Words like “easy” and “hard” are relative terms in the SSDI application process. The average initial claims denial rate, which is already very high, is considerably higher for some conditions, as we will soon explain. Furthermore, the first-level appeal denial rate averages about 90 percent. Although Memphis, Tennessee, and Southaven, Mississippi are just a few miles and a state apart, they have very different overall disability approval rates. The multi award-winning Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm represents disability applicants from both states including Arkansas and Louisiana. With a Heermans disability lawyer by your side, your application process has just become protected from some of the most common mistakes and errors.
Generally speaking, a Tennessee resident has a higher chance of being approved for social security disability than a Mississippi resident. This is true for both when a person first applies and if there is a disability hearing. Neither state is the most difficult, nor the easiest for approval…they are both somewhere in the middle when compared to all the states in the United States. Even so, many disability applicants give up and abandon their claims or settle them for less than their actual value. This general rule depends very much on the individual analyst assigned to the claim and the region of the respective state.
Mr. Heermans, of Heermans Disability Law Firm, says “We have found that clients who come to us after they applied and have been denied their claim, often feel psychologically defeated. They feel they just can’t take another “no,” and disability-related medical bills continue to pile up day by day. They are living their life, just gritting their way through without the financial and medical help they need. Our Social Security Disability attorneys at the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm understand what disability applicants are going through. Many of the people on our professional team have watched a friend or loved one go through the same thing. Therefore, whether you have an “easy” or “hard” claim, we don’t give up because we know the help our clients get when they receive disability financial assistance and Medicaid health insurance. Being denied at the beginning of the claim is par for the course, and just the first step in a long process for most claimants.”
An Easier Approval Condition
The arthritis approval rate is the highest SSDI approval rate. This condition is a familiar one. About a third of adults between 45 and 65 have arthritis. By 2045, which isn’t very far away, this proportion might be closer to one-half.
Therefore, most Social Security Administration doctors have no problem spotting and diagnosing arthritis. Nevertheless, a social security disability lawyer must closely scrutinize the diagnosis. Doctors are not only familiar with the medical causes of arthritis, they’re also familiar with the effects of arthritis. More than likely, the doctor has seen many patients with mobility-limiting arthritis. The doctor also knows that this condition transforms everyday activities, like sitting and standing at work, into chronic painful events.
For roughly the same reasons, musculoskeletal conditions in general, like back pain and unhealed fractures, have high initial approval rates.
Furthermore, the Social Security Blue Book contains a very straightforward step-by-step evaluation system in these cases. The doctor, and later the Disability Determination Services (DDS) officer, considers the following:
- Medical records, mostly a ROM (range of motion) test,
- Imaging records, mostly CT and MRI tests,
- Operative reports that detail surgical treatments,
- Applicant’s response to surgical or other treatments, and
- Available assistive devices, such as canes and walkers, and the impact of these devices.
With the representation of a social security lawyer, the SSA may also consider the applicant’s pain level, the applicant’s work environment, functional criteria, and an evaluation that goes back to available assistive devices and their effects.
Maximum Benefits in Easy Cases
We mentioned that most SSA doctors and DDS officers know people with arthritis. That familiarity cuts both ways. Many of these individuals know people who take enough analgesic pain relievers, like aspirin or Motrin (which may cause long term damaging effects), to get through the day, even though their arthritis might be debilitating under the law.
Lay witness statements can often make the difference in these cases. Sometimes, medical records become cluttered with test results and random numbers that anyone, especially a busy DDS officer, overlook or do not properly interpret. If Jim’s wife testifies that he cannot get off the sofa unassisted or cannot walk the grandchildren to the school down the street, the meaningless numbers take on new meaning.
A Difficult Approval Condition
Statistically, mental disorders, chronic migraines, back and neck injuries, and fibromyalgia are the most difficult conditions for SSDI approval.
Modern science clearly shows that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a physical injury, just like a broken bone. Unfortunately, many DDS officers, who aren’t medical professionals, are unaware of the ramifications it can have on a person’s ability to function well in life. Therefore, many reviewers don’t accept the medical evidence or don’t accept the fact that PTSD is often permanently disabling.
Furthermore, in contrast to the step-by-step arthritis evaluation, the PTSD evaluation is more subjective, probably because the effects of the condition vary in each person.
Anyone who has dealt with migraine headaches knows how bad the pain can be. They can be very disabling and even cause dizziness and loss of eyesight. Unfortunately, especially as far as many DDS officers are concerned, there’s a difference between partially disabling and completely disabling. Some DDS officers hear the word “headache” and, at least subconsciously, think “take an aspirin”.
Migraine headaches, even severe ones, tend to come and go. That’s one thing that makes them disabling. These victims cannot plan their days effectively, and anxiety builds around wondering when they will have one.
As for back and neck pain, treatments have advanced by leaps and bounds. Country music legend Hank Williams Sr. is a good example.
Hank was born with spina bifida, an extremely painful genetic back disorder. His bad back, along with an unsuccessful surgery to repair the damage, led him to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, eventually killing him when he was only 29 years old.
Today, doctors can usually correct spina bifida, or at least mostly cure it, if a newborn baby immediately has a rather simple operation. So, surgically speaking, the condition is most likely no longer disabling. This is a good thing, but sometimes, for one reason or another, not all disabled individuals are candidates for all surgical procedures.
Finally, on this point, fibromyalgia, like PTSD, is a subjective condition. Also like PTSD, the SSA’s fibromyalgia evaluation procedure is also subjective and complicated.
Maximum Benefits in Difficult Cases
The combination of an independent medical examination and a vocational expert’s report is often the key to being awarded maximum benefits in difficult cases. Independent doctors who are familiar with the scientific and medical dimensions of PTSD, back problems, and other difficult matters may reach different conclusions from the ones SSA doctors reach. Vocational experts, much like the aforementioned lay witnesses, connect the dots. Patience makes a difference as well.
As mentioned, the first and second-round denial rates are very high in difficult cases. Typically, benefits for difficult cases are unavailable until the Administrative Law Judge review stage. The bad news is that an ALJ may not review the case for a year or even longer. The good news is that, in most cases, benefits are retroactive to the filing date. This is just another very good reason to have a Heermans SSA Law Firm by your side. If you have been denied disability benefits or need a disability lawyer near me, contact the Heermans Social Security Disability lawyers 24/7 at (901) 244-0057 for a FREE Disability Evaluation. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.
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