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Category: Social Security Disability

Adam Neidenberg Social Security Disability Expert

Posted on by Marissa-DHG

Adam Neidenberg is a SSD Expert that has represented thousands of Social Security disability claimants.  Mr. Neidenberg is co-founder of Disability Help Group, exclusively representing Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability claims.

Work with a disability expert

Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group guide you through the disability process.  They can help at any stage of the application process.  Specifically, you can receive help with:

  • Filing all paperwork
  • Finding/collecting medical records
  • Assistance with applications, questionnaires and appeals
  • Frequent case follow up

Filing for disability

Social Security and Veteran’s Administration have specific definitions of disability.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group Advocates know the process.  They help you understand these definitions.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability help Group assist you in getting the right evidence to support your claim.  They assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group know what it takes to get a case approved.

Winning case study 1

For example, Joanna applied for disability benefits.  She was unable to work due to severe anxiety and depression.  She also had chronic back pain.  Unfortunately, Joanna only saw her primary care doctor.  Social Security denied her claim.  Joanna turned to Disability Help Group for help with her appeal.  Joanna’s advocate recommended she see a psychiatrist for her depression and anxiety.  Her advocate also advised her to see a specialist for her back.  Joanna began treatment with specialists.  Her new medical evidence showed that Joanna’s symptoms severely interfered with her daily activities.  Social Security approved her claim. 

Disabled Veterans

Frequently, veterans apply for both VA and Social Security benefits.  However, VA and Social Security benefits have different requirements.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group have helped with many cases.  They understand the complicated processes for both claims.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group provide guidance through the application process to maximize your benefits.

Winning case study 2

For example, a veteran applied for disability benefits for PTSD.  During his Social Security disability hearing, he testified that he witnessed a young girl get hit by a vehicle while on patrol during his service.  He testified t hat since his service, he started blacking out and became violent.  The veteran’s advocate presented medical evidence documenting his symptoms.  The judge’s decision included a summary of his testimony.  His advocate was able to submit his decision to the VA.  This helped establish that his PTSD was connected to his service.  The VA increased the veteran’s disability rating. 

Experienced hearing advocate

Often, SSD cases require a hearing.  Working with Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group gives you a valuable advantage at the hearing levels.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group advocates have a lot of experience appearing at hearings.  They know the judges.  They walk you through the hearing process.  Therefore, you will be prepared for your hearing. 

Winning case study 3

To illustrate, Jose, 57, filed for disability benefits after injuring his back.  He previously worked as an armed security guard.  Social Security denied his claim.  They felt he could return to his past work as a security guard.  Jose turned to Disability Help Group for assistance.  Jose’s advocate reviewed his work history.  Jose’s advocate helped him explain his job to the judge in more detail.  Since Jose’s job was classified properly, the judge was able to approve his case. 

Knowing the disability rules

Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group present your case to give you the best chance of winning.  Social Security has special rules for people over the age of 50.  These rules are known as “Grid Rules.”  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group understand these rules.  They can tell you if these rules apply in your case. 

Winning case study 4

Moreover, Edward applied for disability benefits because he had arthritis in his knees.  He was 62 years old and worked as a painter for many years.  Edward turned to Disability Help Group for help with his application.  His advocate advised Edward that he needed x-rays and imaging of his knees, get a prescription for the cane he used.  At hearing, Edward’s advocate pointed this evidence out to the judge.  The advocate also pointed out that rule that would allow the judge to approve Edward’s case.  The judge agreed and Edward’s case was approved. 

Winning case study 5

Lastly, Carmen, 51, applied for disability due to coronary artery disease, depression and anxiety.  She previously worked as an office manager and dental assistant, stopped working due to frequent shortness of breath and low energy, had trouble concentrating and remembering things.  Carmen enlisted Disability Help Group to help her with her claim.  Carmen’s advocate pointed out medical evidence at hearing that showed she could no longer perform complex tasks.  She also pointed out evidence that showed Carmen had trouble standing and walking for long periods.  Since the judge found Carmen couldn’t do her past work, he approved her case. 

Getting help with your disability claim

Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group can help you at any stage in the disability process.  Disability Help Group answers all your questions.  If you’ve been denied, Disability Help Group will help file your appeal.  Get the help you need now. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

Adam Neidenberg Disability Help Group

Posted on by Marissa-DHG

Adam Neidenberg is co-founder of Disability Help Group. He has been litigating claims since graduating law school in 1996.  Once he became an experienced trial attorney, he began focusing on representing disabled individuals.  Mr. Neidenberg has represents thousands of disability claimants and provides training to Disability Help Group advocates by teaching them how to assess legal issues, present evidence in cases, and cross examining experts. 

Adam Neidenberg is an Expert Disability Advocate

Adam Neidenberg has achieved much in life and feels a sense of pride in his ability to help disabled people receive the disability benefits they deserver. Some of Mr. Neidenberg’s educational and professional accomplishments include:

  • Firstly, University of Florida, Undergraduate Degree, 1993. 
  • Secondly, Hofstra University, Juris Doctor, 1996. 
  • Thirdly, Florida Bar Association
  • Fourthly, 11th Circuit Federal District Court
  • Moreover, United States Court of Veterans Appeals for Veterans Claims. 
  • Finally, Department of Veterans Affairs Accredited Attorney.

Getting the Help You Deserve

Mr. Neidenberg provides specialized services in disability law.  Disability Help Group’s experienced advocates can help you with your Social Security disability or Veteran’s disability claims.  We can help you understand which are the most advantageous disability rules for your claim.  Mr. Neidenberg and Disability Help Group help you build the strongest case possible. 

The Application Process

Mr. Neidenberg and his dedicated team help you file your disability claim.  We focus on making sure your disability application is accurate and complete.  Complete applications give you a better chance of winning your case at the earlier stages of the disability process. 

Understanding the Disability Process

Mr. Neidenberg and his team make sure you are in good hands during the Social Security disability process.

  • Firstly, provide an educated staff to answer your questions
  • Secondly, check on the status of your case regularly
  • Thirdly, ensure Social Security processes your case correctly
  • Fourthly, make sure documentation is submitted timely

Adam Neidenberg is an Experienced Hearing Advocate

Adam Neidenberg and Disability Help Group prepares you for you for your disability hearing.  Your advocate fully reviews your file.  We obtain any missing medical evidence you need and will discuss with you the questions the judge will ask you.  In addition the the administrative judge, there may be a vocational and/or medical expert that may be involved in your hearing.

Adam Neidenberg and Disability Help Group know what it takes to win your case. 

Case Study 1: Adam Neidenberg Disability Help Group

Donald had a car accident and hit his head losing consciousness.  Following his accident, Donald started having frequent headaches.  He also had problems with his balance, memory, and concentration. As a result, he became irritable easily.  After applying for disability, Social Security denied Donald’s case twice.  Donald hired Adam Neidenberg as his disability advocate. When we reviewed the file, it was clear that his doctor did not provide the necessary descriptions of Donald’s symptoms. Therefore, it was necessary to resolve the issues with the medical evidence. Once the issues were resolved, Donald had a hearing in front of an administrative law judge who found that Donald missed work frequently and determined that Donald met the Social Security disability rules and his case was approved.

Case Study 2: Adam Neidenberg Disability Help Group

Anne injured her neck in a car accident.  She required cervical spinal fusion surgery, however, surgery did not help improve her symptoms.  Likewise, she developed numbness and tingling in her arms., causing her problems using her hands.  Disability Help Group made sure that Social Security received all of Anne’s records.  Anne’s advocate suggested certain tests that could help her case, also provided additional forms for Anne’s doctor to complete.  Ultimately, Social Security found that Anne was unable to work and approved her case. 

Working with a Disability Expert 

The Social Security Disability process and rules can seem very confusing. For example, there several states in the process, an initial application, reconsideration, hearing, appeals council, and federal appeals. In addition, within each stage in the process there are has various forms that need to be completed and distinct rules that need to be followed. It is important that you hire an expert that understands how to apply the rules to your case that will benefit you. For example, Social Security has a rule that makes it easier for people over the age of 50 to win their case.

Case Study 3: Adam Neidenberg Disability Help Group

Janet, a 51 year old woman, applied for disability based on coronary artery disease, depression and anxiety.  She previously worked as a medical assistant.  She was unable to continue working because she suffered from frequent chest pain and swelling in her legs.  Due to her depression and anxiety symptoms, she had trouble concentrating and remembering things.  After being denied for disability by Social Security, Janet hired Disability Help Group.  Thereafter reviewing her file, we found that Janet did not provide Social Security with her psychiatrist’s information.  Her advocate requested her psychiatrist’s records and with the addition of these records, the judge found that Janet could not stand for long periods of time.  She also could not perform complex tasks.  Therefore, she could not return to work as a medical assistant.  Since Janet was over the age of 50, the judge was able to approve her case. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually happens when you suffer an injury to the brain.  Usually, this can be caused by different events.  The most common include falls, car accidents or sports injuries.  Most people recover well from symptoms caused by the injury.  However, sometimes symptoms can last much longer. 

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries can cause many different symptoms.  These can include difficulty thinking, feeling slowed down or difficulty concentrating.  Traumatic brain injuries can cause physical symptoms.  These include headaches, nausea or vomiting or feeling tired.  Traumatic brain injuries can also cause mood symptoms.  Mood symptoms include irritability, sadness or anxiety.  Traumatic brain injuries can also interfere with sleep. 

Social Security disability benefits for traumatic brain injury

You can apply for Social Security disability if you have a TBI.  However, you must meet certain requirements to receive benefits.  Generally, your condition must interfere with your normal daily activities.  Additionally, your symptoms must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  To qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) you also must have worked a certain number of years recently. 

Social Security definition of traumatic brain injury

Social Security provides a listing of impairments, known as the “Blue Book”.  The Blue Book provides specific conditions you must meet to qualify for disability benefits.  Typically, the listings consider the most extreme severity of symptoms.   Social Security considers traumatic brain injury under listing 11.18. 

Listing 11.18 traumatic brain injury

Social Security considers traumatic brain injury as brain damage caused by skull fracture, a closed head injury or penetration by an object into the brain tissue.  To qualify under the listing you must show:

  • The inability to control the movement of at least two extremities (either an arm and a leg or two arms or two legs AND
  • Extreme difficulty in balancing when standing or walking, standing up from a seated position or using the arms OR
  • “Marked” physical problems and a “marked” limitation (for at least 3 months post-injury) in any one of the following:
    • Thinking
    • Interacting with others
    • Finishing tasks
    • Regulating emotions and controlling your behavior

Meeting the listing for traumatic brain injury

Social Security defines marked as more than moderate but not extreme.  “Marked” means having a serious limitation in that area of functioning.  “Extreme” means not being able to function in that area at all. 

What if my traumatic brain injury doesn’t meet the listing?

Many people will not meet the listing for traumatic brain injury.  However, you can still get disability benefits.  Specifically, you need to show that your traumatic brain injury limits your functioning and keeps you from working.  If you don’t meet the listing, Social Security considers your residual functional capacity (RFC).  Your RFC includes the most you can do despite your conditions. 

Example 1:  traumatic brain injury and Social Security disability

For example, Donald had a car accident and hit his head.  He lost consciousness when he hit his head.  Following his accident, Donald started having frequent headaches.  He started having problems with his balance.  Donald also started having trouble remembering things and concentrating.  He became irritable easily.  Social Security found that Donald’s symptoms would cause him to miss work frequently.  They also found that he would not be able to stay focused throughout a work day.  Therefore, Social Security approved his case. 

Medical evidence for traumatic brain injury

Social Security needs evidence showing that your symptoms cause severe problems.  Therefore, you must provide medical evidence related to your traumatic brain injury.   Generally, medical evidence includes your doctor’s notes, test results and imaging.  Your doctor should document:

  • Any physical problems using your arms or legs
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination
  • The frequency and severity of ongoing symptoms such as headaches or blurred vision
  • Behavioral changes in your mood or personality
  • Problems with focus or concentration 
  • Side effects from medications  

RFC forms for traumatic brain injury

Frequently, traumatic brain injuries cause both physical and mental symptoms.  An RFC form can help explain how your condition impacts your functioning.  It should be very detailed.  It should include all of your symptoms and treatment.  Your doctor should include both your physical and mental limitations.  An experienced disability advocate can provide these forms to you. 

Social Security grid rules

Social Security uses a chart called the Medical-Vocational guidelines, known as the “grid rules”.  They use this chart to help evaluate your disability claim.  These grid rules make it easier for people over 50 to win their disability case.  The grid rules make it even easier for people over 55.  The grid rules allow Social Security to approve your case if you can’t do your past work, even if you can do other types of less physical work. 

Example 2: grid rules over 50

For example, Paula, 53, suffered a TBI.  Her symptoms included frequent headaches, poor sleep and difficulty concentrating.  Paula previously worked as a cashier and warehouse worker.  Social Security found that Paula could not stand or walk for long periods.  They also found she could only perform simple and routine tasks.  She was not able do either of her past jobs.  Social Security found she could do simple, seated jobs.  However, under the grid rules, Paula was approved for benefits. 

Example 3: grid rules over 55

In another example, Bob worked as a mail carrier.  He suffered from a TBI.  Following his injury, he started having seizures.  He also suffered from weakness in his arms and legs and mood swings.  Social Security found that Bob could not return to his job as a mail carrier.  Social Security found that he could do other less physical jobs.  However, since Bob was 57 years old, the grid rules applied.  Social Security approved his disability claim. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

Is There Extra VA Disability for Social Security Disability Recipients?

You can receive both VA disability and Social Security disability benefits.  Frequently, disabled veterans apply for both benefits.  Receiving Social Security disability doesn’t provide extra VA disability benefits.  However, it can help increase your VA disability rating. 

VA disability vs. Social Security disability

The VA offers disability benefits for disabilities connected to your service.  You can get partial disability benefits from the VA.  VA disability compensation rates range from 10% to 100% in 10% increments.  Social Security offers two types of benefits.  You must have worked to apply for Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI).  You must meet certain financial conditions for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI).  Under both SSDI and SSI, your medical conditions must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  Unlike the VA, Social Security doesn’t offer partial disability. 

VA disability benefits

The VA requires that you meet certain conditions for disability benefits.  Most importantly, you must show that your medical conditions are service-connected.   You must also show a medical nexus or connection between your condition and in-service incurrence.  Service-connected means:

  • Your condition was directly caused by military service
  • A condition was caused by conditions that are service-connected

VA disability:  TDUI

It can be hard to get a 100% disability rating when you have more than one disabling condition.  Fortunately, the VA provides an alternate way to total disability.  You can receive VA total disability under total disability individual unemployability (TDUI).  You meet the conditions for a TDUI rating if your disabilities prevent you from working and have a single service-connected rating or have a combined disability rating of 70%

Increasing your VA disability rating

Social Security recipients can use their decision to help increase their VA rating.  Social Security hearing decisions provide detailed reasons for approval.  You can use your Social Security decision to:

  • Help establish your diagnosis, establish service-connection or establish severity

Using your Social Security decision to establish a diagnosis

Social Security looks at your medically determinable impairments (MDI).  An MDI includes any conditions that have more than a slight impact on your functioning.  Your Social Security hearing decision lists all of your disabilities.  Therefore, your Social Security approval helps determine your diagnosis. 

Example 1:  establishing a diagnosis

For example, Sam applied for Social Security benefits for both physical and mental conditions.  In Sam’s decision, the judge listed all of the conditions he considered when deciding disability.  The judge also included specific medical evidence that supported his diagnoses.  Sam was able to use his hearing decision to help establish his diagnoses. 

Using your Social Security decision to establish service-connection

During a Social Security disability hearing, judges ask a lot of questions about your disabilities.  Frequently, you have to provide detailed explanations about your conditions.  Often, this includes when your conditions started.  A Social Security hearing decision includes a summary of what you said during your hearing.  Therefore, your Social Security hearing decision can help establish service-connection.

Example 2:  establishing service-connection

In another example, Paul applied for Social Security disability benefits for degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.  During the hearing, he testified that he injured his back while on active duty.  Paul’s testimony included specific details how his injury occurred.  The judge’s decision included Paul’s testimony.  Paul was able to use his Social Security hearing decision to help establish that his back condition was connected to his service. 

Using your Social Security decision to establish severity

Social Security has very difficult conditions to meet for disability benefits.  You must show that your medical conditions prevent you from working in any job.  A judge’s decision explains why a case meets the conditions for disability.  Specifically, the decision explains how significantly medical conditions impact your functioning.  Therefore, a Social Security disability decision can help explain the severity of your conditions. 

Example 3:  establishing severity

For instance, John applied for disability benefits for PTSD.  During his hearing, he testified that he often had flashbacks and nightmares as a result of his service.  John also testified that he would become paranoid.  His paranoia made it difficult to be around others.  He had difficulty concentrating because of his poor sleep.  In the hearing decision, the judge explained that John’s PTSD symptoms caused severe problems concentrating.  The judge also explained that John’s symptoms would cause him to miss work a lot, making him unlikely to keep a job.  John provided the VA a copy of his decision, helping him qualify for TDUI. 

Using your Social Security disability evidence to support your VA disability

Many times, veterans receive treatment from both the VA and civilian doctors.  Social Security disability claims need a lot of medical evidence.  Therefore, your Social Security disability file should include most of your medical records.  You can use your Social Security disability file to help support your VA disability claim or appeal. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Are the Social Security Disability GRIDS?

What Are the Social Security Disability GRIDS? Generally, Social Security defines disability as having the inability to work.  Social Security considers your ability to go back to your past work.  They also look at your ability to do other types of work.  However, Social Security understands it may be harder for older individuals to learn new work.  Therefore, Social Security has more favorable rules for people over age 50.

What are the GRIDS?

Social Security uses a medical-vocational chart known as the GRIDS when evaluating disability claims.  The GRIDS consider different factors including your age, education and work background.  They also consider your residual functional capacity or RFC.  Social Security looks at the GRIDS chart to see if you qualify for disability even if you can do other types of work.

Social Security Disability GRIDS and your past work

When you apply for disability, you must provide your work history.  Social Security asks you to explain the type of jobs you had going back 15 years.  They ask you how long you did each job.  They also ask how much you earned at your past jobs.  Only work done in the past 15 years that resulted in significant earnings is considered relevant for your disability claim.  The GRIDS won’t apply if Social Security thinks you can do any past work.

Social Security Disability GRIDS and your RFC

Social Security defines your RFC as what you can do despite your limitations.  An RFC includes both mental and physical limitations.  Social Security reviews your medical records to figure out your RFC.  Therefore, it is extremely important that tell Social Security about all of your doctors.  You should see your doctors regularly.  Your doctors can help you case by completing an RFC form.  They should include both physical and mental limitations caused by your medical conditions.  They should also include any side effects from medications or pain levels.  Your disability advocate can provide these forms for your doctor. 

Social Security Disability GRIDS:  categories of work

The GRIDS divide work into several different physical categories.  The more physical your past work, the more likely the GRIDS will help you win your case.  These categories include:

  • Sedentary – sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and walking and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

Social Security Disability GRIDS:  transferable skills

In addition to physical limitations, Social Security also considers skills required to do your past work.  They must figure out if you can use skills from your past work to do other types of jobs with little or no new training.  Social Security considers these types of skills “transferable skills”.  If your past work has transferable skills, it may be harder to apply the GRIDS.  Any problems you have with memory, attention or concentration can help eliminate transferable skills. If Social Security finds that you can only perform simple or routine tasks, transferable skills don’t apply.  Usually, to prove this limitation, you need mental health treatment. 

Example 1:  applying the GRIDS over 50

In one case, a 53 year old man applied for disability benefits after he broke his ankle.  He required surgery and had pins and screws in his foot, developed arthritis in the ankle and ongoing pain.  He required a cane, previously worked as a line cook and dishwasher.  Social Security found that he could no longer perform his past work as a line cook or dishwasher.  They also found he could only do sedentary jobs.  Since his past work had no transferable skills, the GRIDS applied.  Social Security approved his disability claim. 

Example 2:  applying the GRIDS over 50

In another case, a 50 year old woman applied for disability benefits because she had lumbar disc disease, osteoarthritis in her knees and depression.  She previously worked as a medical receptionist and office clerk.  Social Security found despite her impairments, she could still perform sedentary work.  However, they also found she could only perform simple and routine tasks due to her depression.  Since her job required more complex tasks, she was not able to return to her past work.  Therefore, the GRIDS allowed Social Security to approve her claim.

Example 3:  applying the GRIDS over 55

For example, a 58 year old man applied for disability after he had a heart attack.  He needed heart surgery and had several stents placed.  His doctor told him he could no longer lift more than 10 pounds due to the stents.  Despite surgery, he also continued to have chest pain and shortness of breath.  He previously worked as a dump truck driver.  Social Security found that he could not perform his past work.  However, they felt he could do light work.  Since he was 58 years old and could no longer perform his past work, the GRIDS applied.  He was awarded disability benefits. 

Example 4:  applying the GRIDS over 55

In another example, a 60 year old woman filed for disability due to diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, asthma and anxiety.  She previously worked as an auditor and housekeeper.  Social Security found that she could not return to her past work as an auditor because she could only perform simple tasks.  They found she could not return to her past work as a housekeeper because she could not stand or walk for long periods.  They applied the GRIDS and found her disabled. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

Can I Get SSDI if I am 60 years old?

Can I Get SSDI if I am 60 years old? You can get disability benefits up until full retirement age.  Currently, full retirement age is 66 and 2 months.  Generally, winning a disability claim gets easier for people as they get older.  

SSDI vs. Early Retirement

You can file for early retirement benefits once you turn 62.  However, collecting early retirement rather than filing for SSDI has some drawbacks.  If you take early retirement, your benefit amount will be permanently reduced.  The amount Social Security reduces your benefit depends on the number of months you have until your reach full retirement age.  If you apply and get approved for SSDI, you will receive 100% of your monthly benefit.  That benefit continues when it switches over to Social Security when you reach full retirement age.

Filing for SSDI at 60 years old

SSDI benefits can be time consuming and challenging.  However, if you have the proper documentation to support your claim, you can win your claim.  SSDI requires that your medical conditions prevent you from working.  Additionally, you must be incapable of working for at least 12 months.  Luckily, Social Security can make it easier to receive SSDI when they are close to retirement age.

SSDI at 60:  medical evidence

Social Security has to figure out how your conditions interfere with your daily activities.  They do this by reviewing your medical records.  Therefore, you need to see your doctors regularly for your conditions.  Additionally, you should be in treatment with specialists.  Frequently, records kept by specialists document your symptoms and problems better than your general doctor.  Your doctors can also help your claim by completing a form explaining how your conditions impact your functioning, known as an RFC form. 

SSDI at 60:  grid rules

Social Security considers several factors to decide if a person qualifies for SSDI.  These factors include a person’s age, education, residual functional capacity (RFC) and their work history.  Your RFC includes what you can do despite your medical conditions.  Once Social Security figures out your RFC, they consider the grid rules.

SSDI at 60: applying the grid rules

Once Social Security figures out your RFC and you past work, they will look to the grid rules.  Basically, the grid rules allow Social Security to approve your SSDI claim even if you can do other work.  Social Security has separate charts for different physical categories.  Specifically, they include sedentary, light and medium physical categories. 

SSDI at 60:  Your past work

In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work.  The grid rules only apply if you can’t return to any of your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  Past relevant work includes work you’ve done within the past 15 years.  Additionally, it should have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.  Your past work gets classified under one of the physical categories. 

SSDI at 60:  your job skills

Social Security looks at the type of skills required to do your past work.  Social Security considers whether any skills you learned at your previous jobs could be used to do something else.  If you do, Social Security considers them “transferable skills”.  Generally, people who performed semi-skilled or skilled jobs will have developed skills they could use doing something else.  This can make it harder to apply the grid rules.  However, at age 60, there must be little to no additional training or adjustment.  Some jobs require such specialized skills, Social Security will decide that the worker doesn’t have transferable skills. 

SSDI at 60: your RFC

Your RFC can include both mental and physical limitations.  Social Security evaluates your ability to perform activities required for you to work.  You must show that your medical conditions interfere with your daily activities.  Social Security reviews your medical records to figure out your RFC. 

Example 1:  applying the grid rules at 60

Julia, a 61 year old woman applied for SSDI due to coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.  She also suffers from depression.  Julia previously worked as a cook.  Her job required her to lift and carry up to 50 pounds at times.  Social Security found that she could not perform her job as a cook.  She had no transferable skills.  Social Security awarded Julia disability benefits. 

Example 2:  applying the grid rules at 60

Frank, a 60 year old man applied for SSDI due to a right shoulder injury.  He previously worked as a janitor.  He also had past work as a construction worker.  Frank has difficulty lifting and carrying heavy items with his right arm.  In fact, he can’t pick up more than 15 pounds.  Social Security found that Frank could perform light work.  Frank has no transferable skills. Therefore, Social Security approved Frank’s SSDI claim. 

Disability Help Group:  SSDI at 60 case study

For example, Matthew applied for SSDI because he had arthritis in his knees.  He was 62 years old and worked as a fork-lift operator in a warehouse for many years.  Matthew had only visited his primary care doctor.  His doctor gave him a referral to physical therapy.  Unfortunately, Matthew as denied for SSDI.  He then contacted Disability Help Group for help with his appeal.  Our advocate suggested that he get x-rays and imaging of his knees.  She also suggested that he get a prescription for the cane he used.  Matthew followed his advocate’s advice.  On appeal, Matthew’s additional medical evidence helped show that he could not return to his job as a fork-lift operator.  Therefore, Social Security applied the grid rules and approved his case. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Are the GRIDS for SSDI?

What Are the GRIDS for SSDI? Social Security has special disability rules for people over the age 50.  Social Security uses a chart called the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your claim known as the “grid rules”.  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.

SSDI GRIDS factors

Social Security understands that it may be harder for people over 50 to do new or different work.  First, Social Security considers whether your conditions meet specific requirements under their medical listings.  Often, these conditions can be very difficult to meet.  Next, Social Security considers the GRIDS.  The grid rules consider several factors.  These include:

  • Your age, education or work history
  • Skills from your past work
  • Your residual functional capacity (RFC)

SSDI GRIDS and your age

Generally, Social Security divides people into four age groups.  Typically, if you are 50 or older, Social Security can use the GRIDS to approve your case even if you can do other work.  The rules can be even more favorable for people over 55.  These age groups include:

  • Younger individuals:  ages 18-49
  • Closely approaching advanced age:  ages 50-54
  • Advanced age:  ages 55-59
  • Closely approaching retirement age:  ages 60 and older

SSDI GRIDS and your education

Social Security considers your education level.  Generally, the less education you have, the harder it would be to find other types of jobs.  Social Security used to consider a person’s ability to communicate in English.  However, a recent rule change removed this factor.  Education categories include:

  • Illiteracy – inability to read or write in any language
  • Marginal – completed 6th grade or less in any country
  • Limited – completed 7th through 11th grade in any country
  • High school education and above in any country

SSDI GRIDS and you work history

Social Security must categorize your past work before applying the GRIDS.  The GRIDS only apply if you can’t perform any of your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  This includes work performed in the last 15 years.  It must have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.  Providing accurate information about your past work can be very important to your SSDI case. 

SSDI GRIDS and physical levels of work

Social Security divides types of work by their physical requirements.  For people 50 or older, the more physical your past work was, the easier it is for Social Security to apply the GRIDS.  The physical categories of work include:

  • Sedentary – sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and walking and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

SSDI GRIDS and job skills

Social Security looks at any skills required to perform your past work.  Sometimes, skills from your past work can be used to do different types of jobs.  Generally, these skills can be used in other jobs with little or no additional training.  Social Security refers to these skills as “transferable skills”.  If Social Security finds that you have transferable skills to other work, the GRIDS may be harder to apply. 

SSDI GRIDS and getting around transferable skills

However, there can be ways around transferable skills.  Typically, this can be done if you have a mental health impairment.  Mental health impairments include conditions such as depression or anxiety.  However, they can also include side effects from medications or the impact pain has on mental functioning.  When a person has medical evidence documenting mental health impairment, Social Security must evaluate their ability to perform the mental demands of work.  Usually, Social Security concludes a person can only perform simple, routine tasks when there is evidence of mental health impairment.  This limitation eliminates transferable skills. 

SSDI GRIDS and your RFC

Social Security defines residual functional capacity (RFC) as what you can do despite your limitations.  An RFC includes both physical and mental limitations.  Social Security determines your RFC based on your medical records.  They can also consider opinions from your treating doctors.  Social Security cannot determine your RFC from a diagnosis alone.  Therefore, you must see your doctors regularly.  You should see specialists if you can. 

Applying SSDI GRIDS

Once Social Security figures out your RFC and your work history, they will look at the GRIDS.  Social Security has separate GRIDS for sedentary, light and medium work.  For people over 50, the more physically limited you are and the more physically demanding your past work was, the more likely the GRIDS show you should be found disabled. 

Example 1:  SSDI GRIDS over 50

For example, Janet, a 52 year old woman previously worked as an office manager.  Janet completed high school.  She filed for SSDI because she was having worsening anxiety and osteoarthritis in her knees.  Janet has difficulty standing and walking for long periods.  Her doctors prescribed her a cane.  Despite medication and therapy, Janet has difficulty managing her anxiety symptoms.  Social Security found that Janet could not perform her past work.  They also found that she could not do any other light jobs.  She also was limited to simple and routine tasks.  Therefore, the GRIDS applied and Janet was approved for disability. 

Example 2:  SSDI GRIDS over 55

In another example, Jose filed for SSDI after injuring his back.  He is 57 years old and has a high school education.  Jose worked for many years as a dishwasher.  Since his injury, he has difficulty sitting and standing for long periods.  He can’t lift or carry more than 10 pounds.  Social Security found that he could do light work.  His job as a dishwasher doesn’t have any transferable skills.  Therefore, the GRIDS allowed social Security to approve Jose’s case. 

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SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans. Applying for SSA and VA disability benefits can be frustrating and time-consuming.  Both programs help disabled individuals receive benefits.  However, they have very different requirements for determining disability.  The following tips will help with both. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 1:  Understand the difference between SSA and VA disability benefits

The VA doesn’t require that you prove total disability.  Compensation rates range from 10%-100%, in 10% increments.  However, you must show that your conditions were “incurred or aggravated by your military service.”  You must also show a nexus between your diagnosis and in-service incurrence.  Unlike VA benefits, SSA doesn’t distinguish between partial and total disability.  Therefore, you must show that your medical conditions keep you from working in any job.  Although, SSA has some more favorable rules for people over the age of 50. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 2:  Be prepared when filing your application

SSA and VA disability benefits applications require a lot of information.  Providing complete information gives you a better chance of winning your case.  For SSA, you should provide all of your medical treatment information on your application.  It should include doctors you see regularly as well as any hospitalizations or emergency room visits.  For VA disability claims, you should be very specific with what you’re claiming.  You should include your diagnosis as well as how it is connected to your service. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 3:  Understand the rules

Generally, Social Security disability requires that your medical conditions keep you from working at all.  However, Social Security uses a chart called the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your disability claim.  These guidelines are known as the “grid rules”.  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.  Typically, if you are over the age of 50, the grid rules can allow Social Security to approve your case even if you can do other work.  The rules are even more favorable if you are over age 55.  However, the VA doesn’t consider your age.  Therefore, an approval from SSA doesn’t guarantee a 100% VA rating. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 4:  Get treatment with specialists

For both SSA and VA disability benefit claims, you should be in treatment with specialists.  Frequently, records kept by specialists record your symptoms and problems better than a general doctor.  They focus on specific information such as special tests or examinations.  Both SSA and the VA look at the severity of your medical conditions.  Generally, records kept by specialists can help document how severe your conditions affect you. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 5:  Stay in treatment

Again, both SSA and the VA need to assess the severity of your conditions.  Ongoing treatment with your doctors help document the length of time your conditions have affected you.  Ongoing treatment can also show the different types of treatment you’ve received for your conditions. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 6:  Getting your doctor to complete forms

Many times, medical records alone won’t clearly translate how your symptoms cause problems doing things.  Therefore, your doctors can complete forms that help make the connection.  For SSA, your doctors should complete an RFC form.  An RFC form includes both physical and mental limitations.  It details how your conditions impact your life on a daily basis.  For the VA, your doctor can complete a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQs) provided by the VA.  These DBQs apply to every kind of disability.  These forms provide check boxes that make it easy for doctors to complete.  If the symptoms noted in the DBQ satisfy the criteria for a higher rating, the VA will likely grant that rating. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 7:  Attend all appointments

You need to cooperate with SSA and the VA in order for your claim to be approved.  At times, SSA will schedule a medical appointment to provide additional information.  Similarly, the VA will likely schedule a VA compensation and pension (C&P) exam.  You must attend any C&P exam.  If you miss either a SSA exam or a C&P exam, SSA and the VA will deny your claim. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 8:  Check on the status of your claim

Checking on the status of your claim can be important.  It allows you to make sure SSA and the VA handle your case properly.  You can check to make sure your doctors’ records were received.  You should confirm that they received any forms you completed.  It also allows you to check for any additional information SSA or the VA requests from you.  Lastly, it ensures that you don’t miss any important deadlines. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 9:  Appeal unfavorable decisions

SSA often denies claims.  You should appeal any denials.  Re-filing a new application doesn’t help you get approved for benefits.  It actually only delays the appeals process.  Your chances for getting approved improve when you appeal an unfavorable decision.  In fact, most cases have the best chance for approval at the hearing level.  The VA often assigns a lower disability rating that you believe you have. Similar to SSA, it is best to appeal your disability rating.  You only have one year to file an appeal.  If you don’t appeal in time, then you must submit a new claim and basically move to the back of the line. 

SSA and VA Disability Benefit Tips for Veterans 10:  Work with a disability advocate

Navigating the SSA or VA disability process can be overwhelming and exhausting.  Both require a lot of information and paperwork.  Working with an experienced disability advocate ensures that they get the information they need to process your claim.  You disability advocate walks you the process and answers all of your questions.  They regularly check on the status of your case.  Your disability advocate also files any necessary appeals. 

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a Disability?

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a Disability? Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may cause mental and physical exhaustion frequently over long periods of time.  Your fatigue may likely interfere with your daily activities.  Often, it can result in impaired cognitive functions.   If your chronic fatigue syndrome keeps you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). 

Chronic fatigue syndrome and Social Security disability

Social Security disability considers chronic fatigue syndrome a significant impairment.  However, you must meet certain requirements to receive SSDI benefits.  Generally, Social Security requires any disabling condition interfere with your normal daily activities.  Additionally, your symptoms must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  For SSDI, you must have worked a certain amount of years recently. 

Social Security defines chronic fatigue syndrome

Social Security relies, in part, on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) definition to evaluate CFS.  The CDC defines chronic fatigue syndrome as persistent fatigue that has a definite date of onset.  There is no other mental or physical cause. Rest or sleep doesn’t improve the fatigue.  Lastly, the fatigue significantly interferes with work, school, social, or personal activities.  The diagnosis also requires at least four of the following symptoms for at least six months:

  • A general feeling of being unwell that lasts at least 24 hours following a period of exertion
  • Memory or concentration problems that cause a significant reduction in your activities
  • Frequent sore throats
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the arm
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain in different areas without swelling or redness
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Waking up unrefreshed

How does Social Security evaluate chronic fatigue syndrome?

Social Security Ruling 14-1p provides certain requirements to evaluate chronic fatigue syndrome.  First, Social Security must establish your chronic fatigue syndrome as a “medically determinable impairment” (MDI).  Social Security makes a finding that a condition is an MDI when there is objective medical evidence including medical signs and/or laboratory findings. 

Establishing chronic fatigue as a medical determinable impairment

First, you must provide evidence from an acceptable medical source.  This includes a licensed physician such as a medical or osteopathic doctor.  Second, you must show that your doctor reviewed your medical history.  They must also perform a physical exam.  Sometimes, your doctor may make a diagnosis on reported symptoms.  However, Social Security requires medical signs and laboratory findings to support the diagnosis.  Additionally, there can’t be another medical condition causing the fatigue. 

What medical signs does Social Security require?

Social Security will look for specific medical signs that document your chronic fatigue syndrome.  These signs must be documented over at least 6 consecutive months.  The medical signs include:

  • Palpably swollen or tender lymph nodes
  • Nonexudative pharyngitis
  • Persistent muscle tenderness and/or positive tender points
  • Positive Epstein-Barr virus
  • Abnormal tests such as an MRI, exercise stress test and/or sleep studies
  • Other medical signs such as frequent viral infections, sinusitis, ataxia, extreme pallor and significant weight changes

How does Social Security determine if I am disabled due to my chronic fatigue syndrome?

Social Security evaluates any physical or mental limitations caused by your chronic fatigue syndrome.  This helps determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).  Your RFC is what you can do despite your medical conditions.  Your doctor can also fill out an RFC form.  They can explain specifically how your symptoms impact your functioning. 

Documenting your chronic fatigue symptoms

Your medical records should include all laboratory testing your doctors ordered.  Your doctor should note any other medical conditions considered and ruled out for a cause of your symptoms during each visit.  This should also include all positive objective findings.  Thus you doctor should note any tender points.  They should also document symptoms such as problems with memory, attention or concentration. 

Example 1:  documenting your chronic fatigue symptoms

Janet’s doctor diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome.  Her doctor ordered blood work that showed positive Epstein-Barr virus.  He tested for other conditions but nothing explained her chronic fatigue.  Janet’s medical records consistently documented her tender points and muscle pain.  Her doctor also noted that she became very tired after doing even small tasks at home.  Social Security evaluated Janet’s records.  They determined that her chronic fatigue syndrome kept her from working.

Chronic fatigue syndrome and RFC forms

Your doctor can fill out an RFC form to help explain how your symptoms impact your daily activities.  Your doctor may note physical limitations.  As an illustration, your doctor may state that you can’t lift more than 10 pounds,have trouble standing and walking. You were limited to 2 hours in an 8 hour day.  Your doctor should also note any mental limitations, may state that you would have difficulty concentrating during a work day.  They may also note that you would frequently miss work.  Although these forms are well-supported by your medical records, they can help get your claim approved. 

Example 2:  how an RFC form can be helpful

Susan has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.  Her medical records support her diagnosis.  Susan’s doctor completed an RFC form.  Specifically, She noted that Susan had difficulty sitting or standing for long periods.  She also could not lift or carry more than 10 pounds.  Additionally, Susan’s doctor reported that her symptoms would cause Susan to miss work frequently.  Social Security found that Susan was unable to work.  Consequently, they approved her claim. 

Disability Help Group winning case study

Justin’s doctor diagnosed him with chronic fatigue syndrome.  He could no longer work.  Justin needed to file for Social Security disability.  Justin contacted Disability Help Group.  Justin’s advocate helped explain what he needed to win his case.  Justin was able to speak with his doctors about properly documenting his signs and symptoms.  His doctors made sure to include all of his positive findings in each office visit note.  Social Security was able to fully evaluate Justin’s chronic fatigue syndrome.  As a result, Disability Help Group helped Justin win his disability benefits. 

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How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI. Veterans can receive both VA compensation and SSI.  Both VA compensation and SSI require that you have disabling conditions.  However, the requirements to qualify differ. 

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI: VA compensation

VA disability compensation offers monthly payments to Veterans who got sick or injured while serving.  You must show that your disabling condition was “incurred or aggravated by your military service.”  The VA does not require total disability.  The VA awards benefits based in proportion to your percentage of disability.  Compensation rates range from 10%-100%, in 10% increments. 

VA pension

The VA also offers benefits for veterans who have non-service disabilities.  VA pension benefits require that you were not dishonorably discharged and you meet certain financial limits.  You must also meet certain service requirements.  Additionally, you show one of the following:

  • You are at least 65 years old
  • Have a permanent and total disability
  • Are a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability or
  • Are receiving Social Security disability insurance or SSI. The OT and ICS cyber security is what is needed to protect data.

How to Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI: SSI benefits

Unlike VA compensation, SSI does not offer partial disability.  You must prove that your medical conditions keep you from working in any job.  You must also show that you can’t work for at least 12 months.  SSI also has specific financial requirements.  Specifically, these requirements include:

  • You must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple)
  • Have a very limited income
  • Are a US citizen (there are very few exceptions to this)

VA compensation and SSI benefits

Since SSI is a needs-based program, other income affects the amount you receive from SSI.  Therefore, VA compensation will reduce your SSI payments.  Social Security considers VA compensation as “unearned income.”  Social Security deducts unearned income on a dollar for dollar basis with a $20 exclusion.  The SSI federal payment amount for 2021 is $794 per month. 

How to apply for VA compensation

You can apply for veterans benefits online.  You may also apply by using VA Form 21-526, Veterans Application for Compensation and/or Pension.  Once you apply, the VA uses military doctors and other health personnel to evaluate your disability claim.  The VA may ask you to attend a C&P exam to help rate your claim.  The VA assigns a disability rate to each of your conditions.  These rates determine your Total Combined VA disability rating.  The VA then uses this rate to figure out the amount of your benefits. We Can Help You Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI.

How to apply for SSI

You must contact your local Social Security office to file. Unlike the VA, Social Security doesn’t rate your conditions separately.  Social Security looks at how the combination of your conditions impacts your functioning.  First, they consider if any of your conditions meet certain conditions under their listing of impairments, known as the “Blue Book”.  Most conditions will not meet these strict requirements.  Next, Social Security considers your residual functional capacity or RFC.  Your RFC includes both physical and mental limitations.  If Social Security determines that your conditions keep you from working, they will approve your disability claim.  Like the VA, Social Security may ask you to attend a medical exam to help evaluate your claim. 

Disabled veterans and your age

Social Security has special disability rules the older you are.  They look at a chart known as the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your claim called the “grid rules.”  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.  Social Security considers your age, education and work background.  The older you are, the easier it can be to win your case. 

Can a veteran work and receive both VA and SSI?

If you are working, you may not qualify for SSI.  Social Security considers work earnings over a certain amount “substantial gainful activity” or SGA.  If you earn over the SGA limit, you will not qualify for Social Security disability.  For 2021, SGA is earnings $1,310 per month or more (before taxes).  However, if you earn more than $794 per month, you will not qualify to receive SSI payments.  Unlike Social Security, veterans can work while receiving VA disability benefits unless you receive Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU). We can help you Qualify for VA Compensation While Receiving SSI.

VA and SSI medical benefits

Veterans receiving VA disability automatically receive TRICARE benefits.  TRICARE covers health costs found “medically necessary” for your condition.  SSI recipients receive Medicaid benefits.  If you receive both TRICARE and Medicaid, TRICARE becomes your primary insurance. 

Getting help with your VA compensation and SSI claims

Get help with your case now. Firstly, your advocate helps you with your application and can make sure you provide all necessary information.  Secondly, your advocate walks you through the process and can answer all of your questions. Thirdly, your advocate knows what it takes to get your case approved.

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Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.