Saturday, November 13, 2010

No Cost of Living Increase for Social Security Beneficiaries

For the second year in a row, the SSA will offer no cost-of-living adjustment
for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries in 2011. The COLA is determined by comparing the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2008, the last year that a COLA was determined, to the third quarter of 2010. As there was no increase in that period (unlike the change from 2008 to 2009, which
was 5.8 percent, the largest increase since 1982), the SSA declined to grant a cost of living increase.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Applying for Disability Benefits – How It’s Decided If You’re Disabled

When evaluating your case, consider the following. The more you are educated about your case, the better prepared you are to present your case to the Social Security Administration.

1. Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, we generally will not consider you disabled. The amount changes each year. For the current figure, see the annual Update (Publication No. 05-10003).

If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, the state agency then looks at your medical condition.

2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the state agency to decide that you are disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider you disabled. If your condition is that severe, the state agency goes on to step three.

3. Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
The state agency has a List of Impairments that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, the state agency looks to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, the state agency goes on to step four.

4. Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.

5. Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.

For more information,call our office at 803-929-0577 or email us at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. Each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. Recent data shows that, on average, approximately 1.7 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually.

A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

TBI may result in neurological and mental impairments with a wide variety of posttraumatic symptoms and signs. The rate and extent of recovery can be highly variable and the long-term outcome may be difficult to predict in the first few months post-injury. Generally, the neurological impairment (s) will stabilize more rapidly than any mental impairment (s). Sometimes a mental impairment may appear to improve immediately following TBI and then worsen, or, conversely, it may appear much worse initially but improve after a few months. Therefore, the mental findings immediately following TBI may not reflect the actual severity of your mental impairment (s). The actual severity of a mental impairment may not become apparent until 6 months or more post-injury. We will fully evaluate any neurological and mental impairments and adjudicate the claim. (

For more information, visit our site, Metts Law Firm, LLC or call 803-929-0577. You may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if you are unable to work for any reason.

If You Are Denied Social Security Benefits

If you are denied Social Security benefits, it isn’t the end of the world. The Social Security application process has several stages of appeal, any of which can overturn the initial decision and give you the benefits to which you are entitled.

The vast majority of applications for Social Security disability will be denied. Even if you have a strong case, the Social Security Administration may deny your claim if you don't prove your disability under the Social Administration guidelines.

Over 60% of claims are denied at the Initial stage. The Social Security Administration allows you 60 days to appeal this decision. If you decide to appeal, your claim enters the Reconsideration stage.

The Social Security Administration rejects over 80% of Reconsideration applications. If you choose to appeal again, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The Hearing stage often times represents your best chance of obtaining disability benefits, and it is important to prepare properly. Having a competent disability advocate or Social Security attorney can significantly increase your chances of being approved at this third stage.

If the Social Security Administration has denied your claim for Social Security disability and you would like to appeal, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding your benefits, please contact us for a consultation at 803-929-0577. We offer in office and phone consultations when needed.