Big Arroyo Creek and Eagle Scout Peak Sequoia National Park, California

medical assessmentIn a recent district court decision, a 51-year-old plaintiff asked for summary judgment to reverse the SSA’s finding that he wasn’t disabled. If you are trying to obtain Social Security Disability benefits in California, it is crucial to have a dedicated SSDI attorney by your side throughout the process.

The plaintiff in question worked as a manager of a free clothing program for 18.5 years and applied for SSDI benefits, claiming that he was disabled because of bipolar disorder starting in 2011. The application was denied, and then he was found not disabled by an administrative law judge who believed he had residual functional capacity and there existed jobs he could still perform as a result.

The plaintiff had a history of suicidal ideation, depression, and bipolar disorder. He’d been hospitalized twice for suicidal ideation. He admitted himself to the ER complaining that he was depressed and suffering from suicidal ideation. He also said he’d been feeling more depressed for the last three months, as well as experiencing insomnia, hopelessness, and increased appetite. However, he presented to a doctor as someone with good insight and judgment to counteract his suicidal ideation.

injuryIn a recent district court decision, the plaintiff sought judicial review of a California administrative law decision denying her application for benefits under the Social Security Act. The plaintiff had stated her onset of disability was April 28, 2010. The plaintiff’s request for review was denied. At the district court level, the parties moved for summary judgment.

The district court explained that anyone who files a social security disability claim needs to show she is unable to perform any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable mental or physical impairment that has gone on or is anticipated to last for 12 or more months. The administrative law judge is supposed to apply a 5-step sequential process to decide disability. The administrative law judge has a special duty to fully develop the record.

In this case, the administrative law judge found that the plaintiff hadn’t engaged in substantial gainful activity since the onset date. At the second step, the claimant had the burden of showing a serious impairment or group of impairments. The administrative law judge found the plaintiff had suffered from depression, obesity, and degenerative disc disease.

If you are applying for SSDI benefits in Fresno, you may be curious how much weight your treating doctor’s opinion is given. In a recent Social Security Disability case in the Southern District of California, the plaintiff sought judicial review of a Social Security Commissioner’s denial of his application for disability insurance benefits.Legal News Gavel

The plaintiff argued that the administrative law judge had made a reversible error by not properly weighing a non-examining doctor’s opinion, among other things.

The case arose when the plaintiff was 47. He had been working as a sheet metal mechanic and stopped working in 2013 because of various health conditions, including degenerative disc disease, obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, and anxiety. A tumor had been surgically removed from his neck in 1991, and then he went through back surgery.

Continue reading

If you are trying to obtain SSI or SSDI benefits in Fresno, it can be important to retain an experienced attorney who can work to make sure the Social Security Administration understands the impact of all of your impairments on your case.  In a recent case in a court in the Central District of California, a plaintiff asked for review of the Commissioner’s denial of his request for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits. The parties filed consents to go before a magistrate judge in's equipment

The claimant was born in 1956 and had previously worked as a caterer and a car rental manager. He applied for a period of disability benefits, claiming he hadn’t been able to work since 2011. His applications were denied initially, and he requested a hearing in front of an administrative judge.

At the hearing, the claimant testified, as did a medical expert and vocational expert. The administrative judge decided against him. The claimant asked the court to review.

Continue reading

Legal News GavelIn a recent district court case that sheds light on how courts view the approval of California disability insurance benefits, a plaintiff asked for review of the Commissioner’s denial of his request for Social Security disability insurance benefits. The plaintiff had completed 12th grade and worked as a security guard. His date of birth was in 1951.

He applied for disability insurance benefits claiming disability since 2008 due to bipolar disorder, lymphadenopathy, hyperlipidemia, arthralgia, hepatitis B, and dermatitis. His application was denied at first and then reconsidered. He asked for a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing was in 2015, and at that time both the plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. In his decision the administrative law judge determined he wasn’t disabled because he had a substance abuse disorder that was a contributing factor that was germane to determining his disability.

The district court reviewed the denial to determine whether it was based on substantial evidence — evidence that was enough for a reasonable person to accept it as sufficient to support the conclusion drawn.

Continue reading

Legal News GavelIn a district court decision that may give those seeking supplemental security income in California some sense of the process, a plaintiff sought judicial review of an administrative law judge’s decision denying his request for supplemental security income under Title XVI. The plaintiff had filed his first application for benefits in 2013, and he was denied in 2014, and then denied reconsideration.

He had therapy four times with a particular licensed clinical social worker. He next had weekly therapy at a counseling center. In 2015, he started to take psychiatric medication and began to see a psychiatrist. He had an exam with a state agency psychologist in 2014, and also had a psychological evaluation.

By law, someone claiming social security disability benefits need to prove he is unable to do any substantial gainful activity because of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 or more months. The administrative law judge is supposed to evaluate a claimant in five steps performed in sequence to decide whether the claimant is disabled such that he should receive benefits.

Continue reading

Who is eligible to receive veterans’ survivor benefits?

Our brave military men and women put their own lives on the line to protect our country. Entering the military comes with risks in all branches. Since our founding as a country, the United States has fought in at least 11 official wars and many other domestic and international military conflicts. Over 7,000 U.S. troops were killed, and thousands more injured, over the last decade. Losing your loved one to military service is devastating, and for many families, it also means financial struggle. To assist the family members of fallen or disabled soldiers, the Social Security Administration and the Veteran’s Association offers both veteran and survivor benefits.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Q: How do I know if my representative payee is honest?

California disability benefits attorneys are devoted to helping society’s most vulnerable citizens determine which of the two available federal disability benefits programs they may be qualified for and then handling the application and/or appeals process necessary to secure those benefits.

The two federal disability benefits programs offered through the Social Security Administration(“SSA”) both require that applicants meet the federal government definition of being “disabled”. In general, Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) apply to disabled people who have previously worked for a requisite number of years and paid into Social Security through their payroll deductions. The other program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is available to disabled people in an exceptionally low-income situation. Sometimes people may qualify for both programs.

While the road to being awarded disability benefits can be long and difficult, especially without assistance from a skilled disability benefits attorney, the difficulties don’t always end when the award is granted.

What assets count towards SSI eligibility?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that assists people with disabilities in paying for basic necessities like food and shelter. SSI and SSDI are often lumped together, but the two programs have some major differences. SSI is not limited to those who have a certain number of work credits, unlike SSDI.  The program is open to individuals with a disability who have limited assets and income. Our SSI eligibility lawyers explore the eligibility requirements for SSI and what assets will count towards your asset limit below.

SSI Eligibility

To receive SSI benefits, you must demonstrate that you are disabled and have limited financial resources. Various medical conditions may allow you to qualify to receive SSI benefits. Check the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments to determine if your condition may qualify. You will need to include strong medical evidence of your disability, which must prove your inability to earn a living.

Once you have substantiated your disability, you must meet the income and asset limits. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must have no more than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 per couple. However, not all assets will count towards this limit. Assets excluded from consideration include:

Can my child with autism receive SSI benefits?

It is estimated that one in every 68 children today are on the autism spectrum, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings. Autism is a multi-system developmental disorder that can affect a child’s ability to communicate and interact with the world around him or her. Autism varies significantly in severity. Children with severe autism may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to assist in daily living expenses.

Qualifying for SSI Benefits Due to Autism

The Social Security Administration includes “Autism spectrum disorder” among its listings of impairments. The definition of autism disorders was updated in 2017. To be eligible to receive benefits, you must provide documentation to support that your child with autism suffers from:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication deficits

Contact Information