Social Security Disability Advocate

Serving Central California Since 1995

QUESTION: I am a 57-year old woman with severe depression and anxiety. I can barley get out of the house to even pick up my mail. My doctor says I can’t work. I tried to file for Social Security Disability, but the local office said I don’t qualify for any benefits. In fact, they would not take an application because I didn’t work enough, and my husband makes too much money. Are they right?

ASK THE ADVOCATE: First of all as a reminder, Social Security is NOT an entitlement. But these benefits are not guaranteed. There are four… Continue reading

Sjögren’s syndrome is an immune-mediated disorder of the exocrine glands. Involvement of the lacrimal and salivary glands is the hallmark feature, resulting in symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth, and possible complications, such as corneal damage, blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), dental caries, and the inability to speak for extended periods of time. Involvement of the exocrine glands of the upper airways may result in persistent dry cough.

Many other organ systems may be involved, including musculoskeletal (arthritis, myositis), respiratory (interstitial fibrosis), gastrointestinal (dysmotility, dysphagia, involuntary weight loss), genitourinary (interstitial cystitis, renal tubular acidosis), skin (purpura, vasculitis),… Continue reading

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a serious skin disease that tragically is often misdiagnosed. Because HS usually begins as pimple-like bumps on the skin, many victims (and doctors, too) think their condition is acne, ingrown hair, or boils. As the disease worsens, the pimple-like bumps most commonly erupt in the underarm or groin areas—places that everyday pimples typically do not appear—and grow deep into the skin becoming very painful. To make matters worse, they often rupture, leaking bloodstained pus.

Social Security defined HS under Listing 8.06 Hidradenitis suppurativa, with extensive skin lesions involving both axillae, both inguinal areas or… Continue reading

Huntington disease (HD) is a hereditary neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by progressively worsening motor, cognitive, behavioral, and psychiatric symptoms. HD is caused by a mutation of the Huntington gene called a “CAG repeat expansion”. The mutation results in gradual neuronal degeneration in the basal ganglia of the brain, and progresses to involve other regions of the brain responsible for coordination of movements, thoughts, and emotions. Neuronal degeneration causes diffuse and severe brain atrophy that is comparable to late stage Alzheimer disease.

Clinical presentation of HD may include changes in personality, behavior, cognition, speech, and coordination. Physical changes include… Continue reading

QUESTION: I am a 53 year old man with severe diabetes. I have such bad neuropathy in my feet and hands that I can barley walk. In fact, most of the time I have to use a cane in my dominant hand and occasionally I have to use a rolling walker when the pain gets real bad. I was a heavy equipment operator for CalTrans for 25 years. I was forced to quit a year ago and took a disability retirement.

I have paid into Social Security through my employer. Can I qualify for benefits?

ASK THE ADVOCATE:… Continue reading

Tourette’s syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary physical movements or vocal sounds. These actions may include kicking, facial tics, sudden jerking movements, shouts, grunts, or many other fits. In some cases, the symptoms can be quite severe, including involuntary jumping or biting, and can put the individual’s safety and well-being in danger.

There are many symptoms that an individual with Tourette’s syndrome may suffer from that can prevent that individual from maintaining full-time work activity. The inability to work can lead to significant financial distress. Fortunately, in some cases, Social Security Disability benefits can help alleviate some of… Continue reading

Question: I am a 57-year-old woman with chronic pain. I have had a broken shoulder that is poorly healed, herniated discs in the lumbar spine, joint pain and some neuropathy in my hands and feet from diabetes. This has been going on for more than 6 months. My doctors tell me I am not a candidate for surgery and have only offered opioid pain medication and physical therapy. I have not been able to work in 3 years. Now I am having problems with depression and anxiety. My memory is shot. I can’t remember simple things that were once a… Continue reading

Many of us will experience anxiety or panic attacks during our lives, both of which have symptoms that can mimic heart diseases like atrial fibrillation — an irregular heart beat. … Symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can significantly impair quality of life. Severe anxiety can stem from, as well as cause, depression.

To further complicate things, the stress and anxiety that often cause panic attacks can also lead to heart attacks.

Panic attacks and heart attacks can feel frighteningly similar: shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain,… Continue reading

Post laminectomy syndrome (PLS) or sometimes called failed back syndrome is a condition characterized by chronic pain following back surgeries.

Common symptoms associated with PLS include diffuse, dull and aching pain involving the back or legs. Abnormal sensibility may include sharp, pricking, and stabbing pain in the extremities. The term “post-laminectomy syndrome” is used by some doctors to indicate the same condition as failed back syndrome.

What is PLS? Laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the lamina from the back. The lamina is part of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal. This surgery will… Continue reading

I often get calls asking about whether someone should to 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 38 years and 24 years as an Advocate.

When I graduated from Paralegal school I decided that I wanted to find a non-traditional way to apply my legal skills. Eventually I found that opportunity… Continue reading