Monday, August 26, 2013

How a Symptom Diary Can Help You Win Your Social Security Disability Case

As a Connecticut and Massachusetts Social Security Lawyer, I often recommend that my clients keep a symptom diary.  A symptom diary can be kept in many different formats: journals, calendars, charts and spreadsheets.  Now, there are even some great phone apps that allow patients to routinely keep track of their symptoms!  
A symptom diary can be particularly useful in a social security disability hearing.  Judges often ask questions about a claimant’s limitations, particularly with respect to certain daily activities such as: sitting, standing, walking, lifting and carrying. The more specific details and descriptions a claimant tells the judge, the more credible his or her testimony will be.  A good diary can assist a claimant when testifying about symptoms that occurred several months or even years before the hearing.
As I explain to all my clients, in Connecticut and in Massachusetts, it takes about a year to get in front of a social security judge from the date that the request for a hearing is made.  (It usually takes about two years to get a hearing from the date of the initial application.)  For this reason, a good diary can help improve the accuracy of your testimony.
One of my disability clients recently had a great experience using an android app to keep a record of his symptoms.  The name of the app is called: “Manage my pain” and it can be downloaded at  I welcome any feedback regarding this app.  Please let me know if you think it is helpful, whether it is user friendly and whether the free version gets the job done as well as the one that you have to purchase.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Social Security Will no Longer Use the Term "Mental Retardation"

In a final rule published in the Federal Register on August 1, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it will abandon the use of the term "mental retardation" and adopt the term "intellectual disability" in its Listing of Impairments used to evaluate claims involving mental disorders in adults and children and in other appropriate sections of its rules.  
The change in language adopts the term that Congress unanimously agreed to in October 2010 when it passed Rosa's Law.  The law stripped from federal health, education and labor policy reference to "mental retardation" and "mentally retarded" and replaced these terms with "Intellectual disability" and "individual with an intellectual disability."  The law was named for Rosa Marcellino, a Maryland girl with Down syndrome. 
Although SSA was not part of the mandate in Rosa's Law, its new regulation acknowledges the negative connotations and misunderstandings about the nature of the disorder, and recognizes the importance that such a name change can have on public understanding.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Office will be at the Charter Oak Health Center's Fair

Our office will be at the Charter Oak Health Center's Annual Health Fair.  Stop by our table to learn more about the services provided by the office to Social Security Disability claimants.  We will be giving away key chains with our office logo.  (See pictures below.)
On Wednesday, August 14th, and Thursday, August 15th, 2013, Charter Oak Health Center will be hosting its annual health fair event, which will take place in front of 21 Grand Street (located between Hungerford and Parks Street), Hartford. This two-day event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Charter Oak Health Center’s health fair is interactive, fun, and worthwhile event to promote healthy lifestyle choices, health education, and preventative medical care for greater Hartford’s residents. The event showcases health-related resources within our local community, plus free healthcare screenings and opportunities to talk with health professionals in different fields of expertise.
Event exhibitors include health care and social services agencies providing health screenings for STD and HIV, blood pressure, sugar, glucose, vision, cholesterol, dental screenings, health-related educational information, nutritionists, and of course our FREE farmer’s market. The celebration also features live music from Hot 93.7 on Wednesday, La Bomba 97.1 on Thursday, and return of the very popular photo booth, airbrush tattoo artists, and face painters!

The free key chains are back by popular demand!  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Winning a Closed Period SSDI/SSI Case

Last week, a Social Security Disability Judge ruled in my favor in a "closed period case".  A closed period is a term used to describe a Social Security Disability claim involving a claimant who is granted benefits for a fixed period of time.  Asking for a closed period, rather than for ongoing benefits is usually a wise strategy for winning benefits.
It is a good idea to exercise this option when there isn't enough medical evidence to show that the disabling condition will continue for an extended period of time.  Unfortunately, in many instances claimants loose their health insurance and can no longer afford the medical treatment necessary to show an ongoing condition.  In these circumstances, I often encourage my clients to consider asking that their benefits be granted for the specific time period that they were unable to work as a result of their physical or mental condition.  
Many judges seem to look favorably at closed period cases due to the fact that claimants who are willing to go back to work after a long injury or illness are presumed to be honest when testifying about the severity of their symptoms.  Closed period cases are also favored because these claims impose less of a financial burden on the Social Security Trust Fund.
It is important to note that to be eligible to receive benefits for a closed period, a claimant must show that his or her disability lasted a period of 12 consecutive months or more.  As I have indicated in previews blogs, Social Security Disability Benefits are not granted on a short term basis.