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Dallas Disability Attorney Stanley Denman's Blog

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Denman Law Office

Social Security Disability Attorney
5025 North Central Expressway
Suite 2004
Dallas, TX 75205
United States
Phone: 214-219-7288

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"We Win 8 out of 10 cases!" : Is this the Social Security Disability Attorney for You?

 

A well-known national social security disability firm runs a Google AdWords campaign claiming that they win 8 of 10 cases (an 80% win rate).  Most good social security attorneys have a similar win rate (as do I) but I think this ad is deceptive.  My colleague and fellow social security disability attorney Tomasz Stasiuk has written an excellent blog post on this issue found at  http://www.socialsecurityinsider.com/2011/08/social-security-lawyers-and-percent-won/.  

Tomasz rightly points out that win rates are a poor indicator of a good social security disability attorney: if a law firm can spend enough money on advertizing to attract only cases that are "lay-down hands" they can have a 90%+ win rate, and have very limited skills in social security disability representation.   I would also ad to Tomasz' points: flashing win rates is something most Bar Associations frown on, precisely because of the potential for clients being misled.  A law firm that uses aggressive marketing tactics may not be the wisest choice.  You also have no way to verify that the success rate a potential attorney brags about is accurate, current, or pertains to the medical condition and disability you suffer from.

In my opinion the best way to choose a social security disability is to talk personally with the lawyer, ask your questions, voice your concerns, and trust your instincts.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Parkland Hospital Scandals: What is an Uninsured Dallas County Resident to Do?

 

The Dallas County indigent health care facility, Parkland Memorial Hospital, has been plagued by problems in treatment and supervision of health care providers in recent days.  The sad reality is that it is virtually impossible to secure social security disability benefits if you are not getting regular medical treatment. The Parkland PLUS program provides medical treatment to Dallas County residents on a sliding scale - virtually free if you are without income or resources.  So if you live in Dallas county Texas and are without medical insurance, Parkland is the only game in town.

But these recent horror stories coming out of Parkland Hospital are disconcerting.  Many of my clients now going to Parkland ask me "if they can stop" going to Parkland.  Obviously I cannot give that kind of advise.  But regardless of the bad press Parkland is getting, it remains true that if you are seeking social security disability benefits, and have no medical insurance, most Administrative Law Judges deciding Dallas cases will find the recent Parkland scandals to be a sufficient excuse for not seeking medical treatment.  A couple of thoughts:

1.  Medical treatment is inherently risky.  Mistakes, misdiagnosis, and poor medical treatment can happen anywhere.  Conversely I have seen many clients receiving excellent care at Parkland.

2.  Medical treatment "horror stories" (like amputating the wrong leg) get a lot of attention, understandably.  But they are still very rare, and the sheer tragedy of such mishaps often causes us to overestimate the risk we run in medical treatment.

3.  Parkland is under such intense scrutiny right now that I would expect the care provided there is the best it has ever been. 

4.  The risks of not treating a medical condition vastly outweigh the risks of medical malpractice.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Continuing Disability Reviews Will Ramp Up in the Near Future

 

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article indicating the high probably of more Social Security Disability Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) in the near future:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904292504576482372637942558.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

The key points of the article of great import to social security disability recepients in North Texas and across the nation:

The days of getting on social security disability and staying there until full retirement age may be over, especially for younger persons.  Our office is advising all our former clients receiving social security disability benefits in North Texas and the DFW area as follows:

  • Pay attention to when the social security administration advised you they might do a CDR (its in the Award Letter)
  • Continue to get good medical care
  • Talk frankly with your doctors about your condition and ability to work:  would they support you if the government reviews your case?
  • Carefully consider whether your condition has improved and whether you think you could return to work.

 

 

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Around the Disability Blogosphere: Week of July 4, 2011

 

1. I commend to all the e-book just posted by my colleague Gordon Gates of Maine entitled "Ten Steps to Prepare for Your Social Security Hearing" found at  http://www.mainesocialsecuritylawyer.com/Prepareforyourhearing.pdf.   I would add that Gordon's article is really a road map to the entire case, not just focusing on the ALJ hearing.

2.     When I started practicing social security disability lawyer, Charles T. Hall's "social Security Disability Practice" was always by my side.  In his blog post this week found at http://www.charleshallfirm.com/can-i-get-social-security-disability-for-a-lightning-strike-injury/ Attorney Hall notes that he has won disability benefits in a number of cases involving a person surviving a lightning strike.  I am often asked by Dallas area social security claimants whether a particular condition "qualifies" for disability benefits, as if there is some kind of exclusive list.  Attorney Hall's post  illustrates that there is no such exclusive list: as long as there is a "medically determinable impairment" there is a basis for social security disability benefits.

3.Atlanta social security disability attorney Jonathan Ginsberg addresses the issue of whether a social security disability overpayment is dischargable" in bankruptcy.   http://www.ssdanswers.com/2011/06/30/can-i-discharge-my-social-security-disability-overpayment-in-a-bankruptcy/ By "dischargeable" basically we mean that the debt is paid at a drastically reduced rate in the context of a Chapter 13 reorganization, or in the content of a Chapter 7 liquidation, paid at a drastically reduced amount and only if there are sufficient assets (not likely).

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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99% Approval Rate of ALJ Draws Media Critism

 

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiled Social Security Administrative Law Judge David B. Daugherty of Huntington West Virginia and the fact that he approves nearly all disability claims that come before him. Here is a link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704681904576319163605918524.html.

The article seems to suggest that Judge Daugherty and other similar ALJs are a big part of the reason the social security disability rolls have ballooned over the last few years, and the fact that government estimates predict that the social security disability insurance program will run out of money by 2018. The article also highlights the high number of cases Judge Daughetry handles, suggesting that the intense pressure within the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODARS) to deal with the widely critisized case backlog encourages such high approval rates. The Wall Street Journal article notes that a high number of Judge Daugherty's cases are with one particular lawyer, and suggests that Judge Daugherty seeks out cases with that particular lawyer.

Interestingly, I have had several attorney friends in other areas of law forward this Wall Street Journal article to me, one labeling it as "SSI Judge Corruption". I think the article does make that suggestion, but I would note that the article has little to suggest Judge Daugherty is in fact corrupt. There is no suggestion Judge Daugherty is in cahoots with the lawyer in question, or that the lawyer has provided the Judge with any "kick-back" or anything of benefit. Nor does the article suggest that Judge Daugherty pays only that particular lawyer's cases, and not those claimants represented by other lawyers.

At worst, I suspect Judge Daugherty indeed does approve too many cases in an economically depressed area of the country. And, yes putting too many claimants on the disability rolls will in the end hurt those who are truely disabled, because the integrity of the program is put in question. But if the Wall Street Journal is truly interested in uncovering corruption, and millions of government money being wasted, they should look to the "Street" their newspaper is named after - namely, Wall Street.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Putting your Best Face(book) Forward?

 

My fellow social security disability lawyer Jonathan Ginsberg has written an excellent blog on the dangers that social media and Facebook may pose to social security disability claimants: http://www.ssdanswers.com/2009/07/11/can-your-facebook-profile-hurt-your-social-security-disability-case/. I share Jonathan's concerns about the representation disability applicants and recipients may present on Facebook, and I too have many present and former clients with Facebook pages that present a more vigorous life that one would expect of the disabled. So what is going on here? I commend you to Mr. Ginsburg's article, and offer my own observations:

1. In own experience, I find former client Facebook pages more œvigorous┬Ł than current clients. This is a very small sample, but I believe that present social security disability recipients may have experienced improvement in their health, perhaps due in part to the fact that they are no longer under the severe financial stress they experienced in waiting for disability benefits to be approved.

2. It is natural to want to œput your best foot forward┬Ł. Don't assume that a Facebook page of a disability recipient presents their true limitations.

3. Attorney Ginsberg offers a colorful example of a claimant with a Facebook page in which she bragged about her sex life. This person may be more illustrative of a disability recipient with some mental and issues. But you don't have to have severe mental problems to have an inaccurate picture of yourself. That is, it is quite common for us to project not who we are, but who we would like to be, or wish others to believe.

4. So take a hard look at your Facebook page. Is this really you? Ask family or friends to look at it also. Do they think the social media you have created is an inaccurate picture of you and your disabilities?

5. Don't shy away from including your health struggles on your Facebook page.

6. Finally, take a hard look at your activities as reflected on Facebook. Is this truly the picture of a disabled person? Perhaps the activities there reflect a passion in life that you have found despite your disability. Could you turn that passion into a career? You are not a dishonest or bad person if you conclude you might no longer belong on disability. Do yourself and your country a favor by working toward getting off disability and finding new reward on meaningful work.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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"Project Access": New Dallas County Low Income Medical Treatment

 

I have written before about how important regular medical treatment is in winning a social security disability claim. Loss of a job due to a disability, however, often leads to loss of medical coverage, Parkland Hospital is available to low income Dallas county residents who do not have health insurance available. My experience, however, is that my disabled clients often have medical insurance "available" (for example, medical coverage is possible through a spouse's job) but there is simply not enough money without a job to pay for medical insurance.

Project Access is collaboration of Dallas county doctors and healthcare providers to bring free medical care to those not poor enough to qualify for Parkland Hospital treatment. For more information visit www.projectaccess.info.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Disclaimer

 

This Web site and all materials on it have been prepared by The Denman Law Office for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances, a solicitation of legal business, or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. You are urged to consult an experienced lawyer concerning your particular factual situation and any specific legal questions you may have..

Please feel free to send us e-mail with your comments, suggestions or questions. But understand that sending e-mail to our firm or to any attorney in the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Communications between you and an attorney are not privileged until the parties have agreed upon legal representation and we cannot agree to maintain the confidentiality of such communications. Please do not send confidential information to us via e-mail without first communicating directly with us by telephone. E-mail is not a secure medium of communication.

Links to other Web sites are not intended as endorsements of the linked sites. The linked sites are not under the control of The Denman Law Office and we are not responsible for the contents of any linked site.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Judicial Finality: A Legal Reality that can Hurt Social Security Disability Claimants

 

I often field phone calls from persons who have filed for disability benefits many years ago, and want to re-visit some of the issues in those old cases. Typically, such phone calls are precipitated by a conversation that the caller had describing the long past disability case with a friend or family case, and how it "did not seem fair". Usually the friend or family member agreed that the case was not handled properly and urged the caller to "talk with a lawyer". Many of the typical siutations I hear about include:

1). Social security agreed that the caller was disabled, but "did not go back far enough". In other words, the claimant alleged an onset date, and the government found them disabled at a later date.

2). The government denied the claim, and the caller gave up and did not appeal.

We tend to think in terms of "whats fair is fair". We hear of persons wrongly convicted of a crime who are released when found to be innocent, and think that if a long-past disability decision was wrong, something can and should be done about it.

There is however, a judicial concept of finality. In a nutshell, this doctrine provides that once something is decided, its over. It cannot be revisited. Most precisely, it a court is presented with the same legal issue, it cannot be relitigated.

So how do wrongly convicted folks get out of jail when new DNA evidence proves them innocent? Judicial finality does not apply because there is a exception for new evidence. Now I am not a criminal law attorney, but I am not straying too far afield when I say that the new evidence has to pass a high threshold of materiality: it has to be very powerful and important evidence. DNA evidence exonerating the convicted person is that kind of powerful evidence.

Now what does this have to do with social security disability? Same issues apply, and an old closed decision can be revised with new and important evidence. But, the major difference with social security disability law is this: if the social security administration decides that an old decision cannot be reopened the decision is NOT appealable. In other words, a claimant is totally at the mercy of the administrative law judge, or other social security disability decision-maker.

So, as a practical matter, unless that past injustice of a social security disability is really, really a big injustice, you are stuck with the consequences of failing to appeal that old decision. Fair may indeed be fair, but failing to appeal a disability denial can be an unfairness that cannot be righted.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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Filing for Social Security Disability: Some Common Questions

 

Over the years I have received a lot of phone calls in Dallas-Fort Worth from people wondering if they should file a claim for social security disability. Here are the most common questions in this area:

1. "I'm still working, but my doctor says that I am disabled. Can't I file for social security disability?"

The answer is "No" , but as my fellow Texan Ross Perot once said, "the devil is in the details". You cannot be going to your normal 9-5 job getting paid as usual and be able to file a social security disability claim. Often times, however, someone will tell me that they are still working, when in fact they are out on short-term or long-term disability, FMLA, etc, but are still technically employed. These folks can file a claim for social security disability because they are not "working" as that term is defined by social security.

A further area of some confusion centers on part-time work. Many people have had to cut back work hours as a result of their impairment, and wonder whether they can or should file for social security disability. Many callers commonly report that they have heard that "social security will let you make up to a certain amount". They are referring to the fact that work resulting in monthly income below a certain threshold is not "substantial gainful activity" and therefore is not considered work for purposes of social security disability. My experience in Dallas Fort Worth and in Texas is that social security administration representatives are somewhat inconsistent in whether they will take a social security disability application for someone who reports continued working at a reduced amount.

2. "I am waiting to get all my medical records together before I file for social security disability. Is this a good idea?"

No. This is not a good idea. Social Security has the responsibility of gathering your medical records. You do not need to.

3. "I'm not sure what disability program to file for. I have heard of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but I don't know if I would qualify"

Filing for disability benefits is not a test of your knowledge of benefit programs. You are not expected to know whether you should file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based upon a disability, Disability Widow's Benefits, etc. Social Security representatives are trained to know what programs to file claimants for. And if a mistake is made (for example., a person could qualify for SSI, and no SSI application was taken), a claim can always be updated with the correct type of claim.

4. "I was told that I should wait to file for social security disability benefits until my worker's compensation benefits end. Is that correct?"

No. It is true that social security law provides for an ""offset" of disability benefits based upon amounts received in worker's compensation benefits in the state of Texas, and most states. But if you wait to file for social security disability until the worker's compensation benefits stop, you could be looking at many months without an income until your social security disability benefits case is approved. On the other hand, if during the time of your worker's compensation payments you had filed and been approved for social security disability, all it would take is for you to document the cessation of worker's compensation payments, and the social security disability payments would start.

BOTTOM LINE: It is in general always better to file a claim for social security disability than not file. Filing for social security disability costs nothing. There is no penalty if your are denied, and you will not get in trouble with the government if it turns out you go back to work and are fine. On the other hand, procrastination is deadly in the social security disability arena. You really can permanently lose the right to benefits if you delay for too long.

Dallas TX Attorney Stanley Denman has limited his law practice to social security disability since 1991.Google

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All Posts

Dallas Fort Worth/DFW Texas attorney Stanley F. Denman serves disabled workers who have been denied social security disability benefits in North and East Texas, including Dallas, Texas, and the Metroplex, the following cities: Allen, Arlington, Bedford, Boyd, Carrollton, Corsicana, Denton, Denison, Decatur, DeSoto, Duncanville, Ennis, Fort Worth, Flower Mound, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Greenville, Hurst, Irving, Kaufman, Lewisville, Longview, Mesquite, McKinney, Murphy, Plano, Red Oak, Richardson, Rowlett, Sherman, Terrell, Tyler, Waxahachie, Weatherford, and Wylie, and the following counties: Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Erath, Gregg, Grayson, Harrison, Hunt, Kaufman, Navarro, Tarrant, Parker, Rockwall , Smith, and Wise.

 

NOSSCR Member Stanley Denman