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Birmingham Legal Issues Blog

Understanding the Social Security disability appeals process

It is not uncommon for Alabama residents to assume that when they need disability, all they need to do is apply with the Social Security Administration and wait for their benefits to come in. However, as we at the Law Offices of Clark, James, Hanlin & Hunt, LLC, are aware, the process of applying for disability benefits is not this simple. In fact, your claim is likely to be denied the first time you apply for benefits. You are entitled to appeal a denial, but the appeals process can be complex and involves specific steps and deadlines.

The Social Security Administration admits on its website that denials are common, since there are certain requirements to receiving disability benefits that many applicants fail to meet. For example, they may suffer from a disability that does not prevent them from working in a different capacity. Others may attempt to take advantage of the disability system, which requires you to prove that you are fully disabled and unable to work. To do so, you must have sufficient medical documents proving your disability.

What are the top 6 signs of nursing home abuse?

If you have had to make the difficult decision to place your parent in an Alabama nursing home, you likely spend a good deal of time worrying that (s)he is not getting the care (s)he needs and deserves.

Unfortunately, your fears may not be at all unreasonable. NextAvenue.com reports the following as the six red flags that most often indicate that the nursing home could be abusing your parent.

What are the top 6 signs of nursing home abuse?

If you have had to make the difficult decision to place your parent in an Alabama nursing home, you likely spend a good deal of time worrying that (s)he is not getting the care (s)he needs and deserves.

Unfortunately, your fears may not be at all unreasonable. NextAvenue.com reports the following as the six red flags that most often indicate that the nursing home could be abusing your parent.

How long will your SSDI application take to process?

Whether you have already applied for SSDI benefits or you are getting ready to tackle the SSDI application, you may be waiting for a considerable time to receive a response. Some people have been waiting for more than a year to hear if their SSDI benefits have been approved or denied. The number of SSDI applications waiting to be processed by the Social Security Administration currently exceeds 900,000.

Once you turn in your application for benefits, a SSA judge must review your application, contact physicians, evaluate your medical records and ultimately determine whether your condition meets the requirements to receive benefits. This can be a timely process, and with so many applicants already in line, the average wait time is close to 600 days. In some cases, disabled applicants have passed away while waiting to see if their benefits have been approved.

Want to apply for disability benefits? Here's what you need

If you are unable to work due to a disabling medical condition or illness, you know how financially crippling this situation can be. You cannot work, which means you cannot earn an income to support yourself and your Alabama family. You may think that the best way forward at this point is to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

Seeking Social Security Disability Insurance is not an easy process, even for individuals who have a valid disabling medical condition. You may find it beneficial to learn about exactly what you need to apply and what to expect from the process before you proceed. Preparation can help you avoid missteps in the application process and may give you a stronger chance of successfully obtaining the benefits you need.

What are the different types of hernias?

If you are a hernia patient in Alabama, you may wonder what has caused this sometimes painful condition and what your options are for treatment. The word "hernia" derives from the Latin word for "rupture," and it describes part of an organ or tissue that protrudes from a structure in the body meant to contain it. Hernias most commonly involve the intestines, but other organs may rupture in this manner as well. For example, a hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the stomach protrudes through the opening in the diaphragm that allows access to the esophagus. 

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are six common types of hernias. They derive their names from the location where they occur. In addition to the hiatal hernia, the five common types and their locations are as follows: 

  • Femoral: Outer groin/upper thigh
  • Incisional: At the site of a previous abdominal surgery
  • Inguinal: Inner groin
  • Umbilical: Navel (belly button)
  • Ventral: Abdominal wall

What are some examples of emotional abuse?

We have gone over some of the different types of nursing home abuse that occur, such as sexual abuse and even financial abuse. It is also very important to watch out for emotional abuse, which can be hard to detect since it does not leave any signs. Regrettably, many older adults have been subjected to serious emotional abuse in nursing homes, and this abuse can adversely impact their lives in many different ways. In Birmingham, and across the entire state of Alabama, it is critical for those who have experienced emotional abuse in a nursing home or suspect that a resident has been subjected to mistreatment to take action.

The National Institute on Aging has provided a number of examples of nursing home abuse, including emotional abuse. Emotional abuse may involve threats, repeatedly ignoring a nursing home patient or yelling at a resident. Moreover, if an older adult is prohibited from seeing their loved ones and close friends, this may also constitute emotional abuse. Also known as psychological abuse, this mistreatment can have a significant impact on an older adult's outlook on life and their emotional well-being.

How do you choose the right nursing home for a loved one?

When it comes time to find a nursing home in Alabama for a loved one that can no longer care for themselves, the choice can be daunting. With so many homes to choose from and so many horror stories of elder abuse and neglect in some, it is important that you do your research before choosing. Fortunately, Medicare,gov provides a find and compare feature for every state and gives you a few other things to consider in the nursing home checklist.

First, you should determine if the facility is Medicaid or Medicare certified. Does it have the level of care you need and is there space for your loved one? You may also want to consider if the home is close enough for friends and family to visit regularly.

On disability? Watch what you post online

As an Alabama resident who currently receives disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration, you may already know that your ability to continue to receive benefits depends on whether your disability is likely to ever improve, among other factors. At the Law Offices of Clark, James, Hanlin & Hunt, LLC, we understand that the government is considering granting the SSA access to the social media accounts of those receiving disability benefits in an effort to help reduce the number of Americans making fraudulent disability claims.

Per U.S. News & World Report, about 10 million Americans currently receive disability benefits. Because the current administration believes some of the people receiving these benefits are doing so without just cause, the government is considering monitoring social media accounts in a manner similar to which a divorce attorney might do so.

Why so many disability applicants do not get benefits

An injury or illness can bring your life to a temporary halt while you recover. For many, a few days in bed or under medical supervision is enough to get them back on their feet. However, some illnesses or injuries can sideline you for a much longer time, indefinitely placing your plans on hold and your finances in jeopardy.

If you have a medical condition that will last longer than a year, or if doctors have told you that your illness would result in your death, you may be considering applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. Before you begin the process, you will want as much information as possible to avoid making a mistake that can result in the denial of your claim.

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