October 2, 2014

The 15 Minute Social Security Disability Hearing: Good News or Big Problem?

What should you do if your Social Security disability hearing lasts only 15 minutes?  Does a short hearing mean that you won?  Does an quick hearing mean that the judge plans to deny your case?   How should you and your lawyer prepare for this rare but possible situation?

In this video I discuss the 15 minute hearing – what it likely means and how to best protect yourself if the judge is new and his/her reputation is unknown.

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Strategy for Winning Claims Arising from Long Term HIV Infection

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Social Security disability claimants seeking SSDI or SSI benefits based on a long term HIV infection can be approved if they present evidence of complications that will preclude competitive work.   Remember that Social Security defines disability in terms of how your impairment would likely impair your capacity to perform the demands of minimally demanding work.

SSA’s treatment of HIV claims has changed significantly over the past 15 years.  In the 1990s and early 2000’s, most judges felt that HIV was a precursor to AIDS and generally treated HIV infections and AIDS as one in the same.   These cases were usually approved fairly quickly.

About 10 years ago, judge took notice of advances in medical science that allowed people infected with HIV to suppress
the virus and lead apparently normal lives.  HIV was then treated similar to Hepatitis – an active, un-curable condition but one that need not prevent a claimant from working for years at a time.

AIDS, by contrast, was usually approved based on Listing 14.08.

Over the last 4 to 5 years, however, Social Security judges have become more open to the idea that HIV often does
create complications that, when considered as a whole, can prevent an afflicted person from working.  Complications that seem to resonate most with judges include:

  • chronic infections
  • non-healing fissures in the body
  • boils
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • pain
  • depression

In my practice I have had success representing claimants with HIV who exhibit these symptoms and medication side effects
and who have support from a treating physician.

You can find more information about strategies I use in HIV claims as well as many other types of impairments on my law firm web site.

Good News for Veterans Who are Applying for Social Security Disability

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In March, 2014, the Social Security Administration announced that it would expedite the processing for Social Security disability claims for veterans who were previously deemed 100% permanent and totally disabled by the VA.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, announced the launch of a new disability process to expedite disability claims filed by veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T).  Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from Wounded Warriors. [Read More...]

Knee Pain and Social Security Disability

Knee damage cases can be winners in Social Security hearings but only if the degree of damage is severe and all non-surgical treatment has failed.

In this video I talk about the type of diagnosis you will need to have and why a diagnosis calling for a single or bilateral knee replacement is usually necessary.

Why Do Social Security Judges Ask Hypothetical Questions to Vocational Witnesses at Hearings?

Transcript of video:

Hi there. This is Jonathan Ginsberg; I’m a Social Security Disability attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. I want to talk to you about hypothetical questions that the judge is going to ask the vocational expert at your Social Security Disability hearing.

If you haven’t yet gone to your hearing, what you’ll find is that the judge will in many cases have a vocational witness there. The vocational witness is typically a person with experience, knowledge, education about jobs in the economy, and is going to testify for the judge about jobs that you might be able to do given the limitations that may exist in your record. [Read More...]