Social Security to Test Use of Microsoft’s HealthVault in Disability Process

The Social Security Administration released a press release today saying that they’re testing Microsoft’s HealthVault in the disability process. HealthVault is a free online service that enables people to gather, store and manage their families’ health information and share that information with their health-care providers.

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Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, was quoted as saying that “combined with other advancements in health information technology, our use of HealthVault should result in faster decisions for disability applicants.”

As I write this, I can almost hear the cries of legitimate concern that will no doubt be raised concerning the security of protected health information. However, at this time, I choose to join Mr. Astrue in hope that this partnership will result in faster decisions for disability applicants.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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New Government Resource For Disabled

Disability.gov was launched today to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability.gov is operated by the Department of Labor and incorporates information from 22 federal agencies.

Disability.gov has social media tools to encourage interaction and feedback, and new ways to organize, share and receive information. Visitors can sign up for personalized news and updates, participate in online discussions and suggest resources for the site. Features include a Twitter feed, RSS feeds, a blog, social bookmarking and a user-friendly way to obtain answers to questions on such topics as finding employment and job accommodations. Additional tools will be added during the months ahead.

Given the wide range of government programs about which you can find information on Disability.gov it’s very likely that you can find information useful to you or someone you care about so click on Disability.gov and have a look around.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email:
[email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Social Security Disability: Just Apply

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It was about a week before Jack Schamel retired that I last wrote a blog post. Since that time I’ve had about all I can do to keep up with hearings, client meetings, phone calls and everything else. I’ve missed writing the occasional blog because I find it satisfying to know that some of the folks reading my blogs are actually helped by them. Enough knuckle cracking. Let’s get down to it.

Just doing it is really the theme of this post, which is about encouraging folks to apply for Social Security Disability. I’ve had too many people come to me who would clearly be disabled for purposes of Social Security Disability, but for a variety of reasons either didn’t apply before their date last insured (DLI) or didn’t appeal the decision denying them benefits for an impairment onset date before their DLI. For a more in-depth discussion of DLI, see my blog post “Social Security Disability and Date Last Insured.”

While it is certainly true that if you can prove that the onset of your impairment occurred before your DLI you would be entitled to benefits, this is not the way to go. By applying and, if necessary, appealing a denial (preferably with the assistance of an attorney), you and your attorney should be working with your medical providers to ensure that Social Security has the medical evidence of your impairment.

The bottom line is: you should apply and if you’re denied benefits hire an attorney experienced at Social Security Disability. Please see my blog post “Social Security Disability: Getting Started” in which I have the link to apply for benefits online.

You have nothing to gain by waiting and, if you’re fortunate enough to recover from your disability and return to work, you may be eligible for a closed period of disability for the time you were out of work. In other words, just apply.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email:
[email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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How Long Do Social Security Disability Benefits Last?

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Dallas, Texas Attorney Bob Kraft recently wrote an informative blog post explaining some critical information regarding continued eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits after you have been approved. The post is titled “How Long Do Social Security Disability Benefits Last?” The text of the post is below.

How Long Do Social Security Disability Benefits Last?

Social Security Disability payments are different from other long term disability insurance programs. Often a private disability plan is defined, and dictates, for example, that you can only receive benefits for a specified period of time. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits, however, may last until you are able to return to work or you reach retirement age. If you are disabled at the time you reach the age of retirement, your Social Security Disability payments will be converted over to retirement payments.

Returning to Work and Continuing Disability Review: If you return to the workforce after being found disabled, the Social Security Administration can review your case and see if you continue to be disabled. You are also entitled to a trial work period after being found disabled. How to approach working after you have been found disabled is an involved issue, and you should call to discuss it with an attorney before you begin working.

In theory, all cases are subject to a continuing disability review after a certain period of years. Depending on your age and the type of impairments involved, you should be prepared to have your case reviewed several years after your disability is awarded. It is, therefore, important to keep track of all doctors you have seen since your disability was originally granted.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

________________________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Elmira Social Security Disability Attorney Recommends Social Security Podcast on When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits

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While this post has little to do with my practice in Social Security Disability, when I run across something helpful I feel compelled to pass it along.

The Social Security Administration is now posting podcasts and their first is titled “Deciding When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits.

It’s about 5 minutes and nicely done. So if you’re trying to decide when to start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, I would encourage you to give it a listen.

As always, thanks for reading our blog,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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New York Social Security Disability Attorney Explains BEST

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And by the title, I don’t mean that I explain best. I can only try to do that. What I want to explain is that the Social Security Administration offers an online Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) that allows you to find out what benefits for which you may be eligible.

BEST will screen for eligibility for Medicare, Social Security Disability, Social Security Retirement, Social Security Survivors’ Benefits, Special Veterans’ Benefits and Supplemental Security Income.

According to the Social Security Administration, it should only take 5 to 10 minutes to answer the questions. So before you buy that book about what you might qualify for, by the guy in the question-mark suit, try BEST.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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New York Workers’ Comp and Social Security Disability Lawyer Begs for HELP!

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For some time we’ve been kicking around the idea of creating a guide to communication for our clients. We’ve got something, but I’d like to know if it can be improved. Who better to ask than our clients or potential clients. Please read our draft guide to communication below and let me know what you think. I’m begging you! : )

Guide to Communication With Your Workers’ Compensation and Disability Attorney

First, let me say that I sincerely believe that good client/lawyer communication is absolutely essential to good representation. It is my goal that I am accessible and that communication with my clients is open and productive. Because I have hundreds of clients, this can be difficult. I am keenly aware of how frustrating it is when you have pressing questions and concerns and I am happy to try to answer your questions as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

There are several things we can both do to make communication between us easier.

EMAIL

For those of you who have access to email, my strong preference is communication via email for several reasons that are better for each of us:

  • With email we don’t have to play “telephone tag” with each other,
  • Email allows me to respond at any time: night; day or weekend,
  • All emails are automatically saved to our case management program so we have a running record of your questions and my responses, and,
  • If you save my email responses to your computer, you will have them for future reference if you have any confusion about what I have told you.

You may email me at [email protected] or my assistant Terri Ziegler at [email protected]

TELEPHONE

During the day I have hearings, client meetings, phone calls from clients and compensation carriers. My days are often very busy and that’s why I have the preference for email discussed above. However, I am well aware of the fact that not everyone has email, so a few telephone tips will help each of us:

  • I make it my policy to not interrupt my meetings with you to take telephone calls from other clients but that same policy means that I can’t interrupt a meeting with another client to take your call– it’s a matter of respect for ALL my clients. Accordingly, if you call, please do not be offended if I am unable to take your call.
  • If you call me (733-8866 or 800-943-3529), please be prepared to leave a voicemail with the details that will help me call you back with an answer to your concerns. I try to return phone calls two times a day: 8-9 am and 4-5pm. When leaving a voicemail, please let me know which of these two time periods are better for you, the # I can reach you at at that time. I will do my best to return your call at that time.
  • I try to return all calls within 24 hours of your call so if you haven’t heard back from me within that time period, please call back and leave another message for me or my assistant Terri. Many times I have left messages for clients who never received them for a million different reasons: a teenager “forgot” to give their parent the message, someone wrote it down and then lost the paper it was written on, etc. The bottom line is that none of us is perfect but I will try very hard to make sure you get a prompt response to your call.

FAX

You may fax me at 607-732-6062. If you fax me, please make sure your name, phone #, fax # and/or email address are on all faxes.

Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think.
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Social Security Disability Radio Part II

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Part two of Atlanta, Georgia Attorney Jonathan Ginsberg’s interview of Colorado Springs, Colorado Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk, can be listened to at “Part Two of Jonathan’s Interview With Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk” on ssdRadio.

If you missed the first part of the interview, please see my post “Social Security Disability Radio.”

These two attorneys give some great practical information in an easy format. All you have to do is listen. If you have any interest in Social Security Disability, I would encourage you to listen to both parts of this interview.

Thanks for reading,
Eric

___________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Social Security Disability Radio

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Atlanta, Georgia Attorney Jonathan Ginsberg has a unique blog, ssdRadio, on which he posts podcasts on topics related to Social Security Disability. His blog is a terrific resource.

Jonathan Ginsberg recently interviewed Colorado Springs, Colorado Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk, and posted the first half of that interview as “Interview With Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk” on ssdRadio. You may remember my referring to Tomasz Stasiuk in my blog post “Social Security Disability and Date Last Insured.”

At any rate, after the introductions these two gentlemen give a great account of what you will experience at your hearing in your Social Security Disability case.

I encourage you to listen to “Interview With Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk” and thanks for reading,

Eric

____________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William St.
Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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Social Security Disability And “Date Last Insured”

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If you’re applying for Social Security Disability an important date is your “date last insured.” As long as you are found to be disabled before your date last insured, you will receive Social Security Disability Benefits.

Colorado Springs Attorney Tomasz Stasiuk wrote an excellent blog on the subject titled “I Was Denied Because I Was Not Disabled Before My “Date Last Insured.” What Is The “Date Last Insured?” The text of which is below.

Social Security a bit like car insurance: you pay your premiums to obtain insurance covered. When it comes to Social Security, your premiums are your payroll taxes and the coverage is disability insurance.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you have to have paid enough into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. Once you have worked long enough, you become insured for Disability Insurance benefits should you become unable to work.

But what happens when you stop paying your premiums? Just like for car insurance, you may be covered for some time after your last payment but there will be a cut off date for your policy. If you have an accident before your cut off date, the insurance company will take care of you. However, if you have an accident after your policy lapses, the insurance company wont give you anything.

So, how does this apply to Social Security? If you have stopped working (or have started a job that does not pay into Social Security — one example in Colorado is teachers, who pay into PERA instead), you stop paying the “insurance premium.” That means that sooner or later you will reach your date last insured. The last date you are insured for Disability Insurance benefits under Social Security.

Here is where things get a little tricky:

  • The date last insured does not limit when you can file for benefits. You can still file for Disability Insurance benefits after your date last insured. Note: there are some exceptions to this which go beyond the scope of this article.
  • The date last insured limits when you must prove your disability began. Just as in a car accident case where you have to prove that the accident happened while you were still insured, in a Social Security case, you have to prove that the disability occurred before the date last insured.
  • If you can prove that your disability began before your date last insured, you may be able to receive Disability Insurance benefits (even after the date last insured). If you cannot prover the disability began before the date last insured, you might not be eligible for Disability Insurance.

Here is another important thing to keep in mind:

Date last insured only applies in Disability Insurance cases. Date last insured is not an issue in the “other” kind of Social Security disability benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI cases). While date last insured may make you be ineligible for Disability Insurance Benefits, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI).

Thanks for reading,
Eric

____________________________________________
Eric L. Johnson
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William St.
Elmira, NY 14902
Tel: (607) 733-8866
Fax: (607) 732-6062
Toll Free: 1-800-943-3529
Email: [email protected]
Web: http://www.zifflaw.com

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