Disability Denial Attorneys Blog

Long-Term Disability - Social Security Disability - Veterans' Disability

Fibromyalgia and Your Long Term Disability Insurance Claim

Published on April 24, 2015 by

Recently we briefly touched on the five so-called “subjective disorders” that people often have a hard time proving to their insurer in order to start collecting the disability benefits that they need.

One of these disorders that has been getting a fair amount of attention over the last decade or so is fibromyalgia. But just because you have heard a few sound bites in the news does not mean that you really understand how the disease works.

What Is Fibromyalgia and How Can It Be Diagnosed?

The simplest definition of fibromyalgia is that it is a condition that causes people to feel ongoing pain and tenderness throughout their body, and doctors are unable to connect this pain to other medical issues.

Of course, if you’re going qualify for disability benefits, there are a number of more specific criteria that need to be met.

  • The chronic, widespread pain you are feeling must be ongoing for at least three months at the same general level of discomfort.
  • The pain has to have occurred within the past week.
  • You have to feel it in four bodily quadrants.
  • Tenderness must be felt in at least 11 of the 18 anatomical “tender points” that have been medically defined.
  • You need to be experiencing fatigue.
  • You have to wake up feeling unrefreshed.
  • You need to have problems remembering things or putting together coherent thoughts.
  • Other physical symptoms must exist.
  • Your doctor has not been able to identify any specific causes or abnormalities that would explain these symptoms, and therefore cannot provide objective testing or treatment.

Qualifying for Disability with Fibromyalgia

In order to qualify for disability benefits, someone suffering from fibromyalgia needs to provide “Objective Evidence of Disability.” Unfortunately, by its very nature, fibromyalgia eludes objective tests. How then do you prove it?

It’s not easy. A well-documented and extensive medical history showing your struggles with the condition is a must, and you may wish to undergo physical examination and testing to elaborate on your work restrictions as well.

One path that is potentially available is to show that you are not actually suffering from small-fiber polyneuropathy, a condition with symptoms very similar to fibromyalgia that can be diagnosed with objective tests and sometimes even treated.

This condition occurs when peripheral small-fiber neurons degenerate and stop functioning correctly, and your insurer may attempt to fight your claim of fibromyalgia by saying that you actually have SFPN. Testing yourself for this condition first can take the wind out of their sails and further your claim for fibromyalgia.

Want to learn more about qualifying for disability with fibromyalgia? Read our free eBook on disability insurance benefits for an overview, and then contact us to talk to a long term disability lawyer with a track record of success.

Continue reading...

How Can You Win Social Security Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss Not Treated With Cochlear Implantation? Try SSA Listing 2.10.

Published on April 22, 2015 by

When you can’t hear, you can’t communicate as effectively. This makes it harder to do many everyday tasks, and it can make finding and keeping a job where you have to work with others monumentally difficult. Because of this, if you have significant trouble hearing for any reason and you don’t have a cochlear implant – or hearing aid – it is possible to qualify for disability benefits through Social Security.

The SSA has two methods by which you can get benefits. The first one is to use their Listings of Impairments. This is a comprehensive guide to the various medical issues that the Social Security Administration recognizes as disabling conditions, complete with definitions and specific criteria to meet for each one. If you can show that you meet the requirements for a particular listing, you qualify for benefits automatically. For those who can’t meet the requirements for any of the listings, there’s another way, but it’s always better to try to match something in the Listings of Impairments first.

For Listing 2.10 Hearing Lost Not Treated with Cochlear Implantation, the criteria are quite specific.

Requirements to Get Benefits for Listing 2.10

Those who wish to receive benefits for their hearing loss that haven’t been treated with cochlear implantation need to prove that their impairment meets multiple conditions:

  • The average air conduction threshold in their better ear must be 90 decibels or higher.
  • The average bone conduction threshold in their better ear must be 60 decibels or higher.

Alternatively, they can take a test with a standardized list of monosyllabic, phonetically balanced words and get 40 percent or less correct on word recognition.

There are a number of tests out there that the SSA has deemed acceptable to prove these things:

Auditory brainstem response

Otoscopy

Weber tuning fork test

Békésy audiometry

Speech audiometry

Acoustic immittance testing

Rinne tuning fork test

Electrocochleography

Pure tone audiography

Show positive results on any of these tests and it can help you to get the benefits that you need.

What happens for those people with hearing issues who can’t meet the requirements in Listing 2.10?

Equivalency – The Second Method

Remember that second method you can use to apply for benefits? If you can’t prove that you meet the requirements of any condition in the Listings of Impairments, your goal is then to prove that your issue is equivalent in severity to something that is in the Listings.

How do you do this? The process isn’t simple or straightforward, and you’ll most likely want to have an experienced professional by your side guiding you through it. You’ll be using something called the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process, and you will need to prove that the medical issue you’re suffering from has kept you from working for 12 months or longer. If you’d like to learn more, contact a knowledgeable disability attorney as soon as possible.

Learn even more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free

Continue reading...

What are Subjective Disorders and How Can they Affect Your Long Term Disability Insurance Claim?

Published on April 17, 2015 by

When you are experiencing physical or mental distress, nothing about it seems very subjective. But when it comes to actually receiving a diagnosis and getting long term disability insurance benefits through your insurance company, there are several disorders that tend to fall on the borderline, and that can make it more difficult for you to get the help you need.

Despite the fact that these disorders are medically recognized problems, their very nature makes them difficult to assess. This has led many disability insurance companies to classify them as subjective disorders and demand that people who file claims for these conditions undergo extensive testing. Applicants must provide as much medical information and documentation as possible if they hope to win the benefits they need.

This is because any evaluation of these issues is largely based on the subjective opinion of the person suffering from them. Essentially, the insurance companies want to ensure that you truly are dealing with a medical issue that prevents you from working and making a living before agreeing to send you a check.

What Disorders Are Labeled as Subjective?

There are five disorders that have been labeled as subjective by most insurance disability companies:

Fibromyalgia. This condition causes someone to experience ongoing pain and tenderness throughout their body and has been connected to a number of related issues, including anxiety, depression, headaches, sleep problems, and fatigue.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This condition leaves you severely tired no matter how much you rest and doesn’t have a link to any other medical conditions.

Chronic Pain Syndrome. People with this disorder tend to have ongoing pain that is localized in two or more areas or generalized throughout the body for at least 3 to 6 months. Treatment can help to reduce the pain, but most people never completely get rid of it.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This issue is similar to Chronic Pain Syndrome except that it is always localized to a specific part of the body. Typically the affected area is a leg or an arm.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Some people equate this condition to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and classify it as such, but there are specific symptoms connected to it. People with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy experience swelling, tenderness, and pain (typically burning) in one of their extremities, along with shiny skin, discoloration, sweating, warmth or coolness, and flushing.

Because it can be difficult to prove that you actually suffer from one of these disorders, your best chance of getting the benefits you deserve is to hire a knowledgeable lawyer who truly understands disability laws. You can learn more yourself by reading our free eBook and frequently checking our blog.

Continue reading...

How Can You Win Social Security Disability Benefits for Loss of Speech? Try SSA Listing 2.09.

Published on April 17, 2015 by

Losing your ability to talk to other people is one of the most horrible things that a person can undergo. Communicating with others to complete routine can be challenging, but holding down a job where you have to work with other people is nearly impossible.

Because of this, the SSA has included loss of speech in their Listings of Impairments, an encyclopedic collection of all of the various disorders and disabilities that qualify individuals for social security disability benefits. All you have to do to start receiving these benefits and getting your life back on track is to meet the criteria laid down in the listing for your issue. If you can’t do that, it’s still possible to qualify by proving that your problem is the equivalent of something that is included in the Listings of Impairments. However, following that path is much more complicated and shouldn’t be attempted without professional guidance. You should always attempt to match a specific listing first.

So, how do you meet the listing for speech loss?

Criteria for Loss of Speech Benefits

This particular impairment is actually one of the simplest to qualify for. Most people who apply tend to be cancer victims who have had some or all of their speaking organs removed, but in reality the SSA doesn’t focus on how you lost your speaking ability. If you are unable – by any means – to produce “speech that can be heard, understood, or sustained,” you qualify for disability benefits through Social Security.

The test that can best help your case and prove you don’t have the ability to speak is referred to as Laryngoscopy. Show positive results on this test and you are much more likely to convince the SSA of your condition and get the benefits that you deserve.

But what if you can’t?

Five Steps to Equivalency

As mentioned above, matching a listing isn’t the only way to qualify. If you can’t match Listing 2.09, it’s still possible to prove that your impairment is equivalent to something in the Listings of Impairments by going through the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process and showing that the issue in question has prevented you from working for at least 12 months. Do this and you’ll soon have the benefits you need.

Whichever route you choose to qualify through, it pays to understand how the SSA works and what evidence truly will help your case. Because of this, your chances of success can increase if you work with an experienced professional who can answer your Social Security questions and guide you through the process. Learn even more about the claims process by reading our Social Security Disability eBook for free.

Continue reading...