What is SSDI? (Social Security Disability Insurance)

When a disability renders you unable to work, one of the many things you need to do is apply for disability. If you have a form of disability through your workplace, that will likely be your first option. But if you have been out of work for an extended period, and no longer have that disability insurance, there is another option available. SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is available to you if you have a work history.

elderly couple with Social Security Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance Through Social Security

This program is intended for individuals who have a work history and have accrued enough credits through employment to qualify. It is paid from the same program that pays retirement benefits to older workers who have retired. SSDI provides a monthly income to those who are rendered unable to work due to a long-term or disabling medical condition.

To be eligible, you must have contributed to SSDI through payroll tax deductions through employment that is covered by Social Security. You must also have worked recently enough and long enough in order to qualify.

SSDI is different from SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, which is a benefit payment for low-income individuals with little or no work history. However, some individuals could be eligible for both SSDI and SSI under certain conditions.

How To Qualify For SSDI

An individual applying for SSDI must be unable to work due to a disability. Social Security has a narrow definition of “disability.” A person’s medical condition (physical or mental) must be expected to last at least one year, or result in the applicant’s death. As a result, SSDI is not intended for short-term or partial disability.

SSDI qualification is based on an individual’s work history, and the monthly benefit is based on average lifetime earnings from employment that is covered by Social Security. The benefit is calculated based on the number of calendar quarters the applicant worked, and at which age the disability began.

Another condition is whether you can engage in Substantial Gainful Activity, or are not able to do the type of work you did before or any other type of work due to your disabling medical condition.
There are slightly different eligibility requirements for people who are blind, veterans, children with disabilities, and widows or widowers of workers.

Recipients must be U.S. citizens or have a lawful alien status if they were born outside of the US.

Filing An Application

You’ll need to gather some records before you begin your application. Start with:

• Your Social Security card

• Contact information from your health care providers, including many doctors, and the dates of your appointments

• A list of all medications, names, and dosages

• Treatment records

• Results from all laboratory and diagnostic tests

• Your most recent W2 form, or last year’s tax return if you were self-employed

• Bank account information

• If your spouse also qualifies, your marriage certificate or other proof of marriage

• For family members who also qualify for benefits, Social Security numbers and proof of age for each

You should apply as soon as you become disabled. Since it takes time to begin receiving benefits, you should start the process immediately. You should have all your proof and information about your condition before you begin.

Prior to filing your SSDI claim, you should visit your physician and explain what you plan to do. If your physician does not agree that you are disabled, his or her assessment could harm your claim. If your own doctor will not support your claim, you may consider finding another doctor or medical professional who does.

However, if your physician does agree, it’s also important to follow his or her medical advice. Not making scheduled appointments and failing to follow treatment protocols may make your claim look fraudulent.

Many applications for SSDI are rejected on the first try. It’s important that you appeal this decision so as not to lose your right to do so.

It’s also a good idea to work with a disability lawyer who understands SSDI and how to complete an application correctly. You’ll have a better chance of approval on the first application, or on appeal.

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.

Does a Mental Disorder Qualify For Social Security Disability?

You may wonder if a mental disorder also qualifies for Social Security disability assistance. Mental disorders can be just as disabling as a physical disability or handicap. A mental disorder can prevent you from working, having fulfilling relationships, and functioning in society.


elderly lady who have Alzheimer disease
                                                                                                                                           Mental Disorder affects 1 in 5 Adults

In 2020, about 21% of Americans experienced a mental disorder or about 1 in 5 adults. About 5%, or 1 in 20 adults, experienced a severe mental disorder. About 8% of Americans, or 21 million people, experienced a major depressive episode in the same year.

Suicide and other negative activity can result if the mental disorder is left untreated. Many people in jail have been found to have some kind of mental health challenge. Veterans are not immune from mental disorders and may qualify through the Social Security Disability program as well as veterans disability programs. As you see, if you are suffering from a mental disorder, you are not alone. Medical care is available and you may qualify for disability assistance as well.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This is a program that pays a person and certain family members if, while you were working, you earned enough credits through payment of Social Security taxes from your earnings, or those of a qualifying family member.

SSDI is for individuals who are no longer able to work due to a substantial illness or impairment. To qualify, a person must have worked in jobs that are covered by Social Security and deduct those taxes from earnings. The calculations are made on the number of earnings the disabled person earned prior to leaving work due to a disability.

SSDI is different than SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a need-based program offering basic financial assistance to older persons and disabled individuals who have limited resources. SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid immediately, whereas SSDI recipients qualify after 24 months of receiving benefits.

Qualifying Criteria

Social Security uses the same basic requirements for any disability rating. The disability must be expected to last longer than 12 months or end in the death of the recipient. Mental disorders are also judged by the same standard. They are considered a disability and do qualify for disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA’s “blue book” contains the full listing of all conditions that they consider “disabling.” The book contains an entire section on mental disorders. Many of the disorders have multiple requirements that must be fulfilled to qualify for SSDI. Any mental illness that prevents you from having and maintaining gainful employment may be used as a qualifier.

But just having a mental disorder isn’t enough to begin receiving SSDI payments. You still must submit an application and include sufficient documentation that supports your claim of disability. This can include:

• Medical records from psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, or therapists

• Any treatments, such as brain scans that show any abnormalities responsible or other organic cause for symptoms (if applicable)

• Medical records from emergency room treatments or hospitalizations resulting from your condition

• Pharmacy records related to the prescription treatment of your condition

A diagnosis isn’t enough to show disability. You’ll be required to demonstrate that the diagnosed illness also includes limitations that impair certain functions and this functioning impairment prevents or prohibit you from working. During medical visits, speak honestly with medical providers about how your disorder impairs you so that their medical records will give an accurate account of your condition.

Adding detailed descriptions of how your mental disorder disrupts your life can be a helpful first-person account that accompanies your medical records. It is not unusual to find many individuals applying for SSDI may have one or more disabling physical conditions in addition to their mental disorders.

It is a good idea for you to speak with an experienced disability attorney, like Bill Herren, before submitting letters and first-person documentation so that they are done correctly. Working with a disability attorney from the beginning can increase your chances of approval and ensure that the application is completed correctly. It also lets you focus on taking care of yourself while your attorney handles your claim application process.

Unfortunately, many claims are rejected because of insufficient documentation or errors. If you are considering applying for yourself or a loved one that has a mental disorder that qualifies for Social Security Disability, contact an attorney that specializes in this area of law. If the application is denied, you can have your attorney represent you in an appeal, which can increase your chance of being approved.

How Long Does it Take?

With rare exceptions, disability payments do not begin immediately. Once you submit your claim, it will be reviewed by a caseworker who will verify your information and medical documentation before rendering a decision. The decision is generally given within three to five months, on average, though sometimes it can take longer.

Once your application is approved by the SSA, you’ll have a yearly review of your condition since many mental disorders are treatable. If your condition remains the same and there is no improvement, you will likely continue to have your benefits.

Contact Herren Law Today

Mental disorders affect thousands of Texans and their families. Many should qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but their applications are denied because of insufficient documentation or outright errors. Herren Law has helped over 4000 Houstonians receive the disability benefits they need. William Herren has an unsurpassed commitment to his disabled clients and is a proud member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives. Licensed to practice law in Texas and in the Federal District Courts of the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Texas, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Herren is very experienced in Social Security disability type cases, including mental disorders that qualify for Social Security Disability.

When you call Herren Law, we’ll immediately begin working with you one-on-one, going through your records, and helping you to apply properly.

If you or someone you care about has a mental disorder and you are wondering if that mental disorder qualifies for Social Security disability assistance, start with William Herren and the Herren Law firm. Your first step is getting an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer on your side, so contact our Houston law office at (713) 682-8194. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and there is no fee unless we win your case.

Find an Experienced Disability Lawyer in Houston

It is important to find an experienced disability lawyer in Houston as the process of applying for and getting disability payments through Social Security can be a long and frustrating one. Veterans trying to get disability awarded run into similar frustrations and don’t get us started on the frustrations folks find dealing with insurance companies for their long term disability claims! For this reason, William Herren and the staff at Herren Law offer its services as a way to help navigate the process. Mr. Herren’s over 25 years of experience in this area of law in the Houston area makes him uniquely qualified to help clients. He and his staff help with applications, appeals and representation when it comes time for a hearing.

Our goal is to have every qualified applicant receive the benefits they deserve and need. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies on their own have a good experience. That’s when they need to find an experienced disability lawyer to help them.

How Can A Disability Lawyer Help?

If you decide to apply for disability on your own, without help, you’re often required to fill out tons of forms, and gather relevant evidence such as medical records, all while dealing with your medical condition. It can be overwhelming and confusing. You sometimes wonder if the difficulties are designed on purpose so you will give up.

For example when you hire a disability lawyer to help you with the social security disability process, you are required to fill out about 40 pages of forms. When you hire William Herren, you hire an advocate who understands the Social Security disability process and disability law. He can handle the paperwork and evidence gathering for you, and make sure you have what you need. Hiring the right lawyer at the outset can make sure your application is done correctly and that you’re well represented throughout the process.

Another good reason for getting help from a disability lawyer is that they can help you prepare for a Social Security Administration (SSA) examiner’s interview for your case. When you attend this hearing alone, you may say the wrong thing or give too much attention to the wrong things during questioning, because you simply wouldn’t know what is important or relevant or what the examiner is looking for. While you may be focused on the immediate effects of your disability, the examiner is more focused on how your disability impacts your everyday life. A physician or other healthcare provider focuses on your symptoms and treatment and most don’t necessarily understand how the SSA system works. Therefore, your doctor may not be the best person to adequately prepare you for the eventual in-person hearing.

But an experienced disability lawyer should have specific knowledge directly related to the process of filing, the in-person interview, and the appeals process. Therefore, they can prepare for the examiners’ review ahead of time. The attorney will help you with what to say, and more importantly, what not to say. This gives you a better chance of answering the questions correctly and ultimately getting your needed disability benefits.

Reasons to Hire a Disability Lawyer In Houston

The number one reason to hire an experienced disability lawyer in Houston is, of course, you reside in Houston or in Harris County so hiring a local attorney makes sense for personal convenience. William Herren and his staff are very familiar with the insurance companies, the SSA, and area doctors, hospitals etc – meaning he knows who to deal with. His experience brings resources and contacts a less experienced lawyer may not have. Having good professional, and in some cases, friendly relationships help to get things done more efficiently for his clients. While a good doctor and treatment regimen is important for any type of life-changing disability, sometimes a good disability lawyer can help in other ways, such as:

• Be informative and answer any questions along the way
• Help with the initial application process
• Gather all required evidence you need to support your claim of disability
• Present your case in the examiner’s interview
• Assist with appeals if your initial application is denied
• Act as a “coach” ahead of time so that you’ll be prepared to answer all questions correctly
• Taking the pressure off you to get everything correct
• Update the SSA with changes in your medical conditions
• Represent you in a hearing with an administrative law judge if needed

Without the help of an experienced Houston disability lawyer, you’re on your own against a process that can be full of stumbling blocks and “red tape.” For example one of the most important factors is submitting the right medical evidence. Your disability lawyer will communicate with your medical providers and review all medical records to ensure that you have what you need. They have the experience to eliminate anything irrelevant to your case.

Another issue you may run into is the doctor who is unwilling to assist you in getting categorized for your disability. They may believe that the patient isn’t disabled. Perhaps the physician doesn’t understand the process or is just simply not interested in dealing with paperwork. However, these type of doctors will often speak with an attorney representing a patient, especially, as with Mr. Herren, the attorney has more experience dealing with doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Also because a disability lawyer understands the process, they should also make sure that all deadlines are met and you are kept up to date on everything. While the attorney handles the legal side of your case, you can concentrate on taking care of yourself.

Houston Disability Lawyer William Herren

We at Herren Law know the process, know our city of Houston, and are proud of helping more than 4,000 people get the benefits they need. We are ready to help you with your initial application and ensure that your application or appeal is done correctly. We are experienced in helping people successfully navigate through the disability application and appeals process and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.
If you’ve been denied benefits, or don’t know where to start, please call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to being of service.

Get A Disability Lawyer Before Applying For Benefits

As anyone who’s ever done this will tell you, applying for disability benefits is a long, arduous process that is complicated as well as confusing.  You should consider getting a disability lawyer from the get go!  Many applicants don’t understand how to fill out the required paperwork or submit the correct medical documentation. It’s the main reason why more than 65% of disability claims are denied at the first application.

Get A Disability Lawyer Before Applying For Benefits

Another reason is that most people don’t normally deal with Social Security and so are unfamiliar with the process.  A good disability attorney understands the claim, the process, the laws surrounding disability claims, and what’s needed for a successful claim.

You do have the right to legal counsel, but it’s not a requirement. But there are reasons why you should consider working with a disability lawyer before you apply for benefits. You undoubtedly need financial help and messing around with this process may end up a waste of time, especially if you eventually need a disability lawyer to help anyway.

Consultation with a Disability Lawyer

While it’s true that an attorney is not required, the truth is that their knowledge and expertise go a long way in making it easier on you and increasing your chances of success.

You will want to look for a disability lawyer offering a free consultation to discuss your situation. You can use that consultation to discuss your reason for filing a claim and they can tell you what you need to know going forward.

You’ll also have a better idea of what you need to get started. They can tell you about the medical records, test results, and other medical documentation you’ll need for your application. They can also advise you on specific situations that you are experiencing and how to approach them before you start.

If it make sense after the consultation, you can hire the lawyer to handle this on your behalf. At Herren Law, all work is done on contingency meaning you will not be charged a fee unless we win your case.

Your Claim

After speaking with an attorney, starting the process will be easier. You’ll know what you need and where to get it. If you decide to hire a disability attorney, you’ll have expert advice every step of the way and minimize any guesswork. You’ll know that your application is correct before filing and you have everything you need.

Should your application for some reason lack any information or documentation, you can consult with your attorney to find out what you need to do to remedy this situation.

If your initial application is denied, even with expert help, you’ll already have legal counsel that  can guide you through the appeals process. You won’t have to worry that the attorney doesn’t understand your case because he or she should already be familiar with your situation. This makes it easier to work your appeal. Your attorney can advise you on your application, your appeal, and represent you if you are required to go to a hearing.

How Much Does It Cost?

That’s always the biggest question–money. Disability attorneys don’t work for free but may work on a contingency fee basis, like Herren Law Firm does. This means that they get paid when you receive a settlement because they receive a portion of it. If the attorney is unsuccessful, they will not be allowed to be paid. Therefore, most attorneys are motivated in successful outcomes.

The Social Security Administration has rules that limit the amount of money a lawyer can charge you and they also approve your fee agreement with an attorney.  The attorney cannot charge more than $6000, or 25% of your back pay, whichever is less. Their payment is taken from your past-due benefits and sent directly to the attorney. The SSA does this to avoid any extra charges. The attorney is paid directly so you won’t have to deal with that part.

Be aware that your attorney may bill you for some out-of-pocket expenses, such as obtaining medical reports. These are not subject to approval by Social Security.

The amount that they are paid will also depend on where you are in your application process. If you are beginning your application, the attorney will likely be awarded 25% of any back pay you receive. But since there isn’t much in the way of backpay from an initial application, their portion of the settlement will be much less. But if you are in an appeal situation, chances are your back pay will be a higher amount. In this case, attorney fees are capped at $6000, even if the 25% figure would be higher.

Social Security has more information on your right to representation by legal counsel.

Let Herren Law Help

Applying for disability is difficult and dealing with a large government agency like Social Security can be intimidating. But we can help you at the beginning and ensure that the process is as smooth as possible. If you have been denied benefits, we can help you file an appeal if appropriate.

If you believe you have a claim or have already been denied,  call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation.  We are experienced in helping people successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too.

Is Diverticulitis A Recognized Social Security Disability?

Some people wonder if diverticulitis is recognized as a Social Security disability. Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches form primarily in the large intestine but can occur anywhere in the digestive tract. The pouches themselves may not cause a problem. But if they become infected and/or inflamed, they can lead to a range of sudden-onset symptoms, including bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, a tender abdominal area, fever, and chills, and a loss of appetite.

Is Diverticulitis A Recognized Social Security Disability?
But as bad as diverticulitis can be, it’s not recognized as a “disability” by Social Security. Their reasoning for this is that it is not only treatable but doesn’t last more than 12 months. As a rule, a condition needs to prevent you from working for 12 months or more or end in death. Diverticulitis usually doesn’t fit the criteria exactly. However, it is possible to receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) for diverticulitis.


Because diverticulitis generally improves within 12 months, the condition alone will likely not qualify you for SSDI. But if you experience complications such as abscesses, fistulas, dramatic weight loss, and/or intestinal bleeding, your chances increase that you will become eligible. If your medical history indicates a history of long-term digestive illnesses, your chances are higher yet that you’ll qualify for disability.

Social Security’s listing contains conditions that automatically qualify for benefits but does not have a listing specifically for diverticulitis. However many people experience some of the same symptoms as the other digestive listings, and so may become eligible under those conditions.

Qualifying Conditions

If you have one or more of these conditions, you may qualify for SSDI as part of other digestive-related conditions:

• Severe weight loss despite medical treatment and medications, measured as a BMI of less than 17.50 over a six-month period.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an umbrella term that covers several chronic intestinal digestive illnesses, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.
• Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, or serious, recurrent bleeding anywhere in the digestive system that required a blood transfusion.
• Short bowel syndrome, in which a significant amount of small intestine is removed, is known as “bowel diversion surgery.”

Social Security will rate you based on a Residual Functional Capacity assessment, or RFC. That is, you’ll be rated based on what you are able to do despite the limitations of your current medical condition.

If you can do some type of work with your current condition, SSA will deny your claim. However, SSA determines that there isn’t a job that can accommodate your condition, or you can’t perform based on your condition and its limitations, you may be approved or benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. In this case, SSA will examine your age, skill set, work history, and other factors to determine if you are able to continue working elsewhere or truly unable to continue working.

Houston’s Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney

As you can see, the laws surrounding SSDI are complex and the process can be difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time and have a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get SSDI and other 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 user 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.

Can a Change in Income Disqualify My SSDI Benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a federally funded program that provides basic minimum income to individuals with disabilities who have limited resources or income. SSDI is intended for individuals with a qualifying work history from their own employment or through a relative, such as a parent or a spouse. The payments are based on earnings history, not the degree of disability involved.

Can a Change in Income Disqualify My SSDI Benefits?

Qualifying For SSDI

Social Security’s criteria involve limits on what a recipient receives, such as:

Income—the 2021 limit is $794 per month
Assets—anything of value, with some exceptions, such as a primary residence. Recipients can’t have more than $2,000 in assets at any time.
Anything beyond those levels of income will disqualify someone from SSDI. Other factors include:
Income from family members—for a married individual, a working spouse’s income will be counted when figuring a payment amount for SSDI
Food/shelter—for someone who lives with another individual, such as a sibling or adult child, that pays for the disabled individual’s living expenses, the free food and shelter will count as “in-kind” income.
• Income earned from working, even part-time

These benefits continue as long as you are disabled. Social Security regularly reviews recipients’ medical conditions, known as a continuing disability review (CDR). If a review shows that your condition has changed so that you are able to return to work on a regular basis, your benefits will cease.

Substantial Gainful Activity

One issue that can affect or disqualify someone from SSDI is Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), especially if it earns more than $1,310 monthly or $2,190 for someone who is blind. Earned income from a job indicates that a person may not be disabled if they’re able to work.
Volunteer work or work performed for a family member may also be considered SGA, even if they are unpaid. This can happen when the type and amount of work performed would be considered SGA under different circumstances. Even unpaid work can potentially impact SSDI monthly benefits if found to be substantial.

Returning To Work

As a rule, a person is considered “disabled” if the disability is expected to last 12 months or more or end in death. Social Security expects recipients to report any changes or additional income received that could impact benefit payments. However, if your disability isn’t permanent, or you’re interested in returning to work in a different capacity, Social Security offers a “Ticket To Work” incentive program. Recipients can “try out” working again without losing their benefits, including Medicaid/Medicare, as well as train to work in a different occupation.

Using a nine-month trial period—consecutively or non-consecutively—can help determine if you are able to return to work while under the auspices of SSDI. Social Security offers a more explicit explanation of returning to work on its website.

Houston’s Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney

The laws surrounding SSDI are complex and the process can be difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time and have a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get SSDI and other 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.

Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

It’s a conundrum: you’re applying for disability benefits because you can no longer work (or will be soon unable.) But while you’re waiting and trying to qualify, the bills keep coming. You need income and have to work, even though you’re in pain and barely or unable to work. So what’s the solution?

Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

The short answer is: Yes. You can apply for disability while you’re still working, but there is a limit to how much you can earn. As long as you earn less than $1,310, the 2021 threshold for monthly income, you are able to continue working. For applicants who are legally blind, the limit is $2,190.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Substantial Gainful Activity

One of Social Security’s deciding criteria is SGA or substantial gainful activity. In other words, how much are you working, and how difficult is it for you to work? If you are working part-time and earning the limit or under, and are working your claim you can no longer do, chances are you will not appear “disabled” to the SSA.

SSA will investigate your job, which includes both the type of work you do and how many hours you work in that job. They will also examine how much effort you are putting into the vocation, whether you’re working at a desk answering incoming phone calls or in a trade requiring physical labor (i.e., plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc.)

Chances are that if you do continue to work while waiting for approval, an appeal, or an administrative law judge hearing, your chances of approval will decrease. This is especially true for a part-time position doing jobs for which you are claiming disability.

Unsuccessful Working

You may still qualify for SSDI if you:

  • Stopped working due to your disabling condition
  • Applied for SSDI
  • Returned to work to pay the bills while waiting for SSDI approval
  • Were forced to stop working again due to your disability

This unsuccessful attempt at working means you are still eligible for SSDI, and shows that you made a good faith effort but were prevented by your disability.

Since every case is different, the SSA examines the type of work you were doing, what you may be doing now, and how your disability affects your ability to retain gainful employment.

If you believe you may return to work at some point in the future, you will have the opportunity to work again on a temporary “test” basis. If your condition improves, or things change, you will be able to start working again contingent on your abilities. Should you not be able to return to work, you will not have to reapply for SSDI.

Other Resources

Rather than working, you may be able to locate other resources in your community for help until you begin receiving disability benefits. Consider applying for:

Other options include borrowing or cashing out against a 401K, or borrowing against your home. Your disability lawyer can advise you if you’re considering utilizing assets.

Note that applying for Unemployment may be counter-productive. If you apply for Unemployment, the assumption is that you expect to return to work. You may be required to pay back those Unemployment benefits if you are eventually approved for SSDI.

Call Herren Law For Help With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Claims

If you are planning to apply for SSDI, we invite you to speak with us first, especially if you are still working. The application process is complex, and most are denied on the first try. Most applicants have better success with appeals.

We’re experienced in handling all types of benefit claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the 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.

Can I Qualify For SSDI If I Can’t Work With Lupus?

Lupus offers frequent reminders of its presence, causing pain and wearing down the person carrying it. It can make life difficult, and some days, nearly impossible to continue any regular activity. For the individual who finds themselves unable to work, SSDI may be the next step. But just having lupus may not be enough to qualify for SSDI.

Can I Qualify For SSDI If I Can't Work With Lupus?

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that is characterized primarily by inflammation, pain, and fatigue. It most commonly affects women and some ethnic groups (including African-Americans), and can be crippling. For many patients, debilitating pain and chronic fatigue can make employment impossible.

Characterized by joint pain, fatigue, a “butterfly rash,” and occasionally, fever, lupus makes its presence known over time. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that approximately 1.5 Americans live with the condition, and there are about 16,000 newly diagnosed cases every year.

Recognized By SSA

Lupus is listed in the Social Security Administration’s “blue book” under Immune System Disorders. Systemic lupus erythematosus is listed under Section 14.02.

Like any disabling condition, Social Security wants to know one thing: how lupus prevents you from working. Your records must show that you have two of these four conditions:

  • Acute, severe fatigue
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Malaise
  • Lupus-induced fever

And affect two body systems (cardiovascular, neurological, respiratory, mental, etc.)

The condition must also appear frequently and regularly curtail your daily activities, including social functioning and completing tasks in a timely fashion.

Qualifying For SSDI

A diagnosis of lupus from your doctor is not enough—and only the start. Evidence such as medical notes, treatments, and other documentation must show that not only do you have lupus, but the effects are preventing you from engaging in substantially gainful employment. Furthermore, you must show that the effects will last at least twelve continuous months, or will end in death.

Building your case on solid medical evidence gives you a strong foundation for building your case. Working with your doctor and continuing prescribed therapies show that you are proactive in taking care of your condition. Working with an experienced disability lawyer can make this complex process easier.

However, if you don’t qualify for SSDI because your lupus symptoms do not meet SSA’s conditions, you may still qualify for a medical-vocational allowance. You’ll need to show SSA that your lupus symptoms inhibit your ability to work to the point where you cannot find suitable employment that fits your prior work experience, education, and age.

Houston’s Social Security Attorney

Whether you’re applying for Social Security or Disability through Social Security, the laws are complex and the process difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time, and have a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get SSDI and other 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

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be A Qualifying Disability?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition with a range of symptoms and parts. Most people think of RA with swollen, disjointed fingers. This is only one outward symptom of a wide range. As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to attack the lining tissue in the joints. The painful swelling eventually leads to deformity in the joints and erosion of the bones.

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Be A Qualifying Disability?

While there are multiple treatments available, they may not work for every patient. RA currently has no cure. The long-term progression of RA could mean eventual disability.


A person with RA may experience:

  • Joint stiffness is generally more difficult in the mornings and following inactivity
  • Tender joints that are swollen and warm
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

The smaller joints, such as fingers and toes, are generally the first to show signs of RA. However, the disease can attack any joints in the body. RA becomes progressively worse over time, spreading throughout the rest of the joints and the body.

Symptoms of RA can vary from person to person, and in severity. Roughly 40% of diagnosed patients have symptoms unrelated to their joints, such as:

  • Blood vessels
  • Bone marrow
  • Eyes
  • Heart
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Nerve tissue
  • Salivary glands
  • Skin

Although RA usually affects people in middle age, people of any age can develop it at any time. Women are more likely to develop RA, as well as those with a family history, smokers, and those carrying excess weight.

The RA Diagnosis

Just receiving a diagnosis is not enough to be considered “disabled.” Social Security does consider RA to be a qualifying disability only if it has progressed to severe enough symptoms that prevent you from working. This is the general standard Social Security uses for most conditions. Other criteria are if the condition will last longer than 12 months.

The Social Security Blue Book (Section 14.09) describes the various stages and degrees of RA that meet their specific criteria for disability. As long as you meet the criteria for RA set out in the Blue Book, chances are you’ll qualify for benefits. That doesn’t mean it’s easy—you will still have to demonstrate your disability to Social Security. You’ll need to provide documentation that proves your day-to-day limitations. This may include:

  • Documentation from a physician with a rheumatologist indicating the severity of your symptoms and the limitations they cause you
  • Diagnostics that show the progression of your RA—X-Rays, blood tests, and other lab work
  • Notes from your physician and other providers documenting the progression of your RA
  • Documentation of your response to prescribed appropriate treatments
  • A Residual Functional Capacity form (RFC) that your doctor has completed for you

The more documentation you have, the better. Offering the SSA a detailed and lengthy medical history gives them considerable proof to thoroughly examine your claim.

Detailed records show SSA examiners the full extent of RA symptoms and progression, and how this affects your ability to perform daily job tasks. Your work history also goes a long way in demonstrating your disability.

Conditions Related To RA

There are other co-existing conditions—called comorbidities—that frequently accompany RA:

  • Hypertension
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sjogren’s
  • Lupus
  • Other diseases involving connective tissues

It’s possible to receive disability for one of these illnesses if you don’t qualify for RA.

Because RA does restrict, and eventually prohibit, a patient’s ability to work, about 35% of patients file for disability within 10 years of their diagnosis.

The period between applying for disability and receiving payments can be months or even years. Over 70% of people who apply for disability benefits for any reason are denied on the first try and must go through a lengthy appeals process.

Applying for disability is an overwhelming task on par with building a house or planning a wedding. A large amount of documentation required can take a long time to obtain. Then your application must be filled out absolutely correctly.

If you’re dealing with RA as well as trying to apply for disability, consider working with a disability attorney who understands the process and can help you ensure that your application is completed correctly. You may be able to receive benefits sooner and avoid the entire appeals process.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your Disability Claim For Rheumatoid Arthritis

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.

Will I Get Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is an umbrella term for diseases of the lungs that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD develops when the lungs and airways become irritated, inflamed, and ultimately, damaged. Both result in decreased airflow, more difficulty breathing, and always become progressively worse.

Will I Get Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have COPD?

COPD also adds to the heart’s burden, leading to pulmonary heart disease. Oxygen therapy, medications, and pulmonary rehabilitation are the main treatments available. While lung transplants are considered the “cure,” most patients aren’t healthy or strong enough to undergo the surgery.


The vast majority of COPD cases are from long-term tobacco smoking, either first-hand or second-hand. A few cases are due to workplace exposure to airborne substances, such as welding fumes, grain, flour and coal dust, cadmium dust, and fumes, among others. Smokers who experience these irritants may have an increased risk of developing COPD long before they would have with just smoking.

Most patients also have other conditions (called “comorbidities”) alongside COPD, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression and other mental illness conditions

Should you become unable to work due to COPD, disability may be your next option.

Qualifying For SSDI With COPD

A person who is unable to work due to advanced COPD can qualify for SSDI. Like any disability, a medical diagnosis is not enough. You’ll need evidence to prove that your condition is serious enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.

The “blue book” requirements for COPD are:

  • A Forced Expiratory Volume One (FEV1) is equal to or lower to the minimum for your height. This is between 1.05 for five-foot individuals and 1.65 for six-foot individuals
  • A Gas Diffusion Capacity (DLCO) of a single breath under 10.5 mil/min/mm Hg or a low amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood either during rest or exercise, determined a low partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) and high partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2).

Additional required medical evidence for COPD disability includes:

  • Physician’s records and notes
  • Results from diagnostic testing, such as:
    • Lung function tests i.e., Lung Diffusion Capacity
    • Imaging: MRIs, CT scans, chest X-Rays
    • Blood tests
    • Arterial blood gas analysis, a test that demonstrates how well your lungs intake oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide
    • Spirometry results or the amount of air you can force out when exhaling), which includes the FEV1 reading

If you can show that your conditions are severe enough, you may qualify even without meeting the blue book listing. You’ll need to show that COPD prevents you from earning a minimum monthly income. The SSA will review your claim and decide upon a “Residual Functioning Capacity” (RFC). It can then approve you for a medical-vocational allowance.

Social Security also considers your age, past work history and experience, and age when making any decision. Additionally, you’ll need enough Social Security “work credits” to qualify for SSDI for any condition. If you do not, you will likely qualify for SSI instead.

Houston Attorney For SSDI

Applying for SSDI is a difficult and complex process. When you work with an experienced disability law firm, your application will be completed correctly the first time. You’ll have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve and avoiding a long appeals process.

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.

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