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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Past medical records and Social Security disability benefits

Many West Virginia residents who are no longer able to work due to a disability file for Social Security benefits. These applicants may wonder how far back the Social Security Administration goes when looking at medical records for proof of a disability.

Submitting past medical records is not a requirement for filing a claim for disability benefits. However, prior medical records can provide useful insights into an applicant's condition. Hospital records may not provide sufficient information about an applicant's responses to previous treatment.

Wait time for Social Security disability benefits

Many people in West Virginia who are no longer capable of working due to a disability apply to receive Social Security benefits. Applicants who have been approved for benefits may wonder how soon they will start receiving them.

Some applications are approved initially while others must be appealed to the hearing level. Applicants who have to appeal a denial will wait longer to receive benefits because the decision from an administrative law judge must be sent back to a local office for approval. Initial applications and those approved at the reconsideration level can be processed at the local office immediately.

Securing disability benefits for severe cases of diabetes

Social Security disability benefits exist for the support and benefit of individuals who cannot work and earn a sufficient income due to a medical condition or severe injury. This is also true for some people who have diabetes. While many in West Virginia with this sickness are able to live full lives and work full-time, others may find they are not able to do so. In certain circumstances, diabetes could be a legitimate reason to seek disability benefits.

If you have diabetes, you may wonder if this is an option for you. Even with a valid medical condition and a completed application, it can be quite difficult to navigate the disability claims process. If you would like to move forward with your claim, it may be helpful to learn more about eligibility requirements and how the claims process works.

How to react after receiving a denial letter

West Virginia residents who file for disability benefits should expect that their applications will be denied at the initial level. Applications will also likely get denied at the reconsideration level. However, it is important to know that a denial typically has little to do with the strength of a person's case. It is also important to understand that an applicant has 60 days from the date of a denial to appeal it.

Applicants will also have an additional five days to account for mailing time. Those who have legal representation in their cases should contact their attorneys quickly after receiving a denial notice. In most cases, an attorney or other legal representative may have appeal forms completed and submitted in minutes. This person might create multiple copies that he or she will keep and submit to an applicant for their own records.

How Social Security claims get 'worked on' and evaluated

When a medical disability makes it impossible or very difficult for an individual in West Virginia to earn a living, they may file a claim to receive Social Security payments. Such claims are first sent to the state's disability determination services (DDS) agency. A specialist referred to as a disability examiner will then be assigned the case. This is the person who reviews the medical documents included with the application along with their sources.

Because a Social Security disability determination needs to be made with current medical information, an examiner may schedule a consultative examination or series of examinations so they can get updated information on a claimant's current physical and/or mental health status. While these consultative exams (CEs) aren't always the best source of medical information, they are sometimes necessary if sufficient recent documentation isn't available. For this reason, it's often recommended that claimants obtain medical reports from doctors familiar with their situations.

Silica dust causing black lung disease in coal miners

Some West Virginia coal miners may be among those in several states who are suffering from a form of black lung disease that is caused by silica dust. More dangerous than coal dust, it is afflicting miners at a younger age, who are declining more rapidly than those with black lung disease caused by coal dust.

One reason for the pervasiveness of silica dust is that in recent decades, all the big seams were mined. As a result, there were only thinner seams left that had to be cut into. The resultant silica dust has led to an epidemic that is killing coal miners by the thousands. Moreover, it could have been prevented had government regulators acted in time. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended that the exposure levels to silica dust for coal miners be significantly lower in 1974, but there was no change until the 1990s.

Understanding why many disability claims come back denied

When a West Virginia applicant files for Social Security disability benefits, it is because he or she has a mental or physical condition that prevents him or her from earning a living. When your medical issues keep you from earning enough income to support yourself or enter the workforce at all, you could be eligible for this same support. Unfortunately, even people with valid claims find they are not initially successful.

It may be helpful for you to know that many first-time claims for disability benefits come back denied. It is actually quite common, and while frustrating, it is not the end of the road. You have the right to continue to pursue your benefits through a reconsideration of your claim or an appeal.

Advantages of appealing disability denial compared to new claim

When people in West Virginia file claims for Social Security Disability, they could face an uphill battle because many claims result in denials. Although this is discouraging, disability applicants can continue their pursuit of benefits. Starting over with a new claim might appear to make sense, but the appeals process actually involves less work and could have a better chance of succeeding.

Submitting a new claim requires a person to complete a new application along with a disability report and another medical release form. A consultative exam might also become necessary. These time-consuming steps do not compare favorably to the easier process of initiating an appeal once a denial letter arrives. Launching an appeal requires less time and effort.

Mental conditions may qualify for disability benefits

Whether a West Virginia resident has a physical or mental condition, a decision on a Social Security disability claim will be based on available medical records. This may mean providing records from a family physician or anyone else who has treated an applicant. There are many different types of applicable mental ailments, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or impaired memory. The occurrence of panic attacks or depression could also prevent a person from working or remaining employed.

The goal of any applicant is to show proof that a condition exists and that it impairs their ability to function normally. For example, an individual could claim that memory problems make it harder to concentrate or follow instructions while on the job. It may also be possible to claim that a mental condition prohibits an individual from being able to get along with managers or other employees.

Supreme Court to weigh-in on how SSDI is determined

Social Security Disability Insurance is determined by an often complicated process heavily dependent on established rules and regulations. The Social Security Administration also publishes manuals and handbooks to help its disability evaluators to reach a conclusion. There are multiple levels of appeal within the SSA and the federal court for those West Virginia applicants who are dissatisfied with the outcomes of their cases. Now, however, a rarity will occur; an SSDI case is to be heard before the Supreme Court in December 2018.

Most SSDI applicants believe their inability to work in jobs they held previously should qualify them for benefits. However, if such a finding is made, that determination alone is insufficient. If the claimant cannot return to past relevant work, he or she also must be unable to perform any other type of job that exists in ample numbers.

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