October 25, 2014

About Jonathan Ginsberg

Jonathan Ginsberg represents clients in disability claims filed with the Social Security Administration.

Find more about me on:

Here are my most recent posts

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...]

Failed Back Syndrome Social Security Disability Claims

In this video I talk about failed back syndrome, which describes a medical condition where you are no longer a surgical candidate and your only treatment option is long term pain management.

 

When Should You Consider Amending Your Onset Date

When you file for disability, the Social Security intake clerk will ask you for a specific date when your disability began.  Similarly, if you file online, you will have to choose a date when you became disabled.  In Social Security terminology, this date will be known as your alleged onset date (abbreviated AOD).

Like many elements of Social Security claims, SSA offers no real guidance about how to choose an onset date.  Ideally, your onset date should be that date when you no longer have the capacity to perform substantial activity (full time work) because of a medical condition or conditions.

Most of the time, SSA personnel will advise you to choose a date after you stopped working – typically the day after you terminated your employment.   This “last day of work” choice usually works but what if you stopped working full time 6 months earlier and your last 6 months of part time work resulted in numerous absences.  Similarly, what happens if you stopped working because your company went out of business and your medical issues did not become a problem until 4 months after you stopped working?

In this video I talk about the idea of amending your onset date.  Social Security allows you to change the date when you claim that your disability began.  Sometimes this change will reflect the reality of your situation and other times it will reflect the medical record and what your lawyer believes he can argue successfully on your behalf.

Thinking about your onset date and considering possible changes ahead of time should be the main takeaway from this video.  Given that Social Security judges are under tremendous pressure to approve only deserving claims, you are more likely to face pressure from the judge to change your onset to reduce your past due benefit award.  Sometimes it will make sense to compromise and sometimes it is better to stand firm.

Should I Agree to Amend my Disability Onset Date? from Jonathan Ginsberg on Vimeo.

Social Security Disability Hearing Questions Which are Always Asked

Social Security disability hearings follow a fairly consistent pattern.  Although every judge has his or her own practices, by in large, the information required will be roughly the same, regardless of the judge.

Since your hearing is your only opportunity to interact face to face with a judge, it just  makes sense to prepare for those questions that always come up at hearings.   You will hurt your chances at an approval if you do not prepare – the last thing you want to do is hem and haw trying to come up with an answers.  You are going to be nervous anyway so always prepare ahead of time with your lawyer.

In this video I talk about those questions that always seem to come up.   Though this video should not be used as a substitute for a pre-hearing conference with your lawyer, it should help you start with your preparation.

Can I Bring an Observer with me to my Social Security Disability Hearing?

You may feel scared or intimidated as the date of your Social Security disability hearing approaches. Would it be ok if you brought a friend or relative into the hearing room to give you moral support. In this video I explain hearing office policy regarding witnesses and observers.

Can I Bring an Observer with me to my Social Security Disability Hearing from Jonathan Ginsberg on Vimeo.

Why do Vocational Witnesses Appear to Testify at Social Security disability hearings?

Vocational Witness testimony in Social Security disability cases from Jonathan Ginsberg on Vimeo.

In this video, I talk about vocational witness testimony in a Social Security disability case.  Vocational witnesses appear and testify at many Social Security disability hearings.  At first, this may seem odd, as you have most likely never met this person and now he or she will be giving testimony about your hearing.

SSDI judges use vocational witnesses because the main issue they are deciding has to do with your capacity to work.  Basically, during the hearing, the judge will be trying to identify specific limitations that arise from your medical or mental health condition.  More specifically, the judge will be concerning himself with limitations that will impact your capacity to work.

For example, suppose that you hurt your back and you testify that you experience severe pain 3 to 4 hours per day and that the pain is so severe that you cannot sit or stand but have to lie down and take narcotic pain medication until you fall asleep.  If the medical record supports your testimony and the judge finds you credible, he might ask the VE a question like this:

[Read more...]