Can I Claim Disability Benefits For Hearing Loss In Houston, TX?

Most people think that losing your hearing part of “getting older.” But it can happen to anyone at any age for different reasons. Age-related hearing loss comes from the gradual loss of hair cells in the inner-ear.

While some individuals are born deaf, hearing loss happens with certain medical conditions, such as Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disorder. Musician Huey Lewis suddenly found himself unable to hear onstage in 2018, and was diagnosed with possible Meniere’s disease. As a result of his inability to hear during concerts, Huey Lewis and The News canceled their tour schedule.

Can I Claim Disability Benefits For Hearing Loss In Houston, TX?

 

Causes Of Hearing Loss

Meniere’s Disease is just one of a number of possible causes for hearing loss. Other causes include:

  • On-the-job exposure to loud noises, or other exposures to sudden loud noises (power tools, etc.)
  • Tinnitus, ringing in the ears after loud noises (especially loud concerts)
  • Loud music with earphones or earbuds
  • Injuries, such as severe head trauma
  • Childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps, meningitis and chickenpox
  • Abrupt pressure changes from activities like flying or diving
  • Certain medications, such as antibiotics and cancer drugs
  • Chronic disease, such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and some autoimmune diseases
  • Growths and/or tumor in the ear system
  • Ear wax buildup

If hearing loss prevents you from full-time work, or you are disabled and can no longer work, it may be time to apply for disability.

Qualifying For Disability With Hearing Loss

Like any other type of disability, you will have to meet the qualifications for disability with hearing loss. In this case, you’ll have to verify your hearing loss to medically qualify for benefits.

Although it’s covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you’ll still have to prove that your condition is serious enough that reasonable accommodations by your employer are not enough to enable you to continue working in any job that you might be qualified for. You’ll need to document the essential functions of your job, previous jobs, and how hearing loss prevents you from performing your job even with reasonable accommodations available.

SSA will also require you to have hearing testing using the “Blue Book” disability listing, conducted by an otolaryngologist or an audiologist certified by The American Board of Audiology or The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The testing must be done without any hearing appliances, such as hearing aids.

Inform your doctor that you will be applying for disability benefits for hearing loss, and request that he or she review the Blue Book requirements beforehand so your tests are conducted according to SSA’s rules.

First the doctor must conduct a physical exam of your ears, including the internal and external ear, middle ear and the tympanic membranes.

Secondary testing includes:

  • Pure tone and bone conduction audiometry—an average hearing threshold of 60 to 90 decibels or greater in the better ear, dependent upon the testing method, or
  • Word recognition test—a score of 40% or lower in the better ear

If you have hearing loss with a cochlear implant, you will automatically qualify medically for disability benefits for hearing loss at least one year after surgery. If your word recognition score is still 60% or below on a “hearing in noise” test more than one year after the surgery, your benefits will be extended until your hearing improves, if it does.

Translations: Communicating With SSA

If you need an interpreter to properly communicate with SSA, ask for one. SSA will provide a free sign language interpreter for anyone who needs help communicating with them. An interpreter will ensure that the applicant will have an accurate and complete translation of all related communications between them and SSA. Sign language interpreters are bound by confidentiality rules, and cannot repeat what they translated. This offers the same privacy as a person who can hear. A hearing-impaired person won’t have to rely on family members, or be embarrassed trying to communicate with a case worker because they can’t hear or understand the questions.

Let Herren Law Help With Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss

You may be able to collect disability after severe hearing loss, but you won’t know unless you apply. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

How To Increase Your Odds Of Being Awarded Social Security Disability Benefits On Your First Try

Many people are denied when they first apply for Houston Social Security disability benefits. In fact, over 65% are denied on their first application, meaning less than 40% of applicants are approved. So what’s the difference?

Houston Social Security Disability Benefits

The Application Process

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t SSA’s policy to delay and deny claims the first time around. One of the biggest reasons for an initial denial is an incomplete application form.

You’ll start with the application, and go from there. The Social Security Administration has a printable checklist on its website, along with instructions to complete it. You can download, print, and use this checklist to complete your initial application. If you meet certain conditions, you may be able to complete your application online, without visiting your Social Security office.

Your eligibility assessment is also assessed on your previous work history.

It’s important to have all of the requested information as well as medical information. If you haven’t been under the care of a physician, you may have a more difficult time proving a medical disability. You would need a very good reason, such as not having medical insurance or not being able to afford any, but you still have a very high chance of denial.

Ways To Increase Your Odds Of Approval

  1. File Your Claim Immediately. Getting approved for benefits can be a very long process, and if you wait, your disability insurance may expire. You will have to have worked five of the last ten years to be eligible, and waiting to apply may be too late.
  2. Get Help With Your Application If You Need It. Mistakes and missing information are the main reasons applications are denied. Contact a disability attorney, a family member, or someone from a Social Security field office for help.
  3. Find A Disability Attorney If You Have To Appeal. An attorney who specializes in disability work will know what to do and how to do it, and make sure you’ve done everything correctly by the deadline. More applicants win on appeal with an attorney than without.
  4. Keep Up With Doctor Visits And Medical Treatment. If your disability requires medical treatment, keep up with every appointment, test, prescription and doctor visit. Failing to seek medical treatment for your condition will lead SSA to believe that your condition is not serious enough to warrant disability. SSA believes you should be seen by a “provider” every two months. If you’ve lost your health insurance, using local “free clinics” or other available care may satisfy the requirement. You should also keep up with prescribed medications.
  5. Request An RFC Form From Your Physician. The Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form is used by examiners to determine your functional ability with your medical condition. These forms are needed to close out a case, and are usually completed by a DDS physician or psychologist. If your treating physician completes it, the claims examiner may use it to create an internal RFC for your case.
  6. Use A Businesslike Demeanor With Everyone You Deal With. In other words, be nice, or it could make your journey a lot more difficult. Caseworkers deal with hundreds of individuals every day in the same situation, and losing your temper or being rude can lead to even more delays in your case. No matter what the situation, be polite and cordial no matter what the situation to maintain good relations and communications.
  7. Contact Your Local SSA Office or Office of Disability Determination Services to check on your case’s status. Don’t make the mistake of calling SSA’s toll-free number, where they don’t have the most current information. Contact the office where you made your application, or the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review if a hearing has been requested.

Why Are More Applicants Approved On Appeal?

It’s a little odd, but true. Administrative hearings may take a year or more to be scheduled. A individual’s disability progresses in that time, increasing his or her inability to work. When appearing in front of an administrative judge, he or she will see you face-to-face and determine disability on sight, rather than on paper. If it’s obvious from seeing you that you’re unable to work, as it is in a hearing, your chances of approval increase as well.

Of the applicants that file an appeal, 60% who hire a disability attorney are approved, compared to the 34% who don’t have legal counsel. A disability attorney who is experienced with Social Security disability claims is familiar with the application and appeals process, and can guide you through it.

Houston Social Security Disability Benefits Attorney

Getting disability is a long process, but we can make it easier. We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians win their claims and get the benefits they need. We have the experience to help you with your Social Security application and/or appeals process.  The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application and any necessary appeals. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and no up-front fees.  We only collect if we win your case.

Hiring a Houston Attorney for Aetna Disability Claims

Hiring an attorney is more than getting legal counsel—it’s about finding an advocate for yourself in a difficult situation. Whether it’s an accident, a divorce, or a disability claim, an attorney works with you to get through the process, protect your interests and your rights.

Aetna Disability Claims attorney Houston

You may have purchased an Aetna policy through your employer; many policyholders do. But most people don’t have the resources to fight a large, multinational company with a team of attorneys on its side without some help of their own. The company may deny your Aetna disability claims outright, hoping you’ll give up and go away. If you’re having trouble with a short-term or long-term disability claim through Aetna, an attorney will make sure that your application and claim are done correctly.

Bad Faith Practices

Despite the advertisements, insurance companies are in business to make money. Paying claims is not conducive to being profitable, so claims adjusters are eager to deny claims. This is known as “bad faith insurance practices.” They can include:

  • Denying valid claims and refusing to explain why
  • Underpaying or delaying a claim
  • Misrepresenting facts or provisions of a policy
  • Refusing settlement for a valid claim

The “Paper Review”

If you’ve received a determination that you are able to go back to work, and your benefits have been terminated, it may be due to a “medical review” by one of Aetna’s doctors. The review is simply an “examination” based on paperwork, and no physical examination by a company doctor. The company uses a “paper review” of a client’s files, and makes a decision about their Aetna disability claim from there.

Because Aetna’s physicians conduct this “paper review,” there is a conflict of interest. This is especially obvious in Mendez v. FedEx Express and Aetna, a case where Aetna blatantly denied a client benefits even after he received SSDI benefits and Aetna began offsetting his Long Term Disability benefits as the policy dictates. At no time did any of the physicians actually meet with the plaintiff in person, and disregarded complaints of severe pain and disablement noted by his own treating physicians. Two physicians decided based on his file that he could work 25 hours a week or more, without consulting with the plaintiff’s own treating physicians. The court found in favor of Mr. Mendez.

This is just one of many cases where Aetna (and companies like them) work to deny your benefits.

How An Aetna Disability Claims Attorney Can Help

If you’ve been scrambling through Aetna’s hoops trying to make sure you meet their deadlines and answer all their questions, only to be denied, you’re already at a disadvantage. You have 180 days to appeal the denial, so the time to contact an attorney is now. If you miss the 180-day deadline, you’ll lose your rights under the claim and may have to re-file. Contact an attorney who works with Aetna disability claims immediately.

How much might this cost? An Aetna disability claims attorney generally receives about 25% of any back pay you receive, up to $6,000. You won’t owe any money until we win your case.

If you didn’t have legal help with your original disability application, don’t leave things to chance. The process can take many months, and in some cases, years. Get started now.

Herren Law Fights Aetna For Your Benefits

Let us help you with your Aetna disability claims appeal and help you get the benefits you deserve. Request a copy of your claim file from Aetna, and bring it with your denial letter to Herren Law to begin your appeal right away.

We’ve worked with Aetna customers before, and are ready to help you with your claim. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

Where Can I Get Assistance Filing A Veterans Disability Claim In Houston, TX?

Filing a Veterans disability claim is often a difficult process that can be extremely frustrating and irritating. If you’ve had about enough of the VA and their endless forms and phone calls, you may realize that it’s time to ask for help. But where?

Veterans don’t have to feel helpless against the VA. Help is available, all you have to do is reach out for it. Here’s a list of some of the places you can contact for help filing a Houston Veterans disability claim.

Filing A Houston Veterans Disability Claim

TexVet.Org

This online referral service is run by Texas A&M, and is a state program for veterans, their families, and the groups that serve them, offering verified information and referral resources.

County Veterans Officers

There are two of these officers in the Houston area. The Veterans County Service Officer Association of Texas’ website here, with additional information. The VCSOAT is a 501c19 non-profit organization.

The Texas Veterans Commission

This Austin-based state agency was created in 1927 to be an advocate for veterans throughout the Lone Star State, to assist them in getting the benefits they’ve earned. Their focus is on nine programs:

  • Claims Representation and Counseling
  • Veterans Employment Services
  • Veterans Education
  • Communications and Veterans Outreach
  • Veteran Entrepreneur Program
  • Health Care Advocacy
  • Veterans Mental Health Program
  • Women Veterans Program
  • The Fund for Veterans’ Assistance

TVC has counselors available statewide to help with claims, appeals, and resources available, with a women’s veteran program available.

AMVETS

This nationwide organization offers veterans free help with claims, even if you’re not a paying member. There are two Houston-area posts, one northeast of the city in Rye, TX, with two points of contact, and additional posts throughout the state. AMVETS offers free assistance for filing Veterans disability claims, veteran healthcare advocates, career assistance and other related services through their National Service Department with a series of National Service Officers.

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV)/DAV Of Texas

If you live in Houston, there are a number of available services to help you file a Veterans disability claim. But what if you live in the outer environs, and can’t get to the VA Medical Center or someplace else?

Headquartered in Lufkin with additional locations in Houston, San Antonio and Waco, the DAV has help available from DAV National Service Officers throughout the Lone Star State. The DAV also has Mobile Service Offices (MSO) that travel to the smaller towns and rural areas for veterans that don’t live in town. These services are provided free of charge to disabled veterans and their families to help them access to benefits and services. Information seminars, outreach programs, employment assistance and other resources (including for homeless veterans) are available upon request, free of charge.

The Wounded Warrior Project

Founded in 2003, WWP was created to serve injured veterans who became injured after September 11, 2001. With an office located in Clear Lake, WWP is both a non-profit and a VA-accredited agency that can help you with both the VA and the DoD to get benefits and services you need. Team members work with veterans to make sure their claims are filed correctly, and through the process. You can also call their Resource Center at 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586), 904.405.1213, or email at resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org. WWP also offers health and wellness programs, family support, employment assistance and other programs to wounded veterans.

A Veterans Disability Attorney

With all the free help that’s available to veterans, you may not think hiring an attorney is necessary. But if your Veterans disability claim is denied, finding a veterans disability attorney who understands the process can make sure your application and any appeals are handled correctly, and according to the VA’s rules and regulations.

Organizations that work with veterans may be over-worked and understaffed. They may not be able to help with appeals. An attorney who specializes in VA cases is able to take the time to work with you and make sure everything is done properly. You can also speak with your attorney (or a member of staff) when you call to ask about your case.

The best reason to hire an attorney: both the VA and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) treat an application differently when the veteran is represented by an attorney, increasing your chances for approval or winning on appeal.

Helping Houston’s Veterans

William Herren is a Veterans’ disability attorney who has worked with veterans in the Houston area for more than 20 years to help them get the benefits they deserve. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. We don’t charge you a fee until we win your case.

Is Diabetes A Veterans Disability in Houston?

Diabetes is prevalent among veterans, who make up nine percent of the general population. Twenty-five percent of VA hospital patients suffer from varying degrees of diabetes, and many are unable to work because of it. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputation and end-stage renal disease for most VA patients.

Is Diabetes A Veterans Disability in Houston?

You can apply for disability on the basis of diabetes if it’s service related, and the degree of your disability will depend on the seriousness of your case. The biggest hurdle is establishing the connection between the onset of diabetes and your military service.

Symptoms of diabetes can include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Weight loss

If you’ve been diagnosed, you should also have your hemoglobin A1C levels checked every three to six months. This test measures blood glucose levels of the previous two to three months.

Two complications from diabetes that affect your ratings are hypoglycemic reactions and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA.)

In the first, blood glucose levels run very low, frequently as a result of diabetes medication. DKA is a result of a buildup of acids in the blood, and can also be a result of medications. However, occasional episodes of either of these conditions don’t affect your ratings. Frequent hospital visits and diabetes care appointments that indicate severe diabetes that could have an effect on your rating.

Is It Service Connected?

If you served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, either in the country or on a ship that was in the waters, the VA presumes a service connection. That’s because many veterans who served in Vietnam during this time period were exposed to Agent Orange, a powerful chemical herbicide used to destroy thick jungle foliage. One of the well-documented side effects of Agent Orange exposure is Type 2 Diabetes (also called diabetes mellitus). Because of this causation, Vietnam veterans do not have to prove a service connection.

Outside of the time frame, you will have to establish and prove a distinct connection to your time in the service.

Demonstrating Service-Related Diabetes

Whether you have medical records from the military and/or VA stating this connection, or you’ve since had a diagnosis from a private physician, you must show a documented link.

You’ll need to gather medical evidence in order to show a service connection. These can be medical records from the military, from the VA, or from a private doctor post-discharge.

You’ll need to get a copy of your C-file from the VA and review your records for references to diabetes, pre-diabetes and related symptoms. You should review both your VA and military medical records. You will also need all private, post-military medical records. You’ll use these to show a chain of events that led to diabetes.

Should your diagnosis be within one year of discharge to a compensable degree (at least 10%), it will be presumed to be service-related.

Ratings For Diabetes

The VA rates your condition according to its severity 38 CFR 4.119, Diagnostic Code 7913. Factors such as how much the condition limits your daily activity (such as working) determine your rating. More severe cases and conditions bring higher ratings.

Your monthly compensation will ultimately depend on your combined rating, which could include other conditions. When the VA approves your disability claim, you’ll receive a rating based on the evidence you provided.

As of December 2018, the following is the VA’s schedule of disability benefits:

  • 10 percent rating for disability: $140.05 monthly
  • 20 percent rating for disability: $276.84 monthly
  • 40 percent rating for disability: $617.73 monthly
  • 60 percent rating for disability: $1,113.86 monthly
  • 100 percent rating for disability: $3,057.13 monthly

Helping Houston’s Veterans

Diabetes causes a number of problems, and in some cases, cause you to be disabled.  William Herren is a veterans’ disability attorney who has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get their benefits. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You won’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Is Long Term Disability Income Taxable in Houston TX?

One of the things you’ll deal with as you begin receiving long term disability income is the difference when you file your tax return. Is it considered taxable income, or not? You may have heard conflicting or confusing advice on the subject. The basic answer is, it depends. We’ll explain the difference.

Is Long Term Disability Income Taxable in Houston TX?

How Did You Pay Your Premiums?

You may have paid your premiums out of your paycheck, separately from your employer, or your employer may have paid it. Or you may have paid part of the premiums, while your employer paid the rest of it. How the premiums were paid makes a big difference.

If you have an individual policy and used after-tax dollars to pay for your LTD premiums, you’ve already paid taxes on the money, so your long term disability income payments are tax-free. However, you can’t deduct the payments as a medical expense like you would with health insurance.

Using pre-tax dollars to pay your individual LTD premiums reduces your taxable income until you begin receiving payments. Once you do, your LTD payment becomes a “taxable income,” because you saved taxes earlier. Therefore, you’ll have to pay taxes on the payments.

If you purchase a group policy through an association, the policies are similar to individual policies, but you can’t deduct the premiums. The tax ramifications are generally the same as the individual policies, and the benefits are tax-free.

Employer-Sponsored/Paid Premiums

The rules are a little different when you are under an employer-paid policy.

When your employer pays all of your premiums but doesn’t include it in your gross income, your long term disability income payments will be taxable.

If you pay part of your premiums, the tax liability will be shared. The same rules apply for pre-tax and after-tax dollars for the portion that you pay for yourself.

If your employer offers a so-called “cafeteria plan,” where you can choose disability as well as other insurance benefits, they’re normally paid on a pre-tax basis. In some cases, the employer for some benefits up to a certain limit. After that, you pay for additional benefits you choose over and above the set limit. These additional benefits can be paid pre-tax or after-tax.

Should you chose to pay with after-tax dollars, that part of your income will be considered tax-free, but you will be taxed on the employer-paid portion. If you pay with pre-tax dollars, you’ll be taxed on both your portion and the employer-paid portion.

Should You Use Pre-Tax Or After-Tax Dollars?

There are benefits to both methods. One way or the other, you still pay taxes on LTD income.

If you never need to file an LTD claim for benefits, you’ll save money on taxes by paying with pre-tax dollars. But if there’s a chance you’ll be filing a claim for disability, you may be better off using after-tax dollars. You’ve already paid taxes on the money you used, so your benefits will be tax-free.

How you pay for your LTD policy is a personal decision. The IRS offers some information on its website. Discussing your options with a tax professional can help you decide which method is right for you.

Your Houston Long Term Disability Attorney

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians have received their LTD benefits. Need help? 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.

As A Veteran That Was Exposed To Agent Orange Can I Qualify For Long Term Disability In Houston, TX?

If you’re one of the many veterans who was exposed to Agent Orange during military service, you may have also experienced chronic health problems. Skin rashes, chronic pain, Type 2 Diabetes, respiratory issues, and peripheral neuropathy are just some of the identified disorders that are known side effects of Agent Orange and other powerful herbicides deployed during the Vietnam War.

As A Veteran That Was Exposed To Agent Orange Can I Qualify For Long Term Disability In Houston, TX?

The VA presumes that an individual who Veterans who served anywhere in Vietnam from 01/09/1962 to 05/07/1975 are presumed to be exposed to these harsh chemicals.

Were You Exposed?

The VA lists on its website where exposure could have occurred during your service tenure. You’re presumed to have exposure if you served:

  • On C-123 Airplanes, between 1/9/1962 and 05/07/1975
  • On Thailand Military Bases, between 01/09/1962 and 05/07/1975
  • In Vietnam or Korea, between 01/09/1962 and 05/07/1975
  • Outside of Vietnam or Korea, between 01/09/1962 and 05/07/1975
  • In Testing and Storage Areas Outside of Vietnam, between 1944 and a yet-to-be-determined date
  • On U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Ships in Vietnam, between 01/09/1962 and 05/07/1975
  • In waters in or near Vietnam, between 01/09/1962 and 05/07/1975

Long Term Disability

You may have already applied to the VA for benefits due to AO exposure. But if you’re now working in a civilian occupation and are having issues with a service-related medical condition, long-term disability may be a possibility.

If you are facing disability, the first thing to do is request and review your LTD policy. Your coverage specifically depends on what your policy says. Some policies may specifically exclude military service-connected conditions, or call them “injuries or illnesses sustained due to an act of war.” It’s important to know before applying if your policy will cover you or not. Illnesses after AO exposure may also be considered “pre-existing conditions,” excluding them from LTD.

But if your service-related exposure did not manifest, such as cancer, until long after your service career ended, you may need a re-evaluation by a medical professional. Many conditions may occur during the service, but don’t exhibit symptoms until much later, interfering with your ability to work now.

You should also find out if your LTD policy contains an “offset” clause. That is, if you are receiving VA benefits for a disability related to AO exposure, your insurance company may reduce your LTD payments by the amount you receive from the VA or other sources (such as SSDI.)

You should also anticipate that your insurance company will work hard to deny your claim any way it can. This is where an experienced disability attorney can help defend you against an insurance company’s “bad faith” actions.

Resources For AO Veterans

The website for the Vietnam Veterans Of America offers information and resources for veterans, including an entire section on Agent Orange. Included are brochures on veterans health, including a self-help guide to Agent Orange exposure.

The VA also offers additional information about Agent Orange exposure on its website.

We Help Houston Veterans

Long-term disability can be a difficult process. William Herren is a disability attorney who has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve, including veterans. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

What If My Application For Disability Benefits In Houston, TX Is Denied? Can I Appeal The Decision?

You’ve gathered all your medical records and filled out all the forms that were required. But after carefully preparing your application and sending it in on time, you were still denied. What do you do now?

The truth is, more than half the people who apply for benefits are denied the first time they apply. You have the right to an appeal within 60 days, so use it. Don’t assume that a denial is the end of everything, or worse, re-apply without legal help from a disability lawyer.

What If My Application For Disability Benefits In Houston, TX Is Denied? Can I Appeal The Decision?

The Process Of Appeals

Many people assume that a denial is the end of their application and either give up entirely or re-apply. Both are incorrect, and you will lose valuable time and your appeal rights in both scenarios.

There are four steps to the appeals process in Texas, and they have to be done in order.

  • Request for Reconsideration—this involves turning in your same paperwork to another SSA representative for review. You can also include additional information that was omitted from your original application. About one out of six people who request reconsideration are approved at this stage.
  • The Disability Hearing—you’ll go in front of an administrative law judge who will hear your case and decide if you are qualified for disability. Expert witnesses, such as a medical expert to discuss your condition and a vocational expert that can advise on what kind of work you may be qualified to perform. However, you are allowed to bring witnesses as well as present any new evidence that has come to light since your application or last denial.
  • ·The Appeals Council—if the judge denies your request, you can bring your case to the next level. This council consists of administrative law judges that were not involved with your case previously. These judges won’t consider any new evidence, however, they will make sure that the previous judge followed proper laws and procedure in deciding your case.

These judges can either agree with the original judge’s findings or overturn the decision and award your disability benefits. They can also send the case back to the prior administrative law judge with comments about any mistakes made in the case.

  • Federal Court Review—this is where you’ll file a lawsuit if you disagree with the decisions of the previous courts.

Why You Need A Disability Attorney

Just applying for disability is complicated and confusing. Going through the process of appeals is even more complicated as well as challenging. Finding an attorney who understands the process and knows what to do will make the process much easier, and increase your chances of winning on appeal.

Call Us For Help With Your Disability Appeal

If you didn’t have legal help with your disability application, don’t leave things to chance. The process can take many months, and in some cases, years. Don’t give up.  Let us help you with your appeal and increase your chances of winning.

We’re experienced in handling all types of disability claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

How Do They Decide If I’m Totally Disabled Or Partially Disabled In Houston, TX?

If you’re unable to work due to a disability, “hurry up and wait” is probably a term you’ve heard at least once. Determining disability can be confusing. Are you completely disabled, or only partly disabled? There are a number of questions to answer before you receive an answer.

How Do They Decide If I'm Totally Disabled Or Partially Disabled In Houston, TX?

Qualifying For Disability

In order to receive Social Security disability, you must have worked long enough and recent enough to earn work credits, up to four per year. Once you’ve earned $5,290, you’ve earned the four towards your total of credits.
Social Security only pays for total disability, not partial. You are considered disabled if:

• You cannot do the same work you did before
• You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
• Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or will result in death

How Disabled Are You?

This question is answered by Social Security’s five-step process that determines how much work you can do, as well as if and when you can be expected to return to work. There are a number of things that are considered the process.
Social Security will ask about your education and work experience. They will also ask about your current job—how did you do it? Can you still do some of it? Can you adjust to doing a previous job, or change professions to perform a new vocation?

One way to determine your abilities is to review your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC.) With the help of their Listing Of Impairments, SS will determine what abilities you have in spite of the conditions of your disability (standing, sitting, interacting, taking directions, etc.)

The determining questions asked involve:

• If you are currently working, and if you earn more than $1,180 per month
• If your condition severely limits your basic work abilities for more than 12 months (lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering)
• If your condition is found in the List Of Medical Conditions that are severe enough to prevent you from doing “substantial gainful activity”
• If your medical condition or impairment prevents you from doing the work you did previously
• If you can do any other type of work. Your age, education, medical condition, experience, transferable skills, and other factors are taken into consideration

One determining factor is whether or not you can do “light or sedentary work.” If you are under age 50 and can do light, sedentary work, you will not be considered “disabled.” However, if you are over the age of 55 with an RFC of “light or sedentary work” and don’t have transferable skills, you will likely be granted disability under the medical-vocational allowance. However, if you can do light work, the SSA will assume that you can learn and perform a new job or vocation.

Need Help With A Disability Claim?

If you’re assembling your application, you may be overwhelmed. There are numerous forms to fill out, doctor visits and conversations to handle correctly. One wrong item can sink your claim.

Let us help. We’re experienced in handling all types of disability claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

How Often Do I Have To Prove That I’m Disabled To Receive Benefits In Houston, TX?

Getting a determination of disability isn’t the end of your journey. Once you’re declared disabled, you’ll be subject to periodic reviews, depending on your condition. But reviews are part of the process and part of continuing to receive disability payments.

How Often Do I Have To Prove That I'm Disabled To Receive Benefits In Houston, TX?

What Type Of Disability Do You Have?

When you’re approved for disability, your caseworker will set dates for future disability reviews. Generally, these reviews are every three to seven years. However, it also depends on the severity of your disability.

There are three categories of disability conditions:

·         Medical Improvement Expected—if your disability is one that you’ll recover from, you can expect to have a review within six to eighteen months of your original determination

·         Medical Improvement Possible—for conditions from which you are reasonably expected to improve (such as mental illness), reviews are generally conducted every three years

·         Medical Improvement Not Expected—if you’re rated for a condition for which a recovery is not expected, reviews are conducted about every seven years. These conditions can include:

  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Deafness
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Some Cancers
  • Cerebral palsy

Children who receive SSI will have a review every 3 years. Children approved for low birth weight will be reviewed around their first birthday, and all children will be reviewed at the age of 18 regardless of what type of disability they have.

Navigating the CDR

Social Security is required by law to perform periodic reviews of individuals who receive disability benefits. This includes gathering medical records for review. The CDR, or Continuing Disability Review, is the process for determining your continuing disability.

When the time comes, Social Security will send you one of two forms to fill out and return:

·         If the likelihood of your recovery is low, you will be sent Disability Update Report (SSA-455-OCR-SM, or “the short form”

·         If your recovery probability is higher, you’ll be sent Continuing Disability Review Report (SSA-454-BK, or “the long form.”

From there, they will examine your medical records, any treatments, improvements in your medical condition and any other determining factors, such as vocational training that allows you to begin doing “substantial gainful work.”

Without any improvements, and the inability to return to “substantial gainful work,” your disability payments will likely continue. However, if they are changed, you do have the right to appeal any decisions.

What Can Affect Disability Benefits

Any major change in your medical condition, income, resources, living arrangements and other circumstances (such as marriage or divorce) can change your eligibility. Disability is need-based with limits on assets and income, so periodic “re-determinations” are regularly conducted. If you’re found to exceed the “allowable limits,” your benefits will be suspended or terminated.

Scheduled For A Review? We Can Help

Regular reviews for disability cases are common, they occur every three to five years, and don’t always mean your benefits will end. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.