Richard A. Gutstadt, P.C.
Northern California SSI & SSDI Appeals

Oakland Social Security Disability Law Blog

Most people get denied for Social Security Disability benefits

You put in your application for Social Security Disability benefits. You know that you can't work. You have a note from your doctor that backs up your position. You feel like it's a guarantee that you will get approved.

Then you get denied. It's stunning. It feels like a massive setback. You're not sure if you have any options left.

Veterans can also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits

If the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has classified you as disabled, then you may wonder if you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You might be able to receive both if your disabling condition prevents you from working in any capacity for any employer.

The VA has a different set of criteria that they use to determine if you're disabled from what the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses. The former simply looks at your military records. They'll review them to see what diseases or injuries you acquired while on active duty. They'll then assign you a disability rating from 0 to 100 depending on how disabled they perceive you to be. The benefits that you receive from the VA depends on your percent score.

Your right to appear at a Social Security Disability hearing

You have a legal right to appear in person to present your case for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits directly to the administrative law judge (ALJ). Most claimants wisely choose to get an attorney to represent them if they've reached this level of appeal -- so, is it better to just let your attorney handle the whole thing and skip the hearing? After all, there's plenty of evidence in your file that supports your claim.

Definitely not. The hearing in front of the ALJ is probably the most important event in your case -- and your presence could be the one major deciding factor that leads to approval.

Tests for Social Security Disability should be job-related

A report titled "Functional Assessment for Adults with Disabilities" was published by researchers at The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on May 9. Its authors concluded that too little focus is placed on assessing an applicant's work-related functional abilities when making Social Security disability determinations.

The report's authors found that doctors hired to evaluate Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients perform far too little mental and physical health testing. They note that it's important for them to take a more holistic approach when assessing how well they can function on the job.

Leading causes of traumatic brain injuries

When looking at disabilities in the United States, you'll find that brain injuries are one of the top reasons people cite. This is because brain injuries do not always heal, and the ramifications often last for life. While physical injuries may heal, people could still deal with mental and cogitative ramifications from the brain injury itself.

With these types of drastic changes to a person's life, it is wise to know what risk factors to watch out for, and that starts with understanding how serious brain injuries happen. The leading causes are:

  • Falls
  • Being struck by an object
  • Being struck against an object
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Intentional self-harm and suicide attempts

Are you eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits?

There may come a point when you find that you're unable to work as the result of a disability. This should lead you to consider every available option for receiving compensation, including disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA takes many factors into consideration when determining if you're eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The definition of disability: The SSA defines a disability as an illness or injury that has lasted 12 months or longer, is expected by reasonable medical standards to last for 12 or more months or is expected to result in death.
  • Job responsibilities: The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine if you are unable to work your current position, as well as any other type of employment.
  • Severity of the impairment: The medical impairment, physical or mental, should be backed up by medical evidence. The SSA will determine if the impairment prohibits you from performing work activities, such as communicating with others, sitting, standing and using your best judgment.

Could your social media posts cost you a disability approval?

There are people who are thoroughly convinced that thousands of people defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA) every year by claiming benefits they aren't entitled to receive.

This is despite the fact that it has become more difficult than ever to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. As of 2016, the last year for which data is available, only 22.8 percent of disability applicants could expect their claims to be approved without filing an appeal. Only a paltry 7.1 percent were approved on appeal at the reconsideration level.

Are you familiar with these Social Security Disability terms?

There may come a time in your life when you're dealing with an injury or ailment that keeps you away from your job. Since you're unable to earn a living, it's important to learn more about the many types of compensation you're entitled to.

For example, Social Security Disability benefits may be available to you if you're unable to return to work in the near future.

How to apply for Social Security Disability benefits

If you become disabled and feel that you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it's imperative to complete an application without delay. Holding off for any reason can make it more difficult to receive the benefits you're entitled to.

There are three ways to apply for SSD benefits:

  • Complete an application on the Social Security Administration (SSA) website
  • Visit your local Social Security office (you can also call this office for assistance)
  • Call the SSA

What are the mental disorders that qualify for disability?

If you're looking into your Social Security Disability (DDS) options, you should know that mental disorders can qualify you just like physical disabilities would. Disability is not all about injuries or physical issues. If you suffer from a serious mental disorder, it can absolutely make it impossible for you to focus on a career, and you can look into financial assistance options as a result.

So, what disorders qualify? Perhaps the easiest way to explore them is to look at the 11 main categories that the government has recognized. They are:

  1. Neurocognitive disorders
  2. Autism spectrum disorder
  3. Eating disorders
  4. Impulse-control disorders and personality disorders
  5. Intellectual disorder
  6. Neurodevelopmental disorders
  7. Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and anxiety
  8. Bipolar disorder, depressive disorders and related disorders
  9. Disorders related to trauma and stressors, such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  10. Somatic symptom disorder and disorders related to it
  11. Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia spectrum disorder