Getting Disability Benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The Social Security Administration adheres to the diagnostic criteria established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regarding chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Anyone applying for social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome must prove they have suffered at least four of these six symptoms:

  • Recurring/persistent sore throat
  • Atypical/chronic headaches
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Extreme deficits in concentration and memory
  • Tender/inflamed lymph nodes
  • Extreme fatigue/illness following physical activity that lasts at least 24 hours

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

In addition, applicants will need to show they have been thoroughly examined and tested to rule out other causes of their symptoms upon submitting paperwork for their CFS disability case.

What Is the Application Process for Social Security Disability Benefits for CFS?

In addition to all doctors’ reports, test results and other clinically pertinent information, the SSA needs documentation of descriptions of functional limitations that applicants and their physicians have noted from the time an applicant first began having symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Examples of functions the SSA deems as mental or work-related include the ability to walk, stand, lift, remembering and carrying out instructions and using appropriate judgment when making decisions.

Nearly 90 percent of successful CFS disability cases result with applicants being awarded monthly benefits according to SSA’s “medical-vocational allowance” guidelines. This allowance considers an applicant’s age, work history, education level and their residual functional capacity when determining if the applicant can work full time. RFCs are descriptions of an applicant’s maximum mental and physical abilities despite their other impairments.

What Is a Medically Determinable Impairment?

Social Security Ruling 14-1p states that while chronic fatigue syndrome can be disabling, it must be proven to be a medically determinable impairment (MDR) using laboratory findings or other medical tests. The SSA also accepts the following to establish an MDR:

  • Elevated antibodies in the bloodstream indicating Epstein-Barr virus
  • Abnormal brain scans
  • Results of psychological tests
  • Tests showing hypotension (neurally mediated)

Applicants seeking social security disability benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome will also need to provide enough third-party, subjective and clinical reports clearly outlining the extent and prolonged existence of CFS symptoms.

CFS is one of the more difficult disabilities to get approved by the SSA. Legal assistance can significantly improve the chance your CFS disability case is accepted. Contact an SSI lawyer today for help with your case.

Can You Get Disability Benefits for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea affects more than 200,000 people in the United States per year. It is a serious sleeping disorder than affects your breathing while you are asleep. You can get disability benefits for sleep apnea, but check with your physician to get medically tested before you try applying for the disability assistance.

Disability Benefits for Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder that interrupts a person’s breathing during sleep. Usually, they stop breathing multiple times during sleep, meaning the brain and the rest of the body is not getting enough oxygen. There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This sleep apnea is generated by something blocking the airway, usually the soft tissue in the back of the throat. It is the more common of the two types of sleep apnea.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to tell the muscles to breathe.

Adults age 40 and over typically have a higher chance of getting sleep apnea. Some symptoms of sleep apnea are disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, strokes and depression.

A popular treatment for sleep apnea is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. Whether you have a mild or severe case of sleep apnea, you should go to your physician to get a medical diagnosis, which often includes a sleep test (where you will stay overnight at a sleep center) and to find out about other treatments.

Does Sleep Apnea Qualify for Disability Benefits?

According to the Social Security’s Office’s Listing of Impairments, sleep apnea is covered in section 3.10 titled “Sleep Related Breathing Disorders.” They are also covered in section 12.02, which deals with mental illnesses. You can quality for ss benefits if your pulmonary artery pressure is greater than 40 mm Hg. Go to your local physician and have your blood pressure checked. Blood pressure is often affected by sleep apnea. You can also qualify if you have chronic pulmonary disease. Again, your physician can test you for that. Section 12.02 also covers the emotional and psychological effects of sleep apnea, including memory loss, disorientation and changes in personality and mood. You can see the full catalog of impairments the Social Security Office covers on the official Social Security Administration website.

How Do I Qualify?

You have three options to see if you qualify for ss benefits:

  • Call the Social Security Office. Their phone number is 1-800-772 1213.
  • Apply online at
  • Visit your local Social Security Office and physically fill out the paperwork. An appointment is required. You can visit to find the nearest office.
  • Seek the help of an experienced disability attorney to guide you through the application so that you have the highest possibility of your application being accepted.

You will get a decision to see if you quality for ss benefits within three to five months. If they reject your application, you have a couple options. You can appeal the denial, which can be a lengthy process, but it will be worth it in the end. Do not try to re-apply because there is a good chance that you will be rejected again. You can also seek out legal help. Hiring a Social Security Disability attorney can help your case during both the application and the appeal process.

If you think you have sleep apnea, go to your physician immediately. Sleep apnea is covered by the Social Security Office and you can get benefits. If the application process seems overwhelming and you’re not sure how to prove your sleep apnea, contact us at Clauson Law Office today.

Can Back Problems Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Back injuries and problems can leave anyone unable to do their job. However, not everyone qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) on their back problems alone. Back problems are the most cited disability the Social Security Administration will see cross their paths but not every back problem qualifies under the SSA’s definition of what it means to be disabled. Before applying, make sure to know if you qualify and everything you’ll need to prove your back problems qualify.

What type of back problems qualify for disability

How to Qualify

First, you need to make sure you qualify for SSDI to apply. The Social Security definition of disability states that you have to be unable to execute the work you did before, unable to adjust the kind of work you previously did because of your condition, and has lasted for or is expected to last at least a year or until your death. You also need to have built up a number of work credits over your working lifetime in order to be eligible for benefits. You can find the information for how many credits you need and have on the SSA website. Know what age you were when you became disabled to figure out your work credit. After that, you can begin gathering the information you need to apply.

What Back Problems Qualify?

Not all back problems will qualify for SSDI under the SSA’s definition of disability. Most of the disorders that qualify are spinal-related injuries. The SSA website lists herniated nucleus pulposus,, spinal stenosis, spinal arachnoiditis, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, facet arthritis and vertebral fracture as examples of what qualifies. Chances are if you haven’t heard of these, you don’t have them.

With any back injuries, you still need to fit into the SSA guidelines of what it means to be disabled. Be aware that proving some of these like Nerve Root Compression might be harder than others. While these are some of the injuries listed as SSDI back disorders, there are also others that you can apply for. Things like spinal fusion, back surgery or paralysis also fall under the category of back injuries and problems you can apply with.

However, you still need to fall into the SSA definition of disability and have ample evidence of your issues. Documentation like X-rays, MRIs and doctor’s notes in your file will all help your claim for SSDI. It is important to remember that back issues are the most cited reason for people to apply for disability benefits, and the benefits are only granted to the most severe of cases. You must be able to prove that your back problems make your ability to function extremely limited, that you fall into their categories of spinal disorders and that your credibility can’t be called into question.

How to Apply

The SSA website offers a checklist when getting ready to apply. Having the most information possible on yourself, your work history, tax history from your accountant and medical information. The more documents, facts and information you come armed with about yourself and your medical history, the more likely you’ll get through the process quickly. Also have any banking information ready if you’d like to set up direct deposit. A disability attorney can successfully navigate you through the entire application process if this already seems overwhelming to you.

What Happens Now?

The wait time can be between three to five months for the application to be processed. If you are unable to work during that period of time then make sure that you figure out short-term income solutions for yourself while you wait for your application to be processed through the SSA. You will receive an email or letter in the mail with your approval or denial. If you are approved to receive SSDI, your first payment from the SSA will be for the sixth full month after the date that your disability benefits began. Payments are then sent the month afterwards so benefits for July would be paid in August. You can calculate how much you’ll receive on the SSA website.

Because the SSA gets so many back problem applications, be aware that a denial is highly possible. But it isn’t the end of the world. Your denial email or paperwork will come with information on how you can appeal the decision. Be sure to read everything thoroughly so you know exactly why they denied your claim (don’t qualify under their definition or is it because of a non-medical reason) so you can fight the decision to the best of your ability.

Applying for SSDI due to back issues won’t be easy but it’s possible. The SSA needs to be convinced that you cannot work with your back problems, and that burden falls on you. When applying, go in with as much information on your condition as possible. To find out exactly what you need to do to apply, visit us at Clauson Law Firm today.

If You Need Social Security Disability Income How Do You Know What they’ll Pay

Suffering from a disability is one of the most difficult things any person can endure. While the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help provide support, it’s not easy to know exactly what that benefit will be. If you need Social Security disability income, how do you know what the SSA will be paying?

How is the social security disability income amount determined

Determining What the SSA Pays for SSDI

If you’re eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), which means having paid into Social Security for long enough while employed, then here’s a brief breakdown of how payments are calculated. First, the SSA determines what your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings are, or would be over 35 years. This can be a bit confusing to calculate if you became disabled before actually completing 35 years of work.

The way it’s calculated for those that don’t have 35 years of work experience is as follows:

  • Take the age you were at the onset of the disability
  • Subtract 21 from that age
  • Subtract either 5 from that number of years, or 1/5th of that difference.
  • For example, if you were 36 when the disability set in, then you would subtract 21 from 36, giving you 15.
  • Then multiply 1/5th by 15, which is 3 years.
  • Since 3 years is less than 5, subtract the 3 from the 15 for a total of 12 years. The SSA will then only make the average monthly income based on the highest 12 years of earning you received.
  • If you were 46 or older at the onset of disability then you’ll be subtracting 5 from the difference between that age and 21.

Next is determining what your Primary Insurance Amount would be. This is the most complex aspect of the calculations. The SSA breaks down your average monthly earnings into three sections, then adds those three pieces together and that equals your monthly benefit payment. The three sections are broken down into brackets that are used for everyone.

  • $1 to $885 equals a benefit equal to 90%
  • $886 to $5,335 gets 32% as a benefit
  • $5,336 and above gets only 15%

For example, if you made $6,000 as the monthly average, then you’d receive $796.50 for the first $885, plus $1,424 for the amount between $886 and $5,335 of your average wages, then an additional $99.60 for the remainder. That would mean your total benefit should equal $2,320.10 per month.

Benefits for SSI

If you will receive Supplemental Security Income instead, then the calculation is more straightforward. SSI is based on your income, not your work history. The maximum payable amount is set by Congress, and half of any earnings you are likely to make over $65 per month, are deducted from that. If you need help making more sense of what you can receive for your Social Security disability income then contact a certified Social Security attorney to help determine what you could be paid.

Can I still be approved for Social Security Disability after being denied 3 times?

If someone is denied to receive Social Security disability benefits, it is highly recommended to appeal these denials. Some may continue filing separate claims each time, but that can hurt your case. The decision would not change if you file separate claims each time because it would continue to be sent to the same agency that denied your first claim instead of moving to another agency, which is likely that it will be denied for the same reasons. Though a reconsideration appeal — which is the first appeal — has approval rates of roughly 15 percent, that direction is more successful than reapplying every time.

Social Security Disability after being denied 3 times

Reconsideration appeals are also sent to be furthered review for a medical decision. This difference between this is that the disability agent takes the time to review the file and they make the decision. Generally speaking, unless a mistake was made by the initial examiner or there have been some new medical evidence, the appeal may still be denied for the same reasoning as before. Though, based on the actuality of the situation, the reconsideration appeal may not seem like a better option, it is a better option than filing another initial claim because it can be a step closer to appearing in front of an administrative judge.

If your claim gets denied three times, there are other options that you can take:

Give up on your claim: Of course, this option isn’t recommended, especially after all of the appeals you’ve already went through to get this far. Those who are persistent with this, at likely to win their claim once they keep trying. Your probability has increased just by the amount of attempts you have gone through and also having a representative in the presence as well. Your representative will have vital information to plead your case, such as medical records and statements from medical professionals.

File an appeal with the council: An appeal council is a group a judges who review your disability case and based on all information provided, make a decision.

Filing an appeal with the council and also a new disability claim: After being denied three times, at this point, you are able to take both actions. Generally, a decision on a new claim will be determined before the appeal council makes a decision. It makes the most sense to file a new claim during this process because by the time a case has gotten this far, there should be more medical evidence to support your claim to come up with a new decision.

If you are denied for Social Security disability benefits, especially multiple times, it is natural to want to give up. If you have a lawyer with you, they will make sure you don’t lose hope and continue fighting. A lawyer will want to maximize your success by taking chances on your claim and doing what they need to do so you can receive your benefits.

Will moving to another state affect my Social Security benefits?

If you have to move out of the state that you are in, you don’t have to re-apply for Social Security disability benefits. The disability program is a federal government program so your approval will drag over to where ever you move. It is critical to notify Social Security of you move and change of address though. Here are some reasons why you should notify them:

Moving another state will affect my Social Security benefits

  • If you are receiving your checks through the mail, SS will need the new address to send that to avoid resending and delaying your payment.
  • If you are getting Supplemental Security Income, your move is critical to your payments because it could have different rules depending on the state you’re moving to.
  • Keeping SS up to date on your information

Your SS and SSI will not be affecting by your move and you will not have to go through the whole application again. You should check if the state you’re moving to has any special rules regarding SSI benefits. Your SSI benefit could increase or decrease depending on where you more. Here are some factors you need to consider if you are going to more:

  • Unfortunately, there are some states that do not pay SSI benefits: West Virginia, Tennessee, North Dakota, Mississippi, Arizona and Arkansas.
  • Though this is a federal government program, some states administer their own supplements: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington.
  • These states have the SSA direct the SSI program for them: California, Hawaii, Montana, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Iowa, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah, Michigan, New York, and Vermont.

It is important to know that some states requirements may be different than others regarding the SSI program. Because of this, you may have to reapply for supplemental benefits, but your benefits will not be affected during this process, but the amount might change. You will have to apply again, if you are moving to a state that administers their own program.

Be aware of all of these factors before making a move to another state if you are getting benefits from either program because your monthly income might change. It is critical to notify Social Security of your new address change as well as if you are moving in with someone that could help your finances. If you are moving in with someone, this can affect the amount you receive for SSI or even your eligibility.

Things You Need to Know About Working While Receiving Disability Benefits

Once you win your appeal for disability benefits, there are certain things that you need to know about collecting these benefits. You may want to return to work part-time and wonder how this will affect your Social Security Disability benefits earnings. It is possible that you can still collect benefits while working. You will need to meet certain requirements in order to keep collecting these benefits.

Need to Know About Working While Receiving Disability Benefits

Keep these things in mind about receiving Social Security Disability benefits:

  • There is a cap on what you can earn and still receive benefits.
    For 2018, you cannot earn more than $1,180 per month or $1,970 if you are considered blind. If you earn above these amounts, you cannot keep collecting benefits. This is a substantial amount of earning and will negate your claim. If you’re earning this much, your disability will not be deemed severe enough to keep you from working.
  • There are different rules if you are self-employed.
    It can be difficult to gauge how much you’re working if you are self-employed. Your earnings will not always reflect how much work you’re doing if you own your own business or work for yourself. You may be putting in more hours than you’re actually receiving pay for. This makes it tricky to evaluate. Because of that, people who are self-employed will be evaluated on an individual basis. There are complicated rules when it comes to self-employment.
  • You will be evaluated on a yearly basis.
    Your earnings and benefits are recalculated each year after your tax returns are received. Even though this is the case, you need to keep in mind that it can take a long time for the Social Security Administration to actually receive your tax returns. They can be two years behind and can take this long for your benefits to be adjusted. If you suspect that your benefit amount should be adjusted, it’s best to contact the SSA yourself in order to avoid overpayment and issues later. It’s best to be upfront about your earnings because the SSA will find out eventually.

Once you win your claim or appeal for disability benefits, there are still things to consider as you collect this money. Make sure to keep the SSA informed about earnings changes as well as changes to your condition. Contact us with any questions.

5 Ways to Increase Social Security Benefits

Learning how social security works is essential to retirement planning. Social security is oftentimes the sole fixed income once someone stops working, so learning social security laws is important. Here are five ways to increasing social security benefits so that you and your loved ones can live comfortably in retirement.

5 Ways to Increase Social Security Benefits

Claim Benefits Late

Normal retirement age is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later. However, if you can delay retirement to age 70, Social Security will pay an extra 8 percent for every year that you delay your claim until you reach 70 years old.

Two-Claim Household

You and your spouse can try the two-claim strategy if both of you are working. This strategy depends on your age, so make sure to seek legal advice to see if you qualify. The two-claim approach is where one spouse claims spousal benefits at full retirement age while continuing to work and getting additional retirement credits. The other spouse becomes retired so that the working spouse files a “restricted application” for the spousal benefits while working. The working spouse ends up receiving spousal benefits that are equal to one-half of the retired spouse’s full benefits.

Divorced or Widowed

If you’re divorced, you can claim spousal or survivor benefits of your ex-spouse’s earnings if you were married for a minimum of 10 years and you’re not currently married. However, if you remarry after the age of 60, then you will be able to claim survivor benefits. If you’re widowed, you can also receive survivor benefits (if this is the case, try to wait until you reach normal retirement age first).

2018 Benefits Increase

With the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), there will be an increase in social security benefits as well. Since cost of living increases when prices rise for the everyday goods and services we use, social security benefits increase to offset these new living costs. 2018 will see a 2 percent increase in social security benefits.

Work for the Maximum Amount

To get the maximum benefits possible and you’re in the workforce, work for at least 35 years while paying into the social security tax. Couple this with the other strategies such as delaying benefits until age 70 and strategizing benefits with your spouse can create an overall best plan for you.

Navigating social security benefits and associated laws can be confusing, so contact us today so we can help you receive the maximum benefits you are owed.

Can You Receive SSD Benefits For Uncontrollable Diabetes?

Though diabetes is a common condition that is generally regulated with medication, there are some diabetes that have trouble managing the symptoms. When it’s hard to control the symptoms, this can lead to serious health issues. Health issues that may arise are kidney disease, neuropathy, or vision loss. Side effects that are as serious as these can lead to unemployment and other difficulties in daily life.

Disability Benefits for Uncontrolled Diabetes

Here are the three kinds of Diabetes:

  • Type 1: “juvenile” Diabetes
  • Type 2: “adult onset” Diabetes
  • Gestational Diabetes

If you have elevated blood glucose levels, then you most likely have pre-diabetes and you are at a high risk of developing diabetes so your doctor will likely have you on medication.

What are the symptoms?

Diabetes generally shows numerous symptoms such as:

  • Extremely parched as well as the need to constantly urinate.
  • Always hungry, mainly between your meals
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability

It is a common complaint that those who suffer from diabetes have dry and itchy skin and also tend to have fungal infections. You can also get some numbness in your feet as well as blurred vision. Those with diabetes tend to have skin that is slow to heal wounds or sores.

There are three blood tests that can determine if someone has diabetes. The three blood tests are:

  • A plasma glucose test where you have to fast for 8 hours
  • Oral glucose tolerance test that also requires an 8 hour fasting and ends with a glucose-containing drink where you have to wait at the doctor 2 hours after consumption
  • A plasma glucose test that is random, but can measure blood glucose without having to fast

How to File For SSD Benefits

You can find diabetes listed in SSA’s impairment handbook, the Blue Book, where it will list the condition and the benefits you can receive for that condition. There isn’t a distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 in the book and there is also nothing in the book of any severe health problems that are caused by diabetes. You can find the health problems listed separately in the Blue Book where you can find more information. This is setup like this because SSA wants the qualification measure to focus on the health issues and what is keeping the claimant from performing daily activities at work.

Proving that you have health issues due to diabetes can sometimes be hard to do, so working closely with a doctor during this time is a good idea. Make sure your doctor is taking notes about your condition and you are also keeping all of your medical documents organized. You should also consider working with a disability attorney so they can help you file your diabetes case so you will have the highest chance at being approved.

How do Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid?

Going through the process of applying for Social Security disability can be difficult and frustrating. The truth is that a majority of people — at least two-thirds — don’t even get approved for benefits during their initial application. To help with their chances and tips the odds slightly in their favor, many people hire legal representation in the form of a Social Security disability attorney.

Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid

Social Security disability attorneys are experts when it comes to navigating the ins and outs of the SSA. They know what information is important and relevant to a case, and they know how to build a strong claim that can help applicants win the benefits they need. While this can greatly improve your chances, it can add another level of worry when you start to think about money and how to afford it. The good news? Hiring a disability attorney really doesn’t cost much at all.

How Social Security Disability Attorneys Get Paid

When people think of attorneys and legal fees, they usually picture lawyers issuing bills for hundreds of dollars every hour, eventually racking up bills in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. While this might be the case when it comes to things such as personal injury claims or other civil suits, the actual truth is much different when it comes to Social Security disability attorneys. Not only is it very different, but it’s set up to directly benefit those who are disabled and trying to make ends meet with the help of government assistance. To understand the difference, there are a few things to know.

1) Are all Lawyers Paid?
The first thing you should know is that disability attorneys get paid on contingency. This means that they only get paid if you actually win your case and get awarded benefits. So, in that sense alone it costs you nothing to consult with an attorney. If you don’t win your case, then you will never be expected to pay a cent, no matter how much time your attorney actually spent on your case. Even more, because you only pay when you start receiving benefits, you’re never actually losing money when it’s time to pay your attorney fees.

2) Where Does the Money Come From?
The second thing to know is that your legal fees are never actually paid out of your own pocket. If you win your case, your fees are paid strictly from your benefits. If you’re worried about losing some of your monthly benefits for these fees, though, it gets even better:

Social Security disability attorneys are never paid directly from the “normal” monthly benefit payment. Instead, it comes out of what is known as back pay. What is back pay? It’s extra money you receive after being awarded benefits — money that is designed to cover the time between being awarded benefits and your first payment actually arriving. How much back pay you can expect to receive varies, but typically there’s about a two to three month period before that first check arrives.

3) How Much Can You Expect to Pay?
The final important thing to know is that, unlike most legal situations, attorney fees for disability cases are set by the government. There is no worry about negotiating, overbilling or price gouging. This fee is predetermined, and you never have to worry about an attorney trying to take advantage of you. Because of this, you can know right away how much your attorney will be paid.

How much? Once your monthly payment amount is determined, then it’s a simple calculation job. You can expect to pay your attorney a set amount of 25% of your total back pay, or $6,000 – whichever is lowest. As an example — if you were awarded $1,500 a month, and your back pay totals three months, you can expect a back pay payment of $4,500. 25% of that amount is $1,125.

In Conclusion
When put together, this means, even if you awarded the maximum monthly amount, and that is accompanied by a larger than average wait time that must be covered with back pay, the maximum amount you can expect to have to pay your attorney is $6,000, and it doesn’t even come out of your own pocket or the monthly payments you will be receiving from the SSA.

If you are going through the process of filing for disability, it’s time to consider hiring a Social Security disability attorney. If you have considered it in the past, but haven’t yet because you were afraid you couldn’t afford it, then hopefully you understand now why you can. Please take the time to contact us and set up a consultation. Remember: it’s free to you, and we collect nothing unless you win.