Category Archives: Disability Benefits

Social Security Administration May Begin Cracking Down on “Forum Shopping”

In the legal field, “forum shopping” refers to the practice of attempting to control the outcome of your case by influencing what court and/or judge hears your dispute. For example, if you are able to file a lawsuit against a particular defendant in more than one state, you might investigate the laws and courts of each state as well as the judges in each state to determine which jurisdiction would offer you the better chance of winning your lawsuit. This practice also occurs in Social Security disability claim cases: claimants and their lawyers or representatives have been known to request hearings in front of certain administrative law judges (and refuse hearings in front of others) in order to increase their chances of obtaining a favorable decision. This practice, however, may soon be coming to an end as the Social Security Administration (SSA) prepares to take more aggressive actions against “forum shoppers.”

Continue reading

Mustard Gas Test Subjects Still Awaiting VA Benefits

Back in June 2015, a report by National Public Radio revealed that the VA continued to deny compensation to soldiers used as test subjects for mustard gas.  According to the report, approximately 60,000 veterans of World War II were subjected to tests in which they were exposed to toxic mustard gas in exchange for two weeks of extra vacation. When records about the tests were declassified in 1990, many began seeking VA disability benefits.

Continue reading

Do I Need an Attorney to Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits?

When you become unable to work and realize you may need to file for Social Security disability benefits, feelings of angst and confusion are common. After all, most people have little or no prior experience in dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or any government agency – other than, perhaps, the Internal Revenue Service. So when faced with the prospect of completing paperwork and speaking with a government official, some disability applicants may feel they must have legal assistance with them. Others may be self-confident and feel that no one can represent their interests as well as they can themselves. Regardless of how one feels, however, the question remains: must you be represented by an attorney in order to file for disability benefits?

Continue reading

Subject Matter Experts Cause a Spike in Denials of VA Claims

What happens when the VA decides to rely on “outside help” in evaluating the disability claims of veterans? If you are a veteran who served at Camp Lejeune between the 1950s and the 1980s and who developed any one of a number of health complications due to exposure to tainted water at Camp Lejeune, the use of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) by the VA means your claim now has a much greater chance of being denied. While the VA is standing by its policy of using SMEs to help it evaluate certain claims (saying that doing so increases the consistency and accuracy of its decisions), critics charge that the use of SMEs is just another way for the VA to justify denying veterans the benefits they deserve.

Continue reading

What Happens if the SSD Trust Fund Runs Dry?

The Social Security Disability trust fund is set to run out of money sometime in 2016, according to reports by the Social Security trustees. At that time, individuals who are receiving Social Security disability benefits (which includes both Social Security disability income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits) as well as individuals who apply for benefits will likely encounter a Social Security disability program that looks significantly different from the program today.

Continue reading

Is an Age Cap Coming to VA Disability Benefits?

It was reported last week through several media outlets that the Veterans Administration (VA) is considering recommendations to impose an age cap on veterans receiving individual unemployability (IU) compensation. If adopted, the rule would eliminate eligibility for IU benefits for veterans over a certain age. Presently, there is no age cap or limit to how old a person can be and still receive IU benefits, allowing some VA disability recipients to receive IU benefits despite being 90 years old. Even if the proposed rule were adopted, it would not affect determinations already made but would only impact new VA disability recipients requesting benefits.

Continue reading