Because you are disabled.

File for disability benefits.

Appeal your case.

How you presented your initial application was the best you could do at that time given what you knew and were told.

But, if you were not successful, appeal (1) because you are disabled and (2) because you can improve on your presentation.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Do You Watch TV?

Do You Watch TV?  And you say you’re disabled?

The following is from my book, How To Get Social Security Disability and SSI Disability

While it seems absurd to have to explain “watching television” so as to not be denied disability benefits (especially to a claimant with mental impairments), it is a good example of how minute “facts” can be used against people.


Sometimes an adjudicator who denies an application distorts what appears as harmless information, such as watching television.

In one case which went to a federal court appeal, Social Security had referred the claimant who was disabled because of mental illness to a consulting psychiatrist; that doctor noted that the claimant said that she watched television.  In his denial decision, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that the claimant’s ability to watch television was indicative of her ability to concentrate.  The ALJ did not question the claimant at the hearing about the details of her watching television.  So while the “ability to concentrate” finding did not per se justify the denial decision, it improperly contributed to the theory that the claimant retained mental abilities that would enable her to work.

In fact, in the case, there was no evidence as to how long the claimant would watch television or the nature of the programming that the claimant watched or whether the claimant indicated that she was able to concentrate on television programs or to retain information from them or indicate for how long she was able to retain information if any.

In reality many people leave a television on as background noise or to offset other noise in an apartment building or on the street outside, as a way to block out intrusive thoughts and/or as company when lonely and depressed.  Many people identify with the characters portrayed in television series—they become almost like real friends.  Many people will doze off for brief periods when watching television particularly people who are in constant pain and people who are unable to sleep through the night.  Perhaps a claimant may be able to concentrate on television programs, and that while watching TV, his pain is somewhat dulled.

While it seems absurd to have to explain “watching television” so as to not be denied disability benefits (especially to a claimant with mental impairments), it is a good example of how minute “facts” can be used against people.

NOSSCR has published parts of the Social Security training material for ALJs which include suggested questions for ALJs to ask at hearings.  Directly after asking about memory issues, the ALJ is to ask:  “Can you follow the story on TV[?]” [3]

The claimant’s full answer to this question should explain what kind of programming he watches, does the claimant watch repeated episodes of his favorite shows, can the claimant remember the story line immediately after the episode, later that same day, the following day, the following week. 

3Disability Hearing Guide for ALJs, Social Security Forum, National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, vol. 35, no. 10, Oct. 2013,  pp. 2, 11.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Palliative Care

Interesting article at the HuffPost on Aug. 31, 2019.


Sometimes Treating Pain Is As Important As Treating Disease

Why ‘palliative care’ can make such a difference, and why so few people get it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Social Security Will Spy On You

In my book, How To Get Social Security Disability & SSI Disability, at page 26, I advise the following regarding social media:

“Don’t use social media, Facebook or You Tube, etc., in ways that can contradict or confuse your claim of disability.”

I go on to say:

“Remember what may appear clear to you may be taken out of context or distorted.  Posting five or ten-year old photos of yourself skiing, may make you feel good, but can lead the office of the inspector general to a different conclusion.”

Now, The New York Times and Huffington Post report that the Trump Administration has pressured the Social Security Administration to develop a program to monitor social media particularly for people collecting disability benefits.