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.

What is the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefits?

Veterans who need assistance with everyday living may not realize that they can get additional financial support from the VA to cope.  The VA’s Aid and Attendance benefits program may be worth checking out. Wartime veterans who already received a VA pension may qualify. This assistance is not as well-known but is available for veterans who are in a nursing home or are spend all their time at home because of one or more disabling conditions.

What is the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefits?

Because living assistance may increase a veteran’s expenses, this stipend can help offset the extra cost of that help.

Aid and Attendance Benefits

This is a benefit available to low-income veterans and their spouses who qualify for the VA pension. Whether they need in-home care assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, eating, etc., or if they live full time in a nursing home, Aid and Attendance can help make it easier to pay for their care.

A VA pension is not the same thing as military retirement pay. The VA pension is for veterans who have a financial need and a discharge that is not classified as dishonorable.

Aid and Attendance is not an automatic benefit. The veteran must apply for it separately.

The VA also has limits on income and assets, including a cap on the net worth at $129,094 for both. The veteran’s home is excluded up to a lot of two acres, even if the veteran resides in a nursing home. Medical expenses can be deducted from that limit. However, qualification is somewhat similar to Medicaid’s requirements. The VA has a three-year “lookback period” that examines whether any assets were gifted or sold below market value to lower the asset limit.


A veteran who served on active duty for at least 90 consecutive days which includes at least one full day during a time of war can be eligible for Aid and Attendance if they also qualify for the basic veterans’ pension and meet the financial and medical requirements. The veteran’s service does not have to include time in a combat zone.

For the veteran who went into active duty on or about September 7th, 1980, they must have at least 24 months of service with at least one day during a time of war, or other hostilities.  A widowed spouse of an eligible veteran may also qualify if they meet the same medical and income requirements and never remarried.

The Wartime Veteran

To qualify for the VA’s aid and attendance benefits, the veteran is required to be a veteran of wartime service. Those dates include:

World War II—December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict—June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era

o February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during the period
o August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, for those who did not

Gulf War—August 2, 1990, through a future end date set by law or Presidential proclamation or law (the VA considers this war to be still in effect)

The veteran must also meet one of the following requirements to qualify for a basic pension:

• Age 65 or older with no little to no income
• Be permanently and totally disabled
• Receive Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)
• Receive Social Security disability insurance (SSDI)
• Live in a nursing home

Surviving spouses may also be able to apply under the same criteria.

Need Help? Work With A Houston VA Disability Attorney

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.

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.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

Vision problems are one of the many reasons people apply for disability. Macular degeneration, or MD, is a leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50, and for people in the US. It’s most common in people over 60. It’s also called “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

As a veteran, you may also experience this condition as well as other vision problems. MD can make everyday life difficult, including driving, working, reading, and seeing what’s right in front of you. If you notice that you are having a difficult time seeing things the way you did before, you may be overdue for an eye exam.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye, in the center. That means a person with macular degeneration loses their central vision, but not their peripheral. For instance, when you look directly at a clock, you may see the numbers but not the hands.

Most people don’t completely lose their vision, but simply don’t see what’s right in front of them. In other cases, the vision loss is mild.

There are two types of MD:

  • Dry, the most common type, roughly 80% of the cases, where the macula itself thins considerably leading to the growth of tiny clumps of protein, called drusen
  • Wet, less common but more serious type, where new blood vessels begin growing under the retina and leak fluid into the eye.

Smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors contribute to MD’s development.

MD comes on slowly, and most people don’t realize they have it until they begin having blurring. There isn’t a “cure” for MD, and dry doesn’t yet have a full treatment. Regular ophthalmologist visits can detect it early and help manage if you do develop MD.

What Does The VA Say?

For many years, the VA didn’t recognize macular degeneration as a disability. Fortunately, that has since changed, allowing veterans with MD to seek treatment and receive benefits.

The VA puts MD into the Schedule of Ratings as “Organs of Special Sense.” They use these three tools as the basis for determining your eye problems and the impact of MD on your sight:

  1. Central acuity, or the ability to distinguish details and shapes at a distance using an eye chart
  2. Visual field, or everything you can see when staring ahead at a fixed point
  3. Muscle dysfunction, or how well the eye moves around to pick up sight

As with any condition you present to the VA, you’ll need to show MD as a service-related condition (primary or secondary), or provide proof from a physician of the connection.

The C&P Exam

The VA will also require you to take a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P. This exam determines the degree of your disability and the rating for a disability, and determining the service connection.

The VA requires you to undergo an exam by either a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll also need to provide:

  • A current diagnosis for your eye condition
  • Evidence of an in-service event, illness, or injury that’s related to your condition
  • A “nexus letter” from a physician that connects the current eye condition to an in-service event, illness, or injury

All of these show a direct service connection. However, a secondary service connection is also possible. An existing illness or medication is taken for a different service connection may also cause or aggravate MD as a secondary condition. They can include:

  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you already qualify for healthcare through the VA, you can also obtain these eye exams and diagnoses from the VA as well. This includes testing for conditions like glaucoma.

Macular degeneration is a relatively newly rated condition under the VA’s disability rules. Getting help from an experienced disability attorney can go a long way in making sure your application is done correctly.

Let Herren Law Assist You With The VA For Macular Degeneration

If you’re a veteran with vision issues including macular degeneration, you can apply for and receive VA benefits for this condition. Should the VA either deny or under-rate your condition, it’s time to get help and increase your chances of success.

Call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the 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.



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.


What Happens At A Disability Hearing In Houston?

Your first encounter with a disability hearing may be intimidating. It can be awkward discussing your life with complete strangers who are deciding whether or not you are qualified to receive a disability.

If this is your first time dealing with Social Security in person, understand that it’s not the same as appearing in court. Although the hearing is important, it’s an informal hearing, and usually doesn’t last longer than an hour. The hearings are not open to the public as a court case is, and anyone with you (other than your attorney) is required to wait outside.

What Happens At A Disability Hearing In Houston?

This hearing is to determine the extent of your disability, and if your disability prevents you from working. The judge will ask questions to get a better idea of your condition. It’s important to answer the questions honestly and thoroughly, but don’t exaggerate or lie about anything.

What Questions Will They Ask?

Because the hearing revolves around what you can and can’t do, and why you can’t work, expect the questions to be focused on those points. You’ll likely be asked questions such as:

  • Are you working currently?
  • Why can’t you work?
  • What was your last job, and what were your responsibilities?
  • Have you tried working since you became disabled?
  • What type of formal education do you have?
  • Do you have any vocational training?
  • Where else have you worked in the last 15 years? What were those job responsibilities?
  • Do you have any problems getting along with coworkers, supervisors, customers or clients?
  • How much can you lift at one time?
  • How long can you walk, sit, or sit before you require a break?
  • How often do you need to take a break?
  • Do you have difficulties with concentration or remembering anything?
  • What effect does your disability have on your daily activities?
  • What activities do you do?
  • How does your disability affect your ability to take care of yourself?
  • What have you been diagnosed with?
  • What medical treatments have you had?
  • Are there any side effects to these treatments?

These are just some of the types of questions you may be asked. Of course, it’s important to be ready for any of these questions as well as others.

Being Prepared For The Disability Hearing

The time leading up to the hearing can be downright nerve-wracking, leading to rambling and over-answering a question—or saying something you shouldn’t. Avoid this possibility with some pre-hearing research and rehearsal.

Spend some time reviewing:

  • Your case file
  • Medical and Job Worksheet (Form SSA-3381), filled out before your application for disability
  • Your most recent medical records
  • Statements and expert medical opinions from family members, friends, coworkers and supervisors, as well as your doctor or any doctor you’ve seen regarding your condition (such as a neurologist or orthopedic surgeon.) These statements should describe your disability and how it affects you daily.

You’ll also need to provide copies of your medical records and medical opinions to the judge prior to the hearing. Keep copies for yourself as well.

Make notes using the above questions, as well as any your disability attorney might mention before the hearing. And of course, take these documents and notes along with you to the hearing.

Houston’s Disability Attorney

A disability hearing can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Having an experienced disability lawyer can make the hearing—and the process—easier for you. If you are unfamiliar with the system and don’t get help, a judge can make decisions based on their own opinion, leaving you with no options for challenging them.

Let The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and help 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.



Is It Hard To Get Vision Disability Benefits In Houston?

Is It Hard To Get Disability Benefits For Vision Related Injuries And Conditions In Houston?

The CDC reports that about 2,000 people per day experience an eye injury. While many eye injuries happen on the job, eye injuries can also occur from a car or other accidents, fireworks, as well as incidents like falls. Veterans may also find themselves with injuries from combat or other duty.

Eye injuries can be difficult to overcome. If they’re severe enough, can inhibit your ability to return to work. You may eventually need to apply for disability after a vision-related injury. The cause of vision impairment or the length of time isn’t a consideration. However, the degree of vision impairment is, as well as how well your medical records support your claim.

Disability For Vision Loss

Your vision loss must be substantial in order to meet the definition set out by The Social Security Administration (SSA). If you have a good vision in one of the eyes, SSA will not consider you “disabled.”

SSA has three conditions for blindness, and most cases of blindness meet at least one. To qualify for disability, you must meet one of them:

  • Loss of central visual acuity (2.02), indicating that you have vision loss in your central field of vision, and your “better eye” is no better than 20/200
  • Contraction of the visual field in the better eye (2.03), indicating that your field of vision is shrinking and that you have a rather narrow field of vision
  • Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment (2.04), indicating blurry vision or total blindness, and the vision in your better eye is not better than 20/200 while wearing corrective lenses

A full description of these criteria is available in the SSA Bluebook.

Qualifying For Disability

In order to qualify, you’ll be required to show that your vision loss and/or blindness prevents you from working at any job. The SSA looks at a report called RFC, or “residual functioning capacity” to determine your current level of functioning and how it affects your ability to return to work. It looks at your inability to do things like drive. In other words, how much work are you capable of doing in your current condition?

The SSA also reviews your age, education level, and vocational skill set, and will qualify or disqualify based on their findings. If the SSA believes you are qualified based on the RFC, it will be based on your inability to do any kind of job. You will also receive a medical-vocational allowance.


If you are considering returning to work, SSA allows a 9-month re-evaluation and trial period every 60 months (5 years.) These nine months do not have to be consecutive, but you should avoid using them all up at once if you don’t have to.

The “trial period” is to see if you are able to re-adapt and work, either in the same profession or in another one. You’re required to report your earnings, expenses, and work-related activities to the SSA.

You’ll still receive benefits if you don’t go over your monthly benefit amount (currently $2,040.) Your benefits will still be available (as long as you don’t earn more), and you won’t have to reapply. However, you’ll be required to report everything to the SSA so that your expenses can be calculated against your earnings.

Should your condition worsen and keep you from continuing working, you can apply for expedited reinstatement within 5 years.

Before beginning the re-employment process, speak with an experienced disability attorney who can guide you through the process.

Get Help For Vision Related Disability From Herren Law

Applying for disability benefits from the SSA brings increasing challenges to prove your case. With the help of an experienced disability attorney, you can make sure you have the evidence you need, your application is properly executed, and stand a better chance at getting the benefits you 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. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

What Is VA Disability Back Pay And How Do I Qualify In Houston, TX?

In the course of applying for VA disability benefits, the issue of “back pay” may be part of the discussion. Maybe you know someone who received it, or you may discuss it with a VSO or disability attorney. Receiving back pay—and how much you receive—will depend on the date of your application, and when you begin receiving benefits.

What Is VA Disability Back Pay And How Do I Qualify In Houston, TX?

The Effective Date

The VA defines this as the later of two dates:

  • The date of your claim filing
  • The date that your disability reveals or escalates

Most claims use the date you filed your claim. The second date is usually when a veteran files for an increase in ratings. In that case, the effective date is then the date when the disability escalates, not the original date of the claim filing.

There are occasions when an effective date may be earlier, but not much. They are:

  • Recently discharged veterans, depending on the date of discharge and the date the disability either manifests or escalates
  • Claims for an increased rating
  • Agent Orange Exposure claims, since there are special rules that apply because Agent Orange exposure is a presumptive service-connected condition.

Once these dates are established, the VA begins the claims process.

When Disability Back Pay Is Awarded

Because the VA is notorious for taking years to award benefits in some cases, the agency awards a lump sum of “back pay,” and you’ll receive monthly benefit thereafter.

Back pay is the collective amount of the payments you would have received if you were awarded benefits immediately.

For instance: you applied for VA disability benefits on January 1, 2015, but didn’t begin receiving monthly benefit payments until January 1, 2019. This means that although you begin receiving payments on January 1, 2019, you’re also entitled to benefits during the period where you waited for the VA to begin disbursement. Therefore, back pay would be the four-year sum of your monthly benefits from January 1, 2015 through December 1, 2018 until your regular monthly benefit payments begin on January 1, 2019.

It’s also possible that you could receive back pay when you’ve appealed a decision and the VA subsequently rules in your favor. Back pay may also be awarded if your condition worsens and the VA increases your monthly benefit payments. You’ll also receive a lump sum of the increased amount after the new ruling, based on the date your condition escalates.

A Claim Must Be In Writing

It may sound a little odd to mention, but some veterans may believe they’ve filed a claim because they’ve discussed it with a VSO or an adjudicator. All claims must be submitted in writing, and you don’t have a claim until you do.  The VA does not do a good job of notifying veterans that they may have a claim. The effective date of your award is always on, and not earlier, than the date of your written claim.

Don’t Re-Apply After Denial—Get Help With Your Appeal ASAP

What some veterans do after they are denied benefits is to re-apply all over again. Don’t do that—you could lose thousands of dollars you’re actually entitled to. The VA works on the effective date, or the date that they receive your application. If you start over with a new application, the effective date, and could reduce or eliminate any back pay you could have received.

If your application is denied, it’s important to step up your game and get help with your appeal immediately. Whether you applied before your discharge date, within a year of discharge, or when you first began to need benefits, starting over with a new application wipes out your original application and starts the process over.

Using the previous example—if you applied on January 1, 2015 and your claim is denied, through the eventual appeal, you might receive a four-year sum of back pay.

But if you re-apply on January 2016 and are eventually approved, you would lose an entire year of back pay.

Getting help from a disability law attorney will help you navigate the appeals process and increase your chances of getting the benefits you need and deserve.

We Help Houston Veterans

Getting VA disability benefits is a long, arduous process that takes patience as well as understanding the law. 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.

Can I Receive Both SSDI And VA Benefits?

The short answer: yes, it is possible to have both. Neither SSDI nor VA disability is need-based, so you may be able to receive both. But there are a few things you need to know before you begin your application, and before you begin receiving benefits.

Can I Receive Both SSDI And VA Benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance

This is a program that provides monthly disability payments to workers under 65 who have sufficient work credits and qualifying disabilities that prevent you from working.

Additionally, you can’t receive retirement and/or SSI benefits at the same time as SSDI. Once you reach retirement age and begin collecting Social Security, your SSDI will be discontinued.

However, SSDI is not affected by VA or DoD disability benefits.

VA Benefits

There is a difference between VA benefits and VA disability benefits.

VA disability benefits are based on the VA’s schedule of ratings that determine your amount of disability. You do not have to be totally disabled, you can also be partially disabled. Even a 0% rating acknowledges the presence of a service-connected condition that could later manifest and cause you to be at least partially disabled.

If you receive a VA pension, which is income and needs based, it can affect the amount you receive from SSDI, and vice-versa.

The Difference

One thing to remember is that Social Security and the VA are two separate governmental entities. Qualifying for VA disability benefits is not an automatic qualification for SSDI—you must apply for it separately.

Receiving VA disability benefits has no effect on an application for SSDI, and the SSA does not give weight to VA approvals for consideration of its own decisions. But since the SSA shares the medical database with both the VA and the DoD, they will have access to military and veteran medical records. These records may be used to expedite claims processing for vets with a 100% disability rating or “Wounded Warriors,” those who were injured on active duty after October 1, 2001.

However, if you are on SSDI, the VA is required to consider records that are used for approval of SSDA, and those medical records can provide valuable information for your VA claim.

You can apply for SSDI whenever your disability prevents you from working. You must be totally disabled in order to receive SSDI benefits.

However, for VA disability, you should apply as soon as you begin dealing with a service-connected disability condition. The VA awards benefits based on either partial or total disability.

The VA’s “Fast Track” Application Program

The unfortunate part of applying for any kind of governmental benefits is the time it takes before you begin receiving them. The VA has taken notice, and introduced the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program, commonly called the “Fast Track.” The VA developed this program to help cut down on the backlog of applications that take years to complete.

The difference is that submitting an FDC will require you to do more of the preparation and “legwork” than you would if you were submitting a standard application. But submitting an FDC also qualifies you for retroactive benefits if you were disabled for a year before you submitted the application, and if it’s your first application.

The new application forms are all available at the VA’s website. You’ll need the VA Form 21-526EZ, Fully Developed Claim (Compensation) for disability compensation claims, which is a simpler, shorter application.

Legal Representation And Help For Disability Claims

If you’re applying for either SSDI or VA disability benefits, the process can be confusing. An incorrectly prepared claim for either or both can result in a denial. The time to get help is at the outset, to ensure that the application process is done correctly.

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation (or use our online contact form.) We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

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