03 October 2006

Factors Used in Determining If You Have a Severe Disability

Well friends,

What a rollercoaster this summer has been. I don't think I've talked to you since last June when I published my last disability newsletter.

Hopefully with the changing of the seasons I will be more settled and get to do a little more with my disability website. I'm currently working on putting together a report or ebook on Social Security Disability which will outline the essential pieces of the puzzle that applicants need to get right if they are to get an accurate decision on their claim in the least amount of time.

My latest article is posted in the October issue of DE Other Side, a Social Security Disability newsletter I publish as often as monthly and as infrequently as quarterly. The featured article this month is entitled: Factors Used in Determining If You Have A Severe Impairment / Disability: Examining Work Functions, Environmental Conditions and Mental Functions in Social Security Disability / SSI Benefit Claims Adjudication.

You'll get a clue as to why it's critical that you do not just gloss over the work history that you are asked to complete by your disability examiner. You'll also see just what mental functions are absolutely necessary for performing basic work functions. If you past work included exposure to environmental factors like working around heat or cold, or around noise, hazards or vibrations, and you can no longer be around certain of these conditions due to your medical problems, you'll see that such factors are included in the assessment at this level of the five step evaluation process which I highlighted in the June newsletter.

You can take a look at the article at DE Other Side now.

Also, if you haven't yet subscribed to the newsletter, you can do so here.

Til next time,

Keep the faith,


16 June 2006

Social Security Office on a Mental Vacation...

Here's an interesting Letter to the Editor that just came across my desk...

Social Security Office on a Mental Vacation. Read it here:


or here


Any thoughts?

My thought is that this claimant needs to contact his congressman's local office for assistance.

But what do you do when the whole system appears to be broken?

02 June 2006

Getting SSI and Social Security Disability: A Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process


Just wanted to give you the heads up for this month's Social Security Disability newsletter, DE Other Side. It is now live online here at:


This month's featured article explores the Five Step Sequential Evaluation process that Social Security Disabililty Claims Examiners use to decide who qualifies for benefits and who does not qualify.

The article is kinda long but what real information can you give in a short article on such a complex program with such a complex set of rules and regulations:)-

Hope you're happy...and your spirit is well.

Til next time,

This is Lo and I gotta go ... 'cause I'm running for my life.

02 May 2006

Reporting Any and All Mental Health Impairments on Initial Social Security Application Can Speed Up Processing Time

Well my friend,

I can not believe that a month has come and gone since I first said I would introduce myself to you later.

Ok, here goes.

I'm Loretta, my good friends call me Lo, and my non-friends don't call.

I was affiliated with the Social Security Administration as a Disability Claims Examiner for the Disability Determination Service for three years before leaving that agency in August 2005. Prior to that I had worked as a disability paralegal for a Legal Aid agency in North Carolina back in the early 1990's. I also did a short stint with the South Carolina Developmental Disabilities Council in the Governor's Office in the late 1980's.

In 1995 I left the country and had the bounty of serving in the Holy Land (Israel) for four years. From there I went immediately to Ghana, West Africa, to serve my Faith as a volunteer for an additional 15 months.

A lot of things changed in the US of A while I was gone.

I can remember my "in awe" reaction when I saw the first commercial where the pharmaceutical companies were advertising prescription only drugs directly to the public on TV.

What madness is this, I thought. Do doctors no longer go to school to determine what meds are good for patients or do patients decide what meds are good for them based on the advertisements?

Then I decided it was really ok since the doctors are victims of a "paid" ad campaign anyway. Suddenly it all made sense.

In fact coming back to the states to have an operation was really the only reason that I returned. And after six years, I'm still here. The NIH was gracious enough to perform my surgery for free since they just happened to be conducting a study on a new drug and they needed guinea pigeons (I prefer pigeons to pigs--they're a much smaller species and don't have as much weight to lose).

One of the things I did shortly after returning and finding work in the disability field was to buy myself a condo in the big ATL, a subdivision, in an attempt to put down roots. It was something I had never done before--own a home, and I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about now that I was in my forties.

And surprisingly it was easy enough to get. I got in for about $500 down and got half of that back at closing. Getting in was easy but getting out was a little bit rougher. It took me a year to sell the place after my relocation to the NC area to be closer to my family, and since I did not want the place to go into foreclosure, it wiped out all my savings and now, well I'm just broke. Notice I said broke, not poor.

You see, poverty can't really exist since it is just the absence of money. It's like saying that darkness exists when everyone knows that darkness is just the absence of light. Shed any small amount of light to it and the darkness is no more.

But I stray...

Currently I publish Social-Security-Disability-ESP.com and a monthly Disability newsletter. The May issue is now live at DE Other Side so you can take a look. This month's featured article is called:

"Failing to Report Any Past Mental Health Treatment -- Whether Counseling or Drug Therapy-- on Your Initial Application for Benefits Can Increase Processing Time"

I'm currently also looking to do some virtual assistance and/or part time work for area Social Security disability attorneys who need a little extra help on their growing disability caseloads.

So, if you know someone who knows someone who knows... drop me a line. And if you are a disability attorney in the Raleigh area, you will no doubt be hearing from me soon.

Ok...enough with the intros. It's late and I need to get some shut eye.

29 April 2006

"Feds Could ‘Gut’ Social Security Disability Rolls" Headline...


Take a look at the complete story here:

Feds Could ‘Gut’ Social Security Disability Rolls

And NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives) response here:


The news organization that presented the story also gave links to a related story:


Of course the conclusion is that this particular brand of reform saves the government money at the expense of the poor and disabled the most. And under such a plan, even if you start out not being so poor, if you have to wait two additional years before you qualify for benefits, you will no doubt be among the poor before it is all over.

11 April 2006

Disabled Patient Victimized--Is Anyone to Blame?

Here's a disturbing story right here in the Triangle about a corrupt disability advocate who was charged with managing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) funds for a disabled patient.

You can read it here: http://www.newsobserver.com/138/story/427221.html

What I really didn't understand about this story was this statement made by the director of the agency:

"We operated on faith that everyone was doing the right thing," he said. His agency is apparently not responsible for reimbursing the clients because it is a nonprofit that merely acted as a conduit for the government payments.

So my question is: Does being a non-profit absolve the agency of responsibility for oversight, accountability and management of its volunteers or associates?

Maybe I'm missing something.

Tell me what you think.

05 April 2006

Six Questions to Ask Your Prospective Social Security Disability Advocate

Well my friend,

Still no time for formal introductions. But...

I did just put together an article entitled,

"Six Questions to Ask Your Social Security Disability Advocate, Consultant or Attorney Representative … Before You Sign On the Dotted Line."

It's subtitled, "A Sequential Evaluation to Use When Hiring Help to Win Your Adult Social Security Disability or SSI Claim."

The article is rather long (more than 2000 words) and is still in draft form, so no, it has not yet gone through the final editing process, but you may want to preview it if you are in the market for a disability representative for your benefits claim.

Here's the final paragraph:

"Choosing a representative to handle your claim can be a daunting task, but keep in mind that anyone you choose will have the same goal in mind. They will want to assist you in winning your claim because when you win, they win. However, if there are inherent challenges that they have, such as having to handle too many cases, or not having the people skills necessary to deal effectively with DDS or just not having the knowledge of federal programs and the interpretation of policy and regulations, then you may want to move on to the next one."

Click here to take a look at the rest...

It's always amazing what we'll do to get out of doing something else. I'm in the middle of putting together a business plan for the first time in my life, and the process is a little more intense than I would like it to be. I'm trying to get it done in a week even though I've been told it should take a whole lot longer.

Writing that Social Security article was my break, though I have to admit, I should have been writing one on health and healing instead, since my newsletter for RecallingHealth.com is a tad bit overdue...

Oh, well... See how much I love advocating for Social Security Disability claimants :)-

Well this is Lo ... and I gotta go..."Cause I'm running for my life.

02 April 2006

How Social Security Disability Examiners look at Common Diseases in their Assessment of Claimants' Functional Capacity

Welcome to Disability 180!

Just another blog about Social Security Disability.

So many changes taking place at the Administration.

So many people waiting for benefits.

So much confusion.

How I wish I knew the secret. But believe me, I will be keeping my eyes open.

Not much time to talk today, but I did just publish DE Other Side, the monthly newsletter of Social Security Disability ESP, a website I have published since April of last year (so it's almost a year old now, something I just realized as I was typing this--wow! I'll have to plan a celebration:)-

The featured article this month is "How Social Security Disability Examiners look at Common Diseases in their Assessment of Claimant's Functional Capacity". Go take a look. I also just launched the site where the newsletter is hosted (maybe that's why I haven't been to bed yet.)

Well, that'll have to hold you for now.

Will do the introductions after I get a good day's sleep.

Here's to your good health.