True Diagnosis and Legal Representation Key to Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security disability benefits can be difficult to get. The application process can be time consuming and is heavy on paperwork. Many individuals with signs of pain and fatigue wonder if they can get Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). There are some critical steps to increase your chances of successfully winning your claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Step One: Diagnosis
Social Security looks to have a true diagnosis of an individual’s “medically determinable impairment.” You must have the signs, symptoms, and medical records supporting your situation. A qualified doctor that uses accepted practices to note your limitations and prognosis is critical. Social Security does not know your doctor, so your doctor’s input is very important when you apply for benefits.

Step Two: Qualified Legal Guidance
Having a qualified, Social Security Disability attorney increases your chances of getting your much-needed SSDI approved. An experienced attorney is skilled in getting the documentation completed accurately and has the expertise should your case go to a hearing in front of a federal administrative law judge. The Social Security Administration and its examiners review many claims a day and have little emotional investment to understand the extent of your situation. Having legal representation will help overcome the difficulties in getting SSDI.

Also, most SSDI attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you won’t have to pay any hefty fees up front. When you are granted SSDI benefits, up to 25 percent of it will be taken for the attorney’s fees as approved by the Social Security Administration. If no benefits are obtained, the attorney will not be paid, so the process protects your pocketbook.

Step Three: Periodic Disability Reviews
Continuing disability reviews happen every three to seven years. Even if you were initially given benefits because of a permanent disability, you must still meet the definition of disabled. The SSA will want updated records and documentation to verify your condition. And, should you work and earn more than $1,000 a month, the SSDI benefits most likely will end. If there is a sudden change in your medical or employment status, you will want to contact a qualified attorney to understand your rights.

Overall, Social Security disability attorneys help clients determine their eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance and, separately, Supplemental Security Income. These two programs are distinct as SSDI pays benefits to you if you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits to disabled persons with little to no income.

In Tampa, Social Security Disability attorney Robert Alston has more than a decade of experience successfully representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Even though SSDI and SSI are different programs, he will analyze what is the best course of action given your situation and finances. Alston is skilled in assisting disabled children and adults, veterans, and the aged and blind with their disability concerns.

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011. Filed under Social Security Disability.

Accomplished Attorney Explains the Social Security Disability Hearing

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be hard to get, so it’s definitely beneficial to get legal representation early on to increase your chances of an award. When you are applying for this type of benefit, a lawyer can review your application and ensure that the medical evidence is clear and thorough. If your application is denied during this stage, your Social Security Disability attorney will prepare for the hearing that occurs in front of a federal administrative law judge.

Most SSDI attorneys work on a contingency basis, so no monies are paid up front and they will only be paid if your claim is successful. If you win, Social Security takes out 25 percent for the attorney fee, so you never have to bother with saving for these monies. What you need to focus on is getting the care and medical treatment you deserve.

A SSDI attorney can be a strong ally on your side as they are skilled in evidence and trial practice for Social Security cases. The wait time to have the hearing can be a year or more to have the judge and Office of Disability Adjudication and Review hear your case. An initial denial plus this long wait time can be very stressful, so a SSDI lawyer can help you build the strongest case in the meanwhile.

A skilled SSDI attorney will help you prepare for the questioning you must answer in front of the judge. Depending on how the judge starts the hearing, either the judge or your lawyer will ask the questions. Your job history will be delved into, including job duties, physical demands needed for the work, and sedentary parts of the job. You’ll also be asked about why you can’t work and what treatment you are receiving and what doctors you are seeing. It’s critical to note symptoms and physical and mental limitations, as the judge already has your medical conditions on file.

The judge will want to know your daily activities and he or she will exam your testimony to verify it is consistent with your medical conditions. Vocational and medical experts are typically present at the hearing, and the judge as well as your lawyer can question them to highlight the extent of your medical conditions and limitations. An experienced SSDI attorney will have cross-examined many vocational and medical experts to know how to position your case to win the SSDI benefits. The judge will give hypothetical scenarios based on the evidence in your application to determine if your conditions satisfy Social Security’s definition of disability. A good lawyer will show that your limitations are truly severe and prohibit you from working. A judge will ask the medical expert about functional limitations and it’s vital that your attorney is there to cross examine them. Oftentimes a judge will want to use what they gathered from the vocational expert to question the medical expert and find evidence as to why you should not get the SSDI benefits. A tenacious SSDI attorney will make sure the hearing gets back on track and will defend your rights.

As the hearing comes to a close, resist the temptation to get aggravated or dramatic. This is not the time to get angry with the Social Security Administration about your case or questioning techniques; and it’s definitely not the time to create a scene worthy of a nighttime TV drama. The judge has the power to grant your SSDI award. If you resort to theatrics, you have wasted precious time and money, and will have to appeal again. Your SSDI attorney can help give you some advice on making it through the hearing successfully and getting that much closer to the much-needed benefits.

In Tampa Bay, Zephyrhills Social Security Disability attorney Robert Alston has more than a decade of experience successfully representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Alston is skilled in assisting disabled adults and children, veterans, and the aged and blind with their disability concerns.

Posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2011. Filed under News & Press, Social Security Disability.

The Effect Medication Can Have on a Social Security Disability Claim

A good percentage of individuals who have Social Security Disability claims must take medication to lessen a host of symptoms and conditions. Sometimes these conditions can only be controlled with very strong medication that can have numerous side effects and cause functional limitations.

For individuals needing Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Income, a competent attorney is recommended so that the paperwork and medical history effectively shows that the original condition and the necessary medication have an impact on their residual functional capacity.

A knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney will ensure that all your medical conditions, including the side effects of the necessary treatment and medication are fully and accurately presented. Many times, these side effects have a greater impact than the underlying condition on a person’s ability to work. That is why it is proper documentation of these side effects is so important. Applying for SSDI or SSI is far more than just showing your medical records. Individuals are wise to get legal counsel as soon as they are prevented from working as the application process can be quite lengthy. Most Social Security disability attorneys only collect a fee if they help their client recover benefits, so an individual can confidently seek their guidance early on.

Some individuals are hesitant to share what medications and effects they are experiencing, but honesty and the frequency of such side effects is critical for the Social Security Administration to know. The most common medications and conditions that cause mental and physical effects include:

• Lithium, an anti-psychotic medication used to treat severe mental disorders
• Interferon, used to treat hepatitis
• Prednisone, a steroid that helps ailments such as asthma
• Depacote, used to treat seizures, ADHD, and bipolar disorder
• Respridol or Xanax to treat panic attacks and anxiety disorders
• Soma, Percocet, Morphine, or other pain medications to treat back, limb, and chronic pain
• HIV drugs
• Chemotherapy drugs for recurrent cancer

It is extremely helpful if individuals keep a journal of how medications affect their ability to work, sleep, take care of the family, do household chores and deal with daily situations.

An individual’s inability to concentrate, sit for long periods, remember things, or use their hands should be documented. A journal combined with ample medical records and attempts at trying to correct the condition will go a long way should the Social Security Administration send you for a consultative exam. All these documents will be very helpful to the exam doctor.

In Tampa, Social Security Disability attorney Robert Alston has more than a decade of experience counseling clients on their eligibility along with successful representation before the Social Security Administration resulting in the award of disability benefits. Even though SSDI and SSI are different programs, he will analyze what is the best course of action given your situation and finances.

Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011. Filed under Social Security Disability.

Social Security Disability Benefits Help Children with Debilitating Conditions

Most people think of disability benefits if they are unable to work. But for parents of children with disabilities, Social Security can pay money to assist with medical bills and treatments. A knowledgeable Tampa Social Security disability attorney can help a family with the extensive paperwork and proceedings.

The following is a partial list of disabilities that may entitle a child to payments: autism, Down’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, HIV, blindness and deafness, and other cardiovascular and brain diseases. The disability must limit the child’s daily life and functioning and last more than one year. Each case is different and presents unique challenges, with some conditions resulting in an automatic award. In addition, parents must have limited income and resources to qualify.

Children’s disability benefits are difficult to be awarded, so it is important to have an aggressive law firm when applying or appealing a disability decision. An estimated 791,954 children receive Social Security benefits, with an average of 51.5 percent dealing with extremely severe medical conditions. A good attorney will help their client collect the child’s medical and school records. Social Security will also want information from the child’s doctors, therapists, or any other professionals who are aware of his or her condition. Sometimes, even other family members and daycare providers are interviewed by Social Security.

Depending upon the child’s age and the parent’s work history, there are two possible Social Security programs that a child may qualify for. Supplemental Security Income is for children under the age of 18 who meet the disability requirements and live with parents who have limited income and resources. The second is Social Security Disability Insurance for children over the age of 18 who have a severe disability that began before the age of 22.

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011. Filed under Social Security Disability.

Zephyrhills Attorney Helps Increase Chances of Getting Social Security Disability Income

Zephyrhills, Fla. – Social Security disability insurance is set to pay out close to $124 billion in 2011. Because of the limited resources of the Social Security Administration and the high volume of applicants, a staggering 60 percent of applicants are denied. And when individuals appeal for reconsideration, 80 percent are denied.

“With these discouraging numbers, it can be extremely beneficial to have an attorney handle your application and the potential appeals process,” said Robert Alston, Social Security disability attorney at The Disability Law Firm in Zephyrhills, Fla. “An experienced lawyer will help their client organize the paperwork and medical records, prepare you and witnesses for hearings, and know how to deal with the SSA offices and judges.”

Avoid these common mistakes and pick a qualified attorney to get the benefits you deserve. These errors are repeated so many times, it is worth pointing them out in a short list to increase the prospect of getting SSDI.

Do not file a disability claim while having a job. When applying for SSDI, individuals are claiming that they need benefits because they are unable to obtain or perform substantial, gainful employment. Chances of being awarded disability while working are slim, even though there is no rule against it.

Do not rely only on the consultative exam. Individuals must have enough medical evidence to support their claim. When used in tandem with the consultative exam, a disabling condition is easier to prove. On its own, the consultative exam might not show the truly extensive nature of a disability.

Do not skimp on prescribed treatments for your disability. It does not do any good to stop prescription medicine or therapies to have your disability appear worse. The Social Security examiner will want to see the history of treatments, and how well you have responded to it. And if an individual does not follow the recommendations of his or her doctor, an application can be denied on these terms as well.

Statistics show that individuals who have an attorney represent them during the initial application process are more likely to receive benefits than those who try to do it themselves. “And you should never feel like you cannot afford an attorney for this type of representation,” said Alston, who has more than 10 years experience in Social Security disability claims. “Social Security attorneys work on a contingency basis, so once you are approved for disability benefits only then will your lawyer receive up to 25 percent of your disability back pay as a fee.”

Posted on Monday, February 7th, 2011. Filed under Social Security Disability.

SSDI Claims Up During Economic Downturn

We are living in tough times, to be sure.

The number of Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, claims is reaching new heights these days thanks to an aging population and a sagging economy. As a result, the time it takes an applicant to receive a hearing is becoming longer and longer.

Many people with ailments were among the first to be let go by employers when the economy tanked and are having problems finding another job in which special accommodations might be made. This means more people are looking for benefits.

According to a recent report in the St. Petersburg Times, SSDI claims in Florida grew from 149,044 in 2007 to 197,960 in 2009 – a spike of 33%.

SSDI is a federal benefits program for those who are disabled and have earned enough income credits to qualify. More than half of applicants are denied on their first attempt, and it can sometimes take years to become qualified, according to reports.

Given today’s backlog, it is urgent that candidates apply as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is having difficulty obtaining disability benefits that you are entitled to, contact an experienced attorney who can handle your case.

Posted on Saturday, October 9th, 2010. Filed under News & Press, Social Security Disability.

Differences between SSDI and SSI

When people talk about getting “disability benefits,” what do they mean?

Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are administered by the Social Security Administration and are designed for people with disabilities. The similarities between the two benefits stop there, however. They are, in fact, quite different.


Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed for workers who meet Social Security’s definition of disabled and have earned enough credits to qualify. With SSDI, the recipient’s benefit is based upon their past earnings. The minor child whose parent is a SSDI recipient may also receive benefits. People with long gaps of unemployment or earners of minimum wage will receive substantially less in SSDI benefits than someone who earned a higher salary while continuously maintaining employment.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. The amount of benefits is primarily based on need, rather than employment, and goes to support a recipient’s basic needs such as food and shelter.

The amount that a recipient is paid each month depends on their particular situation, including their income, living environment and whether they are over 65, disabled or blind. Benefits can extend to children and spouses.

The monthly maximum federal amounts for 2011 are $674 for an eligible individual and $1,011 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.

For more detailed information about SSDI or SSI, go to:

Posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010. Filed under Social Security Disability.