I Use Marijuana. Will That Impact My Social Security Disability Eligibility?

The answer is maybe. Some people who use marijuana or other drugs will be eligible for Social Security disability and others will not be eligible.

Why?

Generally, if it is an addiction to marijuana that makes you unable to work, you will not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Similarly, if your health issues are caused by or made worse by your past or current use of marijuana, you will not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

However, if your marijuana use did not cause or worsen your medical condition, it might be irrelevant to your Social Security disability application and you may be eligible for Social Security disability payments.

Two Things to Know Before Applying for Social Security Disability

If you use pot, it is important to know two things before you file a Social Security disability eligibility application.

First, it is important to be truthful on your application. Do not attempt to cover up your drug use. Your medical records, or other evidence, will reveal the use anyway so it is important to be honest and upfront.

Second, it is important to know that marijuana is still considered an illegal substance by the federal government and that Social Security disability is a federal program. Accordingly, marijuana may still be seen in a negative light.

For these reasons, it is important to make sure your rights are protected by working with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who can make sure your application is complete, that it is truthful, and that it answers all of the potential questions that might come up about your marijuana use.

Can I Receive Social Security Disability If I Am Already Getting Hospice Care In Texas?

Yes, if you have worked long enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and you are currently receiving inpatient or at-home hospice care, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

It’s Not Too Late

Since you are receiving hospice care, you are receiving palliative care for your pain management and comfort, but you are no longer receiving treatment for your terminal illness. Additionally, hospice has determined that your condition is likely to result in death within the next six months. Thus, you may not only qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but you may also qualify for a quick review of your application pursuant to the Social Security Administration’s Terminal Illness Program (TERI).

Why Social Security Disability Is Still Important

You likely are too ill to work and to earn an income while you are receiving hospice care. However, your daily living expenses may have increased as you need more care due to your illness. Social Security disability can help you by replacing a portion of your income during this difficult time and reducing your need to rely on others.

How to Get the Help You Need

Dealing with bureaucratic paperwork is probably very low on the list of things you want to deal with right now. However, applying for this government benefit—which you’ve earned through your years of paying into the Social Security system—does not have to be a burden. Instead, you have the right to have an experienced Texas Social Security disability lawyer help you get the benefits for which you qualify. To learn more, please call us today.

Can A Person With Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Recover Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, many people with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease typically occurs in people who are in their 40s or 50s and who are not yet eligible for Social Security retirement benefits.

For These People Social Security Disability May be an Option

Applications for Social Security disability based on early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may be evaluated pursuant to Section 12.02 in the Listing of Impairments. According to that listing, an applicant may be eligible for Social Security disability if the applicant:

  • Demonstrates loss of specific cognitive abilities and the medically-documented persistence of at least one of the following: disorientation of time and place; memory impairment; perceptual or thinking disturbances; personality changes; mood disturbances; impaired emotional functioning or impulse control; or loss of at least 15 I.Q. points.

AND

  • The loss of cognitive abilities results in at least two of the following: marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation.

Alternatively, a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if there is a medically-documented history of a chronic organic mental disorder for at least two years that has resulted in more than a minimal limitation of the ability to do basic work activities and one of the following:

  • Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.
  • A prediction that the individual will decompensate when even a minimal increase in mental demands or a change in environment is presented.
  • Current history of one or more years of an inability to function outside a highly-supportive living arrangement and an indication that the need for this type of living arrangement is likely to continue.

Additionally, an applicant may claim that her condition is equal in severity to another listing in the Listing of Impairments or that she otherwise qualifies for Social Security disability because of her disease.

The Application May be Expedited

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is included in the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowance Initiative. That means that people with an early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis may have their applications expedited. In order to take advantage of this fast track option, it is important to be specific about the diagnosis on the application and to tell the person handling the application that the Compassionate Allowance Initiative applies.

People with early-onset Alzheimer’s may need help for many years to come and Social Security disability may be an important part of that help until the individual reaches retirement age. To learn more about the benefits of Social Security disability, please read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, today.

I Have Sciatica. Can I Get Social Security Disability?

In most cases, people with sciatica do not qualify for Social Security disability unless they also have another health condition.

Why Not?

Pain from sciatica—or a problem with the sciatic nerve—can be debilitating. It can leave you unable to work and unable to go about your regular activities. For a period of time, and again at recurring times, you may even be disabled.

However, with treatments such as medications, physical therapy, and surgery, most cases of sciatica are resolved. Thus, the disability caused by sciatica is not permanent nor is it fatal. A permanent disability, or a disability that is likely to result in death, is part of the Social Security disability eligibility requirement. Therefore, most people with this painful condition will not qualify for Social Security disability even if they are unable to work for a period of weeks or months.

There Are Some Exceptions

While sciatica is treatable for many people, there are some people who do not recover from sciatica pain. Instead, they suffer permanent problems such as loss of movement or incontinence because of nerve damage. For those who are unable to work because of a permanent disability, Social Security disability may be a viable option.

If you believe that you should qualify for Social Security disability based on your sciatica pain or a related complication, it is important to talk to an experienced Social Security disability lawyer before making a claim. Your lawyer can review your rights with you and make sure that your application is as strong and accurate as possible so that you can get the benefits you deserve. To learn more, please start a free live chat with us now.

What Does The Social Security Administration Mean By Activities Of Daily Living?

As the term implies, “activities of daily living” are the things that you do every day. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is interested in everything you do in a typical day, everything you did in a typical day before getting hurt or sick, and everything you can no longer do because of your injury or illness.

Specific Activities of Daily Living the SSA Wants to Know About

The definition of activities of daily living described above is general. More specifically, the SSA is interested in whether you can do the following things independently:

  • Take care of your personal hygiene. This includes things like showering and getting dressed.
  • Shop. This includes things such as shopping for food, medicine, and clothes independently.
  • Play. Your recreational activities are relevant to how well you function in your daily life.

You will be asked to complete an activities of daily living form with specific questions that will help the SSA understand how your injury or illness impacts your daily life. It may seem like this is an easy form to fill out, but it is important that you fill out the form completely. Typically, every pain, every bit of inconvenience, and every hardship should be noted for each activity.

You do not have to fill out this form on your own. Instead, you have the right to work with an experienced Social Security disability attorney to make sure you fill it out correctly and so that you understand the impact of your answers on your Social Security disability claim. To learn more, please fill out our online contact form today and one of our Texas Social Security disability lawyers will contact you directly.

Do I Have To Be Hurt On The Job To Get Social Security Disability?

No. Your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits is totally independent of whether you were hurt on the job. It is Texas workers’ compensation benefits—not Social Security disability benefits—that are related to whether or not you were hurt at work.

In order to be eligible for Social Security disability, your injury or illness must result in a permanent disability that is expected to last for 12 months or more or to result in death and leave you unable to work. In most cases, how you became injured or sick is irrelevant.

But What You’ve Paid Into the Social Security System Does Matter

It does not matter whether your injury or illness occurred on the job or because of your job duties, but what you’ve paid into the Social Security system is relevant to your eligibility. In order to be eligible for Social Security disability, you must have earned enough work credits to qualify for benefits. You can earn up to four work credits a year, but you may earn less depending on your income.

Currently, you will have earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability if:

  • You are 23 years old or younger and you have earned at least six work credits in the past three years.
  • You are 24-31 years old and you have enough work credits to cover at least half the time between turning age 21 and the time you are applying for benefits.
  • You are between 31-61 years old and you have earned at least 20 work credits in the last decade.

Some exceptions and special rules, however, may apply. Thus, whether or not you were hurt on the job you should find out more about the Social Security disability rules and about how to protect your rights. Please start a live chat with us now to learn more.

I’m A Licensed Clinical Social Worker And I Know My Client Is Disabled. Does That Guarantee That He Will Receive Social Security Disability If He Fills Out An Application?

No. Social Security disability is a legal determination, not a medical or psychological determination. Thus, while you play an important role in helping your client who is disabled, your determination alone will not guarantee that your client is eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Why Not?

You may be able to determine that your client is unable to work because of a mental condition. However, in order to qualify for Social Security disability, the office of Disability Determination Services (DDS) is going to have to find that your client:

  • Worked and paid into the Social Security system for the amount of time required in order to be eligible for benefits.
  • Will be disabled for at least 12 months or has a condition that is likely to result in death.
  • Is unable to work in any kind of job.

DDS will consider your client’s medical records, including any records that you have, and other things such as your client’s past work experience, age, and education.

You Still Play an Important Role in the Social Security Disability Application Process

It can be frustrating to know that your client is permanently disabled and still has to go through the Social Security disability application process. However, it is inevitable and there are things you can do to make the process easier for your client. Specifically, you can encourage your client to work with an experienced Texas Social Security disability lawyer, you can provide requested documentation, and you can provide important support for your client during this difficult time.

My Friend Recently Became Disabled And She Doesn’t Speak English. Who Is Required To Provide An Interpreter For Her During The Social Security Disability Application Process?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a clear policy on this. It is the responsibility of Disability Determination Services (DDS) to provide a free and qualified interpreter for your friend.

Not Just Anyone Can Be an Intepreter

The SSA defines a qualified interpreter as someone who:

  • Speaks, reads, and writes English and the language of the applicant proficiently.
  • Provides accurate interpretation for the applicant and DDS staff. No questions should be initiated by the interpreter and the interpreter should not infer facts or questions that are not presented by DDS staff or the applicant.
  • Is familiar with terminology used in the disability determination process. This includes medical terminology, as relevant.
  • Is willing to comply with the SSA’s disclosure and confidentiality requirements.
  • Does not have a personal stake in the outcome of the case that would cause a conflict of interest.

An applicant may choose to provide his own interpreter so long as the above requirements are met.

Language Should Not Be a Barrier to Social Security Disability Benefits

Either DDS staff or the applicant may request an interpreter. The SSA recognizes that interpreters are important to both the SSA and the applicant in the Social Security disability process so that an accurate and fair determination can be made. Thus, an applicant should not hesitate to seek an interpreter when necessary and should not fail to file an application if he doesn’t have an interpreter identified.

If your friend speaks Spanish, please invite him to read the Spanish version of our website. Otherwise, please inform your friend of his rights, encourage him to request an interpreter, and invite him to contact us for further information.

I Was Seriously Hurt In A Criminal Attack. Can I Recover Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t care how you got hurt—as long as you were not the one committing the crime. You may not qualify for Social Security disability if you were hurt while committing a crime, but you may be able to qualify if you were hurt while someone else was committing crime.

Some Attack Injuries Create Lifelong Disabilities

In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you are going to have to prove that your disability is permanent and that you can’t work because of it. These kind of injuries may occur in a criminal attack if you are left with a:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Amputation injury
  • Other serious, disabling injury

If you are unable to work or if your condition is likely to result in death, if you have paid enough into the Social Security system, and if you are not yet of retirement age, the SSA may find you eligible for Social Security disability even if a criminal caused your injury.

Social Security disability benefits may help you make ends meet if you cannot work and may be received even if the state of Texas pursues a criminal case against the person who left you hurt or you pursue a civil case for personal injury damages.

To learn more about Social Security disability benefits and how they may help you after you become disabled in a criminal attack, please read our FREE book, Social Security Disability What You Need to Know, and please start a live chat with us today.

What Is A Professional Relations Officer?

Professional relations officers are part of the Social Security disability program. In Texas, professional relations officers are available through the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Austin.

What Professional Relations Officers Do

It is the job of a Social Security disability professional relations officer to:

  • Provide informational presentations to doctors and medical professionals in the community. These presentations include facts about the medical information the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs, when the SSA needs it, and why accurate and complete information is important. The presentations also include information about how reports from doctors and other health professionals are used by the SSA in determining Social Security disability eligibility.
  • Recruit and train doctors, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals to become consultative exam providers. They can also answer individual questions about performing consultative exams or conducting disability reviews for DDS.
  • Help medical providers use Social Security’s Electronic Records Express for sending records related to disability claims.

Thus, it is the responsibility of the professional relations officers to support the medical community and not necessarily an individual Social Security disability applicant.

How to Contact One in Texas

You can contact the Texas DDS directly at 800-252-9627 if you would like to get in touch with a professional relations officer.

If you think an individual Social Security disability applicant or recipient needs help, however, a professional relations officer may not be the right call for you to make. Instead, that individual may benefit from the assistance of an experienced Texas Social Security disability attorney. Please share our website with that individual or encourage that person to contact us directly at (214) 373-3761 for more information.

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