May 2008

It takes an incredible amount of time to get your hearing for Social Security Disability. This month I have had 2 clients who died while waiting for their hearing. This is going on all over the country. In Central Illinois, it takes over 2 years to get a hearing.  The Federal government has proposed a number of ideas to improve on their record and get to the hearing sooner. They want to hire more judges, improve the computer systems, expanded medical expert review. My suspicion is that there will not be much improvement.  What are some of your ideas?

  • How about giving more authority to local office personnel to find someone disabled. 
  • Give the attorneys more power to find a person disabled. 
  • Restructure the computer programs to pick out the more serious cases and put them at the front of the line. 
  • Do the same for weak cases and flush them out of the system sooner.  



I just returned from a seminar for lawyers. In Illinois, it is required that a lawyer attend 20 hours of continuing education over a 2 year period. Probably a good idea to require this. One of the speakers pointed out that a major complaint from clients is that their lawyer does not respond to their telephone calls. There are probably a number of reasons why this happens. None of them good, by the way. The lawyer is too busy, the people assisting him do not follow through, or he is too disorganized to return the calls.In any event, I understand that your case is very important to you and I am willing to return all your calls and discuss your questions. Try it out and give me a call. 

Social Security Disability is based on the inability to work.   

The Administrative Law Judge must decide whether you can perform your former jobs, over the last 15 years. And if you cannot, whether you can perform any job. If you are 50 years of age or older, this requirement changes somewhat.  

Social Security does not have to provide you a job, or show that there are real job openings in your area. Instead they will ask a Vocational Expert at your hearing, what kind of jobs are available for persons with  certain limitations (such as lifting, standing or walking), and how many jobs exist in the area.Usually, if the Vocational Expert finds a job within your limitations then you are not disabled. The question is whether  you can prove you have limitations that eliminate the jobs the expert finds for you. If you can do this, then you are disabled. 

Can you be found eligible for Social Security Disability on the basis of depression alone? Often people think of disability as relating to physical problems. However, under the Social Security regulations you can be found for disabled if you are depressed to the extent you can no longer work on a full time basis. You need not have additional physical limitations.

Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities, appetite disturbance with change in weight, sleep disturbance, psychomotor agitation, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficultly concentrating or thinking, suicidial thoughts, hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking.

To win your Social Security disability case based on depression will need treatment with a psychiatrist and assistance from the psychiatrist in explaining to Social Security how your condition limits your daily activities.

If you live in Illinois, please feel free to contact me to discuss how to best present your mental health disability case.

A letter from your doctor can help you with your Social Security Disability case. The most important thing to remember is that it is not necessarily your condition that matters, but the way your condition limits your activities. The reason for this is the Administrative Law Judge is asking himself whether you can do your old job or any other job. A letter from a doctor that explains you are limited in lifting, walking and sitting is helpful if it explains why you have this limitation. Such as, the bulging disc is pressing on the nerve root causing pain down the right leg.  Other examples of limiting factors are pain, fatigue,  and side effects from medications.A statement that you are disabled or unable to work without supporting explanation will not help you win your case. When your doctor understands what Social Security is looking for, then the doctor can often help your case a great deal.