Disability Denial Attorneys Blog

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

Veterans Disability: Don’t Demonize Everyone at VA

Published on March 2, 2015 by

The Department of Veterans Affairs is getting a lot of well-deserved bad press these days for their inability to adequately help the men and women who serve our country. Not only are they ridiculously far behind in processing claims from Vets (recently these delays hit a 20-year high despite changes and statements that things are getting better!), there are big problems at Veterans Hospitals that have led to substandard conditions and even directly or indirectly caused deaths. It’s gotten so bad that some people are saying that the entire VA is broken and needs to be completely overhauled or done away with – along with those running it.

But while there are definitely plenty of things that need to be fixed about the VA, including a number of executive and administrative issues, it’s important to remember that most of the people who work in Veterans Affairs really do have the best interests of Vets at heart and try their hardest every day to get them the help they need.

It Takes One to Help One

I was reminded of this fact the other day when I read an article at The Atlantic Journal-Constitution from a VA worker and former member of the Armed Forces. Tommy Sowers says that he feels “privileged” to serve other Veterans, and brings up something that we would all be wise to remember when dealing with Veterans Affairs workers – many of them are Vets themselves.

Why is this so important? Because often it’s easier for Veterans to understand what others like themselves are going through. Appeal to them in the right way, and you’re likely to have another person on your side. And because they’re on the inside, they may know who to talk to or what channels to go through to get your claim processed as quickly as possible.

But more than this, you should know so that you can show them the respect that they deserve when dealing with them. The VA’s a huge bureaucracy and there’s a good chance that your claim will run into roadblocks along the way. Don’t take your frustration out on another Vet who’s just trying to do their job, though. As a Veterans Disability lawyer, I can tell you first hand that it’s a lot more effective if you can appeal to them and enlist them to your cause.

Keep up with the latest in Veterans Disability news by following this blog, and read our free eBook to learn more about the disability claims process.

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Does Illness Anxiety Disorder Qualify You for Long Term Disability Insurance Benefits?

Published on February 27, 2015 by

Illness anxiety disorder, previously known as hypochondriasis, has gotten a facelift of sorts in the DSM-5. The portrayal of hypochondriacs in media was so pervasive (and typically negative) that experts found both laymen and professionals approaching the disorder and those who seemed to have it from a place that was less than objective, resulting in confusion and misdiagnoses.

The DSM-5 attempts to rectify that problem by both changing the name of the disorder itself and further clarifying the kind and degree of symptoms that professionals should look for when trying to diagnose it. Those filing claims for hypochondriasis – or, now, illness anxiety disorder – need to know these new guidelines so that they don’t neglect to bring up symptoms that doctors will be looking for.

Diagnosis Guidelines for Illness Anxiety Disorder

For the most part, the guidelines for diagnosing illness anxiety disorder are fairly straightforward and what you would expect, but it’s still wise to know exactly what medical professionals are looking for.

  • You are preoccupied with a serious illness that you have – or even the possibility that you might get one.
  • You display no or only minimal somatic symptoms.
  • If you have a medical issue or are at risk for one, your anxiety over this possibility is excessive.
  • You are overly anxious about your health in general.
  • You are excessive in your attempts to remain healthy and engage in behaviors such as frequently checking yourself for signs that you are sick or staying away from hospitals, doctors, and other people and places that could “make you sick.”
  • You have exhibited an intense anxiety over getting sick for six months or longer, though the specific fear may have altered during this time.
  • This preoccupation with your health cannot be explained better by a different mental disorder. Some examples include generalized anxiety disorder, somatic symptom disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, panic disorder, delusional disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Doctors will also attempt to place you in one of two categories of illness anxiety disorder types: the care-avoidance type or the care-seeking type. Quite simply, people who fit into the care-avoidance category worry excessively but stay away from doctors and other medical practitioners, while care-seekers tend to go to their doctors more and advocate for procedures and tests to make sure everything is okay on a frequent basis.

For more in-depth information on what to do when filing your illness anxiety disorder claim, talk to an experienced medical disability lawyer as soon as possible. And for additional background on disability claims, check out our free eBook on disability insurance.

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How Can You Win Social Security Disability Benefits for Personality Disorders? Try using SSA Listing 12.08.

Published on February 25, 2015 by

A personality disorder is a severe and pervasive condition that can keep you from interacting with other people in a normal way or functioning effectively in a work environment. In some of the worst cases, people who suffer from this can be a danger to themselves and others.

From that description, it seems pretty clear this is a disabling issue, and one for which an individual should be able to get help in the form of Social Security disability benefits. But in order to receive those benefits, you have to file a claim and prove your eligibility.

That means matching medical requirements of a specific disease on the SSA’s Listings of Impairments. Or you can use the Five Step Evaluation Process to show the SSA that, even though your condition doesn’t match something on their list, it is the equivalent in severity. Proving equivalency is a much murkier path than matching a preset definition, so meeting a listing should always be the first option you try.

Before beginning, you should understand exactly what the Listings of Impairments is. This is a document that compiles every disabling condition that the SSA has defined as something that makes you eligible for benefits, as well as what you need to prove in order to show that your symptoms reach the required level of severity.

Specific Requirements for Listing 12.08 Approval

There are two requirements you need to meet to show that you have a personality disorder serious enough to qualify you for benefits. They are defined under section A and B, and you have to satisfy both of these sections.

  1. Display patterns of behavior that hinder your ability to adjust to new situations or environments and consist of at least one of the following:
    1. Autistic or isolationist thinking
    2. Pathologically inappropriate hostility or suspicion
    3. Strangeness in behavior, speech, perception, or thought
    4. Ongoing mood disturbances
    5. Pathological aggressiveness, passivity, or dependence
    6. Relationships that are unstable, intense, impulsive, and damaging
  2. These patterns of behavior result in two or more of the below:
    1. Severe restrictions to your activities of daily living
    2. Severe problems functioning in a social manner
    3. Severe problems with persistence, pace, or concentrating
    4. Serious and ongoing personality disturbances

Beyond this observed evidence, there are no objective laboratory tests the SSA accepts as support for someone having a personality disorder, so you need to ensure that your medical history is detailed, extensive, and well-documented.

If you are unable to meet the specific requirements of Listing 12.08 though, that doesn’t mean you need to forget about getting benefits. While it’s not as clear of a path, many people have been able to use the Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process to obtain the benefits that they need and deserve.

A skilled Social Security disability attorney can show you how to use the process to prove to the SSA that your disabling condition has prevented you from working for 12 months or longer and thus meets the standard of equivalency that qualifies you for benefits.

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


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Long Term Disability Benefits : How Can a Somatic Symptom Disorder Diagnosis Help Your Claim?

Published on February 20, 2015 by

If you’ve been following along recently, you probably know that we’ve been covering some of the changes that have been made in the DSM-5 and how they might impact your disability claim. Today we’re going to focus on a specific condition and the diagnostic criteria that you need to meet in order to be diagnosed with the disorder.

As always, this information is generalized and meant to give you an idea about what you may face if you file a claim. The best way to get advice about your specific situation is to set up a free consultation with someone at an experienced disability firm.

Diagnostic Criteria for Somatic Symptom Disorder

The diagnostic criteria that you need to meet to be diagnosed with somatic symptom disorder are laid out pretty clearly in the DSM-5.

  1. You display a somatic symptom or symptoms that significantly disrupt your life on a daily basis or are otherwise distressing.
  2. You show excessive feelings, thoughts, or behaviors about your health or condition in one or more of the following ways:
    • You focus on the seriousness of your symptoms an excessive amount.
    • You symptoms or health causes you to experience a persistently high level of anxiety.
    • You devote excessive time and energy to your health issues.
  3. You are persistently symptomatic (6 months or longer in most cases), but may not continuously have to deal with the same symptom.

For some people, the main issue is pain. For others, it’s the fact that the symptoms they have to deal with never seem to go away. When describing your condition, you should specify whether pain or persistence is the bigger issue for you.

Those who experience only one of the symptoms described under section 2 are defined as having Mild somatic symptom disorder. Moderate severity means that you are dealing with two or more of these symptoms, and a Severe designation requires that you suffer two or more of those symptoms in addition to having several other somatic complaints.

Still unclear on whether or not you meet the requirements? The best thing you can do is speak with a qualified long term disability attorney and learn about how disability policies work by reading our free eBook.

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