Charleston Disability Lawyer Archives - Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, L.C.
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How Does the RFC form Impact Your Disability Claim?

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.

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.

What are dedicated accounts for Social Security?

I write for all three of our lines of business, but my background is predominantly in VA Disability. With that in mind, we didn’t have to deal with cases involving children in VA. Obviously, you have to be an adult to join the military, and thus the youngest person that can file a claim for VA disability is 18 years old. So when I started writing about Social Security Disability I started noticing that we represented minors. For the most part, there are a lot of similarities between a social security claim for adults and kids. However, one of the big differences is what happens when these individuals get approved. This was something that really made sense to me when I thought about what would happen if you gave a child several thousand dollars and let them be on their way. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Because children should not be held responsible for their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, the SSA has something called Dedicated Accounts.

As a representative payee for a disabled child under age 18 who is eligible for large past-due SSI payments (usually any payment covering more than six months of the current benefit rate) you are required to open a separate account at a financial institution, which is referred to as a “dedicated account”.

The past-due payments will be deposited directly into that dedicated account. These funds can only be used for expenses directly related to the child’s disability.

The requirements of a dedicated account are:

  • It must be separate from the account used for the regular monthly benefit payment and can only be a checking, savings, or money market account.
  • Other funds, except for certain past-due SSI benefits, cannot be combined with the funds in the dedicated account.
  • It cannot be in the form of certificates of deposit, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, or trusts.
  • The title on the dedicated account must show that the child owns the funds, including interest.

Dedicated account funds can be used for the following expenses:

  • Medical treatment; and Education or job skills training.

The Social Security Administration will allow the following expenses if they benefit the child and are related to the child’s disability:

  • Personal needs or assistance (e.g., in-home nursing care); special equipment; housing modification; therapy or rehabilitation; or other items or services approved by your local Social Security office, like legal fees incurred by the child in establishing a claim for disabled child’s benefits.

Dedicated accounts may not be used for basic monthly maintenance costs such as food, clothing, or shelter. The regular monthly benefit received for the child should be used for all monthly maintenance costs.

The Social Security Administration requires you as representative payee to complete a yearly report on the use of the dedicated account funds as well as the regular monthly benefits received on the child’s behalf.

It is important to keep receipts, bank statements, and maintain an expense record for at least two years as verification of expenditures. You, as representative payee, should be able to provide SSA with an explanation of any expenditure and how it relates to the child’s disability.

If you’d like to know more about this subject, or if you’d like a free consultation, call us today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you at a better time.

Schizophrenia and Social Security Disability

Schizophrenia

Although schizophrenia seems like it should be enough for a person to qualify for social security disability, the truth is that it is only one determining factor in an evaluation. In fact, the existence of most mental illnesses is not in and of itself enough for a person to qualify for SSD. To help shed some light on the complex social security disability benefits evaluation process, here is a look at how mental illnesses like schizophrenia play a role in it.

Meeting the Requirements

In order for someone to be recognized as having schizophrenia, or any mental illness for that matter, they must prove that they’ve suffered from one or more symptoms from the Social Security Administration’s “blue book.” While there are a variety of different symptoms and associated illnesses described in the blue book, here are a few that relate back to schizophrenia: suffering from hallucinations, having illogical thoughts, and being in a catatonic state.

Simply suffering from these symptoms isn’t enough for someone to qualify for an illness though, as they must also go on to prove that the symptoms caused a severe reduction in a person’s potential productivity. If a person is able to overcome their illness and continue to work or function normally, then they cannot qualify for SSD based on their illness.

Residual Functioning Capacity

If someone doesn’t quite suffer from the symptoms of an illness as outlined by the blue book, then the next step of the claims process is to instead have someone from the Social Security Administration evaluate their residual functioning capacity. Put simply, this is simply a measure of the person’s ability to function as normally, regardless of existing mental problems.

Medication and Benefits

When a claim is submitted to the SSA, they will request medical records detailing any medications that a person takes to address their illness. If a person is found to be intentionally ignoring their prescriptions, then their claim can be rejected on the grounds that they are not adhering to their treatment. Unfortunately, the SSA can also use a person’s medication as an excuse to not give them benefits too. If a person is found to be too functional while on their medication, then they can be denied their benefits as well. It’s for this reason that it’s always a good idea to have an experienced social security disability benefits lawyer by your side, so that they can argue on your behalf whenever the SSA tries to avoid paying benefits.

Mental Illness: Causes and Symptoms

mental health

For those interested earning disability benefits based on the existence of a mental illness, it can unfortunately be a long and arduous process. While a Charleston disability lawyer can ensure that a claim is settled in a fair and efficient manner, that doesn’t mean the Social Security Administration always treats those with mental illnesses in an agreeable way. As it stands, there simply isn’t too much that we understand about mental illnesses. We can pinpoint the symptoms, but there’s still not enough information on the effects that genetics and the environment can have on the development of many different mental illnesses. Still, this guide will take a look at some of the most common mental illnesses that qualify for disability benefits, as well as their causes and symptoms.

Schizophrenia is one of the most common mental illnesses that the Social Security Administration evaluates in disability claimants. As previously mentioned though, no one really knows or understands what causes schizophrenia to develop in people. As of right now, we understand that it’s a mixture of a variety of different factors, but that’s about it.
Developmental disabilities are another common mental illness that the Social Security Administration evaluates. Unlike schizophrenia, which can be more difficult to prove, mental retardation is much more straightforward. When the SSA evaluates mental retardation claims, they look to see how functional the person is on their own, and whether they could perform any level of work on their own.

Although bipolar disorders are understood to occur from a chemical imbalance in the brain, it’s still not entirely understood why this imbalance occurs in the first place. Still, bipolar disorders can have serious and lasting effects on a person’s mental health, as well as how functional they are in society. It’s for this reason that the Social Security Administration regularly evaluates claims based on bipolar disorders.

It’s important to remember that if you, or someone you know, suffers from one of these mental illnesses, then you should seek out a knowledgeable Charleston disability lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you go through each step of the claims process and work with you to get access to the benefits that you deserve.