Everything You Need to Know About RFC Forms

POSTED BY Jon Corra . October 02, 2018

One of the most important aspects to consider when pursuing a Social Security Disability claim is whether or not the individual making the claim is capable of working. One of the ways in which the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates your ability to work is via a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment, commonly known as an RFC.

Your impairment(s) and any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your Residual Functional Capacity is the maximum amount of work you can still do despite your limitations. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will assess your Residual Functional Capacity based on all the relevant evidence in your case record.

For instance, if you have an issue with your back, the RFC will measure how much you can still do despite your back problems, such as how long you can stand, walk or sit, or how many pounds you can lift.

Your physical RFC determines whether you can be expected to do sedentary work, light work, or medium work. For instance, if your doctor has restricted you to walking and standing no more than two hours per day, your RFC will be for sedentary work. Here are the various exertional levels that could appear in your RFC:

  • Sedentary work. This means you have the ability to lift no more than 10 pounds at a time, and occasionally lift or carry things like files or small tools. A sedentary job requires the ability to sit for 6 hours out of your 8-hour work day and stand or walk for no more than 2 hours of your 8-hour work day.
  • Light work. This means you can lift up to 20 pounds occasionally, and frequently lift or carry up to 10 pounds. Light work requires the ability to stand or walk for 6 hours out of your 8-hour work day. If you can do light work, you can do sedentary work.
  • Medium work. This means you can lift up to 50 pounds at a time, and frequently lift or carry up to 25 pounds. Medium work requires the ability to stand or walk for 6 hours out of your 8-hour work day.  If you can do medium work, you can also do light and sedentary work.
  • Heavy work. This means you can lift up to 100 pounds at a time, and that you can frequently lift or carry up to 50 pounds. Heavy work requires the ability to stand or walk for 6 hours out of your 8-hour work day.  If you can do heavy work, you can do medium, light, or sedentary work.
  • Very heavy work. This means you can lift objects that weigh more than 100 pounds, and frequently lift or carry 50 pounds or more. Very heavy work requires the ability to stand or walk for 6 hours out of your 8-hour work day.  If you can do very heavy work, you can do all the other levels as well.

Your RFC will also include any non-exertional restrictions, such as not being able to stoop, bend, crawl, use your fingers, or remember instructions. Among non-exertional restrictions is your ability to function because of nervousness, anxiety, or depression.

This may seem confusing, especially if you’ve never filed a Social Security Disability claim before. It can be daunting to submit all of the forms, file appeals, and go to hearings. These are just some of the reasons why so many people turn to our team for help with their Disability claims. We’ve helped thousands get the disability benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, call us for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather talk at a later time, fill out this form. A member of our team will set up an appointment so you can talk to us at your convenience.

Gulf War Presumptive Conditions

POSTED BY admin . April 18, 2018

Many Gulf War veterans across the U.S. have faced numerous health issues that have been called Gulf War Illness or Gulf War Syndrome. These conditions cause chronic fatigue, migraine headaches, joint pain, respiratory issues, memory recall problems, insomnia and dizziness.

Because of the widespread effect of these symptoms, the VA has established a policy for presumptive conditions that eliminate the need for a Gulf War Veteran to prove a connection between their military service and illnesses if the symptoms last for six months or longer. The VA will presume the problems are related to the Gulf War service time regardless of the cause.

What conditions does this include?

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – long-term, severe fatigue that is not remedied with rest and is not caused by another existing condition.
  • Fibromyalgia – widespread muscle pain that causes insomnia, stiffness, headaches and problems with memory.
  • Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – chronic or continuing problems with any area of the gastrointestinal tract and can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional dyspepsia and functional abdominal pain syndrome.
  • Undiagnosed illnesses – conditions can include a wide array of problems such as abnormal weight loss, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychological issues, rash or other skin problem, muscle and joint pain, menstrual disorder, respiratory disorders, fatigue, headaches and sleep problems.

What constitutes Gulf War service?

The Gulf War encompasses active military duty in the Southwest Asia Theater starting with the first Gulf War in August 1990 and including Operation Iraqi Freedom 2003 – 2010 and Operation New Dawn 2010 – 2011. The geographical locations of service include: Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Oman, the waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea and the airspace above these locations.

The attorneys at Jan Dils find great satisfaction in assisting veterans with their benefits. If you need help filing for presumptive VA benefits or appealing a claim related to presumptive conditions from the Gulf War, do not hesitate to call to schedule a free consultation.

Social Security Back Payments

POSTED BY admin . April 08, 2018

Social Security Back Payments: Because no one ever gets approved for disability benefits the exact day they become disabled, the SSA offers back payments for benefits. you must be eligible for Social Security back payment.

These payments typically come in a lumsocial-back-paymentsp sum amount for SSDI, while SSI back payments sometimes come in three SSI back payment installments.

The purpose of back payments is to compensate applicants for the benefits they’re entitled to for the time between applying and getting approved.

The SSA is overwhelmed by the amount of applications, so a long wait for approval is almost guaranteed.

The Factors affecting the Social Security benefits.



The way SSI pays past due payments is a little different from the way SSDI pays.

One of the main differences is that SSDI allows for retroactive benefits to be paid up to 12 months prior to the application being filed if an applicant was disabled prior to applying, while SSI does not.  

SSI back payments may be paid back to the application date, not before like SSDI. Also, large sums of back payments for SSI are typically split into three SSI back payment installments. Each installment is released in 6 month intervals.

Another difference in these payments is the 5 month waiting period for SSDI. A beneficiary of SSDI benefits is not eligible for payments during the first full 5 months following the onset of their disability.

For example, if an individual is found to be disabled as of 10/01/2016, retroactive benefits will only be paid back to March 1, 2018 which is the 6th month following the 5 month waiting period.                                                                                                                                            

The Amount of  Social Security Back Pay

Figuring out How Much Back Pay Will You Receive? will be can be simple but many factors are taken into consideration.

In theory, you can simply take the number of months between the date your back payments go back to and the month you are to receive your first payment and multiply that number by the amount you are to receive monthly.

However, you must keep in mind that income and other types of benefits could offset a monthly payment.

Therefore, using this equation will only be an estimate. It is best to fully review all award letters that you receive from SSA listing your monthly payments.

Speak directly to a representative at your local SSA office to answer any questions you have regarding any monthly payment that could be offset.

Call us today for a free consultation from our Social Security lawyers from North Carolina and West Virginia for Social Security Back Payments, SSI back payment installments and Social Security Direct Deposit consult. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457.

If you can’t talk right now, fill out this form, and a representative will call you at a more convenient time.

How Are SSDI Benefits Calculated?

POSTED BY admin . April 04, 2018

Even if you’ve managed to successfully navigate the complex and Byzantine social security benefits process, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with dealing with the Social Security Administration. As any SSDI lawyer will tell you, the next stage of the process is to determine exactly how much you are owed and SSDI Benefit Calculation.

Unlike other forms of social security, social security disability insurance has nothing to do with how much income you have or how severe your condition might be.

While an SSDI lawyer that knows the specific intricacies of your case can give you a better insight into what kind of payment to expect, this guide should serve as an effective baseline that you can then estimate your own potential earnings off of.

Of course, an SSDI lawyer should always be contacted before pursuing a claim with the Social SecurityAdministration.


Determining a Basic Payment on SSDI Benefit Calculation

As previously mentioned, social security disability insurance works differently from most other forms of social security. There are no additional benefits owed to someone with a more severe disability, and there is no adjustment to the payments made based on a person’s existing level of income.

Instead, the basic payment from social security disability insurance is instead reliant on a person’s previous lifetime earnings. For most social security disability insurance recipients, this translates to a monthly check that ranges between $700 and $1,700.

Although we’ve presented a simplified version of the Social Security Administration’s formula for determining a person’s expected earnings from social security disability insurance, the truth is that the formula used is considerably more complex.

This is because the Social Security Administration doesn’t just rely on taking a person’s lifetime earnings and dividing it by the number of months they worked. Instead, the Social Security Administration uses a more complex formula that applies weights to a number of different factors in order to give a person a more representative amount each month.

This representative amount is based on how much the Social Security Administration estimates that you’ve paid to social security in the form of taxes.

This system is referred to as “covered earnings.” From these covered earnings, a number of other formulas are derived. An individual’s average covered earnings for a specific period of time are known as an average index monthly earnings, which is shortened to AIME.

From an individual’s AIME, their primary insurance amount is then derived. This is the figure that the Social Security Administration ends up using to determine how much a person earns from social security disability insurance benefits each month.

From the PIA, the Social Security Administration then applies various fixed percentage points to the model, which are referred to as “bend points.” Bend points are adjusted on a yearly basis, ensuring that the Social Security Administration can tweak its percentage points as needed.

Since these bend points are adjusted on a yearly basis, it can be difficult to gauge the formula in a given year. While we have plenty of statistics for the various years in which the Social Security Administration has utilized this formula system, that doesn’t mean it can be used to easily predict any recognizable pattern for the coming years.

Still, there is hope for people that are genuinely curious about their covered earning potential. The Social Security Administration actually has a link on its website that allows users to easily see their covered earning statement.

Through this exhaustive statement, users can see a breakdown of their entire covered earning history. For those that pay into this system, the Social Security Administration sends out a breakdown every five years.

In addition, the Social Security Administration also sends one out on a yearly basis to anyone over the age of 60. By providing this information free of charge, it’s hoped that people will be conscious of how much money they are contributing into social security, and give them a better sense of what they can hope to collect through social security disability insurance.

Of course, the best way to ensure that someone is getting the social security disability insurance benefits that they’re owed is to make sure they have a knowledgeable SSDI lawyer by their side.

In addition to a covered earning statement every few years, interested parties can also contact the Social Security Administration directly by calling their phone number.

By speaking to a local Social Security Administration representative at one of their many field offices, an individual can find out virtually everything they need to know about their covered earnings report, or any other specific item involving social security that they’re curious about.

This transparency is a useful tool for those that are considering applying for social security disability insurance benefits, and is also something worth keeping in mind for those that are still working towards their covered earning pool.

Given how difficult applying for social security disability insurance benefits is, it’s important to take advantage of any tools that the Social Security Administration provides when the opportunity presents itself.

Just as it is with claims submitted to insurance companies, the Social Security Administration will look for any excuse to deduct from benefits payments or deny them altogether.

While an experienced lawyer can help offset these setbacks and ensure that you’re paid a fair amount for your disability, there’s still no way of guaranteeing that the Social Security Administration will behave appropriately on the first phase of the claims process.


Potential Ways Your Payment Can Be Reduced in SSDI Benefit Calculation

Speaking of behaving appropriately, there are actually quite a few ways in which the Social Security Administration can deduct benefits while in SSDI Benefit Calculation from a social security disability insurance payment.

It’s worth mentioning that the Social Security Administration does make a distinction between private disability insurance payouts and government disability insurance payouts.

This means that if you have your own private disability insurance policy that you’re collecting money from, then the Social Security Administration will not touch that money or use it as a basis for deducting benefits from their own monthly payout.

Despite this concession, there are still plenty of other government-based programs that the Social Security Administration will gladly deduct payments from.

This includes workers’ compensation, temporary state disability benefits, and any other government program that pays out benefits to people affected with disabilities. When you collect money from these programs, all of it serves as a deduction from the Social Security Administration’s social security disability insurance payouts.

In addition to these types of deductions, there are also other restrictions on the maximum value of a Social Security Administration payout. In terms of a maximum benefit that any one person can be entitled to in 2016, the Social Security Administration has set the limit at $2,639.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration has put specific rules for SSDI Benefit Calculation in place that make it so that an individual cannot collect more than 80% of their average monthly earnings before their disability in social security disability insurance benefits.

While these restrictions can seriously impact the amount of money a person receives in a given month, there are still a few government-based programs that remain unaffected. With this in mind, there is a considerable amount of leeway for knowledgeable applicants to maximize their potential earnings from the Social Security Administration.

Although it’s difficult to navigate these complexities on your own, there are plenty of professional social security disability insurance benefits lawyers that can provide valuable insight into the Social Security Administration’s processes.

Determining Backpay

Once a claim has been processed and the Social Security Administration has settled on the amount that is due, the next stage is to determine how many months of backpay the applicant is entitled to. While this varies from applicant to applicant, it is typically based on a combination of when the applicant first made their claim and when the disability is claimed to have first taken effect.

This is yet another area where those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Social Security Administration may not know what to look out for. Having a lawyer negotiate with the Social Security Administration can result in more backpay being earned than would have otherwise been possible. It’s ultimately up to you to find a lawyer that you can trust.

A recurring theme throughout this guide has been just how valuable a lawyer can be in maximizing the benefits earned. Not many people realize just how important it is to have a lawyer on their side for SSDI Benefit Calculation, especially when they’re going up against the government.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is known for being particularly thorough in their evaluation process, so even the most deserving of people can have issues with getting the money they’re owed. This is why it’s so important to come to the process fully prepared, and to have a lawyer that’s equally prepared by their side.

Social Security Q and A #1

POSTED BY Jon Corra . March 12, 2018

Jon Corra: Alright everyone. Welcome to our live Q & A with attorney Yvonne Costelloe. We’re taking Social Security questions today, so if you’re interested in something with Social Security please don’t hesitate to make a comment and we will try to answer that as quickly as possible. Yvonne’s been with us for quite a while, seven years if I’m not mistaken.

Yvonne Costelloe: It’s going to be six-

Jon Corra: … Six years, and you’ve only been a social security attorney right? Your whole career.

Yvonne Costelloe: Well, for legal purposes yeah, I’ve worked solely with Jan Dils as a Social Security disability attorney.

Jon Corra: Where did you go to school?

Yvonne Costelloe: I went to law school at the University of Dayton, School of Law, and undergrad I went to Mercy First University, which is in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Jon Corra: What has it meant … I know you’re passionate, I think every one of your clients would say you’re passionate about Social Security, and you could have chosen any type of law. What made you decide Social Security was the way to go?

Yvonne Costelloe: I came from a background working a lot with social services, working with developmentally disabled, dual-diagnosis in the mental health field, community outreach and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed helping people in their everyday lives, working directly with them, and so, an opportunity like this to be able to, hopefully, step up and really help people financially bring in that income, and who are deserving its just a great fit for me. I am able to do more for the same type of individuals and help get the benefits that they really deserve and that they need for them and their families.

Jon Corra: How awesome, I think we can agree that a lot of people in our firm especially are just driven to help people that’s why we have so many people who stay here for so long. So once again, if you have a question about Social Security do not hesitate to put it down in the comments. We are going to try to answer as many questions as we can today. We do have a few that were submitted ahead of time, and since Yvonne’s an attorney we haven’t actually done a Q & A with one of our attorneys yet. I personally want to know what can someone expect when they go to a hearing? What is it like? What’s the dynamic there? Is it like what they see on Judge Judy or is it completely different?

Yvonne Costelloe: It’s funny you say that because the first thing I say to almost every one of my clients when we talk about what to expect is not Judge Judy. This isn’t the People’s Court, that’s kind of my citation with everything. This isn’t what you think when you watch TV or you watch movies, it’s more of a conference. There’s two different ways the hearing will take place; it’ll either be by video where you’ll go into a room, like a conference room, and when you go there’ll be a big flat screen TV and the judge will be on the TV screen and he may have his expert on there, or the expert will be by phone, and then you’ll be in a room with your attorney and then also with a court reporter, or a hearing reporter. That person’s job is really solely just to record the hearing. They won’t ask anything, and then everything will go by video. Or, if you’re in person, if you’re at one of the locations like in Charleston or in Dayton or in one of the locations where there is a hearing office, then you’ll be in person with the judge and it will be you, the judge, your attorney, and then the vocational expert.

Yvonne Costelloe: When you go in, there is some formalities, you have to swear in. They’ll have you raise your right hand, swear in that you’re gonna tell the truth. This is a court hearing so you have to be honest. And then from there, every judge is a little bit different. Most of the time an attorney will have the opportunity to make an opening statement, talk a little bit about what to expect, or talk a little bit about what … talk a little bit about your record and argue the outline of what’s going on in your situation and your case. From there, most judges will either have the attorney ask questions, or you’ll ask questions, or they’ll ask questions. And these will be things you’ll talk about at the pre-hearing.

Yvonne Costelloe: They want to know how your conditions affect you. They want to hear it directly from your mouth, and how your pain effects you, or how your mental health symptoms impact your daily activities. Do you have a hard time standing or walking? Are you unable to engage in activities with your family? And a lot of that we talk with the clients ahead of time at the pre-hearing and that’s why sometimes the pre-hearings are a bit challenging but that’s why we do it. We want to ask you those questions when its just you and I on the phone, or in person so you know what to expect. And then from there the judge may have some followup or the attorney may have some followup and then we go to the vocational expert.

Yvonne Costelloe: Sometimes there’s medical experts at a hearing and they won’t … they’re not going to examine you during the hearing or ask you any questions but they’re gonna go through and look at … they’ll have looked at your medical records and make an opinion about what they see in the medical records to help the judge and your attorney. The vocational expert is going to testify about jobs. In order to be found disabled, in pretty much every case, we have to prove that you can’t do any work in the economy. So, it’s not like other claims like workers comp, where maybe you just have to prove that you can’t do the work you used to do, we have to get rid of all jobs and that’s why the vocational expert’s there. And so the judge and the attorney will ask them what’s called hypotheticals.

Yvonne Costelloe: So they’ll say, you know for example, John, if you were going into a hearing and maybe you had had an amputation, you lost an arm in an accident or something, then a hypothetical could be, you know, if we had somebody at the same age and education as John, the claimant, and they lost a limb, is there jobs they could perform and the vocational expert will say yes or no, and if they say yes, they’ll give examples. And that’s the most confusing part of the hearing for most people because they’re listing numbers and jobs and they’ve never heard of these jobs before but, your attorney is well equipped to handle that and will handle it. They’re not going to expect you to respond to that. At the very end the judge may give [inaudible 00:05:36] an opportunity to close out and make a closing. Some do, some don’t, every judge is different. But then the one thing that’s most important, that most people are not aware of coming in is that you don’t get a decision that day. The attorney may have an inclination of what’s going to happen or the judge may say, yeah, I think I’m going to find you disabled but nothing’s final until it comes in writing.

Yvonne Costelloe: We always, even when the judge says in a hearing that yes, you are gonna be found disabled or I am gonna find you favorably, I still tell the client, I give you a 99.9 because we wanna get it in writing, we want to see it come in the mail.

Jon Corra: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Yvonne Costelloe: And usually that takes 30 to 60 days, it can take up to four months after the hearing is over. So, that’s pretty much, kind of in a nutshell, how it goes and what to expect but, definitely, not like the People’s Court, there’s no yelling or gavel slamming or anything like that going on.

Jon Corra: And they don’t … most people don’t receive a judgment that day, correct?

Yvonne Costelloe: Exactly. Yeah, we expect it to come in writing so even if the judge does say they’re gonna find you disabled, we still have to get it in writing because it’s not final until it comes in writing.

Jon Corra: Okay. One of the questions we get asked quite a bit is about grid rules and I’ve done some personal research about this and I personally find it confusing. I know all of our clients, I believe, find it confusing as well. Can you describe what grid rules are and how they affect Social Security?

Yvonne Costelloe: Right, so the grid rules are a special set of regulations that come into play because the Social Security office or the Administration takes into consideration your age, your education, and the type of work you used to do. Technically, the grid rules can apply when you’re young but they’re not helpful until you’re generally about 50 years old.

Yvonne Costelloe: I always tell clients that generally 50 and 55 are the magic numbers where a lot of things can change. There’s some exceptions to that and that’s getting a little complicated. But, what starts to happen is when you turn 50 and then when you turn 55 they start to recognize that you don’t have the same ability to step back into certain types of work. So, what they’ll look at is they’ll look at your age, the type of education you have will affect you. If you have a high school diploma or not, or if you have a college degree or not and then the type of work you used to do.

Yvonne Costelloe: And this becomes a big issue or really comes into play a lot of times when I have clients that change age categories so you go from being 49 to 50 or you go from being 54 to 55. That can make a huge difference in your claim. So, for example, if I have somebody, let’s say, 48 when they applied for benefits and they’re past work, they did all heavy work, we’ll say they’re a coal miner, we work with a lot of coal miners. They’ve only ever been a coal miner and Social Security said, okay, we know you’ve only been a coal miner but we think you can do sit down work. We know you’ve got some back issues and neck issues but you can do sit down work.

Yvonne Costelloe:  Well, maybe by the time they get to hearing, they’ve turned 50, at that point they may be then found disabled because Social Security doesn’t expect a 50-year-old who’s never done sit down work or never had a job where there’s skills they can do that would be equivalent to sit down work and they’re limited to sit down work, they understand that you’re gonna have a really difficult time finding a sit down job and so you … if that’s the situation, you can be found disabled.

Yvonne Costelloe:            And I think that comes up a lot when I have clients say, okay, you know, you’ve changed age categories or sometimes judges will offer to say, listen, I think you’re disabled but I don’t think you became disabled until you turned 55 and that’s really confusing but that’s because of those grid rules and they’re very powerful and it can be … it’s one of the more solid aspects of the disability claim where we can say, hey, this and this apply and therefore this person should be found disabled but that’s why age is so important and can make such a big difference especially if you’re changing age categories during your claim.

Jon Corra: One thing I think a lot of people don’t realize is how complicated Social Security is as a whole. One thing, if it was easy, everyone would do it and if it was easy it wouldn’t take so long.

Jon Corra: We do have a quick question from one of our audience members, Mr. Davis, and you may not know the answer to this but, you know how people get the statement from Social Security every year saying if you became disabled this year you would make X amount of dollars …

Yvonne Costelloe: Correct.

Jon Corra: He wants to know if those are completely accurate and how much they come into play?

Yvonne Costelloe: They’re pretty accurate so when we look at somebody that is Title II eligible, meaning that they’ve worked and they’ve paid into Social Security, they’ve paid taxes, they’re building almost like an insurance plan where, if they become disabled, they’re gonna get paid back and the more you pay into it, I guess, the more will make and the longer you work the more you’re gonna be able to get back from that.

Yvonne Costelloe: I think the maximum is $25 or $2,600 dollars and what happens is when they send you that statement, that’s what I always tell clients, is a rough estimate. So it’s … What happens is if you’re found disabled, they do go back and recalculate and make sure everything is correct but, generally, it’s gonna be really, really close to that number. It does go up a little bit each year due to cost of living and things like that, adjustments, but pretty much that’s pretty much about what you’re gonna expect, somewhere very close to that range.

Jon Corra: And I think it probably goes back to because we’re the one paying into the Social Security tax each year. They base it off that, it’s not just … they’re not just pulling anything …

Yvonne Costelloe:  Nope, it’s based on your work history and also how much you’re making so the only time I’ve really seen people come and get a $25 or $26 … I think it’s $2,500 dollar, we call it the PIA, is when they’ve made significant earnings over an extended period of time.

Jon Corra: Okay. Mr. Davis, thank you so much for your question.

Yvonne Costelloe: Yes. Thank you.

Jon Corra: If anyone else has a question, please do not hesitate whatsoever to chime in, we’ve got our iPhone’s here, our watches and everything so we can catch your questions. One thing I want to ask you because I’m always thrown off by the alphabet soup that is Social Security and I’m sure if you have anyone who’s getting the aid, disability, watching, same problem there, all these acronyms confuse you.

Jon Corra: So, there’s two things that you’ll see, almost everyone will see in a case, that’s an ALJ and a DE, or a disability examiner, and of course, ALJ is an administrative law judge. What’s the difference between those two because they have similar jobs, correct?

Yvonne Costelloe: Well, kind of. When we’re looking at a disability examiner, that’s somebody that generally is just looking at the opinions that are made by the doctors so, when you apply for disability what Social Security will do is send your medical records to one of their examiners who will review it and they’ll make an opinion. So, sometimes clients say, oh, I got a decision and they’re talking about Dr. Joe and I don’t know who Dr. Joe is, I never saw him. And it’s usually one of the doctors that Social Security has reviewed your case. And what’ll happen then is they’ll review that, they’ll have a vocational specialist who will review your work history and then the examiners come in and they’ll make a decision on what your capacity is based on those two things combined on whether or not a finding of disability should be established.

Yvonne Costelloe: The difference between them and an ALJ is an administrative law judge is the one that you’re actually gonna go in front of with your attorney. Most of the time you don’t go in front of a disability examiner but with the ALJ they have … they can, they’re not bound by the prior decisions. They’re gonna make their own independent decision so, although those decisions are there, they’re not, they don’t have to follow them. They’re also gonna have additional evidence and also, when you’re before an ALJ, that’s the first time your attorney has an opportunity to really discuss the medical records with the judge, to make comments about what was found by them.

Yvonne Costelloe: Oftentimes, when I look back and the first step I always do when finding if a client is disabled is to look at what happened, why did they get denied and that’s the first way before court, is you gotta plug the holes in the boat, is what I always say so, I look for those holes. Why did this client get denied and is that accurate? And to look back and say, hey your honor, you know I understand that they found this but, that’s not correct or we have this new information and the ALJ is able to make those determinations and the ALJ determination is really more final.

Yvonne Costelloe: At that point, you know, then we’re looking at appealing up to the Appeals Council or federal district court after that.

Jon Corra: Awesome, thank you for that, for sure. Once again, anyone, if you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask. I see we have several people watching right now. Thanks to everyone who’s tuned in. We do have a few more questions asked of Ms. Costelloe here though.

Jon Corra: One thing that we’ve discussed a lot downstairs, by that meaning if you’re not in the office of Social Security is because downstairs mostly, VA’s upstairs … Auxiliary benefits, I hear that word thrown around quite a bit, especially after people get approved but, I think, if you’re not in the system you might not know what auxiliary benefits are. Can you describe that to us?

Yvonne Costelloe: Auxiliary … and the question leads in perfectly when the gentleman earlier was asking about the amount that they’d get paid, what happens is there’s two amounts. There’s one amount that’s kinda the individual PIA and then there’s something called a family max and he may have seen that on his statement if he was looking at it. The difference between those two is the auxiliary benefit amount. And what happens at that point is if you have a child that’s a minor, and by minor we mean a child that’s under the age of 18 or if they are up to age 19 and still in high school, then they can qualify to get these auxiliary benefits. It’s essentially divided evenly between all your dependent children.

Yvonne Costelloe: So, if you have 10 dependent children or one dependent child, it’s the equal amount and that is divided evenly between those children and there are times where step-children and some other situations can also be qualified and that’s kind of an individual situation that we can address if need be but, that amount would be distributed if the child … Essentially it’s distributed to the child’s caretaker so if the child is at home, then it would come into the home or if the child is living at a separate residence then whoever that child’s guardian or custodial parent is and that is just another way for them to understand, or for I guess, for Social Security to understand that there needs to be additional funds for that minor child and that’s essentially what auxiliary benefits, what they do for your family and the eligibility of those.

Jon Corra: Okay, great. Donna has an interesting question. Donna, thanks for commenting. She said that she received her first check on December 1st, obviously, she was approved and congratulations on that, so she received her first check December 1st, she has not received her back pay yet. So, on average, how long does it take for an individual to receive back pay?

Yvonne Costelloe: So, back pay is done on two different levels. If somebody is gonna get SSI back pay, that’s generally done at the state level and if they’re getting SSDI back pay, and I know this is getting a little complicated but, that’s generally done at the federal level. So, it just depends on how fast, usually, somebody’s gonna have their back pay by the time they get their first payment and if there’s a delay then there can be a couple of different reasons why. It could that there’s some kind of processing issue or it could be that there’s, there could be a lien or something like that, that could be affecting it.

Yvonne Costelloe: The best thing to do is if you’ve got … started getting your payments and you’re still wondering where that’s at, you can certainly contact our office and there’s oftentimes where there are delays and then our case managers will work directly with you to see why there’s delays and what we can do. But, generally, you should see your back pay, I think it’s generally up to 120 days after your decision is pretty typical but, again, things happen and it wouldn’t be … and that’s what we’re, again, still here for you, still here to work with you even though we’ve been able to get you a favorable decision, we do continue to work with you and our case managers are excellent at that.

Yvonne Costelloe: So, Donna, the best thing I would suggest is if it’s been more than that, contact your case manager and discuss that with them and they can certainly look into that for you no problem at all.

Jon Corra: And we want to remember, sometimes, most days get mangled so …

Yvonne Costelloe: Never been heard of, John. It does happen and we continue and that’s all included in our representation. We’re not gonna send you a separate bill or anything for that so, certainly call in and we will work with you.

Jon Corra: We apologize for the technical difficulties there. Of course, you know when you have a Social Security claim, you’re gonna have all kinds of issues along the way so, this is no different, we’re used to little hiccups along the way.

Jon Corra:  One last question we wanted to ask. Yvonne wanted to ask, just explain in more detail. Why is the backlog taking so long for so many people?

Yvonne Costelloe: And that’s a big one, that’s the biggest complaint from every single client and not just from the clients but for us, as your representatives, and the frustration of it is that it does take a long time. In general, the average wait time from hearing is about 600 plus days and that’s nationwide and a lot of that has to do with the Administration and I think it’s really important to clarify that it’s not your firm, especially for us, it’s not us, that we’re not ready to go and we’re not willing to go, it’s a matter of getting Social Security to get those hearings scheduled. Jan, and everyone in the firm has been great about making sure we have attorneys ready to go and ready to take … participate in these hearings but, what happens is they have, currently have a backlog with regard to hiring, with judges and those that need to process the claims in the Administration and they also have a budget that really hasn’t changed from my understanding and so there’s a lot of complications there.

Yvonne Costelloe: The Social Security office is the one that decides when the hearings are generally gonna be scheduled and the hearings are pretty much scheduled based on, for the most part, your application date and your initial reconsideration determination. There’s some exceptions to that and there is some opportunities where we can try to get that sped up. We do, do everything we can internally, as attorneys, for our claimant that if we think that somebody meets special requirements, either because of the dire need, it’s called Dire Need Application where there are issues of homelessness or bills being shut off. We try to get those processed or if somebody has a condition that meets a certain level of severity. Now every one of our clients has severe, significant medical issues that they’re going through but, in some circumstances, where that person has certain criteria that Social Security has something called a book of listing and in some circumstances where somebody has a very, very cut and dry condition, if they have cancer that’s metastasized or if they have certain findings on a pulmonary function test or sometimes things of those natures that we will try to get those approved ahead of time as well. But other than that, general rule, it is taking up to two years in some cases, if not longer.

Yvonne Costelloe:  Same thing with the Appeals’ Council, if they just go in the order they are received and the Administration has to process those applications and have to prep those cases to a certain point before they’ll even approach us about getting it scheduled but we, generally, one of the good things about the way our firm functions and the way the support staff that we have here is once they say we’re ready to schedule, we’re generally ready to schedule. We take these hearings and we do everything we can to make sure that we have attorneys available in a wide variety of areas to make sure that we can get those clients up and running when their hearing is scheduled. We always make sure we can get there and make sure that’s taken care of. I think we’ve done an excellent job of that as a firm and making sure people get in there and doing everything we can to make sure we’re 100% ready to go and the important part about that, for everybody watching, and if you’re watching, you’re probably not going to be the one that might have issues with this, is staying in communication with us because once we get that hearing, once we get the hearing date scheduled, we know generally before you do and that’s when things really start moving fast.

Yvonne Costelloe: We have a special development team that’s going to make sure we have all your medical records before you even talk to your attorney. There’s a lot of different wheels that start moving very fast. But, for the most part, the frustration is with the agency and I want people to really understand that the attorneys that are out there, and if another attorney promises you that they can get a hearing faster or generally, that’s not going to be accurate and think that’s a big misconception that floats around of why that wait time is delayed.

Yvonne Costelloe: I certainly think it’s really unfair given the circumstances and what individuals are facing when they are waiting for applications. This isn’t an easy time. This is a time when people are going through financial issues, they have health issues and they’re facing this added stress of not having a determination decision on their case and it’s really unfair but we’re gonna do everything we can to speed that up the way we can or any way that we could and make sure that when it comes time to go to your hearing that we wind up ready to go, ready to get everything moving at that point.

Jon Corra:  Mr. Davis has another question and I can field this one. He wanted to know if once he gets approved if he can file for VA disability. We’re happy to give a consultation for that, for sure. We have the staff here that’s prepared to answer that question. There is no general yes or no, we always like to take everyone on a case by case basis so, just be sure to give us a call at that point and we’ll be happy to give you that consultation. We might be able to help you with that.

Yvonne Costelloe: And we have a lot of clients that have both claims moving at once. I handle a lot of clients where we’ve gotten their VA disability approved and now we’re working on their Social Security disability. Those are kind of two different beasts but certainly, if you have questions, we have a great intake team that can answer those questions and we’ll be able to address that.

Jon Corra: Awesome. Well, everyone, thank you so much for tuning in today. For those who asked questions, we appreciate it. We’ll be doing this again in February so look for a date and time soon and, once again, thanks so much for watching. Have a good day.


How will receiving child support affect my child’s SSI?

POSTED BY admin . March 03, 2018

SSI and Child Support

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to assist people with a limited income who are blind or disabled.  This program may also cover an eligible child who is not married and under the age of 18 (or under the age of 22, if a full-time student).

One of the most common questions a parent or guardian may have is how SSI eligibility and benefits will be affected for a child receiving child support.

The Social Security Administration defines child support as payments from a parent to be used for a child’s needs, such as food and shelter. These payments are classified as unearned income for the eligible child.

Currently, one-third of monthly child support payments are excluded from countable income when calculating the benefit amount for a child approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  The remaining two-thirds of the monthly child support payment is countable income and may be used to reduce the amount of SSI benefits a child will receive.

For example, a parent has custody of one child who has been approved for Supplemental Security Income benefits and receives $240 per month in child support from the absent parent for the support and maintenance of the child.

When calculating the SSI benefits for the child, the Social Security Administration will exclude $80 of the child support payments, and the remaining $160 will be subtracted from the SSI Federal benefit rate as countable income.

It is important to note that child support is just one of several types of income that can affect your child’s eligibility and benefit amount under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

For more information about  SSI and Child Support SSI  check , SSI eligibility , SSI attorney, WV child support  and to know about social security for children., or for help in determining whether your child is eligible for SSI and child support, call our office today and schedule a free consultation from our Social Security Disability attorney Virgnia  at 1-877-JANDILS.

(Written by special guest blogger Cheli Dyer, Attorney)

How Long after Your Social Security Payment Claim is Approved Should You Expect Payments?

POSTED BY Jon Corra . March 03, 2018

Social Security Payment :

Your Social Security Claim is finally approved after years of waiting. You’re probably relieved because the past few years have likely been stressful. So you’re Social Security in Payment Center and Processing Timefinally ready to relax. But, it’s been a while since you received your approval and you still haven’t received compensation or Social Security payment. So, what’s going on?

Don’t forget that you’re dealing with a government agency, and they have to deal with a lot of red tape. Granted, if you filed a social security claim, you are probably well aware of that by now.

I hate to waste time, and I love simple things. In my mind, if you are approved for your benefits, a few clicks of the mouse should send a check your way, but that is not how the SSA does things. In fact, there are a number of things you should know about the Social Security payment process after you’re approved.

First of all, the way in which Social Security payment are process starts our confusion. SSI payments are processed at your local SSA office. On the other hand, SSD payments are processed by way of National Processing Centers. These are generally pretty far away from people in rural areas.

For instance, our firm is based in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We frequently deal with the processing centers in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Obviously, they aren’t local, and they can have issues that we might not be aware of back here.

It’s also important to note that the SSA is a large organization housing many different departments. These departments are usually not in sync.

So, it makes total sense that you could receive a favorable decision, and not receive payment for 30 to 120 days. It also possible, but uncommon, that you could get a payment before you actually receive the decision. We see this more so in our VA Disability practice, but it is possible with social security too.

With social security, like most things in life, the less complicated the situation, the quicker it will be. If you just have a normal black and white social security claim, you likely won’t see many issues.

However, if you have a workers comp claim or retirement, or even if you’re getting both SSD and SSI, you’re more likely than not going to see delays.

We know how frustrating it can be at a time like this, but we’ve seen it a lot before, and we’ll likely see it more in the future. Once the processing is complete, the claimant will receive a Notice of Award letter detailing all the payment information such as monthly benefit amount, Social Security back payment amount owed, when monthly checks will start and how much was paid to the attorney, if you made use of one.

Finally, there are some miscellaneous items that can cause delays and social Security myths that disturbs you. For instance, if you were married or divorced during the time your claim was pending, this will likely cause a delay. The same is true if you returned to work during this same process. Delays should be expected there as well.

The disability process as a whole is very frustrating. It’s best not to fight it alone. That’s why so many people turn to the team at Jan Dils Attorneys at Law to get the benefits they deserve. From start to finish we have the people and the passion for getting you the benefits you deserve. Jan Dils has an excellent name as a Personal injury lawyer in WV as well.

Call us today for a free consultation from our Social Security lawyers from North Carolina And West Virginia. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk right now, fill out this form, and a representative will call you at a more convenient time.



What are Presumptive Benefits in a Social Security Claim?


What Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability or SSI?

POSTED BY admin . February 14, 2018

While the Social Security Administration has a comprehensive list of acceptable physical and mental disabilities that a person can have to qualify for benefits, not many people realize that this list is not absolute.
If a person has a condition that is similar to one on the list, or is otherwise so severe that it limits your functionality and capacity to perform all levels of work.
Given the subjective nature that is involved in the Social Security Administration’s evaluation of medical conditions, qualifying for social security disability benefits is not always as straightforward as it should be.
To help demystify the process, here is a look at the various medical conditions that qualify a person for social security disability benefits, as listed by the blue book.

List of Medical Conditions Qualify for Social Security Disability

  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Senses and speech issues
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Various syndromes
  • Skin disorders
  • Digestive tract problems
  • Kidney disease and genitourinary problems, and
  • Cancer
  • Hematological disorders


Who to  Qualifies For Social Security Disability Benefit.


The Social Security Administration uses a number of conditions listed in the blue book to determine whether someone qualifies for SSD or SSI benefits.


These conditions include, but are not limited to, the following: back injuries, heart disease, asthma, hearing and vision loss, mental disorders, and cancer. For a full list, please visit the Social Security Administration’s website.


If You Don’t Qualify


As mentioned previously, even though your condition isn’t listed in the blue book, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t still qualify for some form of social security disability benefits.


If the Social Security Administration finds that your condition is similar in its symptoms to one on the list, then you might qualify through a process referred to as “equaling a disability listing.”


There have been plenty of instances in the past of a person having a condition that wasn’t listed in the blue book, but was so severe that the Social Security Administration had no choice but to rule in their favor.


One of the most common conditions that are awarded in this manner are migraines. Despite not being listed in the blue book, particularly severe migraines are considered strong enough to prevent a person from fully functioning and being capable of performing common work tasks.


If you think that your condition is listed in the blue book, or might be similar enough to qualify, then you should contact an attorney and have them guide you through the remaining process.


Qualifying is just the first step of a process that involves evaluations, medical history reviews, and a whole host of other issues that only an experienced attorney can help you with.

It’s Not Over When It’s Over; What You Need To Know About Continuing Disability Reviews

POSTED BY Jon Corra . February 06, 2018

According to the law, the SSA must re-evaluate your case from time to time, whether you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. These evaluations are called Continuing Disability Review (CDR), which serve the purpose of determining whether you’re still medically eligible for benefits.

If this evaluation determines that your condition has improved enough, you may no longer be eligible for your current program. But fortunately, if your case was solid enough that you were approved for benefits, this re-evaluation process shouldn’t be difficult.

How often  Continuing Disability Review are done?

Continuing Disability Review or CDRs are conducted at varying times on a case-by-case basis, but typically every 3-7 years. This is determined by the rate at which your medical condition is expected to improve – or if it’s expected to improve at all.

Age can also contribute to CDR frequency. They can also be conducted immediately if you go back to work; if you or another individual notify the SSA of any improvements in your condition or that you’re not following prescribed treatments; or if new treatments emerge that could alleviate your medical condition.

How Long Social Security Disability claim takes?

On average, Social Security Disability claims take two to three years to complete, sometimes even longer. This is due to the large backlog currently hindering the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Simply getting approved is a major accomplishment. The journey may have been long, but you can finally relax because it’s over…right? Well, not necessarily.

What after Social Security Disability claim is approved?

After you are approved, you’ll need to keep the SSA informed of any changes to your financial situation, your medical condition(s), and even your living arrangements if you’re receiving SSI.

There is also a chance that your case will be reviewed in the future. Actually, the SSA is required to review every individual receiving Social Security Disability (SSD,) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) This is referred to as a Continuing Disability Review, or CDR for short.

It’s important for everyone receiving disability benefits to be aware of what to expect from the CDR process. In this blog, we will explain the Continuing Disability Review in detail.

The most important thing to know about the CDR is that, if the SSA finds that your conditions have improved, you may no longer receive benefits. If your conditions haven’t improved, or if they’ve worsened, the SSA won’t likely stop your benefits.

How often do these reviews occur? The SSA does not have a set schedule for their CDRs, but most individuals will be reviewed every three to seven years.

Each case is different. For individuals with conditions that are likely to improve, the reviews may occur more frequently than an individual with a condition that is not as likely to improve.

The SSA may review your case less frequently than three to seven years if you have a condition that will not improve. For instance, if you’re receiving disability benefits as the result of a lost limb, you may not be subject to a review for much longer than the average time.

In addition to your condition, your age plays a factor in how often the SSA will review your case. If you’re younger than 50, you may be subject to a review more frequently than someone who is over 50.

When it comes to a child’s case, there is one major difference: every child who receives SSI will be automatically reviewed when they turn 18. At 18, the child will be reviewed under adult standards, as opposed to the standards set for children.

There are additional circumstances that may give the SSA a reason to review your case after you’ve been approved. Think of these situations as “red flags” in your case.

They are situations that may be in violation of the SSA rules. The following list provides examples of situations that would alert the SSA that your case should be reviewed:

  • You return to work
  • You inform the SSA that your condition has improved
  • Your medical evidence indicates that your condition has improved
  • A third-party informs the SSA that you are not following your treatment protocol, or
  • A new treatment for your disabling condition has recently been introduced


Continuing Disability Review  “Short form” and “Long form”

So, what exactly is involved in a CDR? You will be notified by the SSA by mail. This is just one of the many reasons why it is important to keep your information current with the SSA.

When they notify you, they will send you one of two forms. If your condition isn’t likely to improve, you will get the “short form”—the Disability Update Report, which is a simple, two-page form.

If you have a condition that is more likely to improve, you may receive the “long form”—the Continuing Disability Review Report. This longer form is similar to the initial application for benefits. It’s about 10 pages long, and it features more in-depth questions than the short form.

The long form will ask a lot of questions about your medical history for the past year. They will want to know if you’ve seen a doctor or been hospitalized in the past 12 months. They will also ask about tests that you’ve had in the past year, and want your updated medical records.

This is why we tell all of our clients that it is important to continue treatment even after you are approved. Medical treatment is the most beneficial thing anyone can do to help their case.


When will SAA notify you that your benefits have stopped?

If you haven’t returned to work, and the SSA finds no evidence that your conditions have improved or improved enough to return to work, then the review is complete.

However, if your conditions have improved, and the SSA believes that you can return to work, they will notify you that your benefits have stopped, and you will be given the chance to appeal.

If your medical evidence is not sufficient enough for the SSA to decide, they may set you up for a Consultative Exam. This is an exam by a doctor that is paid for by the SSA.

Hopefully, your CDRs will go well, and you won’t lose your benefits. Many individuals aren’t even aware that they will be subject to a review.

If you need help getting approved, call our firm 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 contact you at a better time.


How Does the RFC form Impact Your Disability Claim?

POSTED BY Jon Corra . December 11, 2017

Anyone who has even considered applying for Social Security Disability will tell you that there are a lot of acronyms. An individual pursuing Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income will quickly learn that DDS is an abbreviation for Disability Determination Section. They also quickly find out that ALJ means Administrative Law Judge, and DE is short for Disability Examiner. Even Social Security Administration is typically abbreviated to SSA. But one acronym that many Social Security applicants may not be aware of is RFC.

RFC is short for residual functional capacity. Now that you know what the letters stand for, you’ll likely want to know what it means. Here is how the SSA explains RFC:

“Residual functional capacity assessment. Your impairment(s), and any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your residual functional capacity is the most you can still do despite your limitations. We will assess your residual functional capacity based on all the relevant evidence in your case record.”

Essentially, SSA is determining what limitations you may have due to your conditions. For instance, back pain may limit your ability to stand for longer than 4 hours out of an 8 hour day or social anxiety may limit your ability to work with the general public.  SSA will be looking to see if there are still jobs within the national economy that you can do despite the limitations defined within your RFC.

If you have multiple disabilities, SSA will consider the combined limitations established for all of them to determine your ability to work. For instance, your back pain may limit you to only performing sedentary type jobs but your mental health diagnosis also limits your ability to concentrate for longer than 30 minutes at a time.  The physical & mental limitations combined would further reduce the jobs you could perform than only one limitation by itself. That’s why it’s important to list ALL of your disabilities when you apply for benefits. Or, if you’re working with an attorney, you’ll want to make sure they’re aware of all of your disabilities, as well as the ways in which they limit you.

Now that you understand the basics of RFC, you may be curious as to who determines your RFC. Actually, it’s a combination of people. Disability Determination Services is a state agency, and is the first level of determining disability benefits. DDS has individuals called Disability Examiners who work with a medical consultant to determine your RFC. These individuals consider limitations your doctor has assigned you, such as the inability to stand more than 10 minutes or lift more than 10 pounds. This is why it is extremely important to have your doctor document the limitations along with your symptoms within your medical records.

The RFC is first used to determine if you can do the type of work that you’ve done for the past 15 years. If you’ve done sedentary work for the past 15 years and your RFC states that you can do light work, which is above sedentary work, they will likely suggest that you return to your previous type of work. If the Disability Examiner determines you can’t do your prior job, they will then determine whether, given your RFC, your age, your education, and your skills, you should be able to learn another job.

This can be a difficult process to understand and navigate. That’s why so many people turn to the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law to help them get the benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, or if you’d like a free consultation, give us a call today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk to us now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.