Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fox-5 Atlanta I-team-Social Security disability: Stay in line or start all over?

Hear Disability Attorney Thomas O'Brien weigh in on the difficult choice between pursuing appeals beyond the ALJ level versus starting a new case.  Click below for the Fox-5 Atlanta I-Team Report, and read below the video story for Thomas' talking points about this difficult decision.
 Stay in Line or Start All Over?

Why File a request for Appeals Council review?
• A new case might not be an option because Claimant is no longer insured for disability (DLI)
• Claimant does not want to lose a few years of back benefits
• All original records would be considered, and not as usable in a new case
• Claimant is still generating new persuasive evidence that "relates back" to conditions considered in original filing
• A good hearing may have resulted in good issues for appeal

Why start a new claim?
• Might be able to file a new case prior to insurance lapse date (do not want to miss DLI)
• Claimant may be past age 50 during a new filing
• Can submit new evidence of new diagnoses (as well as ongoing care for old diagnoses)
• New sets of eyes on the case, and potentially more favorable odds
• High chance of losing at AC, meaning a loss of an additional delay in starting a new case
• A win at AC often means appearing again in front of denying judge
• The Appeals Council's scope of review is primarily to evaluate legal or procedural errors, and determines if evidence was properly considered
• Any new evidence at AC must "relate back"

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Disability Attorney Thomas O'Brien on Fox-5 News Atlanta

Disability Attorney Thomas O'Brien recently appeared in a story covered by the Fox-5 Atlanta I-team as they investigated delays in social security disability hearings in Georgia.  What they found might surprise you.

Read the article by clicking here.

See the story by clicking here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Augusta (GA) Chronicle Shares a Feiler & Associates Success Story

This link to the Augusta Chronicle shares the story of a veteran that Attorney Thomas O'Brien assisted.  Our client's wait was too long, but in the end he prevailed.  Stars & Stripes picked the article up too!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Welcome RASopathies Foundation Conference Attendees!

To everyone that I have had the opportunity to speak with at the RASopathies Foundation Conference, I want to say thank you.  Raising a child with Noonan Syndrome or with any special need can be challenging.  Living as an adult with challenges relating to Noonan Syndrome can be equally daunting.  It is my hope that some of the information from my presentation at the conference may benefit those who attended.  If you would like a copy of the exhibit, simply click on the link in the top right of this page to contact me.

The purpose of this website is to offer general help and advice to those folks who are navigating a Social Security Disability or SSI filing.  This process can be long and arduous, but the greatest chance to successfully navigate these waters is help by those who are diligent about collecting treatment records, and those who fight for benefits using the framework set forth by the Social Security Administration.  I hope you find some useful information herein, and am happy to be a resource to any of my readers.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011 Navy Thinks Neck Injections Might Cure PTSD published an interesting article (linked below) regarding a new trial of an injection that has been piloted by a Chicago anesthesiologist which purports to provide real relief for victims of PTSD.  For a long time, the study of the procedure, named stellate-ganglion block, was thwarted by bureaucracy, but a current double-blind placebo controlled study appears to be proving real results.  The procedure, while not without it's risks, involves an injection to the neck, and apparently serves as a "reboot" to the body systems responsible for producing nerve growth factor.  This appears to be one to watch.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Free or Reduced-Cost Medical Care Resources for Georgia and Elsewhere

In my disability law practice, the issue that most frequently presents itself regarding proving a disability is the ability to quantify the affects or severity of a condition through medical evidence. Not coincidentally, the best way to receive care for a disabling condition is also the best way to create a convincing body of evidence for use in proving a disability. Regular care from a physician, or qualified treatment source not only gives the disabled their best shot at managing or curing their conditions, but also will provide a solid and convincing record when the need to prove severity arises. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done because medical care costs money, and of course money is required to secure medical care.  For individuals receiving care from the VA, cost is often a secondary concern, but for claimants that are not geographically close to the VA, or in need of an outside opinion, cost may be a large determinant in seeking and receiving care.

The purpose of this entry is to share several resources that individuals may use to find free or low cost medical resources in their geographic area. To the best of my knowledge, I do not have relationships with any of these physicians on this list, and make no specific endorsements of any of the caregivers, but with a few phone calls, it is my hope that individuals who need care are able to receive it from the organizations listed here. Because of the nature of free clinics, it will likely be necessary to provide evidence of financial need to their offices, and it may take several phone calls to find a clinic that not only can provide care for specific conditions, but has the capacity to see a patient in a timely manner. With that in mind, Claimants should not wait until receiving a hearing date to start seeking care. Treatment is a process, not an end goal, and should be sought during every state of the disability application process, rather than as a means to a rating.

I would also like to note that for the portion of my readers who are medical providers, I will be happy to include your practice on this free or reduced cost list if you are interested. Simply contact me through my website. Additionally, for those providers who are kind enough to treat the disabled for low or no cost, I would be happy to provide specific advice regarding your ability to receive retroactive payments through Medicaid for patients with whom you have a treating relationship. Due to the length of time involved with securing disability benefits for patients, these retroactive payments may cover a year or more of visits and treatment.

Without further ado, here are some websites where a prospective patient may locate medical providers in their area who provide free or reduced cost care. Good luck, and good health to you.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resource and Service Administration – This is a website that covers the entire country, not just Georgia, and by entering an address or zip code, a prospective patient may get contact information for providers in their area. – Another website that extends beyond Georgia, with search functionality.

Free Medical Clinics – This is the Georgia page of another list of national resources. This list is laid out city-by-city for refined searching.

Georgia Free Clinic Network – An excellent page that provides search functionality for free or reduced cost care clinics in the State of Georgia.

Atlanta Free or Low Cost Clinics – A smaller list of Atlanta, Georgia free or reduced care clinics.

Cobb County Free or Low Cost Clinics – A smaller list of Cobb County, Georgia free or reduced care clinics.

Fayette CARE Clinic – From their website, “Our Mission is to promote health and well being for Fayette County’s uninsured and working poor through compassionate medical and dental care, education, prevention, and referral, providing a gateway to other community services.”

This information is does create an attorney-client or physician-patient relationship or any kind, and is for informational purposes only. For advice regarding your specific circumstances, contact VA Disability Attorney Thomas O’Brien.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bilateral Factors and VA Disability Calculations

Author’s Note: Click this link or visit the very bottom of this blog’s home page to use my online Disability and Bilateral Percentage Calculators. This tool is still in development, and the bi-lateral calculation functionality is brand new. I would appreciate any feedback or compatibility issues you may have.
The impact of Bilateral Conditions, or those conditions affecting both arms, both legs, or skeletal muscles must be combined before proceeding with standard disability calculations.  This is actually beneficial to Claimants since this process results in adding additional compensation percentage points to two individual (but pairable) ailments.  The law governing the calculations may be found at 38 CFR §4.26.

To calculate the Bilateral Factor, combine the individual disability ratings for each individual limb using similar math to the standard disability rating, but without rounding.  Once the combination is performed, then add 10% of the combined value to the calculated combination of the two factors.  I simply multiply the combined factor by 1.1 for simplicity.  Then round this number to the nearest "1".  Once this number is determined, then use the resulting value as a single disability percentage in the calculations described here.  An example of determining the Bilateral Factor is as follows:
100% - Capacity before disability
x 10% - Disability of the Right Thigh
=90% - Remaining Capacity
x 10% - Disability of the Left Foot
=81% - Remaining Capacity Before Bilateral Factor
100%-81% = 19% Disability Caused by Both Conditions
x 1.1 = Adds 10% to compensate for Bilateral Disability
=20.9% Before Rounding to nearest "1"
=21% - Bilateral Disability Factor to be used in calculating overall disability.

I hope this is helpful to those of you attempting to understand how the VA arrives at their final ratings.

Please contact VA Disability Attorney Thomas C. O'Brien for further information.