Jon Corra, Author at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, L.C.
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Social Security, Age, and Grid Rules

We’ve all heard the saying “age is just a number” and, in many cases, it’s true. But, when it comes to Social Security claims, age can be a very important number.

It’s important to note that age is not the only consideration used to determine if a person is disabled. There are several other factors considered, too. Age is just a part of the equation. It plays a part just like work history, education, and the type of work an individual has performed throughout their life. But age is still an important consideration.

The general rule for age is that the younger an individual is, the more difficult it is for them to get approved.  SSA assumes that it is more difficult for a person age 50 or over to learn a new job or a new skill.

You may have heard the term “grid” used in Social Security. Social Security generally uses the grid rules (commonly referred to as the “grids”) only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the past. While it would take days to explain in detail how the grids work in a Social Security case, the important thing to remember is that age isn’t the only consideration. Once again, age, education, work history, and your residual functional capacity all play a part.

While an individual who is older may be more likely to get approved, it’s still possible for a younger person to be approved, too. For instance, a person who is 25 with several physical and mental disabilities and a lot of evidence/medical treatment is more likely to get approved for a claim that a person who is 45 with no medical treatment and little to no disabilities.

Getting approved for Social Security Disability often takes a combination of several factors. That’s partially why it takes so long to get a claim approved. Every aspect of a person’s health, age, education, work history must be taken into consideration.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Social Security process, and would like guidance through the maze, call our office today for a Free Consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

How Age Impacts A Social Security Claim

We’ve all heard the saying “age is just a number” and, in many cases, it’s true. But, when it comes to Social Security claims, age can be a very important number.

It’s important to note that age is not the only consideration used to determine if a person is disabled. There are several other factors considered, too. Age is just a part of the equation. It plays a part just like work history, education, and the type of work an individual has performed throughout their life. But age is still an important consideration.

The general rule for age is that the younger an individual is, the more difficult it is for them to get approved.  SSA assumes that it is more difficult for a person age 50 or over to learn a new job or a new skill.

You may have heard the term “grid” used in Social Security. Social Security generally uses the grid rules (commonly referred to as the “grids”) only after it has determined that you can’t do the jobs you’ve done in the past. While it would take days to explain in detail how the grids work in a Social Security case, the important thing to remember is that age isn’t the only consideration. Once again, age, education, work history, and your residual functional capacity all play a part.

While an individual who is older may be more likely to get approved, it’s still possible for a younger person to be approved, too. For instance, a person who is 25 with several physical and mental disabilities and a lot of evidence/medical treatment is more likely to get approved for a claim than a person who is 45 with no medical treatment and little to no disabilities.

Getting approved for Social Security Disability often takes a combination of several factors. That’s partially why it takes so long to get a claim approved. Every aspect of a person’s health, age, education, work history must be taken into consideration.

If you feel overwhelmed by the Social Security process, and would like guidance through the maze, call our office today for a Free Consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

Everything You Need to Know About Medical Professionals

In working with Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, you’ll quickly find that, above all else, we believe that treatment is the most important aspect of any Social SecurityMedical Professional Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Without proper medical treatment, you likely won’t receive a favorable decision on your claim—it’s that simple. After all, medical evidence is how we prove that you have a disability. With that in mind, we wanted to provide an overview of different types of medical treatment and explain the differences.

Licensed Medical Doctors

At the very top of the list of medical providers are licensed, medical doctors. A medical doctor has years of training and education specializing in the medical field. Some doctors specialize in certain disciplines and can be considered experts or specialists in a specific medical field. Being diagnosed and treated by a doctor can help you get your claim approved.

Licensed Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Psychologists and Psychiatrists are licensed doctors, too, but they specialize in mental disorders. If you’re claiming that your disability is a result of a psychological condition, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar or another mental health condition, you should be treated and diagnosed by a licensed Psychologist or Psychiatrist.

Nurse Practitioners

A Nurse Practitioner is a nurse with an advanced degree in nursing. A Nurse Practitioner can treat and diagnose acute illnesses. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does accept the diagnosis made by a Nurse Practitioner for SSD/SSI, but a Licensed Medical Doctor is preferred. Regardless, continuous treatment will likely help your claim. Keep in mind that if you’ve only been diagnosed by a Nurse Practitioner, SSA may have you seek another opinion from a Licensed Medical Doctor.

Chiropractors

 A Chiropractor is a healthcare professional focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders, with an emphasis on treatment through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine.

Most Chiropractors seek to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as educate them on how they can improve their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain. Just like with a Nurse Practitioner, a Chiropractor’s diagnosis alone may not be sufficient for SSA. A secondary opinion may be necessary from a Licensed Medical Doctor for a favorable decision.

 

Overall, medical treatment is important for any Social Security claim. If you have questions about the Social Security process, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

What is a Social Security Payee, and What Do They Do?

It’s no secret that seeking Social Security Disability is a complicated process. For some, financial management is just as complicated. Individuals who are approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and who also have issues with managing their money may have to use a payee.

The large majority of Social Security clients are capable of handling their own finances and don’t need a payee. Some people, however, may have difficulties maintaining their own finances. If so, Social Security reserves the right to assign a payee.

What is a payee, and what do they do?

According to the official Social Security Administration (SSA) website, Social Security’s Representative Payment Program provides financial management for the SSD and SSI payments of beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their SSD or SSI payments. The website goes on to state that they prefer for payees to be friends or family members. However, they realize that’s not always possible. When friends or family are not able to serve as payees, SSA looks for qualified organizations to be the representative payee.

Not everyone can be a payee. SSA will need to approve a person first. They produce a guide that explains how to handle many different situations that a payee may face. This guide is quite comprehensive and covers everything from medical care to nursing home costs.

If you need a payee and don’t have a family or friend who can handle your finances, you’re not out of luck. There are some agencies approved by SSA who can act as a payee on behalf of a Social Security recipient.

So, how is it determined that a payee will be needed/required? The decision is that of SSA, not the recipient. An obvious example of someone who will need a payee would be a child. Everyone will likely agree that children probably shouldn’t be put in charge of their own finances.  Other instances of payee use would be people who are not mentally capable of handling their own finances, such as an individual who has had a severe brain injury or someone with a severe cognitive or mental disability.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but the work a payee does can make a huge difference in the life of someone on Social Security. If you’d like to know more about this program, or if you’d like to talk to us about a free consultation, call our toll-free number at 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so we can call you at a better time.

What is the difference between an ALJ and a Disability Examiner?

Anyone who has pursued a Social Security disability claim knows that the number of acronyms can become confusing very quickly. For instance, did you know that SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity? Another good example is ODAR. Does it stand for Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, or is it Office of Disability Approvals and Reconsiderations? Both sound like they could be correct, and they sound very similar, but only one is right. (It’s the former.) In Social Security, even people have acronyms, and two of the most common are DDS Examiners and ALJ’s. So what do they do?

First, let’s get the letters out of the way. A DDS Examiner is a Disability Determination Section Examiner, and an ALJ is an Administrative Law Judge. On the surface, it may appear that both of these individuals have the same job. But in reality, what they do is different, and their roles come into play at different stages.

A DDS examiner is the first of the two individuals to be involved in your case. He or she is a state employee who is tasked with making the initial and reconsideration decisions on your case. A DDS Examiner is responsible for gathering evidence from you and your medical providers in order to prepare your case for a medical review.  They also evaluate the vocational aspects of your case to determine if you can do your past work or adjust to other types of work.  They then prepare the disability determination notice that will be mailed to you.  (Most claims are denied at the initial and reconsideration levels, but the process is far from over, so don’t be discouraged.)

Like a DDS examiner, an ALJ also makes decisions on your Social Security Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim(s). However, the ALJ makes decisions after you’ve been denied at the initial and reconsideration levels. Also, the ALJ works for a different agency. ALJ’s work for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR.) While DDS is a state agency, ODAR is a part of the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means that ODAR is a federal agency. Here’s a simple way to remember the difference: a DDS examiner doesn’t see you in person. On the other hand, you can request a hearing with the ALJ in person. Not only will your claim be evaluated by the ALJ, but there is a possibility that your claim will also be evaluated by a vocational expert. More people are approved after their ALJ hearing than approved by the DDS Examiner.

The final thing to remember is that an ALJ hearing will take much longer to schedule than a review by the DDS examiner. There is a backlog right now in the Social Security Administration, causing ALJ hearings to currently take about 18-24 months to occur from the time the hearing is requested.

We realize that this process can be confusing—that’s why a lot of people come to us so we can help them navigate the Social Security claims process. If you’re lost in the maze, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-977-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form.

What everyone needs to know about Mesothelioma

You’ve probably seen at least a few of the many legal advertisements offering help for people with mesothelioma. But what exactly is this disease, and how is it contracted?

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of tissue that covers the majority of your internal organs (mesothelium). Mesothelioma is an How to Apply for Supplemental Security Income in West Virginiaaggressive and incurable form of cancer. An online resource, mesothelioma.com explains that there are three recognized types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease, accounting for roughly 70% of cases, and occurs in the lining of the lung known as the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum, and pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.

In this blog, we’ll focus on why an individual should hire an attorney if they have been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos.  While asbestos was banned in the late 1970s, people today still suffer from illnesses related to asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma.  Even if you were exposed to asbestos years ago, you can now develop symptoms because of the body’s inability to be able to expel asbestos fibers that have been inhaled.  Although products today can still be made with small amounts of asbestos, the regulations that control its use and manage its removal from older buildings are very strict.

At its peak, asbestos was used in a lot of residential and commercial products including brake pads, automobile clutches, roofing materials, vinyl tile, cement piping, corrugated sheeting, home insulation and some potting soils.  So, auto mechanics and those in building trades are at risk.

Many industrial workers are also at risk and have been exposed to asbestos insulation, pipes, boilers, and many other products.

Even family members living with workers exposed to asbestos can suffer from asbestos related illnesses, including mesothelioma.  Second-hand exposure occurs when a household member brings home asbestos fibers on their clothing.

One of the most obvious sources of asbestos exposure is an asbestos mine or processing center. Asbestos mines were prominent in Georgia, Washington, California, and Oregon, as well as Quebec, Canada.  While there are no existing asbestos mines in West Virginia, coal miners can suffer from asbestos exposure.

Many Navy Veterans have also been diagnosed with mesothelioma because a large number of Navy Ships were constructed with asbestos. Veterans who served in shipyards between World War II and the Korean War have the highest risk of exposure to asbestos.

Should you consider legal action? If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please call us. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. Or, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later time.

Exploring a new trend in automotive safety

If you are in the market for a new car, there’s a good chance that safety is at the top of your list of priorities. The auto industry is now offering more advanced safety technology than ever before, and most vehicles offer options like automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and more airbags. But one new feature, in particular, has generated interest in the industry. Airbag equipped seatbelts may not be as common as some safety features, but they can offer additional protection for vehicle occupants.

Most consumers haven’t heard of airbag equipped seatbelts, in part because they are currently only offered by two manufacturers. Ford Motor Company offers them in Ford and Lincoln models, and Mercedes-Benz currently offers their own version of the inflatable seatbelt in a few of their cars. They are more readily available from Ford, and it’s important to note that they are offered as an added, optional feature in some but not all Ford models, and aren’t currently included as a standard safety feature on new vehicles.

Ford’s Edge, Flex, Fusion and F-150 as well as Lincoln’s MKT, MKX and MKZ are the only ones that offer the enhanced seatbelts as an option. Per Ford’s website, the feature is a $650 upcharge. It’s also worth noting that these seatbelts are for the rear seat, and are not offered on the front seat of any vehicle.

So why would anyone consider a seatbelt with an airbag? The inflatable belt is meant to reduce the force on the head, chest, and neck in a collision. Generally, children ride in the back seat, and their bones are not fully developed yet. The inflatable seatbelt could possibly keep a child from having broken bones from the seatbelt as the result of a crash. According to the Ford website, the benefits of the seatbelts are as follows:

During a crash, the inflatable belt helps distribute crash forces across more of a passenger’s torso than a traditional belt – up to five times more. Spreading the pressure over a larger area helps reduce pressure on the passenger’s chest, and helps control head and neck motion.

If your little ones are still in car seats, then you should do some research. Not all car seats work with the inflatable seatbelts. The belt is thicker than the standard belts that most cars use, and also a little less flexible. If you purchase a car equipped with inflatable seatbelts and have children in child seats, simply search online to see if your seat is compatible. Ford dealers should have up-to-date lists of compatible seats, but if you purchase your vehicle used, you will likely have to do your own research.

There is not a lot of research or testing to back up the claims made by Ford Motor Company. Ford has offered to sell the technology to other automakers, but it is unclear if any manufacturers have expressed interest. Ford has been using it since 2011, and it does not appear that anyone else is introducing the technology in the coming model year.

If you’ve been injured in an accident, call us for a FREE consultation. Our Toll-Free Number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we can call you at a better time.

Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, Has Been Nominated and Accepted as a 2017 AIOPIA’S 10 Best Law Firm in West Virginia For Client Satisfaction

Parkersburg, WV – August 28, 2017. The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (AIOPIA) has recognized the exceptional performance of West Virginia’s Personal Injury Law Firm, Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, as 2017 10 Best Personal Injury Law Firm in the category of Client Satisfaction.

The AIOPIA is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Personal Injury attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to the “10 Best” list must pass AIOPIA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOPIA’s independent evaluation. AIOPIA’s annual list was created to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process. One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and reputation among clients. By AIOPIA standards, clients should be an attorney’s top priority. Our organization places the utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of Personal Injury law without sacrificing the service and support they provide.

“Client Satisfaction is more than a phrase for all of us at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law,” says Jan Dils. “It comes from experience, knowledge and going above and beyond for each and every client we serve. It means getting results. We could not be more thrilled to have the AIOPIA, our industry peers, and most importantly, our clients recognize our firm with this prestigious award.”

The firm of Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, serves clients from offices located in Parkersburg, Charleston, Logan, Beckley, Huntington, West Virginia, as well as Charlotte, North Carolina. The firm remains focused on helping individuals receive the financial compensation they deserve, assisting at every stage in the application and appeals process to obtain Veterans’, Social Security Benefits and Personal Injury settlements.  To contact Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, call 304-428-8900 or toll-free at 1-877-JanDils, or visit www.jandils.com.

How College Impacts Your Social Security Claim

Do you know how your education impacts your social security case?

Sometimes I get too involved in the subject I am writing about for a blog. On occasion, I’ll hear a coworker say something and it will spark a bit of inspiration. Both of these things happened when I heard case manager Kelly Fritz talking to a client recently. She was advising the client about college and how it impacts an individual who is trying to get approved for disability. I immediately thought of myself. Granted, most people who know me will tell you that I immediately think of myself in most situations. Kidding aside, I really hadn’t thought about how education plays a part in the disability process. So, I decided to look into it further.

I think it’s obvious that the purpose of social security disability is to determine if you can work or not. That is somewhat of a generalized version of how Social Security works. Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. However, for this blog, let’s keep things simple. When looking at everyone applying for social security as a whole, we see a diverse group of people with one thing in common; a disability is keeping them from working. Social Security has two ways to determine if a person is disabled; The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applicants for disability in two ways:

  • whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals the criteria of an official disability listing in the Social Security disability handbook (often referred to as the listing of impairments, or the blue book), or
  • whether the individual’s medical and vocational factors, when considered together, prevents he or she from performing any of their old jobs and any other job in the national economy (disability examiners refer to this as a medical-vocational allowance).

To keep things simple, we will just be focusing on the 2nd option. In this case, yes, your education level can make it more difficult to get approved. If an applicant’s disability or impairment doesn’t meet or equal a listing, and the applicant can’t return to his or her former work, the applicant’s age, work history, and educational background are evaluated to determine if an individual has the capacity to perform less demanding work in a competitive workforce.

How can your education level impact your claim? Well, your ability to perform other types of work sometimes comes down to something called transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that you have acquired through your past jobs or through schooling that you can use in other areas of the work force that are less demanding. Therefore, if you return to school, you may have additional skills that can be used in other jobs even if you are unable to perform your old jobs.

So, yes, college can impact your claim for social security disability. Just keep in mind that this is not the only factor that impacts your claim and we certainly do not discourage you from furthering your education. You also have your age, health, and many more factors to consider. Let us know if you like to learn more about social security. Call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

How to Stay Focused on Your Social Security Case During the Summer

Memorial Day just passed, all of the kids are out of school, and we no longer need to pack a hooded sweatshirt when we venture out for the day. Though summer officially starts in three weeks, the unofficial start is here. I just got back from a weekend road trip, and I am eagerly planning a trip to central Ohio later this month. There is so much to do in the summer time regardless if you are planning trips, being one with nature, or even getting pumped for all of the great shows on Netflix. Summer is a lot of fun, but it’s also an ideal time to get distracted from your social security claim that can have negative ramifications in the long run. Today, let’s talk about 5 ways to keep your social security case on point during the summer.

  1. Schedule your appointments accordingly. Just like you and I can’t wait to go on vacation, your doctor likes to go on vacation too. For many smaller offices, the entire staff usually goes on vacation at the same time. So, there may be weeks during the summer that your doctor’s office is not available. However, if your doctor’s office is open during holiday weeks like the 4th of July or Labor Day, you may be able to get in at the last minute if you need to. The bottom line is to keep your appointments up during the summer. You need to have evidence to get approved, so don’t let your appointments slip due to distractions.
  2. Keep up on paperwork. My post office box is about to burst. I am probably the last person who should talk to you about getting the paperwork back into an office. But, once again, it’s easy to get distracted.
  3. Attend your hearing. It takes a very long time to get a hearing scheduled in the first place. If you cancel your hearing with the SSA, it may be several months or more before you actually get rescheduled. Is that extended time worth skipping?
  4. Take your medication as prescribed. This can be difficult for someone like me to preach, but it can negatively impact your health if you don’t take your medication on a regular basis. Now that everyone has smartphones, it’s easy to set an alarm to remind yourself to take your meds.
  5. If you move, tell someone. Most people move in the summer, especially July, so if you happen to move, call your attorney or the SSA and let them know. Failing to do so can result in lost paperwork and missed appointments. A simple phone call can alleviate these issues.

We know summer is supposed to be a time of fun and great memories, we just don’t want your case to slip by the wayside. If you want to have some help with your claim for social security disability, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you back at a better time.