Posts in:August, 2022

Five Reasons Social Security Disability Hearings Are Better by Phone Than In Person

Posted August 26, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Disability hearings with administrative law judges (ALJs) are—no doubt—stressful events. You’re ill and you must explain to a judge why you can’t work full-time. In my thirty years in front of these judges at thousands of hearings, the gravity of these hearings has not escaped me.

When COVID hit, Social Security shifted from in-person hearings to phone hearings. Social Security still mostly holds phone hearings. This decision is wise given that disabled people can have compromised immune systems.

Social Security does allow you to postpone your disability hearing if you’d prefer to conduct it in person. Asking for an in-person hearing, however, means indefinite delay. If you want your Social Security hearing soon, a phone or video hearing is presently the only option. Most ALJs and attorneys currently work from home, doing phone hearings and some video hearings.

After doing phone hearings for over a year into the pandemic, I believe phone hearings and video hearings from home have five advantages over in-person hearings.

  1. Phone hearings require no travel. In-person hearings require travel to hearing locations, sometimes hours away. They also raise questions about getting a ride, bad travel weather, having money for gas, and finding parking. Phone hearings have none of these issues.
  2. Phone hearings are less stressful. At times, my clients have had great difficulty finding hearing sites and getting through security. After sitting in a crowded waiting room, some of my clients could not settle in and focus during their Social Security hearings. Phone hearings let you stay home without the distractions of a new location.
  3. Phone hearings require less planning. Before in-person hearings, many of my clients asked me these kinds of questions: “What do I wear?” “Do I look at the judge?” “Where am I supposed to sit?” “What if I cry?” Phone hearings reduce or eliminate many of these concerns.
  4. Phone hearings are more practical. Some of my clients have significant difficulty getting through a grocery store or up steps. For these clients, getting into a building, a waiting room, and then into a small hearing room was almost impossible. Phone hearings don’t require a certain level of mobility.
  5. Phone hearings are fairer. In my experience, ALJs are not good at deciding if my clients “look” disabled or not. ALJs would question my clients about why their canes did not appear worn or how they could sit in the hearing for an hour without getting up. Phone hearings (and at-home video hearings) allow ALJs to focus on the testimony, not appearances.

While in-person hearings are available again, they will likely remain optional. For the above reasons, I usually recommend that my clients request to appear by phone.

If you need any assistance in filing your disability claim, please contact our office today!


What Is Social Security’s Work History Report

Posted August 19, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

You can improve your chances of getting disability benefits by providing a detailed work history to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Social Security claims examiner will use the information you provide on the Work History Report (Form SSA-3368) to determine what kind of work you can still do.

Why Your Employment History Is Important

It’s important to include as much detail as you can about each job you had so that the claims examiner gets a clear picture of the following:

Job description: your job titles, the specific tasks you performed, the skills needed to do the job, and the work environment.

Physical requirements: how much you had to walk, stand, climb, sit, lift, and carry; how much you had to kneel, bend, stoop, and crawl; and how you used your hands.

Challenges you faced on the job: extra help you needed to perform your work duties, and if you had to reduce your work hours due to your medical condition, or take frequent sick days or rest breaks.

Your medical condition’s effect on your ability to perform the job: including how your medical condition affected your job performance, when you had to stop work, and why you had to stop.

How to Fill Out the Work History Report

The work history form asks for your job history over the past 15 years, with space for you to list up to 10 jobs. List every paid job you had—even part-time work. The work history report includes a separate page for each job you listed, where you’ll share the details of the job, including:

  • your job title
  • your pay rate
  • hours you worked per day
  • your job description (everything you did each day)
  • specific job skills needed
  • physical requirements (like how long you needed to stand or how much you had to lift and how often), and
  • whether you had a manager role.

Be sure to provide accurate contact information for past supervisors. The claims examiner might need to call them to discuss the demands of a particular position you’ve listed on your work history, as well as any specific skill sets you might or might not have gained.

How Social Security Will Use Your Work History

The claims examiner will look closely at the requirements of your prior jobs to see if you should be able to return to one of them or if your impairment prevents you from doing each job. If the examiner doesn’t know the true requirements of each job you had, the examiner might think you’re able to do a job when you’re not.

If the disability examiner agrees you can’t do your prior work, he or she will next look at your age, education, and prior skills to see if you can learn any other work. To do this, the examiner must know what job skills you gained from previous jobs. Without a detailed work history, a disability examiner has to guess at the tasks associated with prior jobs.

For example, if you were a secretary 10 years ago, the examiner could assume that you can type 65 wpm and could find other jobs you could do that require this skill. You don’t want the claims examiner to assume you have skills you don’t. If the examiner knows you don’t have certain skills, the jobs the SSA would assume you can do would be much more limited.

That’s why it’s important to describe in detail what your work was like at each job.

Please contact our office for a free evaluation!


Social Security Disability Benefits for Lupus

Posted August 15, 2022 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Lupus is a chronic disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. It is considered an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system — the body system that usually fights infections — attacks healthy tissue instead. Lupus most commonly affects your skin, joints, and internal organs. Because it can affect many parts of the body, it can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as: fatigue, headaches, joint pain, fever, edema, hair loss, and abnormal blood clotting.

Nobody knows what causes lupus, but it and other autoimmune diseases do tend to run in families. Experts also think it may develop in response to certain hormones or environmental triggers. An environmental trigger is something outside the body that can bring on symptoms of lupus — or make them worse. Lupus is not contagious.

There are two ways you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits for lupus. You can either (1) meet the requirements of a listing set out in Social Security’s list of qualifying impairments, or (2) show that you are unable to work due to your limitations.

Lupus is one of the diseases specifically notated in Social Security’s listing of impairments. To qualify as disabled under this listing, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your lupus must affect at least two body systems or organs, (such as the kidneys and the lungs, or the heart and the brain), with at least one involved to a moderate level of severity; and
  • Your lupus must cause at least two of the following symptoms: severe fatigue, fever, malaise (feelings of physical discomfort or illness resulting in low physical or mental activity), and/or involuntary weight loss.


  • You must have repeated symptoms of lupus, with at least two of the symptoms above, resulting in one of the following limitations at the marked level: 
    • Limitations of activities of daily living
    • Limitation in maintaining social functioning
    • Limitation in completing tasks in a timely manner due to lack of focus or ability to work quickly.

You can also qualify for Social Security Disability for lupus if you can prove that you are unable to work due to the health problems caused by lupus. For example, an individual with lupus might have the following physical symptoms: fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, and abnormal heart rhythms. These limitations can make it difficult to stand or walk for a lengthy period of time, which rules out many jobs. Furthermore, those with lupus may suffer personality changes, including anxiety and depression, and may have difficulty concentrating or have increased forgetfulness. Social Security will take these limitations into account when deciding if the applicant can do even simple, routine tasks that don’t require skill. 

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

Learn more about lupus: 

Adult Listing for lupus: 

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®