Posts in:December, 2020

What Does it Mean to Ambulate Effectively?

Posted December 18, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

There is a wide variety of conditions and impairments that may qualify a person for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits.  What is important to understand is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is not as concerned with the diagnosis itself as they are with the limitations that an impairment may impose on an individual’s ability to work. Certain impairments, like lower extremity joint disorders, require SSA to look at a person’s ability to “ambulate effectively” when assessing disability. SSA defines effective ambulation in specific terms.

In order to ambulate or walk effectively, an individual must be able to walk without a hand-held device that would otherwise prevent an individual from using at least one upper extremity to carry items. For example, a person must use his/her hands to operate a walker or a manual wheelchair. Thus, a person using a manual wheelchair or walker would have difficulty with ambulation because such devices require the use of both hands to be operational. Conversely, a person who relies on a cane to walk has an available hand to carry items.

Furthermore, to ambulate effectively, SSA also indicates that a person must be able to walk at a reasonable pace over sufficient distance to carry out activities of daily living. Effective ambulation further requires that a person be capable of walking at a reasonable pace on rough or uneven surfaces for a full block. A person must be capable of walking up a few steps at a reasonable pace with the use of a single hand rail to be considered ambulatory. Finally, a person must be able to use public transportation to carryout routine ambulatory activities like shopping to meet SSA’s requirements for effective ambulation.

For more information on SSA’s definition of “effective ambulation,” please see: .

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Administration Preparing Disability Rule Change

Posted December 11, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Over the weekend, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent the Trump administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposal that — if similar to a version leaked earlier this year — will bar Social Security benefits from hundreds of thousands of Americans. The document that leaked suggests the proposal could ultimately prevent as many as 500,000 Americans from receiving benefits. Whether SSA can slip this through the regulatory process before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration may depend on whether SSA and OMB respect the formal regulatory process.

If implemented, the regulation could be undone by the Biden administration or overruled by Congress.

SSA’s proposal, as described in press reports, would make it harder for older workers to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. By law (versus regulation), SSA is required to consider age, education and work experience when determining whether a person meets the statutory definition of disability.

That is, reflecting congressional intent, the current rules acknowledge that older workers (for example, workers in their 50s) will have more difficulty in adjusting to occupational requirements in the national economy following the onset of a serious disability. SSA’s proposed new regulation would likely undo these rules to a large extent, making it harder for older workers to qualify.

The effort will likely center on the buzzword “modernization.” The agency will suggest that the “modern” economy provides many jobs that even a displaced and disabled older worker can do.

However, the widespread health problems among SSDI and SSI applicants lead to very limited participation in the modern economy. About 73 percent of denied applicants have little to no earnings. Labor market success is even less common among those who are awarded SSDI. Further, labor market success, while still uncommon, is more likely among younger SSDI applicants and beneficiaries. Hence the need to take account of older age as reflected in the law and current SSDI rules.

The proposal would also exacerbate inequality in the United States along the lines of race and income. More than 25 percent of denied Social Security disability applicants are Black, a percentage that far exceeds the percentage of African Americans in the overall working age population. Additionally, nearly 40 percent of denied applicants live in poverty. SSA’s proposal to get more denials seems out of touch with regard to many of the serious problems facing the country.

The incoming Biden administration will need to review “last minute” regulations developed at SSA. More generally, it will need to help SSA do a better job managing its programs. The agency needs to get back to solving real-world problems rather than inventing issues to justify harsh policy changes.

Full article:

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Disability for Autoimmune Disorders

Posted December 4, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

December 1st was World AIDS Day, an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections. The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Within a few weeks of HIV infection, flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue can occur. Then the disease is usually asymptomatic until it progresses to AIDS. AIDS symptoms include weight loss, fever or night sweats, fatigue, and recurrent infections.

No cure exists for AIDS, but strict adherence to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) can dramatically slow the disease’s progress, prevent secondary infections and complications, and prolong life.

HIV/AIDS and other autoimmune disorders can often greatly impact an individual’s ability to work, and many people who suffer from such illnesses may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.

Autoimmune diseases cause the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack and destroy healthy body tissue. The immune system helps protect the body by attacking potentially harmful antigens, such as bacteria, viruses, and toxins. in people who have autoimmune diseases, the immune system is unable to determine a difference between harmful antigens and healthy body tissue and attacks otherwise healthy body tissue and antigens.

Treatment for many individuals involves taking immunosuppressants, which can cause a surge of worsening symptoms once they are discontinued, such as: severe fatigue, joint pain, inflammation, recurrent infections and skin rashes are some of the symptoms my clients inform me of.

Because there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, the Social Security evaluation process is dependent on the specific autoimmune disease. Social Security has an entire category of “blue book” listings for various types of autoimmune disorders, including lupus, vasculitis, HIV, and inflammatory arthritis. (

If you do not meet one of the SSA’s listings, you may still be found disabled if you are unable to perform your past work on a full-time basis. The SSA will consider the combined effect of all of your impairments, including the symptoms of your disease, side effects of medications, and symptoms or limitations from any other conditions you may suffers from. Obtaining an opinion from your doctor about your inability to work will generally help as well.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®