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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Hi,I am not sure what law specialty to chose from for this

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Hi, I am not sure what law specialty to chose from for this question as I couldn't find one listed specifically for SSI. I and my wife have permanent painful medical conditions and like to know if our conditions qualify for Social Security Disability benefits(Supplemental Security Income or Social Security)  and how the law determine minimum severity of such condition to qualify? Myself: Low back pain that prevents me from holding any job, pain is sever that in most of days either I have to be on strong pain medication (causing drowsiness) or cant stand straight and can't walk. Also, I have a vasovagal where I get attack multiple times a day and pass out. It scares me so much and drugs I use to treat that makes me so drowsy and cannot drive or focus in doing any work. Mywife: has hand-wrest nerve damage (had two surgeries) and surgeons say she has permanent damage and chronic pain, lose of sensation in hand, and lots of pain. She cant carry items and having touch time in doing basic things. She also has a nerve passing over bone in her leg that causing so much pain and all medical options cannot solve it. Doctors recommend for her pain killers only. We have two kids and cant carry either. We contacted one disability lawyer but they declined our cases as they didn't think we have enough qualifying condition to qualify for permanent SSI disability benefits. We have two children younger than 2.5 years and we are financially in debt due to lack of ability to work and in desperate situation for any and all kinds of help. Also if you have any list of lawyers in my area who you can recommend and can help us, please do. Thank you.

Thank you for your question.

There is a process that social security goes through when deciding whether to find a person is disabled. Essentially they have to find:

1) A person is not working at substantial gainful employment (earning about $1,000 a month)

2) You have a severe condition that is expected to last (or has lasted) 12 months or more (they don't really define severe).

3) You cannot do any of your past work.

4) You cannot do any other type of work because of your condition(s).

If you are under 50 (and it sounds like you both are, given that you have very young children) the standard is harder, because you have to show that you are incapable of even sedentary work - that is, work where you could sit up to 6 hours a day and lift less than 10 pounds 2/3 of the day.

It would be impossible, based on these facts, to tell you whether you or your wife would meet these requirements.The vast majority of applicants are turned down at the initial level, ask for reconsideration, are turned down again, and then must request a hearing in front of a judge (which can take a year+ to get a hearing). So, the entire process can easily take 2 or more years to be resolved.

If you were calling my office with just these facts, I'd probably ask to see medical records or have your doctor fill out a questionaire for me before I made a determination -especially since you both sound like you are under 50. Back cases are also harder because a lot would depend on what the medical records say. An MRI that talks about only "mild" or "moderate" pain likely isn't enough by itself. However, you do mention another condition as well as the side effects of the medications, which must also be considered. Similarly, your wife's inability to use her hands effectively would eliminate most jobs, but it is possible that social security would find she is capable of work that doesn't involve her hands. But as you mention, there are other things going on with her as well - and side effects of pain medication must also be considered. Again, without looking at medical records, it is hard to give you a fair idea as to how good a case you may have and certainly wouldn't be fair to you, or ethical of me, to say you do or don't have a case.

The reason social security lawyers are cautious about what cases they take is because they are only paid if you are awarded benefits. So, they want only the top cases -the ones they at least feel they can win (really, it's a gamble each and every time).

While we are not permitted to recommend lawyers on this site, because it is against site rules, I would recommend if you are having trouble finding a local social security disability lawyer, you contact either your county bar association (if you have one --you can just Google it) or, if you don't have a county bar association, your state bar association - and tell them you are looking for a social security disability lawyer. Just because one office turned you down doesn't mean another firm wouldn't take your case, after all.

I hope this helps.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for the response.

Actually, I am few months older than 50. My wife is in mid 30s.

How does this help now?



It may or may not help depending on what age you war on your quote alleged onset date", that is, the day that you allege you were no longer able to work and disabled. If you were under 50 at that date, then we go by the standard I previously mentioned - you must be less than sedentary. Once a person reaches age 50, the standards are loosened a little bit, and Social Security makes it somewhat easier for person to be found disabled. Without getting overly complicated, there are things in Social Security disability known as "grid rules" that can be used to help find a person disabled beginning at age 50. Of course, this does not mean that all people 50 and over are found disabled, or that all people under 50 or not. But I think for you, being at least 50 years of age, firms may take a closer look at your case.
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