA currently operates 40 units, covering 34 States, Washington, DC, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
CDI Expansion Plan
During FY 2017’s expansion efforts, we successfully added one CDI location in New Jersey. Assuming participation from local law enforcement entities, SSA plans to expand CDI coverage to 16 remaining States, and 4 remaining territories. In FY 2018, we are slated to open three CDI units in Hawaii, Indiana, and New Mexico. Hawaii’s CDI unit will serve as a central location to organize CDI investigative activities for Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. Therefore, FY 2018 expansion will successfully provide CDI coverage to a total of six new locations (three States and three Territories). We will target implementation two to four units per year thereafter until nationwide coverage is complete, as outlined in the below tentative expansion/rollout schedule.
Total estimated agency startup and operating expenses may cost up to $1.2 million per added unit (this includes both SSA and OIG expenditures). Costs include needed equipment/supplies, travel, personnel, and space acquisition/build out expenditures in the first year of implementation. Ongoing operating costs during subsequent years will be approximately $600,000-$800,000 per unit. Given varying geographical labor, overhead and administrative costs, each unit will have varying overall costs on the agency. These costs represent a maximum cost estimation, and SSA continues to look for opportunities to reduce startup costs of new units through tactics such as utilizing existing space and equipment.
Recruitment of law enforcement partnerships will remain a continuous effort. Receiving commitments from interested law enforcement entities depend on varying factors, such as resource availability from respective States, cities, and/or county law enforcement agencies, as well as local budget determinations. In addition, some States may require legislative action prior to law enforcement participation. In many instances, the willingness to offer investigative personnel for partnership is contingent on each of the law enforcement’s own State, city, and/or county budget approvals. Therefore, securing law enforcement commitments typically occur within the year of interest, not beyond current fiscal years. Currently, there are six CDI Units operating without a law enforcement partner.
SSA, OIG, and other pertinent stakeholders will continue to collaborate on efforts in expanding the CDI program nationwide. The agency will share progress and milestones via subsequent annual reports, as the agency reinforces its commitment to combat fraud.
Did you go to your hearing with an administrative law judge and lose? It doesn't feel good to get an Unfavorable Decision in the mail, after waiting two years to get a hearing, sending in all of your medical records, and going through the stress of a hearing. The SSA is now only granting 40% of cases across the country, which means if your case was denied at a hearing, you are not alone. You know your disability keeps you from working, so what should you do? My advice is, don't give up. Here are some options:
1) Hire an attorney. If you went to the hearing unrepresented you didn't make a good choice. But you can remedy that now. Have an attorney review your Unfavorable Decision and see if there is any way of appealing the decision. You have 60 days from the date the decision was issued to appeal to the Appeals Council. An attorney should be able to tell you for free if there is a chance of winning your case on appeal.
2) Appeal to the Appeals Council. You can write to the Appeals Council and demonstrate to them that the Judge made a mistake. If they agree with you, there is a small chance that they will remand the case, which means they will send it back to the same Judge for another hearing. There is a 1% chance that they will overturn the Judge and grant your benefits, so don't believe that by appealing they will grant your case. If you have additional medical evidence, you can submit that information with your appeal to the Appeals Council. There is a 60 day deadline to appeal, so don't miss your deadline or your appeal will not be accepted.
3) You can file again. Yes, if you file again you are giving up on ever recovering your past benefits under your old application, but you already lost those benefits when you lost your hearing. So, sometimes it is better to not appeal and file again. Why? Because if you file again you can build a new record by submitting better medical evidence, you can start fresh and hire an attorney who can help you and although you will wait for another hearing, you may get a different Judge who will see things your way. Try to remember that if you lost your case once, you will need to do things differently if you apply again. You will need to collect all of your medical records, comply with your doctor's treating advice, and build a record that supports disability. Perhaps you will need to find a doctor who is more supportive of your case or who is a specialist in treating your impairments. It is the evidence which wins the case and it is your duty to present the best case that you can. Even if you lost the first time, you can win on a second application if you have the proper evidence. Don't be discouraged. If you can't work due to your disability, apply a second time and start over. Don't give up.
The Republican Tax Plan will be paid for by cutting entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are entitlements that working citizens pay for with taxes out of every paycheck. If Congress changes these programs, millions of individuals will reach old age and be left without financial security and healthcare. You will also lose the money that you have invested in your entitlements. Again, these are not handouts. This is not welfare. These are benefits that you paid for with your work and most people expect to rely on these benefits as their full retirement or at least as a supplement to their retirement savings.
Additionally, the Republican Tax Plan contemplates eliminating Medicaid and disability benefits, which workers also pay for with their taxes. Medicaid is the healthcare program that helps the most needy in our society and without Medicaid millions of people will go without healthcare. Medicare is the program that working citizens become entitled to when they reach the age of 65. The Republican Tax Plan is giving tax benefits to corporations and the most wealthy individuals in our society, on the backs of the most needy.
Multiple Sclerosis is an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system. When an individual suffers from M.S., the insulating covers of the nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves are damaged by a process called demyelination. The affects of the disease are different for every person, but common symptoms are: vision problems, tingling and numbness in the face or extremities, pain and muscle spasm, weakness, fatigue, tremor, balance issues, dizziness, slurred speech, sexual dysfunction, bladder problems, and cognitive issues such as forgetfulness or mood swings.
Multiple Sclerosis is typically diagnosed by an MRI scan. The MRI will show demyelinating lesions in the brain and/or the spinal cord. These lesions are known as white matter lesions or plaques. The disease can also be diagnosed by a spinal tap or lumbar puncture. The test is done in a hospital setting and the doctor removes cerebrospinal build, using a thin needle, from the low back. The cerebral spinal fluid is tested for abnormal results; oligoclonal bands which are a group of proteins that show inflammation of the central nervous system. The presence of these proteins may indicate a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.
You can obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration if you have severe symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis. The SSA looks at M.S. under the neurological listing 11.09. Listing 11.09 is as follows:
11.09 Multiple sclerosis, characterized by A or B:
A. Disorganization of motor function in two extremities, resulting in an extreme limitation in the ability to stand up from a seated position, balance while standing or walking, or use the upper extremities.
B. Marked limitation in physical functioning, and in one of the following:
Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is often associated with Veterans who have experienced the trauma of war, many people can have the symptoms and mental diagnosis who have experienced other forms of violence, such as spousal abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse as a child. Service members who have been deployed to war zones and experienced the constant threat of death, come under attack, or experienced the death of fellow soldiers typically have some symptoms of PTSD. However, even service members who have not been sent to Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, or Afghanistan, can struggle with PTSD. Military personnel, policeman, fireman, or volunteers may have experienced trauma in training exercises, protecting civilians, or cleaning up the Pentagon or the towers after 9-11.
PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety, are more common than most people realize and the mental symptoms from these diagnoses can be disabling. The SSA recently issued mental Listing 12.15 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If you or your loved ones are experiencing PTSD and cannot work, Cannon Disability Law can help. Listing 12.15 specifically addresses PTSD and will help those who are disabled document their impairment so they can obtain disability benefits. Contact us and we will help you understand how to prove your disability to the Social Security Administration so you can obtain benefits.
What happens if you apply for benefits and receive a denial? Some people make the mistake of thinking they should give up. Do not give up, because the majority of people are denied once they file their application for disability benefits, even if they have terminal cancer. What you need to do is file a Request for Reconsideration. The initial denial notice that you receive from the Social Security Administration gives you 60 days from the date you receive the decision to appeal the denial. If you don't submit your Request for Reconsideration in the 60 day time frame, the SSA will require you to start the application process all over again, which is a huge waste of your time. Instead of giving up or filing a new application, send in your request to have your case reviewed again and do it within the proper 60 day time frame.
While it is true that the same SSA office who denied your initial application will review your disability case, it will not be the same examiner who reviews the evidence at the reconsideration level. Therefore, it is essential to submit any additional or updated medical evidence at the time of reconsideration, so the new examiner can determine if you are disabled. It is also essential to attend a psychological or physical evaluation if the SSA decides to send you to one of their physicians in order to obtain more evidence about your disabling condition.
Even if you submit all of your medical information and fill out the SSA forms perfectly, you may still be denied by the SSA. Please remember that across the country approximately 86 percent of disability claims are denied at the reconsideration level. This may be a shocking number, but it is what it is and the only way to obtain your benefits and prove disability is to soldier on. Do not give up. If you are denied at the initial or reconsideration level or if you just want help applying for benefits, we are here for you. Hiring an attorney to help you with your claim will increase your chances of winning disability benefits. You can contact our office, Cannon Disability Law, for free and we will answer your questions about the disability process.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.