All posts by Louis B. Lusk

 

Disability Lawyer Louis B. Lusk Dicusses Disability Evidence

Atlanta Disability LawyerWhat evidence do you need to prove you are disabled? You should remember that the Social Security Administration relies primarily on four types of evidence when determining whether you are disabled. Make sure you review each of these types of evidence with disability lawyers in Atlanta GA so you can prepare to show the Social Security Administration that you truly cannot work. The four types of evidence are your medical records, opinions from your doctors, your own statements, and statements from other people who know you.

Medical Records

Your medical records are very important. They provide proof to the social security administration that you have a medically determinable impairment. This is a requirement for obtaining benefits. Alone, your medical records may even be sufficient to prove you are disabled if your condition is especially severe. In cases where medical records are insufficient to prove you are disabled, they can still substantiate your statements about your symptoms and limitations.

Opinions from Your Doctors

Your doctors may submit reports of their own to the Social Security Administration. These reports may offer opinions on your prognosis, diagnosis, treatment and limitations. These reports can be very influential. In some cases, they may be controlling, which means the Social Security Administration must adopt a doctor’s opinion if it meets certain requirements.

Your Own Statements

The Social Security Administration will consider what you say about your pain and other symptoms. The administration will want to hear how they affect your activities and ability to work. This includes what you write on your paperwork and what you say to doctors who treat you.

Statements From People Who Know You

Finally, statements from people who are familiar with how your condition affects you may help your claim. These statements can be submitted in letters or in live testimony at your hearing. Statements may be required of friends, family, co-workers and supervisors.

Contact Disability lawyer Louis B. Lusk

For more information contact the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk at 1 (800) 582-7319 or (404) 250-7000.

An Atlanta Disability Attorney on How Best to Describe Your Symptoms

Atlanta Disability AttorneyFor many disability claimants, the most important part of the process is the disability hearing; it is here that you finally have the opportunity to speak and explain to the judge exactly what your symptoms are. In large measure, symptoms are how you feel, and you are the one best able to convey this to the judge.

Correlation with Medical Records

Although symptoms are indeed unique, your Atlanta Social Security disability attorney will explain that the information you provided regarding your medical examinations, tests and other procedures must indicate symptoms similar to those you report. For example, your medical records may show the likelihood that you are suffering some degree of pain, but the manner in which you describe the severity, duration and frequency of the pain you actually experience will provide the judge with much needed information.

Do Not Speak in Medical Terms

It doesn’t help your case if you simply state the fact that you have a certain condition, such as, “I have arthritis.” Additionally, even though you probably know more about your medical impairments that a lot of doctors, it is counterproductive to speak in clinical, medical terminology. Instead, simply describe in detail how you feel.

Your Credibility

Your Atlanta Social Security disability attorney will tell you from experience that it is important to be very honest in describing your symptoms. Do not exaggerate; avoid the temptation to say things like, “I am in constant pain.” Very few people experience ongoing pain with no relief; pain is more typically intermittent. Most claimants in fact do have some good days. You seem far more believable if you tell the judge that fact, but it is also essential not to minimize your symptoms. Even if you think a lot of people suffer similarly to you, it doesn’t advance your interest to say this at the hearing.

The Details

Be as descriptive as you can, especially in relating how your impairments limit your ability to perform daily activities. For example, if you have to sit down and elevate your feet after standing for 30 minutes, say so. Describe as accurately as possible what causes your symptoms to flare up, what alleviates them and how long the process typically takes.

Contact an Atlanta Disability Attorney for Legal Advice

As a Social Security disability claimant, you understand the process can be complex and lengthy and denials are common. However, persistence and exploring your options on appeal can lead to positive results. For information on your case, call Louis B. Lusk, an Atlanta disability attorney, at (404) 250-7000.

How Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA Help You Prepare for Your Testimony

Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GALike most people who are trying to be approved for Social Security disability benefits, you are probably nervous about testifying in court. Experienced disability lawyers in Atlanta GA can help you prepare in the days and weeks leading up to your court date. In the meantime, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Be Honest

Judges have seen it all, and they can easily tell when a witness is being untruthful. Nothing can damage you case as much as coming across as dishonest, so answer all of the judge’s questions as truthfully as possible. When asked a question, don’t wonder how your answer will affect your case, and don’t try to determine why the judge is asking it. Be forthcoming about your limitations as well as your strengths. Do not engage in play-acting by pretending to cry or acting like you’re in more pain than you really are. By the same token, don’t downplay your pain and suffering. If you need to stand during your testimony or want a break, go ahead and ask.

Share Your Story

When dealing with the government, people tend to err on the side of being as tight-lipped as possible. That’s understandable when they have something to lose. In this case, however, you have something to gain and should therefore be as candid and forthcoming as possible while sharing your story. Clearly explain to the judge why your condition keeps you from working. Include as many details, facts and explanations as possible.

Estimating Dates

People often worry about being unable to provide precise dates when asked. Judges understand that most people don’t have perfect memories, so don’t be afraid to say that you’re not quite sure of the exact date. Instead, give an approximation. You can provide an estimated date or a possible range of dates. You can also provide the month and year, the season and year or, if all else fails, just the year.

Testimony Topics

Your testimony will cover the following areas: your daily activities, your medical history, your estimate of your limitations when it comes to work, your work history, your symptoms and your education.

Hire Our Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA

If you are unable to work due to your disability and want to apply for benefits, contact the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, which employs disability lawyers in Atlanta GA, by calling (404) 250-7000.

How Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA Advise Clients on Answering Questions About Sitting

 Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GAYour disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will give you advice on how to effectively answer questions about being able to sit at work.

Understanding Your Limitations When Sitting

Your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will tell you that in order to fully explain the difficulty in sitting, the following example is useful

Judge: For how long are you able to sit?

Claimant: I will be able to sit for approximately an hour if I force myself. Afterwards, I will need to return home and lie down. I will be useless for the remainder of the day. When engaging in certain activities in the home such as paying my bills, I am able to sit for around 20 minutes straight. Then I will have to take a walk for another 15 to 20 minutes before I can sit down again. Sitting is problematic for my back. It is better if I am able to sit in my recliner and elevate my legs. In that situation, I am able to sit for an extended period. From that position, I have trouble paying my bills. When paying bills, I usually sit at my kitchen table.

What Information to Share with the Judge

It can help to give the judge information about what you will need to do after you have been seated for a certain period. Are you able to sit for a time and then stand, stretch, and return to the seated position to get back to work? Are you able to go back and forth between sitting and standing? Will you need to walk around after a period of time standing or sitting in a single place? If that is the case, how frequently will you need to do so? The majority of jobs provide employees with breaks every few hours. Will you need breaks in excess to what is normal? What will you need to do on these breaks? Do you need to sit? Walk around? Sit in a reclined position? Lie down? How often would you need these breaks during the course of a day? You might be asked to give an estimation of how long you will need to sit over the course of a normal workday. The judge will need to have an idea as to how long you can sit during those conventional eight hours of work even if it is of short duration. You will have to consider this before the hearing so your estimate is realistic. The judge will also need to know the same information about standing.

Contact Experienced Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA

For help with questions about sitting, call (404) 250-7000 to speak to disability lawyers in Atlanta GA at the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk.

Our Disability Lawyers Define Good Excuses for Late Disability Appeals

Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GAOur disability lawyers have conferred on what Social Security disability claimants can do about missed appeal deadlines. Most claimants start again with a new claim for disability benefits. Some, however, may be able to persuade the Social Security Administration (SSA) to accept their appeals even after late filings and untimely.

Good Cause for Missing Appeal Deadlines

Disability lawyers in Atlanta GA have found that SSA may decide whether to excuse for good cause a failure to file an appeal from a denial of benefits in time. To make its decision, the SSA considers

  • whether any circumstances prevented timely filing,
  • whether SSA or the Centers for Medicare or Medicaid Services (CMS) confused or misled the claimant into missing the deadline,
  • whether the claimant misunderstood what was needed, or
  • whether a physiological, cognitive, educational, or other limitation prevented the claimant from filing the appeal on time.

Examples of Good Cause

SSA has published some examples of circumstances in which disability claimants had good cause for late appeals. If the reason for missing a deadline is not on this list, SSA may find good cause in other circumstances. Disability lawyers in Atlanta GA say the examples simply indicate some circumstances in which SSA may find good cause to excuse the untimeliness. SSA may find good cause if:

  • The claimant was very sick and could not make contact with SSA personally or through someone else. There must be a showing of serious sickness or SSA will find that the tardy claimant or an intermediary could have submitted the appeal when due.
  • Fire or some other disaster at the time of the filing deadline destroyed records essential to the appeal and necessary to meet the deadline. Destruction by fire of the claim denial notice inside claimant’s residence the day before the filing deadline might be a reasonable explanation good cause for missed deadline.
  • The claimant requested from SSA additional information about its denial before the filing. The claimant then would have 60 days after receipt from SSA of the additional information requested to file for an appeal.
  • SSA or CMS gave the claimant incorrect or confusing information about appealing from the denial of the claim.
  • The claimant did not comprehend or was unable to comply with the requirement to file an appeal at or before the deadline because of a mental impairment.
  • The claimant never received the SSA notice of the claim denial. Proof that the claimant never received the notice is necessary. As an example, if SSA negligently mails the denial notice to the wrong address, there might be good cause to excuse the late appeal.
  • The claimant submitted the appeal to the wrong government office before deadline, but that office did not forward the filing to SSA until after the deadline.
  • Other unusual or unavoidable circumstances made any expectation of a timely filing unreasonable.

As a general rule, the later the appeal filing, the harder it is to argue for a finding of good cause. If, for instance, the claimant after a heart attack is a hospital inpatient for three weeks at the time of the filing deadline, there is no basis for good cause or excuse for filing the appeal six months late.

How to Request SSA Acceptance of a Late Appeal

The request to accept a late appeal must be in writing. The claimant submits the appeal form and then explains the reason for good cause on the form or on a separate filing at the same time.

SSA must accept the appeal for processing no matter how late. Once the claimant files the late appeal with an explanation of why there should be a finding of good cause, the SSA must decide whether the explanation amounts to a good excuse for the late filing. SSA might contact the claimant to ask for more information for the explanation.

Consult Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA

Anyone unable to work because of disability may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. How do claimants qualify? The SSA decides claims on many factors; severity of a medical condition, age, education, and work history are examples. In one important way, claimants can improve their chances of winning disability claims.

Experienced disability lawyers in Atlanta GA can make the difference between winning or losing. In Social Security cases there is no substitute for the advice and advocacy of a skillful, experienced lawyer, especially in appeals from claim denials. Louis B Lusk has a long track record of good results in disability cases. And there is never any fee due until clients win their claims with awards of benefits. Call 404-250-7000 or 800-883-7043 today for a free case consultation.

The Four Types of Appeals Explained by Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA

flag gavel DIsability Lawyers in Atlanta GAWhen you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain that you have four options for appealing this decision. When you receive a denial, the first thing that you are required to do in most states is request a reconsideration of the case. This, however, varies by state and it is very important to follow the instructions in your denial of benefits letter so that you follow the correct procedures. If you are denied again, there are three additional options to appeal the decision.

Understanding the Request for Reconsideration

Your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain that you may be denied initial benefits or from receiving continued benefits under the Social Security disability program. If you are denied for either reason, you have the right to request a reconsideration of the case.

Reconsideration for Initial Claim

If you apply for benefits and are denied, you will receive a notification in the mail stating that you have the right to appeal this decision. It is very important that you make contact with the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to begin your appeal. There is a deadline that must be met to make the appeal. Once your appeal is received, it will be reviewed by a medical consultant that was not involved in the initial decision. This process takes place at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) level. At this level, only about 5 to 10 percent of all claims are approved after initially being denied. If your claim is denied again, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain, you will be notified of the denial. At this point, you have the ability to take your case to the next level of appeal and have your case heard by an Administrative Judge.

Reconsideration for Continuing Claims

The SSA randomly conducts Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) to determine if you are still qualify for disability benefits. If it is determined that you no longer qualify for these benefits, you will receive a letter of discontinuation. At this point, you have the right to request reconsideration for continuing benefits. Similar to appealing an initial claim, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain, your case will be reviewed by an independent examiner. However, there will be heavy consideration placed on medical records from your current doctor that is treating the condition that has qualified you as disabled. If you are still denied benefits at this point, you have the same rights to take your case before an Administrative Judge for review.

Administrative Judge Hearings

If your claim for initial or continuing disability benefits has been denied during the reconsideration phase of your case, you have the right to have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must file an appeal with an ALJ within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. An ALJ works for the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Their main responsibility is reviewing disability cases that have been denied. In some cases they may handle other legal issues for the SSA, but generally they only review disability cases. As your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will most likely tell you, nearly 70 percent of all cases that reach this point will be approved. However, if your case is denied, you still have the ability to appeal the decision. The Appeals Council The next step in the appeal process is to file a request for review with the Appeals Council. It should be noted that the Appeals Council generally only accepts about two percent of all cases that apply. They can decline your review request for any reason, including filing late or not submitting enough documentation. The Appeals Council only looks for mistakes that could have been made by the ALJ in ruling on your case. They are only there to make sure that nothing illegal occurred while your case was being reviewed. While most people find absolutely no success in this level of appeal, it is a necessary requirement to complete if you wish to take your case to the final step of appeals.

Suing for Benefits in Federal Court

If you have exhausted all other levels of appeal and you have still been denied benefits, you have one last chance to win your case. You may sue the SSA for benefits in Federal Court. People that opt for this method are relying on the opinions of a jury to win their case. Unlike taking the case before an ALJ, your case will go before the court just like a regular case and a decision is given by a jury and then approved by a judge. There are no guarantees that the jury will award in your favor. It is very rare for a case to go this far in the appeals process. According to statistics, it is less than one percent of all cases that are appealed make it this far. This is because taking your case to Federal Court is very expensive and can take several years to complete. You will need to be represented by an attorney to appeal at this level and be prepared for an extensive fight.

Speak to Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA About Your Case Today

Applying for Social Security Disability can be a complicated process. Once you have applied, you face a 70 percent chance of being initially denied benefits. This high amount of denials is standard operating procedure by the SSA in an effort to deter people from claiming benefits. If you are facing an appeal for benefits, or if you need to start the application process, you are encouraged to speak with one of the disability attorneys at the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you with your disability case. We are confident that we will help you gain an approval for disability benefits. If you need help with your Social Security Disability Case, call 404.250.7000 and speak with qualified disability lawyers in Atlanta GA today.

 

 

Your Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA Discuss Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

ssd application Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA Navigating the rules and requirements for obtaining Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits can be difficult and confusing. Your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA have outlined below some of the basics to help you better understand whether or not you may qualify for these benefits.

Substantial Gainful Activity Requirement

Substantial gainful activity is one of the criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine whether applicants are eligible to receive benefits. There is an income limit of approximately $1000 monthly and beyond this is considered substantial gainful activity. Many SSDI applicants are unable to work as a result of their impairment and, therefore, meet this measure. Let your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA know if you are currently working, though, as the work must not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity or he will not be able to receive SSDI benefits.

Medically Determinable and Severity Requirements

Applicants must have a medically determinable impairment that interferes with one’s ability to do work. This means that medical testing and diagnostic practices prove that an impairment is present. In addition to the presence of an impairment, this impairment must also be severe. The severity requirement gauges the limitations the impairment places on work ability.

Duration Requirement

An applicant’s medical determinable impairment must last or be expected to last 12 months or result in death in order to be eligible for SSDI benefits. It is permissible for the 12 months to include periods of lesser severity and fewer interferences with work 


Work Ability Requirement

If an applicant remains able to work, it is unlikely that SSA will find the applicant to qualify for SSDI benefits. There are, however, some exceptions based on an applicant’s age.

Contact Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA

If you are considering applying for SSDI benefits it can be extremely beneficial to discuss your claim with knowledgeable disability lawyers in Atlanta GA. The Law Office of Louis B. Lusk are available by calling (404) 250-7000.

Louis B. Lusk Discuss Back Pain and Disability Benefits

Obtaining disability benefits for back pain is challenging for a number of reasons, which is why supporting medical evidence is so important. Simply having pain is not enough; you must prove that you have a back condition that limits your physical abilities.

Typical Back Conditions

A number of conditions may result in back pain. A few of these include spinal stenosis, herniated discs, nerve root compression or degenerative disc disease. Back pain may also be caused by other conditions such as osteoarthritis. Each of these conditions has its own criteria that must be met before benefits are granted. Sometimes an individual with back pain does not fit into any standard category and must therefore apply for benefits based solely on the amount of discomfort he or she is experiencing. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is leery of such claims. As such, they may therefore put up more resistance whenever the cause of back pain is not readily apparent.

Standard for Disability

To qualify for benefits, you must prove you have a “medically determinable” impairment that is expected to last for more than one year.  To prevail, your medical records and the results of any tests such as x-rays or MRIs must also show your condition is a long lasting one. Ideally, the evidence will show that you have a physical impairment that is causing your back pain which cannot be easily remedied. Having such an ailment tends to lend credibility to your claim.

Evaluating the Severity

You must be able to prove your pain is so severe that normal activity is severely hampered. The SSA generally requires people to manage a certain amount of pain, and therefore only grants benefits to the most serious of cases. They may evaluate your pain by checking your objective symptoms against their own guide to benefits. This will give them a basis for determining how severe your pain actually is. They may also evaluate your physical limitations in an effort to discover if there are other occupations you could perform. This means claims examiners will want to know if you have difficulty lifting heavy objects, stooping, bending, or standing in one place for an extended period.

Evaluating Credibility

You must establish yourself as credible in order for the claims examiner or Administrative Law Judge to believe your pain is actually as bad as you claim it is. This is done by checking to see if your medical records support your contentions of disabling pain. The examiner will also take into account how your pain affects your everyday life, including what limitations it poses on your activities.

Contact Louis B. Lusk

If you suffer from disabling back pain, contact the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk at 404-250-7000.

 

 

An Atlanta Social Security Disability Attorney Explains How Hearing Decisions and State Agency Determinations Differ

scales gavel stethoscope Atlanta Social Security Disability AttorneyAtlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk is sometimes asked why the a hearing decision by an administrative law judge is more likely to be favorable than the state’s earlier determination of a disability claim. When an administrative law judge receives your case on appeal of a denial from the state agency, they look at more things in order to determine your case’s outcome. At the state agency level, by contrast, the person deciding on whether or not to grant your disability claim simply looks at your file to make their decision on whether or not your disability prevents you from being able to work.

Denials Based on Your Disability Not Appearing in the List

If you are under age 50, the state agency may deny your claim if your disability does not meet the severity requirements of the state’s Listing of Impairments. These impairment listings apply to numerous different illnesses, and they are criteria that are used to determine how severe your disability is and whether it limits you to the point you are unable to work.

Your Residual Functional Capacity

Another way in which you may still be approved for your disability claim is if your ability to do the same type of work you have done previously or to change to a new job is severely limited by your disability. In order to determine whether your disability limits your ability to do so, the state agency will consider your age, level of education, your ability to do certain types of work activities and your work experience.

Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Decisions

At your hearing, your administrative law judge will look at more factors to determine your residual functional capacity. They will also consider how credible you are and are more flexible than state agencies.

Contact an Atlanta Social Security Disability Attorney

If you plan to file a disability claim, you may need the help of an Atlanta Social Security disability attorney. An attorney may be able to maximize your chances for getting your disability claim approved. To contact an Atlanta Social Security disability attorney at the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, call (404) 250-7000.

Atlanta Disability Lawyer Discusses Your Doctor’s Opinion

Atlanta Disability Lawyer male doctor talking with handicapped senior womanIt is common for the Social Security Administration to ask the treating doctors of disability claimants for more information about their patient’s impairment and ability to perform work-related activity. You and your Atlanta disability lawyer may want to give your doctor a heads up that such information may be requested while you go through the Social Security disability claims process. Here are some questions you might have regarding this process.

  • Why does my doctor’s opinion matter?
  • Why is it not enough to just submit my reports and records?

The medical professional who is most able to provide a comprehensive longitudinal view of a claimant’s medical impairment is the treating doctor. As such, the SSA will likely be interested in what the doctor has to say after treating the claimant’s impairment. The doctor might have a certain perspective about the claimant’s condition which is not conveyed by the test results or medical records from individual sessions. The doctor’s opinion therefore gets some special consideration.

What Does the SSA Need from My Doctor?

The SSA may ask several questions to your treating doctor regarding your disability. They may ask about your impairment’s severity, extent, and duration as far as the doctor has been treating it. The SSA might also ask for your doctor’s opinion about the effectiveness of any treatment you have undergone and any side effects that have resented, as well as how long and how severely the impairment is expected to restrict you. Specifically, the SSA is interested in answering the question about your ability to perform work-related activity in a sustained manner for a full workday and a full workweek. Anything your doctor can say about your ability to perform such work will help the SSA reach an accurate conclusion, as your Atlanta disability lawyer will tell you.

Contact an Atlanta Disability Lawyer

If you are filing for Social Security disability, talk to an Atlanta disability lawyer at the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk. Call (404) 250-7000.

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