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Applying for Disability When You Cannot Afford Treatment

Posted June 5, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you have been unable to see a doctor for your medical condition, or if you are not taking medication or receiving treatment, it could be much more difficult to get approval for disability benefits. Part of the application and evaluation process involves providing medical records and documentation to convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your condition is serious. However, you could still potentially receive disability benefits even if you have not recently visited a doctor.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to visit a doctor regularly, and the SSA is well aware of this. The cost of health care insurance is not financially possible for many disabled persons and their families. This can prevent those with low incomes from getting the medical treatment they need.

Recent medical evidence is required to increase your chances of getting an approval for disability benefits. Without being able to see a doctor to get medical tests done, get a treatment plan, and get prescribed medications for your condition, it will be harder to prove that your condition is severe and your application will likely be denied. However, the SSA cannot deny claimants simply because they have not seen a doctor. In fact, it is the duty of the agency to ensure that the record is fully developed.

The SSA has certain measures in place for those unable to afford medical care. While applying for disability, the SSA may offer a consultative examination (CE) to have your medical condition examined by one of their approved doctors free of charge. This would help show the severity of your condition and provide the medical evidence required to support your claim. The claims examiner will then take the consultative examination into consideration to determine whether to approve or deny your application.

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 Sleep Disorders

Posted May 29, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you have a sleep disorder, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The most common sleep disorders are insomnia and sleep related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.

Insomnia is a condition characterized by an inability to sleep. In some cases, people with insomnia have trouble falling sleep at all. In others, they are unable to sleep long enough to get adequate rest. Chronic insomnia is insomnia which lasts more than one month, whether there is an outside cause or the insomnia itself is the primary disorder. Common causes of chronic insomnia are stress, drug use (including some prescription drugs), chronic pain and hormonal imbalances. One common effect of insomnia is the sensation of seeing things in slow motion. Some of the other common effects of insomnia are:

  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Mental fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems

There are a wide variety of treatment options available, depending on the cause of insomnia. Treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and relaxation techniques. Chronic insomnia is often accompanied by other mental disorders such as ADHD, clinical depression, PTSD, OCD, dementia, and bipolar disorder.

Sleep related breathing disorders, the most common of which is sleep apnea, are disorders which cause breathing problems while a person is sleeping. In the case of sleep apnea, a person can actually stop breathing for as long as a minute or two, hundreds of times per night. This results in broken sleep and all of the side effects associated with lack of sleep. More importantly, especially in the most severe cases, it can lead to hypoxemia, the lack of oxygen in the arterial blood. Some common work-related symptoms and effects of sleep related breathing disorders include:

  • Lack of memory
  • Disorientation
  • Negative effects on personality
  • Hypertension
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Disturbance of cognitive abilities due to fatigue

Often, sleep related breathing disorders can be treated. The results are mixed, but the more effective treatment methods include surgery and the use of constant positive air pressure (CPAP) masks for sleeping. Surgery is designed to remove obstructing tissue in order to ensure that the airway remains clear and open. The use of CPAP is designed to keep the airway open by using a constant stream of positive air pressure blown into the airway (usually through the nose).

To qualify for benefits, you must show that your residual functioning capacity (in other words, your ability to work or engage in gainful activity) is diminished to such a point by your sleep disorder and any other disabling conditions which you have that you cannot reasonably be expected to work in any available job which your education, experience, and training qualify you for or for which you could be trained.

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 Union Favors No Return to Offices

Posted May 22, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Telework at the Social Security Administration (SSA) is boosting call center answer rates and otherwise improving customer service, the leader of a union that represents about 25,000 field office and call center workers says.

The agency should allow employees to continue teleworking to the maximum extent possible even after the Covid-19 pandemic abates, said Ralph de Juliis, president of Council 220 of the American Federation of Government Employees. The union is asking the agency to consider a plan that would allow the SSA to close most of its 1,300 field offices in the U.S. and save hundreds of millions of dollars on facility costs, he said. Though the agency has clashed with its unions in the past over telework, de Juliis said he’s hopeful agency officials are seeing the benefits now that most employees are working from home.

“If they want to go that way, they have the union’s support,” he said.

Call answer rates since the SSA began allowing most of its more than 55,000 employees to telework—including the field office and call center employees—are up from about 70% to about 95%, and employees for the first time in many years can schedule next-day phone appointments for many agency customers, he said. The agency has been able to safeguard customers’ sensitive personal information by using virtual private networks to encrypt communications, de Juliis said.

The agency told the union on Thursday, in response to a request for bargaining over a list of Covid-19 issues sent to the SSA on May 1, that it’s too early to make decisions about reopening offices, de Juliis said, adding that SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul hasn’t responded to an April 24 letter from the union outlining the plan to move to maximum telework on a permanent basis.

The Social Security Administration didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment on whether it would consider permanently moving to maximum telework or on service improvements that the union said had occurred during the first five weeks of nearly 100% telework.

 ‘Not a Perfect Match’

A professional group that represents attorneys and other advocates for Social Security recipients said the agency must maintain a strong physical presence for people who depend on its services.

The SSA “has done a good job of adapting to a very difficult situation, but the services that they are providing now are not a perfect match for the services they were providing before, some of which already had room for improvement,” said Stacy Cloyd, director of Policy and Administrative Advocacy at the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.

“Social Security beneficiaries are disproportionately older or have disabilities. Some are homeless,” Cloyd said. “We support people having options for accurate and timely services, but in-person services will need to be one of options for some people and some workloads.”

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