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Illustration © Robert Wilson

Last week the Trump administration rolled out its first budget proposal.  Included in the proposal were deep cuts to the Enviromental Protection Agency (31.4%); State Department (28.7%); Labor Department (20.7%); Agricultural Department (20.7%); U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (16.3%) to name a few of the double digit agency reduction and not to mention program cuts and other programs which the Trump administration proposes to zero out or eliminate.  The budget proposal also include a 10% increase, to 54 billion, in the defense spending.

During the press conference for the role out, Office of Management and Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, was asked if there would be cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  Largely silent on answering this

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(Illustration by © voinsveta)

Remember back in the summer of 2014 when golf pro celebrities began a “the ice bucket challenge” by either pouring a bucket filled with ice water on their heads or paying $100 (or both) to raise awareness of amyotrophic sclerosis (ALS), sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s disease?  By the end of the summer of 2014, over 2million videos were seen on social medial, especially Facebook, showing ice water being poured onto the heads of millions of people.

ALS is a terrible disease striking about 2 people per 100,000 per year in the U.S. and U.K. alone.  ALS strikes normally when a person is in his or her early sixties.  It attacks the muscle system, making them weak at first and then causing issues with speaking, swallowing and later breathing.  Sadly, the average time which its victims survive is 2 to 4 years from onset.

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Photo by © Andrea Izzotti

The U. S Supreme Court back in April 2016 approved three changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  These approved changes are effective December 1, 2016.  The changes are to rule 4 (which deals with the time within which a summons needs to be issued); rule 6 (which deals with counting response time for a due date of a pleading); and rule 82 (which removes reference to a statute which has been repealed).

Rule 82 simply removed the reference to 28 U.S.C. § 1392 when suggesting that admiralty or maritime claims under rule 9(h) are governed by that statute.  28 U.S.C. § 1392 has been repealed.  The new statute which took the place of 28 U.S.C. § 1392 is U.S.C. § 1390. So, 28 U.S.C. § 1390 is now the the statute contained in rule 82.

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© samrith

It is not uncommon in Social Security disability cases that people claim, as part of their disability, intractable knee pain.  Their pain becomes worse after sitting for short periods of time and after waling short distances.  Standing is out of the question.  But what happens if the treatment prescribed is known or recognized in the medical literature as being  just as effective as another type of treatment? Continue reading

Statistics on Medical Bases for Social Security Disability

© Marek

As of June 2016, there were about 10 million disabled people receiving monthly Social Security disability benefits.  Stressing the importance of the national disability program, the Social Security Administration wrote in one of its publications that a 20 year old worker has a high chance (about 1 in 4) of becoming disabled before that person reaches his or her retirement age.  A logical question is what causes a worker to become disabled? Continue reading

Journaling In Social Security Disability Cases

© 4Max

Many people journal nowadays.  20 years ago it was called keeping a diary.  (Remember those small books with a lock on it?).  Today there are numerous apps which facilitate creating and maintaining a journal.  People journal for different reason:  some journal to obtain a cathartic effect; others journal to keep a running history of the days, weeks and months.  Still others journal to become introspective.  Some believe that the mere act of writing creates an emotive reaction that allow you to be in touch with your emotions, feelings and thoughts.  Typically journals are not meant to be to be read by others (especially that prying brother or sister).

Journaling for a Social Security disability case, while employing some of the same techniques of “private” journaling, is very different in purpose and form.  The purpose of journaling for a Social Security disability case is to document an event.  The form is brief and historical.

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United states Court House in Los Angeles

© studiodr

The End of the Administrative Process.  Claimants who have been denied Social Security Disability benefits at the initial, then the reconsideration level, then at the administrative hearing and finally at the Appeals Council level have competed the administrative process.  The decision of the Appeals Council is the last administrative decision.  Even though the Appeals Council denial is the final step in the administrative process, it is not the end of the appeals process.  The federal court system is the next appeal stage.

Filing in Federal Court.  The law permits a person who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security to file for court review.  It is a little odd that the law provides that what a person is appealing is actually the decision of the administrative law judge rather than the decision of the Appeals Council.  However, Social Security statutes and regulations view the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, except in a few rare instances, as the last word on the case. Continue reading

 

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© highwaystarz

The speed at which the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (SSA hearing office) adjudicates cases has not improved much.  The fastest SSA hearing office in the United States is located in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  There, it takes an average of 346 days from the date of filing a request for hearing, to preparing the case for hearing, to hearing the case, writing the decision and mailing it.  That time is a little more than a year.  The slowest SSA hearing office in the country is located in Brooklyn, NY.  At the Brooklyn SSA hearing office, it takes an average of 736 days or just a little over 2 years to get a decision after having filed a request for hearing.  (See, Hearing Office Average Processing Time Ranking Report FY 2016)

Thankfully, the Social Security Administration has created a procedure by which certain Social Security disability claimants’ hearing requests can move more quickly through the system.  This procedure is set out in the Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) Manual I-2-1-40 called Critical CasesContinue reading

5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process-SSA

© Cherries

Very often, I meet with people who are too sick or too injured to work at their old job.  As a consequence, they believe that they should qualify for federal Social Security disability benefits.  Unfortunately, for many of those people, the inability to perform past work is just one step on the path to obtain Social Security disability.  There is another step which must be successfully managed in order to obtain the benefits.  This “other step” is the regulatory requirement that there not exist a substantial number of jobs in several regions throughout the United States which they can perform on an 8 hours a day 40 hour a week.

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Indiana Trial Lawyers Association