Can You Receive Both CRDP And VA Disability In Houston, TX?

Concurrent Retirement Disability Pay, or CRDP, is a specific type of payment for military retirees with a 50% or greater rating from the VA. It concurrently supplements the VA disability payments that a veteran may receive. Generally, veterans can’t receive benefits from both the VA and from the DoD in the form of military retirement pay. However, the CRDP changes that.

Can You Receive Both CRDP And VA Disability In Houston, TX?

The good news is that yes, you can receive both if you’re qualified. But there are a few things you need to know before you ask about receiving CRDP.

What It Is

This law was passed in 2004 to give military veterans both their VA disability benefits and their military disability through the DoD.

CRDP is a benefit that allows veterans who qualify to receive monthly benefit payments from both the DoD and the VA. It is a “phase-in” of benefits that gradually restores a retiree’s disability offset from the VA.

CRDP became fully implemented in January of 2014,

Are You Qualified For CRDP?

Veterans who are rated 50% or higher disabled qualify, if they are eligible for retirement pay. If you would be eligible for retirement if you were not disabled and receiving disability pay, you may be eligible. However, you must also meet one of these additional qualifications:

  • Be a reserve retiree with 20 years of qualifying service, have a disability rating of 50% or higher, and at retirement age.
    • The retirement age for reservists is generally 60 years of age, but some reserve retirees may reach eligibility prior to 60. Members of the Ready Reserve can have their retirement ages lowered below age 60 by 3 months for every 90 days of service during a fiscal year.
  • Retired under the Temporary Early Retirement Act (TERA) along with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher.
  • Be a disability retiree who earned your entitlement to the retired pay under another provision of law aside from only disability with a VA disability rating of 50% or higher. Your CRDP eligibility may occur at the time you would have otherwise become eligible for retirement pay.

If you are qualified, you should automatically receive monthly payments. The Defense And Finance Accounting Service conducts regular audits of accounts to ensure correct payments. If you were not previously being paid at your correct rate, it is possible that you could receive a retroactive payment from the DoD, based on:

  • Your date of retirement
  • The date at which you first became disabled at 50%

You are also eligible to receive both your VA disability compensation and your retired pay if you are a military retiree who meets all of the above requirements in addition to:

  • Rated by the VA as unemployable, also known as Individual Unemployability (IU)
  • Receiving VA disability compensation as a result of IU

The DFAS also forwards its audit findings to the VA so that they may conduct their own assessments.

Additional information is available on the DFAS website.

CRDP Caveat

Getting CRDP means you are compensated for retirement pay that you didn’t receive before. This means that it can also be subjected to a collection for things such as:

  • Any government debt
  • Alimony
  • Community property
  • Child support

Unlike the VA disability, you will be required to pay taxes on anything you receive as CRDP. These payments stop when a retiree passes away.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, we’re ready to assist. You do have the right to legal representation whether you’re starting your application, facing a hearing or dealing with an appeal.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability and other benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

 

 

The Four Symptoms Associated with PSTD

PSTD is a condition well-known to service members as well as civilians who have either been involved with or witnessed a frightening event. Many people who have been through trauma have difficulty with coping and adjusting but can heal with self-care, reaching out for help and time.

The Four Types Of Symptoms Associated with PSTD

But for those who have more trouble coping and healing from a traumatic event are experiencing PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Any kind of sudden, unexpected shock can bring on PTSD in anyone. However, veterans, especially combat veterans, can be particularly susceptible to PTSD. Risk factors that increase the possibility of PTSD include:

  • Childhood trauma
  • Little or no social support following the event
  • A personal and/or family history of mental illness and/or substance abuse
  • Additional stress following the event, such as the loss of a job, a home, a loved one, or other pain and/or injury

The Symptoms

PTSD is characterized by four distinct symptoms:

  1. At least one re-experience symptom. An individual with PTSD can be “triggered” by a number of external factors, including:
    1. “Flashbacks,” frequently accompanied by physical symptoms such as heavy breathing, heart racing, and/or sweating
    2. Other physical signs of stress
    3. Upsetting or tormenting thoughts
    4. Dreams or memories related to the trauma that recur
  1. One or more avoidance symptoms. Exactly what it sounds like, avoidance can take the form of staying away from people, places, and things that remind the sufferer of the flashpoint event. For instance, a person who has experienced a bad car accident may stay away from cars altogether. A traumatic event at work may lead to someone quitting their job or staying away from their office. Avoidance can also be the avoidance of thoughts surrounding the events.
  1. Two or more arousal or reactivity symptoms. These symptoms can cause sleep or concentration disruptions, anger and/or stress, or eating disorders. They include:
  1. A person startles easily
  2. Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  3. Difficulty with concentration
  4. Irritability, including angry and/or aggressive outbursts
  5. Feelings of tension or being “on edge”
  6. A person engages in reckless, destructive, and/or risky behaviors
  1. Two or more mood and cognition symptoms. These can begin or increase after the event and can lead to social isolation from friends and family members. They include:
  1. Continuing negative emotions such as fear, guilt, shame, and/or anger
  2. Difficulty remembering everything about the trauma
  3. Negativity towards themselves or the rest of the world
  4. Losing interest in formerly favorite activities
  5. Misleading thinking about the event that includes blame
  6. Social isolation
  7. Happiness, satisfaction, and other positive emotions are difficult

Children over the age of six may also re-enact their trauma while playing, or have frightening dreams that may or may not involve the trauma.

Why Do Some People Get PTSD And Others Don’t?

There are a number of factors as to why some people develop PTSD and others don’t after a traumatic event:

  • Getting help and support from family, friends, and/or support groups
  • Resolving feelings regarding their actions in response to the trauma
  • Having and using a coping strategy to get through and learn from the event
  • Having the ability to respond and be prepared to scary events as they happen despite the fear involved

Individuals who do develop PTSD and experience the crippling effects should work to find the help they need to recover so they can live better, without the effects. Those with little or no social support may be able to find help through their primary care physician or local mental health association.

Help is available for those who need it:

Houston VA Disability Attorney For PTSD

Whether you’re suffering from PTSD or something else that’s service-related, we can help you apply, appeal, and make your case to get you the benefits you deserve.

When you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, call The Herren Law Firm at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Disability Income Protection In Texas

Dealing with creditors can be a difficult experience, especially if you’ve recently become disabled or have had an event that caused you to fall behind on your bills. Should a bill go as far as being sent to collections, you’ll also receive calls from debt collectors, including agencies.

Disability Income Protection In Texas.

Occasionally, debt collectors make statements intended to strike fear in someone to force them to pay up. For someone on disability, this can be particularly menacing. Don’t let them intimidate you.

In most cases, if a creditor or debt collector tells you that they will “take your disability check,” it’s a scare tactic.

But there are occasions where past-due debts can be taken out of your disability income, under certain conditions.

Social Security Income

Federal law prohibits Social Security disability payments from garnishment.

In every case, a debt collector must go to court and file a lawsuit, then obtain a judgment for the money. Your bank would then be required to turn over the money, known as a “garnishment.” But if you receive certain types of income, they are not allowed to do so.

Certain benefits are exempt by federal law from garnishment, including:

  • Social Security
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Veterans benefits (including disability)
  • Federal Railroad retirement, unemployment, and sickness benefits
  • Civil Service Retirement System benefits
  • Federal Employee Retirement System benefits

The US Treasury requires your bank to automatically freeze two months of these benefits and keep them for your own use. However, anything over that two-month threshold is accessible, meaning that a creditor can access the rest of it.

Your Bank

Debt collectors are forbidden from taking your disability payments directly out of your bank account or remove it from a prepaid debit card. Despite the rules, many still attempt to do so.

Your bank or credit union is required to protect two months of that income from garnishment for your use. This means that if your monthly disability payment is $1500, and your bank balance is $4,500, the bank is only required to protect $3,000, or two months of payments. The additional $1,500 can be made available to creditors.

Banks are required to review accounts prior to garnishment to ensure that Social Security payments have been deposited and are not garnished. Should a creditor or debt collector attempt to collect from your disability payments, you may have to go to court to get it returned. If you are sued by a creditor that collects from your bank account, make sure to notify the judge that the money is from Social Security and is exempt.

If you are one of the many recipients who receive benefits on a Direct Express or other prepaid debit card, they are still protected from garnishment just as if they were in a bank account.

You can write an “anti-garnishment letter” to your bank stating that your income is exempt, including your name, address, and account number. Mail it to your bank certified, return receipt requested, or hand-deliver to the appropriate person at our local branch.

Adding disability monies into a bank account with other funds may render it accessible to a creditor. It may be wise to have a separate bank account just for your disability income payments and avoid comingling the disability funds with any other monies.

Long Term Disability Payments

In most states, private disability payments are also protected, because they do not allow creditors to take this income. Federal law can also protect some or all private LTD payments.

The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) protects 25% of “disposable earnings”—what’s left after deductions—from collection actions or the amount by which wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower. States are also required to this amount as a minimum, although some protect higher amounts.

Exceptions

Some debts are allowed to be garnished from Social Security Disability income, including:

  • Child support
  • Overdue or defaulted student loans
  • Back taxes
  • Other monies owed to the federal government

Similarly, child support and back taxes can be garnished from LTD payments. However, if you receive SSI, these benefits can’t be garnished for these reasons.

Houston’s Disability Attorney

If you need help with your SSDI, it helps to have an experienced disability law firm to answer your questions.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Texas VA Benefits Available for Dependents of Veterans

We told you last year about the benefits for veterans in Texas. But if you’re a veteran’s dependent, there are also available benefits available to you. Like veterans benefits, you may not realize that they are available, and how to qualify.

Texas VA Benefits Available for Dependents of Veterans

Benefits are available for dependents of veterans or surviving family members of deceased veterans. They are eligible through the veteran, not by themselves. Eligible family members are:

  • Spouse
  • Surviving Spouse
  • Child/children
  • Surviving child/children
  • Surviving parent(s)

A spouse must have a valid marriage with the veteran, including a “common law marriage,” which is a legal and valid marriage in Texas. The veteran may be required to provide a written statement attesting to the validity of the marriage. In some cases, a former spouse who has not remarried may also be eligible for benefits.

Children can be in or out of marriage, adopted, or a stepchild of the veteran, and under the age of 18. If they are over 18, they must be permanently disabled prior to 18. However, if a child under 18 joins the military or gets married, he or she will no longer be eligible for any benefits.

Property Exemptions

As we mentioned previously, veterans with a 100% rating can receive a waiver of all property taxes. Surviving spouses and children of veterans can receive a $5,000 property tax exemption, but you must apply for it.

There may be other tax breaks available, so it’s best to check with a qualified tax professional to find out what’s available in your area.

Education

The Hazelwood Act provides educational benefits for Texas veterans and their dependents. The act provides up to 150 hours of tuition exemption but doesn’t cover books, supply fees or living expenses. Under the Legacy Act, veterans can assign any unused hours of exemption to a qualified dependent child.

Spouses and children of veterans who:

  • Died in the line of duty
  • Died as a result of injuries or illness sustained through military service
  • Are missing in action
  • Became 100% disabled (for the purposes of employment) as a result of injuries from military service

Are also eligible for credit exemptions of 150 hours for higher education. There are specific qualifications for the Hazelwood Act, including a residency in Texas.

Two other scholarships are available for Texas veteran dependents:

  • The Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship (Fry Scholarship)
  • The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program

Beneficiaries must choose between these two. Once selected, it can’t be changed.

“Death Pension”

Surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime service may qualify for the VA’s death pension. This can help bring an eligible person or family’s income up to a level designated by law.

The spouse must not be remarried, and have children under 18, or under 23 if they are attending a VA approved school. The spouse may also qualify if the child became permanently unable to take care of themselves before the age of 18.

The veteran must have qualifying service as well as a discharge that’s other than dishonorable.

Should the surviving spouse be living in a nursing home, is permanently housebound, or need the assistance of another person, he or she may be entitled to a higher payment amount.

Burial Benefits

Veteran’s families may be eligible for burial benefits, including:

  • Burial expenses (reimbursement)
  • Military funeral honors
  • Headstones and markers from the VA
  • Burial flags
  • Internment in the VA’s national cemeteries or other cemeteries for veterans.

You can learn more about these available benefits by contacting the Texas Veteran Commission at: (877) 898-3833, or by email at education@tvc.texas.gov. TVC also publishes a guide to Texas veteran’s benefits that’s available online.

Additional information is available from TexVet.org.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, don’t face the VA alone. You do have the right to legal representation whether it’s a new application, a hearing, or filing an appeal.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Common Disabilities As A Result Of TBI

TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury, is also called “craniocerebral trauma.” It’s the result of a sharp blow, bump, or other sudden trauma to the head that disturbs the brain’s normal functioning. It can also occur when an object penetrates into the brain, such as a skull fragment or high-velocity object. A Traumatic Brain Injury can range from mild effects to severe, depending on the initial injury.

Common Disabilities As A Result Of  A Traumatic Brain Injury

The CDC reports that there were 2.87 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities related to TBI in 2014. Of those, 837,000 were children.

Falls are the leading cause of TBI, in over half of the cases. The second leading cause is being hit by or against an object. However, veterans can also suffer TBI as a result of their military service, such as exposure to IEDs (“improvised explosive devices.”)

Injuries from a TBI can range from a mild headache and concussion to a persistent vegetative state (coma.) Those who survive a TBI can develop disabilities as a result of the disruption of brain function. The brain injury can affect the way a person thinks, moves, and acts, and cause an individual to suffer a disability.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Occurring directly after an injury event, nearly 50% of TBI victims experience PCS, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Generally temporary, it usually means that the patient cannot work or take part in other normal daily activities until symptoms are managed with medication, psychotherapy, and physical therapy. Patients with PCS may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness/Vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Apathy and sadness

Communication Disability

With symptoms ranging from mild to severe, TBI patients frequently have issues with communications and language. Some may experience minor symptoms such as failing to understand nonverbal cues like body language. Others may have trouble speaking in complete sentences and recalling specific words, pausing more, and using broken sentences.

More serious symptoms include the inability to understand or create written or spoken words, or speech interruptions such as slurring or speaking nonsensically. The problem is also frustrating for the patient because they can no longer communicate with others. They aren’t aware that what they are saying is gibberish and don’t understand why the other person can’t understand them.

Cognitive Disability

This can occur from one strong injury, or repetitive mild injuries (i.e., boxers, fighters, and football players.) The primary issue is memory loss, remembering new things, and having trouble with remembering past events.

Longer-term symptoms include brain fog, problem-solving, logical and abstract reasoning, making appropriate judgments, and things like organizing a schedule. These can make everyday activities like working impossible. Fortunately, recovery from a cognitive disability is the greatest in the first six months after the injury.

Sensory Problems

Because the brain is the control center of the senses, a TBI disrupts the sensory input. This can include:

  • Vision problems, including double vision, a limited range of vision, or a lack of visual acuity
  • Changes in smell, hearing, taste, and touch, such as:
    • Tinnitus
    • The ability to taste only bitter
    • The ability to only smell foul odors
    • Skin itching or tingling
  • Hand-eye coordination issues, leading to dropping or bumping into objects, or an unsteady gait
  • Heightened or loss of sensation of different body parts
  • Neglect of the left or right side
  • Not understanding the location of limbs are in relation to the body

Although the patient sees, he or she cannot process the input from the eyes. They may not recognize people or objects. These difficulties can make everyday activities like driving a car impossible.

Psychiatric And Emotional Difficulties

Many TBI patients exhibit behavioral and emotional problems. Changes from a TBI can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other changes in moods. Depending on the severity of the TBI, patients can also exhibit:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Confusion
  • Frustration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggression
  • Violence/Combativeness
  • Compulsive behavior

While many patients can recover with medication and psychotherapy, some may not. They may eventually become child-like constantly, unable to function normally, leading to permanent disability.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your SSD or VA Disability Application

Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability or through the VA, Herren Law can tell you what you need and how to apply. If your claim is denied, we can also help you with an appeal.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

 

Social Security Disability Compassionate Allowances In Houston

Becoming ill with a serious illness can quickly become life-changing, especially if you are no longer able to work, or medically advised not to. Many types of illnesses that develop over time can suddenly show symptoms long before you realize something is wrong. At that point, it becomes obvious that you need to begin your application for disability.

Social Security is well-known for its long application and examination period for approval. Many applicants must go through the appeals process in order to be awarded benefits for disability. It may be months before you begin receiving benefit payments, depending on a number of factors.

Social Security Disability In Houston

However, if your illness is one of a series on a list for compassionate allowances, the waiting period may be considerably less.

The Compassionate Allowance

Social Security has a list of 200 conditions that will qualify you for benefits nearly immediately. Applicants who have one of these serious conditions can be processed faster, especially if they include medical documentation.

Indicating that you have one of these conditions is enough to move your application into the fast-tracked category. With a small amount of medical documentation, your award decision could come within days or weeks, not months or years.

Once you’ve established that you have one of these 200 conditions, you’ll be automatically qualified for disability benefits.

Review the list to see if you have an included condition. Not every serious illness is on the list, and some require a certain degree of progression before they are fast-tracked.

Conditions That Qualify

The list of included conditions contains illnesses such as:

  • ALS (Lou Gerig’s Disease)
  • Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Adult)
  • Inoperable breast and bladder cancers
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Kidney and liver cancers
  • Ovarian cancer (inoperable)
  • Peritoneal Mesothelioma
  • Transplants, such as kidney, lung, heart, and liver

These are just a few of the conditions on the agency’s list.

SSA has also added these new and rare conditions to the list for 2020:

  • Secondary Adenocarcinoma of the Brain
  • Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumors
  • Nicolaides-Baraister Syndrome
  • Rubinstein-Tybai Syndrome
  • GM1 Gangliosidosis – Infantile and Juvenile Forms

HIV/AIDS is not included on this list and is covered by a separate process called a Presumptive Disability.

Some conditions qualify as a “presumptive” disability and allow claimants to begin collecting disability benefit payments even before Social Security makes a determination.

While benefits may start within a shorter period of time, claimants still must wait 24 months after the date of onset to begin receiving Medicare.

The Key: Medical Evidence

As with any kind of disability application, you must show SSA that you at least have been diagnosed with a serious illness before being approved.

It’s not enough for you to tell Social Security that you have one of these illnesses. You’re required to prove it with solid medical evidence. Attaching test results and/or a written diagnosis to your application can also accelerate the process.

Because having a condition under Compassionate Allowances is a near-automatic qualification, examiners contact doctors and other providers directly, usually by phone. This cuts down the waiting time for the required information.

Once Social Security has sufficient medical information to prove that you have a qualifying disorder, benefits should start between a few weeks and two or three months, on average.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your Disability Claim

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Disability Cost Of Living Increases?

Receiving a disability benefit is intended to replace the income that you would otherwise receive from working. Much like a salary or an hourly wage, most people experience an increase as the cost of living rises.

Some benefits do receive cost-of-living increases due to inflation. Without it, there would be no protection from the effects of inflation, leaving recipients with a substantial decrease in purchasing power. This includes these programs from Social Security:

  • Old-Age
  • Survivors
  • Disability Insurance

They are collectively known as OASDI. Disability benefits also see an occasional small cost-of-living adjustment (also called COLA).

Disability Cost Of Living Increases?

Calculating The COLA

COLA increases are determined in two steps to establish if a COLA is warranted for the year.

First, The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Vital Statistics does a yearly assessment of the Consumer Price Index Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, known as CPI-W. This number represents the change in what people pay for goods and services over time.

The Social Security Administration reviews the third-quarter CPI-W rate (July, August, and September) from the year when recipients were last given a COLA increase. Social Security then compares that number to the current year’s third-quarter CPI-W. if there is an increase of at least .01% in the CPI-W, recipients begin receiving a COLA increase in the following January. If the number is less than .05%, or the CPI-W decreased, no COLA is given.

COLA is an automatic raise, so recipients don’t have to apply for or request anything.

The COLA for 2020 is 1.6% for both Social Security and SSI benefits. This translates to $12 for an individual and $18 for a couple where both are eligible.

The average increase for SSDI recipients averages about $20, but the total will ultimately depend on a person’s lifetime earnings.

 2021 COLA

The current planned COLA for 2021 is 1.3%, representing the recent lower rate of inflation. This will increase monthly checks by:

  • $20 per month for the average retired worker
  • $33 per month for the average retired married couple
  • $16 per month for the average disabled worker
  • $137 per month maximum for the person retiring at full retirement age

There are similar raises planned for individuals who receive SSI.

Emergency Social Security COLA for 2021 Act

Shortly after the COLA announcement, two lawmakers have proposed an emergency raise to 3% for recipients due to COVID-19. Co-sponsors Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, and Rep. John Larson, D-CT introduced House Bill 8598. If approved, it is intended to give recipients a 3% increase in monthly benefit to help offset the extra expenses due to COVID-19.

New Jersey congressmen Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew have introduced a similar bill (H.R. 8600, The COVID-19 Emergency Social Security Cost of Living Increase Act of 2020 ) that would not only raise the COLA for 2021 to 3%, but would guarantee that subsequent COLAs would be no less than 3%.

H.R.8600 would also change the formula for calculating the COLA from the current CPI-W to a “Senior CPI,” which takes into account the expenses that are more common to seniors.

Neither bill has any additional action since its introduction into the House.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your Disability Claim

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

 

Mental Disorders and Social Security Disability in Houston, TX

Mental illness and disorders can mean a range of symptoms as well as one or more types of conditions. Mental disorders don’t have visible symptoms like an injury and aren’t easily diagnosed like cancer or heart conditions. Therefore, it’s much more difficult to diagnose and prove.

Mental Disorders and Social Security Disability in Houston, TX

 

Social Security does recognize mental disorders as a disability. Nearly nine million individuals receive Social Security Disability in the US, and an estimated 32% are receiving disability for mental disorders. However, the burden of proof can be more complex than it is for physical conditions.

Types Of Disorders

Social Security has a list of mental conditions for which they will award disability benefits in their “blue book.” Divided by sections, the listing includes:

  • Neurocognitive disorders (02)
  • Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders (03)
  • Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders (04)
  • Intellectual disorder (05)
  • Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (06)
  • Somatic symptom and related disorders (07)
  • Personality and impulse-control disorders (08)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (10)
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (11)
  • Eating disorders (13)
  • Trauma- and stressor-related disorders, such as PTSD (15)

Some conditions may not exactly meet the criteria of Social Security’s definitions. However, if you can prove that your condition prohibits you from doing even a simple and unskillful job due to brain-related disorders, psychiatric or emotional problems, you may still be able to receive benefits for disability.

What It Takes To Get Benefits

Applying for Social Security Disability can feel like a major undertaking, and it can be. But it’s important to ensure that your application is complete so that your chances of approval are better.

In addition to filling out your application, you’ll need to include:

  • Your diagnosis and the reason(s) why you can’t work
  • Complete medical records
  • Names and contact information of your healthcare providers:
    • Doctors
    • Hospitals
  • List of upcoming medical appointments
  • Treatment plans you have been prescribed and following

Social Security will investigate everything they have been given, so it’s important to ensure that the information is accurate and complete.

Why Applications Are Denied

Some of the primary reasons for denial include:

  • Not enough medical evidence
  • The previous denial—if you’ve been denied before, file an appeal on that case rather than starting over.
  • An incomplete or improperly filled out application
  • Income—you can’t earn a considerable amount of money
  • Not getting and following medical treatment
  • Not cooperating with SS caseworkers while your claim is being worked

One estimate indicates that a full 70% of SSD applications are denied on the first try, but it’s important not to give up. Social Security has an extensive system of appeals with detailed guidelines that you can use to increase your chances of approval.

If the application or appeals process is more than you can handle, consider speaking with an experienced disability attorney in Houston. Having an attorney help you through the process can make it easier and increase your chance of winning your claim and receiving the disability benefits you need.

Need Help With Your SSD Application Or Appeal? Call Herren Law Today

Mental illness is particularly difficult, especially when it impacts your life. If you’re unable to work because of a mental disorder, let us help you with your application for Social Security Disability. We can tell you what you need and how to go about applying. If your claim is denied, we can also help you with an appeal.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Important Facts about the Toxic Exposure and American Military Act of 2020 (TEAM Act)

Military veterans have long had to deal with illnesses and injuries as a result of their military service. From soreness and rashes to the most serious illnesses, veterans have long had difficulty in getting help and benefits from the VA to help them.

Important facts about the Toxic Exposure and American Military Act of 2020 (TEAM Act)

Most recently, veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have had difficulty after toxic exposure to burn pits in those countries. They were used to burn all manner of trash, including medical and human waste, Styrofoam from food service, batteries, un-serviceable clothing, computer equipment, and jet engines. The open pits burned continuously near living quarters. Many service members breathed these toxic substances daily, leading to chronic respiratory and other illnesses, including rare cancers.

For veterans dealing with these illnesses—and the rejection that comes with it—there may be some help coming from Congress.

The TEAM Act Of 2020

The TEAM Act of 2020 Toxic Exposure in the American Military Act of 2020 was introduced on 10/2/2020 by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

The bill currently has five sponsors:

  • Representative Gus Bilirakis, R-FL
  • Representative David Roe, R-TN
  • Representative Brad Wenstrup, R-OH
  • Representative Mike Bost, R-IL
  • Representative Brian Mast, R-FL

Tillis, whose home state of North Carolina has a considerable number of military bases and veterans, said in a statement:

“After working alongside veterans who were stationed Camp Lejeune and fighting for service members exposed to toxicants from burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s clear the men and women who served our country deserve better. The bipartisan TEAM Act ensures that all veterans are given a fair and uniform process to receive the health care and benefits to which they are entitled following exposure to toxicants during their service.”

Improvements

The TEAM Act would require the VA to draft and create a specialized questionnaire for primary care appointments that would help them determine if a veteran experienced service-connected toxic exposure. It would also expand training for VA employees on the issue of toxic exposures during military service.

The VA would also be required to respond to updated scientific findings related to illnesses that develop from toxic exposures in the veteran population. Additionally, the VA would also be required to establish a commission to research these effects on veterans and follow up with reports to the VA and Congress.

The VA would also be required to enter into agreements with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in order to conduct further research into toxic exposures.

The TEAM Act also requires an online portal for veterans to access their Longitudinal Exposure Record. This would help veterans understand the risks of exposure. Currently, they can only access this through a request through the Freedom of Information Act. Currently, an estimated 25% of veterans who are post-911 are eligible for or choose to use the VA for their healthcare. The bill is also intended to address that population.

Burn Pit Resources

Veterans who have found themselves exposed to toxic exposures from burn pits currently face an uphill battle. However, they are not without support.

BurnPits360 is a nonprofit advocacy group created in response to the VA’s inadequate response to veterans who face multiple illnesses due to burning pits in Afghanistan and Iraq. The crux of this group is an independent and voluntary registry of veterans who have died from toxic exposure.

Survivors of these veterans can record their names in the registry. Veterans who have suffered from denial of care can also register. The data collected from the registry is shared with medical institutions and independent researchers to investigate and track illnesses, recoveries, and deaths.

BurnPits360 also has a page for support and resources as well as tools for taking action.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, don’t try to face the VA alone. You do have the right to legal representation whether you’re starting your application, facing a hearing, or dealing with an appeal.

Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

 

What Are Some “Bad Faith Insurance Claims Practices” That Might Occur In Houston?

You got long-term health insurance for a reason. Whether you bought the policy on your own, or you acquired it through your employer, the idea was to have some financial protection in place should you become unable to work. Despite paying premiums, providing documentation, and answering all their questions, you still don’t have what you need, and what you were assured you would have.

What Are Some "Bad Faith Insurance Claims Practices" That Might Occur In Houston?

If you’ve ever had the experience of an insurance company that treated you well while you were making payments, but changed significantly when you filed a claim, you’re not alone. Whether it’s auto insurance, life insurance, or long-term disability, bad faith practices are universal.

How Bad Faith Is Used

The term “bad faith” refers to any insurer’s tactics that back down on its obligation to customers when one files a claim against their policy. This can take the term of stalling, or taking a very long time to process a policyholder’s claim, or outright denying their claim. Both are intended to avoid paying legitimate claims to a policyholder who has faithfully paid premiums according to the policy’s terms.

You may not realize at first that your insurer is actively working to deny your claim. Over time, you may start to wonder what’s going on, especially when you begin looking for answers and have none.

How They Do It

Common bad faith practices by insurance companies include:

  • Failing to acknowledge the receipt of a claim
  • Delaying action without an explanation
  • Requesting unnecessary or excess documentation, then claiming “failure to submit” as a reason to deny the claim.
  • Misrepresent a policy’s language to avoid paying a claim
  • Delay or failure to investigate your claim
  • Fail to disclose a policy’s exclusions and limitations to a policyholder before purchase,
  • Make unreasonable demands of the policyholder to prove that their loss was covered under the terms of their policy.
  • Failing or refusing to explain why a claim was denied
  • Withholding important claim information
  • Attempting to settle a case for less than a fair amount
  • Inappropriate premium increases
  • Advising a policyholder not to hire an attorney

These are just some of the ways an insurance company might attempt to dissuade you from making a claim or encourage you to give up.

What Texas Law Says

Should you discover that your LTD insurer is engaging in bad faith tactics, you do have the law on your side.

All insurance policies and contracts in the state of Texas include the implied covenant of good faith. That is, the insurance company is required to treat you fairly and honestly, even if it isn’t included and written into the policy. If the insurer fails to abide by this covenant, they have committed “bad faith,” and can be sued once you’ve gathered adequate proof.

Both Chapters 541 and 542 of the Texas Insurance Code disallow insurance companies from “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance.”  If you sue your insurer and win, you could possibly collect as much as three times the amount of your actual damages.

For help with a bad faith LTD insurer, it’s important to work with an attorney who understands disability cases and how to turn them in your favor.

Has Your LTD Insurance Company Shown You “Bad Faith?” Call Herren Law

The last thing you need when you’re applying for long-term disability is an insurance company playing games. “Bad faith” can take many forms, leading to one thing—not paying you. Don’t give up. We can help you fight back.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians have received their LTD benefits. The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals and help you through the process, and give you one less thing to worry about. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees.  We only collect if we win your case.