social security

Can You Work While Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits?

by Staff | August 15th, 2015

Continuing the discussion of Social Security Disability eligibility, attorney TC Newlin explains Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), the Earned Income Test, and how working—or your capacity to do work—affects your claim for disability benefits.


New Expedited SSD Filing Process for Veterans

by Staff | May 23rd, 2014

One of the most frustrating parts of the Social Security Disability filing process is the waiting. Claims take time to process, court dates have to be set, and if you’re denied, the appeal process can take even longer. According to a recent news communiqué from the Social Security Administration (SSA), that frustration may soon be alleviated for certain veterans.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, recently unveiled a new expedited filing process for veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T). Although this new policy promises to fast track such applications, it does not guarantee an approval of the claim. However, it’s still a very exciting announcement for veterans who have sacrificed so much.

“While we can never fully repay them for their sacrifices,” Colvin says. “We can be sure we provide them with the quality of service that they deserve.”

To take advantage of this fast-track initiative, veterans must show proof of their disability rating via a VA Notification Letter. However, to gain benefits, veterans will be required to meet the strict requirements that all applicants face. That’s why it’s important to have an Indiana Social Security Disability attorney on your side.

If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, call the Indiana injury lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin today.

Wait Times for Social Security Disability Appeals Hearings Are Growing

by Staff | March 14th, 2014

March 14, 2014

It seems to be a case of taking one step forward and two steps back when it comes to the Social Security Administration (SSA) addressing the problem of it’s increasing backlog of claims awaiting a hearing for a decision.

SSA data shows that as of December of last year, there are 903,720 individuals awaiting a hearing on an appeal of their Social Security Disability (SSD) claim. This is an almost 7 percent increase from the number gathered at the end of the 2013 fiscal year and a 17 percent jump from 2011. Researchers were also able to conclude there were longer wait times for SSD hearings as well. The average wait time is now 393 days, compared with the 382-day wait period reported at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

These numbers leave many claimants wondering what they should do when planning to file a Social Security Disability Appeal. Some actions that should be considered include:

  • Don’t Give Up- When a claim is denied, its easy to let following up fall to the wayside. However, doing so can be extremely detrimental to an individual’s claim, as waiting too long could affect vital work history.
  • Document Everything- The SSA closely examines individuals’ work histories up to the past decade and will consider all notes and medical records during an appeals hearing, which is why it is so important to have every bit of information that is available regarding your case.
  • Get Help!– The Social Security Disability Lawyers with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin recognize how complex the process can be and are here to offer assistance to anyone who is considering applying for SSD or who has a claim that was denied in the past.

Certain Medical Conditions Automatically Qualify You for SSDI

by lmallernee | December 28th, 2012

There are a number of impairments—both physical and mental—that will automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) or for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), according to

The Blue Book for the Social Security Administration (SSA) lists impairments under the following categories: musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries; cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease; senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss; respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma; and neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.

Also included in the list are mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation; immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis; various syndromes, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome; skin disorders, such as dermatitis; digestive tract problems, such as liver disease or IBD; kidney disease and genitourinary problems; and cancer.

Provided an individual’s condition meets, or is equivalent to, the specified criteria for one of the above listings, s/he will automatically qualify for SSDI or SSI. If your particular condition or illness is not on the SSA’s Blue Book list or if you are impaired but not by one of the conditions listed, what do you do? Our next blog on Monday will discuss this eventuality with you.

If you or someone you know needs help with Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Social Security Disability applications backlogged

by lmallernee | December 7th, 2012

Millions of people are applying for disability benefits, and the Social Security Administration can’t work through the claims fast enough, reports USA Today.

Funded by workers’ payroll deductions, the Social Security disability program is intended to help people who get sick or injured and can no longer work.

Two things are causing pressure to build on the system: aging Baby Boomers are more prone to injury and illnesses as they get older, and the recession has caused many to apply for benefits when they lose their jobs.

Because they fail to supply enough evidence of a disability, most applicants are rejected in their initial written request. After two rejections, their next step is an appeal before a judge. Applicants, on average, now wait more than 10 months for those court hearings.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average wait time for those who apply for disability benefits is 316 days.

A key reason for the long delay between application and approval of benefits is a safety mechanism built into the program since its inception in the mid-1950s. To ensure applicants aren’t gaming the system, the application is complex, requiring thorough documentation and detail.

Those who have applied for benefits because of a disability describe the system as “complex and overburdened.”

If you or someone you know needs help with disability claims, contact the Social Security lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Cutting SSDI could damage nation’s economy

by lmallernee | November 26th, 2012

A focal point of the campaign season was balancing the federal budget, and some want to cut the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program because they say that nondisabled claimants are receiving benefits.

While some may be trying to defraud the Social Security disability system, the facts are that SSDI cases are on the rise because the baby-boomer generation is getting older, and they are now more susceptible to injury and illness. Also more women in the workforce are also eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.

Stabilizing the national budget is a priority, but it cannot be achieved by turning our backs on our country’s disabled workers, according to The Seattle Times.

If more SSDI claimants are denied the benefits that they have earned, the entire nation will experience larger societal costs such as:

1. SSDI prevents disabled workers from relying on safety-net programs like welfare, emergency-response, and healthcare systems.

2. It also prevents significant personal and societal burdens like home foreclosures, evictions, and bankruptcies. Basically, denying Social Security Disability Insurance benefits perpetuates homelessness in our nation.

If any cuts to the SSDI program are approved, people will not have access to the benefits that they contributed to while they worked.

If you or someone you know needs help with benefits, contact a Social Security lawyer at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Can you collect SSDI and Medicaid at the same time?

by lmallernee | November 12th, 2012

November 12, 2012

According to the Cypress Creek Mirror, a 58-year-old woman was diagnosed with stage IIIA metastatic breast cancer. She was unemployed at the time. A breast/ovarian cancer program through Texas qualified her under Medicaid. She has undergone chemotherapy and a mastectomy. Based on her work credits, she is eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI), and the amount she can collect will be $1,535.

Her question is: “If I am put on medical disability through Social Security and I am placed on Medicare, what will happen with my Medicaid benefits? At present, I am not paying anything for my cancer treatments. I understand if I am placed on disability, I will automatically be placed on Medicare.”

To qualify for Medicaid, you must meet certain income requirements, and if you make too much, then you can lose your Medicaid benefits. The woman’s $1,535 SSDI benefit would be too much to qualify her for Medicaid.

She is just beginning her radiation treatments, and she does not have to pay for anything because she qualified with a non-profit organization. The website’s medicare columnist says that the woman should not risk her Medicaid eligibility by applying for Social Security Disability at this point.

She should wait and apply for Social Security Disability after she has finished all of her treatments.

If you or someone you know needs help with benefits, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

Ways to make sure your COLA goes further

by lmallernee | November 9th, 2012

According to , there are some practical ways to help make sure that the small 2013 cost of living (COLA) increase can go further for you.

1. Review healthcare requirements and coverage.

For those already receiving Medicare benefits, annual enrollment season (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) provides the opportunity to make healthcare coverage changes.

2. For those awaiting Medicare eligibility, be sure to investigate extending existing healthcare by evaluating COBRA options.

Check out healthcare resources that can help lower costs, such as prescription drug subsidy programs.

3. Reduce credit card debt.

According to TransUnion, the average credit card debt per borrower is about $4,971. “Applying even a modest extra income to credit card debt can help you pay it down and strengthen your overall financial position,” a personal  financial planning manager said.

4. Find mortgage assistance.

It might be time to get help with your mortgage. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides many resources to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, as well as providing a list of HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agencies.

5. Pursue additional resources.

There are many government-sponsored programs available to low-income individuals, including assistance with heat, electricity and telephone bills; reduced public transportation fares; property tax credits; and food stamps, food pantries and free meals for children attending school.

If you or someone you know needs help with COLA benefits, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

5 questions that may decide if you are disabled

by lmallernee | November 2nd, 2012

The Social Security Administration uses a step-by-step process involving five questions to decide if you are disabled, according to their official website. You must first meet the conditions of one step before you can move on to the next step.

1. Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than $1,010 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.

2. Is your condition “severe”?
Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your disability claim to be considered.

3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe that they automatically qualify you as disabled. If your condition is not on the list, then the SSA has to decide if your condition is of equal severity to the ones on the list.

4. Can you do the work that you did previously?
The SSA must decide if your condition interferes with your ability to do the work that you did previously.

5. Can you do any other type of work?
The SSA decides if you are able to adjust to other work. The agency considers your medical condition and your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills that you may possess.

If you or someone you know needs help with a disability claim, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

How can you get SSI?

by lmallernee | October 24th, 2012

According to, if you have not worked long enough when you become disabled and have low income and assets, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), instead of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

SSI is available to individuals who have either never worked or who have not accrued enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

SSI is also available to individuals who once worked and were eligible to receive SSDI but are now no longer eligible because they haven’t worked in a long time.

If you’re not capable of returning to your previous work, you’ll be evaluated to determine if you’re able to perform other work, given your age, education, and skills.

Except in the most clear-cut cases, the SSI disability process is a fairly difficult one. Most SSI applications are initially denied.

To win most SSI claims, you have to be willing to appeal the initial decision and go to a hearing. Having a lawyer can make a difference.

If your SSI case has been denied by the Social Security Administration, you should probably consider finding a lawyer to represent you at the hearing. The lawyer will help organize your medical records and get the evidence you need to prove that your medical impairments are disabling.

If you or someone you know needs help with Supplemental Security Income benefits, contact the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.