Tag Archive for: Kansas social security disability attorney

Top 5 Reasons Why Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit Applications are Rejected

During the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”), people tend to think of all of the reasons why they should be awarded benefits.  Perhaps you cannot work as a result of your injuries, or you were diagnosed with an illness that has rendered you unable to enjoy life as you did before becoming ill.  However, it may be helpful to consider why you may end up being denied benefits, which could end up happening for a myriad of reasons.  Overall, anticipating the potential weaknesses in your case may actually help you avoid denial since you will be prepared ahead of time to address the situation should it arise.  Accordingly, the following are the top 5 scenarios that give rise to a denial of SSDI benefits:

  1. Your income exceeds the SSA’s limits.  For people who have worked for the requisite period of time necessary to apply for benefits, they could end up being denied based upon their income.  In other words, despite claiming to be disabled, you may currently be earning above the monetary amount that is considered by the Social Security Administration as a “substantial gainful activity”, or SGA.  This means that you make too much money to qualify as disabled for purposes of obtaining benefits.   For more information on SGA, it is advised that you visit the SSA’s substantial gainful activity page.
  2. Your disability will not last long enough to qualify for SSDI.  To qualify for SSDI, your disability must be severe enough, meaning that it must last for a year or more.  For example, if you broke your leg and cannot work for a certain period of time, the SSA will likely deny your application under the assumption that your injuries will heal within a year or less.
  3. The SSA cannot reach you.   Believe it or not, SSA benefits are regularly denied to people due to the fact that they cannot be located or reached.  If you decide to move and have an SSDI application on file with the SSA, be sure to apprise them of your new address.  Also, return the SSA’s phone calls should they leave you a message.  These simple steps will maximize your chances of obtaining the benefits you deserve.
  4. You are uncooperative.  If you fail to provide the SSA with medical records or other crucial information, your application will be denied.  Moreover, the SSA will require you to be examined by of its doctors, and even on more than one occasion.  If the SSA requests that you meet with one of its examining physicians, always be compliant.  If not, your SSDI application will likely be denied.
  5. You fail to follow your doctor’s treatment plan.  In the event that you regularly miss your doctor appointments or do not take your doctor’s advice seriously, you may be denied SSDI benefits.  While there are certain valid exceptions to this rule, it is always recommended that you follow your treatment plan accordingly to avoid facing a denial of SSDI.

If you require assistance in applying for SSDI benefits or appealing a denial decision by the SSA, contact the Sanger Law Office at 785-979-4353.  We will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  We look forward to providing you with excellent legal representation.


Working & Collecting Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Generally speaking, if you are working at the level of engaging in a “substantial gainful activity”, or SGA, you will likely be unable to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI).  Hence, a person who is making more than a certain amount per month is considered to be engaging in SGA.  Specifically, SGA means is that in 2013, if you are earning more than $1,040 or $1,740 if you are blind, you will not be eligible to collect SSDI. 

It is important to understand that there are exceptions to the SGA.  For people who wish to return to work after being rendered disabled, the SSA offers a “trial work program”, or TWP.  Otherwise stated, the TWA allows a person to work without automatically losing their benefits.   To illustrate, a person who receives SSDI benefits may “test the waters” to see whether they can work and may do so for a nine month period, regardless of whether their earnings exceed the SSA’s allowable SGA amounts or not.  In 2013, a person who is working pursuant to the SSA’s TWP must earn more than $750 in one month for it to be considered a “trial month” under the program.  If you are a sole proprietor, you must work 80 hours or more in any one month for it be qualify under the TWP.

Once your nine-month trial period has ended, you may still receive SSDI benefits even if your income falls below the SGA’s allowable amounts.   Referred to as the “extended period of eligibility”, this lasts for 36 months after your completion of work during the nine-month TWP period.  Keep in mind that if your earnings exceed $1,040 in a given month, you cannot collect SSDI during this time.

If your earnings are substantial, resulting in the termination of your benefits, you may have them reinstated within a five-year period should you be unable to work due to your disability.  This is commonly known as “expedited reinstatement”.  During these five years, you will not be required to reapply for SSDI benefits.

If you lose your job during the TWP, your SSDI benefits will not be affected however, if this occurs during the 36-month extended period of eligibility, you will need to contact the SSA to reinstate your benefits.

For more information on your ability to work while collected SSDI benefits, contact the Sanger Law Office at 785-979-4353.  We will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  We look forward to providing you with excellent legal representation.

The Top Ways in Which Your SSDI Benefits May be Terminated

In most cases, people who are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) receive benefit checks for many years to come.  However, there are certain things that may cause a person’s benefits to be terminated.  In the event that you are applying for benefits or currently receive them, it is important to understand the ways in which you could lose your benefits so as to prevent this from happening to you.  The top reasons why most people’s benefits suddenly stop are as follows:

  1. Your symptoms dramatically improve.  If the symptoms that rendered you disabled substantially improve, your SSDI benefits may be terminated.  Periodically, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews the current status of its benefit recipients’ cases to determine whether they are still disabled to the point where ongoing benefits are necessary.  Known as “continuing benefits reviews”, these are considerably less strict then the SSA’s initial SSDI application review however, they nonetheless may end up terminating your benefits.  The good news is that most SSDI beneficiaries continue to receive benefits following this review.
  2. 2.      You returned to work.  If you go back to work while still collecting benefits, the SSA will review whether you are engaging in a “substantial gainful activity.” Also known as SGA, if someone is currently earning more than $1,040 (for blind people the amount is slightly higher at $1,740), you could be denied ongoing benefits.  There are a number of exceptions to this rule, including the SSA’s “trial work program”, which allows a person to work without automatically losing their benefits.  Otherwise stated, the SSA offers the person a trial period by which they can return to work, continue to collect SSDI, and determine whether they are capable of handling their job on a long term basis.  
  3. 3.      You reach retirement age.  No person can receive both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time.  Hence, when you reach retirement age, your SSDI benefits will end.  Visit the SSA’s retirement age calculator for more information. 
  4. 4.      You have been imprisoned or institutionalized. While this depends upon the circumstances, if you are convicted of a crime or institutionalized for a certain period of time, your benefits will temporarily cease.  However, certain crimes may be egregious enough that the SSA will permanently terminate one’s SSDI benefits. 

If you require assistance in applying for SSDI benefits or appealing a termination decision by the SSA, contact the Sanger Law Office at 785-979-4353.  We will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  We look forward to providing you with excellent legal representation.


The Five Levels of SSDI Application Denial Appeals

If your Social Security Disability Insurance benefit (SSDI) application is denied, there are a number of instructions that you will need to follow which are included in your notice of denial letter.  As the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) letter indicates, the first step you can take once your application is denied is to file a Request for Reconsideration.  Should this request fail, there are additional measures you can pursue in order to challenge the SSA’s denial decision.  These measures are as follows:

  1. Request for Reconsideration of Initial Claim.  As mentioned above, this is the first step that an applicant can take to challenge a denial of his or her SSDI application.  A reconsideration request is actually a complete review of one’s case, which is completed by a medical consultant and SSA claims examiner. Keep in mind that this process is completed at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) level by parties who were not involved in the review of your initial claim.  Overall, about 5% of applications are approved by the DDS when reconsidering claims.
  2. Request for Reconsideration of Ongoing Benefits.   In the event that your application is approved, the SSA periodically reviews current cases in what is known as a continuing disability review (CDR).  A SSDI recipient’s benefits may be terminated should their condition substantially approve or if they fail to cooperate with the SSA during its CDR process.
  3. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).  Should your Request for Reconsideration be denied and you wish to pursue your case further, you must request a hearing by an ALJ within 60 days after you receive your notice of denial letter.  An ALJ is a lawyer who works for the SSA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals.  On average, about 67% of appeals are approved after being reviewed by an ALJ.
  4. SSA Appeals Council.  Should your case be denied by an ALJ during your administrative hearing, the SSA’s Appeals Council may review your case however, said decision is subject to their discretion.  The Appeals Council typically examines whether a case was denied in error by the ALJ.  Unfortunately, only about 5% of cases are approved by the Appeals Council should they choose to examine your case.
  5. Federal Court Review.   If your case is denied by the Appeals Council, your final option is to file a claim with the federal district court in your jurisdiction.  District court judges review benefit denial cases for legal errors, but may also rule on factual questions as well.   Unfortunately, only 1% of cases prevail at this level.

If you require assistance in applying for SSDI benefits or appealing a denial decision by the SSA, contact the Sanger Law Office at 785-979-4353.  We will take the time necessary to evaluate your case and advise you of all of your legal options.  Don’t wait until it is too late to obtain the benefits you deserve.  

An Overview of SSDI & Mental Illness

If you are facing a physical disability, it often easier to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) than if you are suffering from mental illness.  Generally speaking, there are several reasons for this discrepancy.  First, it is hard for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to assess the symptoms associated with the mental disorder.  Moreover, it can also be challenging to determine the severity of the illness in an objective manner.  Regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Kansas City Social Security Disability attorney who can help you determine the full scope of your legal options.

If you are considering filing for SSDI due to a debilitating mental illness, it is important to understand that SSA claims examiners are not licensed psychiatrists or mental health professionals.  As such, they are not educated as to the range of limitations caused by certain types of mental conditions.  For example, many claims examiners simply fail to understand the “cyclical” nature of certain mental disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder.  In other words, people diagnosed with these conditions may experience improvement over time but they can easily relapse at a moment’s notice.  Moreover, other examiners are biased against those who file for disability for certain types of mental illness, making it more likely to be denied.

When evaluating a specific mental condition, an examiner will first consult the SSA’s official list of qualifying conditions, commonly referred to as the “blue book”.  These contain certain types of medical conditions that the SSA considers to be disabling to the point where someone is incapable of working.  The blue book’s list of SSDI-eligible mental impairments includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Down’s syndrome
  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Schizophrenia

In the event that you are suffering from a condition that is not listed in the blue book or meets the severity requirements thereunder, you can still file for SSDI.  You need to demonstrate that your disability has lasted for a minimum of a year and also, that it prevents you from working.  Regardless of the circumstances, it is important to have an experienced SSDI benefits attorney to help you.  Since establishing eligibility for SSDI benefits can be a challenging process, having a seasoned attorney to fight for your rights can me a positive difference in your case.

At the Sanger Law Office, we provide top-tier SSDI representation        

For more information pertaining about your SSDI options, give the Sanger Law Office a call now at 785-979-4353.  Ms. Sanger will take the time to evaluate your case and help you maximize your chances of getting SSDI benefits.  The Sanger Law Office is conveniently located in Lawrence, KS and represents clients in both Kansas and Missouri who are facing all types of SSDI issues.



SSDI Benefits and Depression

Depression is one of the main causes of disability for those dealing with non-fatal illnesses in the United States.  Although depression comes in various forms, it is nonetheless a serious medical condition that causes persistent sadness, feelings of hopelessness and in certain severe cases, suicidal ideations.  In addition to these emotions, a person suffering from depression often deals with further complications such as a lack of energy, insomnia and fatigue.

In order to qualify for disability benefits due to depression, you must meet certain criteria set forth in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) impairment manual, also known as the “blue book”.  Or, you may be granted what is known as a medical-vocational allowance based upon the level of your depression and other factors, such as your work history, age and education level.  In other words, a medical-vocational allowance is sometimes granted to a person who suffers from a condition that is severe yet does not match a blue book disability listing.

There are many types of illnesses that are listed in the blue book which allows a person to qualify for benefits if their condition meets certain criteria.  The purpose of the blue book is to allow for people facing severe disabilities to be compensated in an efficient manner. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits on the basis of depression, your condition must be severe and involve at least four of the following symptoms:

  • A lack of interest in pleasurable activities
  • A decrease in energy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Overeating
  • Insatiable feelings of
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Problems thinking clearly
  • Lack of the ability to engage in physical activities
  • Paranoia, delusional thoughts or hallucinations
  • Suicidal ideations

In addition to the above, those facing depression must also experience difficulty in the following:

  • Engaging in activities of daily living
  • Functioning in social settings
  • Focusing, or
  • Have worsening symptoms

To illustrate, if a person is having problems concentrating on menial tasks, difficulty maintaining normal standards of hygiene or cannot function in a social setting, he or she may be eligible to collect SSDI.  Conversely, you they have had reoccurring bouts with depression for a period of two years or more, they may also be able to qualify for SSDI.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you are suffering from depression and cannot work, you may be eligible for benefits.  Don’t wait to consider your options due to fear or uncertainty about whether you qualify.  Only an experienced SSDI benefits attorney can evaluate your case and determine your legal rights and options.

At the Sanger Law Office, we provide top-tier SSDI representation        

For more information pertaining about your SSDI options on the basis of depression, give the Sanger Law Office a call now at 785-979-4353.  Ms. Sanger will take the time to evaluate your case and help you maximize your chances of getting SSDI benefits.  The Sanger Law Office is ideally located in Lawrence, KS and represents clients in both Kansas and Missouri who are facing all types of SSDI issues.


Veterans Benefits and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Members of the armed services who engaged in prolonged combat or experienced some other type of traumatizing event while serving in the military may be at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  PTSD, also commonly referred to as battle fatigue or “shell shock”, has been a recognized as a condition suffered by soldiers for several centuries.  However, only recently has PTSD been recognized in the United States as a serious and benefit worthy condition.

When people suffer from PTSD, they often full range of different symptoms that start soon after facing a life threatening event.  Moreover, PTSD is one of the most common mental health conditions that members of the military face after being in combat.  Specifically, from 1999 to 2007, the number of veterans benefits claims for PTSD more than doubled.  According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, soldiers suffering from PTSD often face the following serious difficulties:

  • Flashbacks of the traumatizing event
  • Avoidance of situations that cause you to remember the event
  • Feeling withdrawn from family and friends
  • Substance abuse problems, such as alcoholism or drug addiction
  • Feeling constantly irritated, jittery or “on the edge”
  • Problems handling relationships
  • Feeling depressed, hopeless or shameful
  • Trouble working or holding a job
  • Physical problems

Additionally, in order to receive PTSD benefits, a veteran must meet the following requirements:

  • Receive a clear PTSD diagnosis;
  • Provide evidence of the event that occurred during military service that caused the condition; and
  • Establish through evidence that the cause of one’s PTSD stems from the traumatizing event

Once a veteran is able to establish that their PTSD is connected with their military service, the VA will then determine the appropriate amount of disability award.  For service connected PTSD, the VA determines the benefit amount based upon the level of impairment.  Specifically, there is a disability scale that begins with zero and goes up to 100 percent.  To illustrate, for PTSD condition that does not cause disability, a veteran will likely receive a 0 percent rating.  In the event that someone is completely debilitated by PTSD, they may receive a much higher rating, perhaps between 70 and 100 percent.

Establishing your right to disability compensation for PTSD can be extremely challenging and complex.  However, you can maximize your chances of obtaining VA benefits by working with an experienced Kansas City VA benefits attorney.   Only a skilled attorney can evaluate your case and help you fight for your rights.

Call Us to Find out How We can Help You Get the VA Benefits You Deserve

Ms. Sanger has helped numerous veterans during the benefit application process and has also represented them in appealing a denial or rating decision.  The Sanger Law Office is conveniently located in Lawrence, KS and represents veterans who have been denied disability benefits both in Kansas and Missouri. If you are having challenges obtaining VA disability benefits or have questions about the application process, contact attorney Danielle Sanger today for an initial free consultation at 785-979-4353.


The 5 Most Common Myths Associated with Social Security Disability Benefits

 As an attorney who has handled numerous Social Security disability cases, I often come across clients who say all types of things that are based upon wrongful assumptions about SSDI.  Not only are their beliefs mistaken, they can also adversely impact their ability to qualify for disability benefits.  Accordingly, I have compiled a list of the most common myths associated with SSDI in order to educate people as to the reality of qualifying for benefits.  These are as follows:

  1. The Social Security Administration denied my application so I should just give up.  Not true. Many times applications are denied simply due to missing information or a lapsed deadline.  Never give up.  Allow a judge to hear your case, as many SSDI applications are approved upon appeal.
  2. My doctor said I can’t work so therefore I am entitled to benefits.  False.  Unfortunately, just because your doctor says you are disabled does not mean that you meet the SSA’s disability criteria.  Specifically, even if you are impaired in some way, the SSA may determine that you can work, even if it is not the same job that you have had prior to sustaining your injury or being diagnosed with a disabling disease.  Moreover, doctors often do not know what “disabled” means for SSDI purposes nor do they understand the factors considered by the SSA in rendering this determination. While the SSA will consider a physician’s opinion as to the nature of a person’s restrictions, they will not rely upon a doctor’s conclusion that a person cannot work.    
  3. I don’t need a lawyer to help me.   Not true.  Despite the fact that lawyers are not required when applying for SSDI or appealing a denial of benefits, they can add significant value to the process.  Otherwise stated, the government is not on your side when it comes to applying for SSDI however, an attorney is, no matter what.  Moreover, an experienced SSDI attorney knows the ins and outs of the complexities associated with SSDI cases, including the applicable deadlines and requirements associated with qualifying for benefits.
  4. I don’t need to keep going to my doctor as it is clear what is wrong with me.  False.  Without current medical records and continuous medical care, the SSA may determine that you are not disabled enough to receive benefits. 
  5. I should wait to see whether my condition worsens before applying for benefits.  False.  SSDI applications who wait may not be eligible to receive benefits, even if they would have qualified but for the delay.

Don’t Wait until it is Too Late to Get the SSDI Benefits You Deserve

For more information on the above, give the Sanger Law Office a call now to learn more about your legal options, your rights and responsibilities, as well as how we can help you get the SSDI benefits that you deserve.  We at the Sanger Law Office can review your application for SSDI benefits prior to submission, assist you in submitting a request for reconsideration of a denial, or represent you in a formal appeal of an SSA denial decision.  The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents those denied social security disability benefits in Kansas and Missouri.  Don’t wait.  Call the Sanger Law Office today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.

What Constitutes a Disability to Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

To be considered “disabled” for SSDI eligibility purposes, individuals must be diagnosed with either a medical or psychological disorder that prevents them from performing substantial gainful activities, or SGA.  SGA refers to work that generates a certain monetary amount on a monthly basis.  In 2012, the amount was set at $1,010 for non–blind SSDI applicants and $1690 for those diagnosed as legally blind. In the event that you make more than these monetary amounts, the Social Security Administration will likely reject your SSDI application under the assumption that you are not disabled.

            Additionally, an SSDI applicant’s condition must prevent the person from performing SGA for a minimum of one year or expect to prevent the individual from doing SGA for the same time period.  Also referred to by the SSA as the durational requirement, this means that conditions such as serious back injuries may qualify for benefits (since it could render someone disabled for a year or more) while bone fractures or sprains typically will not.  Furthermore, SSDI applicants cannot work above the SGA level at the time that they apply for benefits.  Therefore, it is not recommended for people to continue working above the SGA level and then plan to quit assuming that they will receive SSDI.

To qualify for SSDI, an applicant must also provide medical records that contain evidence of the person’s physical or emotional impairment. Specifically, the records must demonstrate that the impairment is severe enough to prevent the applicant from working.  All records and supporting documentation must also be current, meaning that they cannot be older than 60 to 90 days.  Moreover, unless the records that you submit to the SSA readily demonstrate that you are truly incapable of working (i.e. they show that you suffer from one or more of the SSA’s qualifying conditions) the SSA will conduct an assessment of what work you possibly can perform.

As for the level of one’s physical impairment, the SSA determines whether the applicant can perform light, medium or more sedentary work by reviewing their medical records and supporting information.  For mental impairments, the SSA will review whether the individual can understand basic instructions, maintain focused and attentive, and interact appropriately with others, such as coworkers.  After conducting this assessment, the SSA will determine whether the person is capable of performing certain work based upon their specific skill set.

At the Sanger Law Office, We Provide Quality SSDI Representation     

For more information pertaining to the above, give the Sanger Law Office a call now at 785-979-4353.  Ms. Sanger will take the time to evaluate your case and help you get the benefits you deserve.  The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents clients facing all types of SSDI issues throughout Kansas and Missouri.


Medical Conditions that Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

 In order to automatically qualify for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI), you must be diagnosed with a qualifying disease or injury.  Such injuries and disabilities are listed by the Social Security Administration in a manual known as the “blue book”, which includes both physical and mental impairments.  These qualifying conditions are as follows:

  • Musculoskeletal conditions, such as back injuries and trauma
  • Cardiovascular problems, including congestive heart failure and certain heart diseases
  • Sensory conditions, such as impaired hearing or vision problems
  • Respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
  • Neurological diseases, such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease
  • Mental conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder and manic depression
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, HIV, Aids and certain forms of arthritis
  • Digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Skin conditions, such as dermatitis
  • Urological and genitourinary conditions, such as kidney failure

In the event that your medical condition is not one of the enumerated impairments listed above, you may still be able to qualify for SSDI.  Specifically, your disability may be considered medically equivalent to the one of the blue book’s qualifying conditions.  This is what the SSA refers to as “equaling a disability listing”.  For example, if you are diagnosed with a form of arthritis that is not listed above but is medically similar to one of the listings, you may still qualify for SSDI.

A person who files for SSDI may still be eligible to receive disability benefits even if his or her condition does not meet or equal one that is listed in the blue book.  In this case, the SSA will evaluate the nature of your impairment and the degree in which it affects your ability to work and perform basic tasks.   For instance, those that suffer from migraine headaches may still be eligible for SSDI if the claimant’s condition makes it impossible to work either in a full or part time capacity.  The fact that migraine headaches are not listed in the blue book is of no consequence when a claimant’s level of impairment is severe.  In order to prove your eligibility in this regard, it is recommended that you document your condition and the level in which it prevents you from functioning in a work environment.

Call the Sanger Law Office Now for a Free Consultation

For more information, contact the Sanger Law Office for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.  Ms. Sanger will review your application before submission or advise you as to the best ways in which you can appeal a denial of benefits.  The Sanger Law Office is centrally located in Lawrence, KS and represents clients facing all types of SSDI issues in both Kansas and Missouri.  Ms. Sanger looks forward to helping you get the benefits that you deserve and in getting your life back on track.