Social Security Disability Advocate

Serving Central California Since 1995

ASK THE ADVOCATE: I am a 45-year-old woman just diagnosed with cervical dystonia. It took a while to get the right diagnosis because I was having terrible bad headaches. About 6 months ago I developed head tremors like a jerking motion. I work as an administrative assistant and I can’t do the job with my symptoms. Really, I can’t do any job since the pain caused by the jerking motion is really bad in my neck. Can I qualify for Social Security Disability?

THE ADVOCATE: Cervical dystonia, which can also be referred to as spasmodic torticollis, can cause involuntary… Continue reading

ASK THE ADVOCATE: I am 25 years old and I have the worst case of eczema known on earth! Mostly it’s on my hands. They are so bad that the skin cracks and leaks. I can’t bend my fingers. I need help even getting dressed because my hands are so bad. My doctor has given me creams and sometimes a round of steroids, but nothing helps. Can I qualify?

ANSWER: It’s not a slam dunk, but it sounds like you have a severe case. Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a condition that makes your skin red and itchy. It’s… Continue reading

Classic Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative brain disorder that primarily affects a person’s movement in its early phases. Although resting tremors are a well-known sign of PD, the disease can also produce problems such as muscle stiffness, decreased coordination, difficulty standing and walking, and difficulty speaking clearly. These symptoms can make it difficult or impossible for someone to work. PD’s motor problems are related to a decrease of dopamine production in brain areas critical for smooth movements, but the underlying general disease is caused by an abnormal protein known as alpha-synuclein.

PD is listed under the category of impairments… Continue reading

Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) is a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue. These tumors can develop anywhere in your nervous system, including your brain, spinal cord, and nerves. NF2 is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood. NF2 results from changes (mutations) in the NF2 gene. The NF2 gene regulates the production of a protein that functions as a tumor suppressor. In more than half of individuals with NF2, the disorder is caused by spontaneous (new) mutations of the gene. In other affected individuals, NF2 is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern

The diagnosis of NF2… Continue reading

The main issue in your Social Security back pain disability case is whether or not you are able to work. In a back pain case, Social Security considers both your activity limitations (called “exertional” impairments) and your pain limitations (called your “non-exertional” impairments). In order to win, you have to prove that because of these impairments, there is no way you can perform even a simple, unskilled job 8 hours a day, five days a week.

There are two ways you can prove that you are unable to work:
You can meet the back pain listing – by showing SSA… Continue reading

What is Disabled Widow’s Benefits?

This is a disability program where the claimant can apply for benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record. You must be 50 years or older and the onset of your disability must be within 7 years of your spouse’s death.

What is Divorced Spouse’s Benefits?

A claimant can apply for benefits based on his or her divorced spouse’s earnings record. If you were married to your ex-spouse for 10 years, are, at least, 62 years old and are currently unmarried you would qualify.

What is the five step sequentially evaluation process for determining whether… Continue reading

  1. Are Social Security Disability benefits only for those who have a permanent disability? No, your disabilitymust last a year or be expected to last a year or result in death within one year.
  1. I have cancer and I am presently disabled, but my doctor feels I should be able to work again after my treatment. Should I apply for Social Security Disability benefits? If you are expected to be out of work for a year or more you should apply.
  1. How far back will Social Security pay me if I am approved? Social Security will only pay you past-due… Continue reading

ASK THE ADVOCATE: I am 55 years old and was a money counter in a casino for years. Last year I finally had to stop working due to such severe Duyptren’s contracture in both my hands that I am no longer able to open my hands to count money. My doctor is considering amputation of my ring and pinky finger on my right dominate hand. Can I get disability?

ADVOCATE: According to the Mayo Clinic, Dupuytren’s contracture is a hand deformity that usually develops over years. The condition affects a layer of tissue that lies under the skin… Continue reading

ASK THE ADVOCATE: A few months ago, my 60-year-old husband began acting very strange. He began either laughing or crying uncontrollably for no apparent reason. This has caused embarrassment with friends and family but most importantly, he lost his job because of the outbursts. His primary doctor sent him to a neurologist. That doctor thought he had pseudobulbar affect. We both asked what it was and how he got it. A brain MRI revealed problems in the frontal lobe of his brain. We are waiting on further tests. Do you think he might qualify for disability?

THE ADVOCATE:… Continue reading

The Government Account Office or GAO announces : “The public is three (3) times more likely to receive SSA benefits when they have a representative”.

I often get calls asking about whether someone should use an attorney or an advocate. My short answer is “there is no difference.” Attorneys and Advocates both represent claimants the same way and have the same authority. One major difference is that most Advocates have not gone to law school. Many, like myself, have been Paralegals for many years. I have been a Paralegal for 40 years and 25 years as an Advocate.

If someone… Continue reading