Monday, November 26, 2012

Connecticut Social Security Field Offices to Reduce Office Hours in 2013

Beginning January 2, 2013, Social Security Offices will close 30 minutes early.  On Wednesdays, Field Offices will close at noon. 

Why? According to the agency, "[w]hile agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete face-to-face interviews and process claims work without incurring the cost of overtime. The significantly reduced funding provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year makes it impossible for the agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past."
Note that the earlier closing times do not apply to the Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review, (the Federal Buildings where Administrative Law Judges hold hearings, also known as "ODAR"). ODARs will be maintaining their regular hours.
Some ALJ hearings are scheduled at district offices and at permanent remote hearing sites. If you have such a hearing and it is scheduled to begin after the new closing time, you should go to the location and knock on the presumably locked front door. ODAR officials tell us that security guards will be present to admit you. These officials ask that you bring the notice of hearing with you, and that your clients bring photo IDs, for the guard's inspection.
However, there is strong opposition to these budget cuts.  Congress should bear in mind the latest results of a public opinion poll that found that 83% of likely voters oppose cuts to the Social Security Disability Program.  A new poll commissioned by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives ("NOSSCR"), (an organization of which I am a sustaining member), found that the vast majority of likely voters support Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and believe that Congress should target other areas of government when proposing cuts.  For more information regarding this poll visit:
You may also want to read a great OpEd piece in support of the Social Security Disability Program that recently appeared in the Seattle Times:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lyme Disease and Social Security Disability

Lyme Disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the country!  I was recently shocked to hear that Lyme cases by far outnumber those of AIDS, West Nile virus, swine and avian flu combined.
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is a slow bureaucracy and it seems like it takes the agency an eternity to get the latest news.  Despite the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the U.S., the agency has failed to develop consistent guidelines or rulings to evaluate claims involving this condition.  For example, Lyme Disease has not been included in the SSA's Listing of Impairments.  Moreover, no rulings have been issued setting forth how cases involving this condition must be evaluated.  Lyme disease disability claims are currently evaluated under Listing 14.09D Inflammatory Arthritis.  Obviously, this is not a very precise listing for Lyme disease.
The lack of adequate guidelines makes it difficult for Social Security Claimants who suffer from Lyme Disease to win Social Security Disability Benefits.   However, persons who suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease should not be discouraged from applying for disability benefits.  Cases can still be won if the claimant is able to demonstrate that his or her condition meets the Social Security definition of disability.  As time goes by, it seems that judges and other examiners at the SSA are becoming more aware of the serious nature of Chronic Lyme Disease.  With the proper medical documentation, a competent Social Security Disability Lawyer should be able to show the serious limitations suffered by those who suffer from this disease, such as the cognitive impairments that occur when it is untreated for a long period of time. 
Finally, I would like to add that there is a group of advocates who work on behalf persons who suffere from Lyme Disease, who are petitioning the Social Security Administration to include Lyme Disease in the "Blue book" of Listings of Impairments.  Please visit the enclosed link and sign the petition:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Can Kids Conceived After Dad Died Get SSDI Benefits?

The Social Security Administration is refusing to grant survivor benefits to Michigan twins, who were born after in-vitro fertilization. The government says they shouldn't be recognized as heirs because they weren't alive when their father died.

A federal judge says he can't solve the Social Security dispute until the state Supreme Court decides if the kids are considered heirs under Michigan law.

This week the Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments in this unusual case that involves a man from the Kalamazoo area who died of Lupus and twin children who were conceived through invitro fertilization.

Jeff Mattison, of Portage, Michigan who had lupus, high blood pressure and kidney failure, stopped taking certain medication at times so he could store his sperm without risk of passing on defects. On the day before his death, he injected his wife with medication for eventual harvest of her eggs for artificial insemination

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Social Security Administration in a similar case from Florida, although that decision is not binding on the state Supreme Court. This case specifically focuses on a Michigan law.

The children, Mallory and Michael, might be eligible for $200 to $500 in monthly Social Security benefits, retroactive to their birth.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Sitting Limitations and Your Social Security Disability Case


Many Social Security Disability Claimants who suffer from conditions such as: degenerative disc disease, stenosis, osteoarthritis in the lower back or hips or, rheumatoid arthritis, have limitations as to how long they can sit through an entire work day.  These type of limitations are extremely relevant in cases where the claimant's past work involved sedentary work.  In addition, these limitations play an important role in cases where the Social Security Administration alleges that a claimant with serious physical limitations is still capable of doing a sit down job.  In my work as a Connecticut Social Security Disability Attorney, I frequently deal with cases involving postural limitations. 
To be able to do a full range of sedentary work, a person must have the capacity for prolonged sitting. Social Security Ruling 83-10 states that sitting “should generally total approximately six hours of an eight-hour workday.”  Most jobs “have ongoing work processes which demand that a worker be in a certain place or posture for at least a certain length of time to accomplish a certain task. Unskilled types of jobs are particularly structured so that a person cannot ordinarily sit or stand at will.” Social Security Ruling 83-12.
Regarding a person’s need to alternate between sitting and standing, Social Security Ruling 96-9p states:
An individual may need to alternate the required sitting of sedentary work by standing (and, possibly, walking) periodically. Where this need cannot be accommodated by scheduled breaks and a lunch period, the occupational base for a full range of unskilled sedentary work will be eroded. The extent of the erosion will depend on the facts in the case record, such as the frequency of the need to alternate sitting and standing and the length of time needed to stand. The residual functional capacity assessment must be specific as to the frequency of the individual’s need to alternate sitting and standing. It may be especially useful in these situations to consult a vocational resource in order to determine whether the individual is able to make an adjustment to other work.
 Consequently, if a person is unable to sit for extended periods of time, Social Security recognizes that this limitation will be very disruptive in a wide range of jobs.  In most cases involving severe postural limitations, an effective Social Security lawyer should be able to rule out a large number of jobs that the claimant can do and eventually convince the judge to rule in his favor.  Being able to persuade the judge to make a favorable ruling in these cases takes considerable skill and requires a good knowledge of Social Security rules.  Very often, sitting limitations alone will not be sufficient to be able to win a Social Security Disability case.  A skillful lawyer will also need to argue that based on the claimant's age, work experience, educational background, and other physical limitations, there are no jobs that his client can perform.
Feel free to give me a call or send me an email if you have any specific questions or concerns regarding sitting limitations.  (855) SSDI-HELP or