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Indiana Disability Legal Blog

What happens during an ALJ hearing?

Even though you may be eligible to receive disability benefits in Indiana, you may find that the Social Security Administration denies your initial claim or reviews your case over time and determines that you are receiving more than you deserve. However, you do not need to simply accept the decision. The SSA affirms your right to request a revision of any decision it makes that affects you and your benefits. Eventually, you may be able to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

That is not the first step in the process, however. You can only request an ALJ hearing after a reconsideration determination takes place at your request. Someone who was not involved in the first decision will review your case and issue a new one. You will receive a letter explaining the rationale behind the new decision, and if you still disagree with it, the next step in the appeal process is to request an ALJ hearing. 

What is dystonia?

If you have noticed symptoms of uncontrollable muscle spasm in one or more areas of your body, you may be suffering from a neurological condition called dystonia. The abnormal muscle contractions that dystonia causes that force you into unusual and uncomfortable postures or cause involuntary repetitive motions can make it difficult, if not impossible, to continue performing work activities in Indiana due to the resulting disability. 

According to WebMD, the area of the brain that initiates muscle contractions is the basal ganglia. Dystonia appears to stem from damage to the basal ganglia that impedes communication between the nerves. Potential causes of the nerve damage that results in dystonia include the following: 

  • Stroke
  • Infection
  • Brain trauma
  • Tumor
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Drug reactions

The challenge of PTSD

Many people in Indiana might have heard references in news stories or other conversations about a condition commonly referred to as PTSD. The official name of this syndrome is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The PTSD Alliance indicates that signs of this condition were evidenced as early as the 1800s but it was not until the 1980s that the problem was officially recognized as a medical condition. 

It is believed that as many as seven million people in the United States experience or struggle with PTSD. As many as eight percent of adults may develop the condition over the course of their lifetime. While individual scenarios may be unique, people with PTSD share one thing and that is the fact that they have experienced firsthand some sort of traumatic or extraordinarily stressful events.

Can you qualify for workers’ comp and Social Security disability?

If you’ve experienced a serious injury on the job and have been receiving worker’s compensation benefits for a while, you may be wondering if you qualify for Social Security disability payments too. The two programs are separate and have separate eligibility requirements, meaning often you may qualify for one but not the other.

However, in some cases, you may qualify for both worker’s compensation benefits and Social Security disability. If that’s the case, you can’t receive more than 80% of your prior income. Also, private disability insurance or any pension funds do not disqualify you from receiving Social Security disability.

Veteran's disability rates increase in 2019

Many people in Indiana served the nation in one of the branches of the armed forces. Unfortunately, many of these people were hurt or developed illnesses during their service. Some of these injuries or illnesses were evident immediately but others took time to manifest. People in these situations may qualify for special disability benefits due to their veteran status.

As explained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are different types of benefits for disabled veterans. One of these is called disability compensation and it provides monthly financial benefits to the veteran directly. These benefits are not subject to income tax. Some disabilities require high levels of care for the person. If a particularly high level of care is needed, the veteran may qualify for what is called special monthly compensation. This is essentially disability compensation at a higher rate to account for the care needs.

What happens to your benefits during the claims process?

If you are receiving social security benefits in Indiana, you will have had to have gone through a thorough process to begin receiving those benefits in the first place. If administrators recognize that you may not need to be receiving benefits anymore or there is a discrepancy in your case, they may issue you a letter notifying you of their decision to rescind your benefits. 

In this situation, you have the opportunity to appeal the decision that was made, but the question remains about what will happen with your benefits while you await their decision. According to the Social Security Administration, one of the reasons why administrators may have changed their mind about your eligibility to receive benefits may be because your medical condition and subsequent disability are no longer considered disabling. 

Common mistakes to avoid when applying for SSD benefits

Social Security Disability benefits provide necessary financial relief to those suffering from disabling conditions across Indiana and the rest of the country. However, the application process can be long, frustrating and complex.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies many initial SSD claims. Many of these first-time claims are for legitimate disabling conditions, yet the application fails to comprehensively convey this. Because it can take months to learn the fate of your application, here are some common mistakes to avoid to strengthen your application:

Studying the SSA classification of anxiety

Social Security Disability benefits are meant to allow those who suffer from some sort of debilitating condition to be able to still meet their basic financial expenses. Yet there may be some in Marion who believe that many of those receiving such benefits are abusing this privilege. They may see the fact that the Social Security Administration reports that as of 2017, nearly 8.7 million Americans were receiving SSD benefits supports their concerns, particularly knowing that one can qualify for assistance based on conditions as such as anxiety. Many may think that anxiety is something that everyone deals with, therefore disqualifying it as a condition that can be disabling. 

Yet people cannot qualify for SSD benefits by simply saying that they suffer from anxiety. Instead, their condition must be diagnosed clinically. Indeed, the SSA has established a set of strict criteria for determining whether one's anxiety qualifies them for benefits. 

Detailing SSD benefit criteria for joint pain

When the term "disabling injury" is mentioned, most in Marion will likely envision serious injuries to major body systems that leave one almost totally dependent on the care of others. Yet in all actuality, the vast majority of injuries that lead to disability are less initially severe, yet their net effect is drastic over time. Indeed, according to information shared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, injuries to the upper and lower extremities rank among the top three most common injuries that force people to miss work. 

The end result of upper and lower extremity injuries if often joint pain. While many may view joint pain as something that can be dealt with, pain in the knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders can greatly limit one's ability to perform many of the tasks associated with labor. The question then becomes at what point does joint pain become disabling. 

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Marion, IN 46952

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