Social Security Disability - Back Problem, Depression Issues
Here's a recent comment that was left that contains several individual questions that are addressed below.
I received a partially favorable decision. I originally filed with a lower back problem but sometime last year SSA sent me to see a psychologist because of depression issues. The psychologist diagnosed me with major depressive disorder assigning a GAF of 55. I don't even know what a GAF is to be honest. The vocational expert says there are no jobs in the national economy that I could perform. So the ALJ's decision set my beginning disabled date to February 2008.
My attorney says I should appeal. I am worried because I don't want to get the decision reversed on appeal to where I don't receive any benefits. I am wondering if in the future it is possible to add my back troubles on as an addition and just forget about the back pay my attorney wants to go after.
Regarding my back problem, the records in this letter are wrong...should I worry about correcting them? The ALJ also says in the letter that the claimant's earnings record shows that the claimant has acquired sufficient quarters of coverage to remain insured through December 31, 2011. Thus, the claimant must establish disability on or before that date in order to be entitled to a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. Does this mean that I will be cut off after this date? Also wondering if my monthly benefits will be less because this is only partially favorable and for depression?
I see several questions so I will answer each of them individually.
1) Can my ALJ decision be reversed on appeal? There is a chance that any individual’s disability allowance could be reversed if the individual chooses to appeal the established date of onset/disability (in this situation, 02/08). When an individual appeals their onset, it gives an administrative law judge a chance to review the entire decision not just the time between when an individual alleged they became disabled and when Social Security established that they were disabled.
For example, your appeal may go before a different administrative law judge who for whatever reason determines that you should not have been approved for disability benefits at all. This would mean that you would not be entitled to any past due disability benefits or continuing disability benefits.
Any individual who agrees to appeal an onset takes a calculated risk that their disability approval may be overturned.
2) I was wondering if I could add my back problems on in the future? Yes, you can add information about your back problems to your disability case file when it comes up for a continuing medical disability review. All disability beneficiaries have periodic reviews to determine if they are still disabled under the guidelines of Social Security disability.
Some individuals have a review every three years while others have reviews every seven years (and some are initially reviewed one year after first being approved). The diary date depends upon the severity of an individual’s impairment and age. So when your disability claim comes up for review you can add information about your back impairment along with any medical information regarding your back problems.
3) Regarding my back problem, the records in this letter are wrong...should I worry about correcting them? I do not feel there is any real need to correct the records in the letter as you have already received an approval for disability benefits. The errors in the letter may simply be typographical errors. If not, what's indicated in your letter may not truly be indicative of what's in your file. That's because when examiners detail this section of the letter they can sometimes get confused as to the original source of a set of treatment records, particularly when the records are poorly constructed (no identifying information on the pages) or have also been incorporated into the records held by other medical treatment providers.
4) Does this mean that I will be cut off after this date? All disability beneficiaries have what is known as a date last insured. In your case that date is in the future (12/2011), and does not affect your current entitlement to disability benefits. The letter is simply stating if you are not found to be disabled by Social Security prior to the date last insured, you would not be entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits. However, an individual could still file for SSI, or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits after that date, if they met the income and resource limits of the need-based program.
5) Also, I was wondering if my monthly benefits would be less because this is only partially favorable and for depression? In this instance, partially favorable only has to do with the fact that they say you became disabled after the date that you say you became disabled (potentially less back pay).
Basically, you stated you were disabled prior to 02/08, but they have determined that your records indicate you became disabled as of 02/08. You will still receive your full monthly disability benefit. The fact that your disability is based upon depression rather than a physical problem has absolutely no bearing on the amount of your disability benefit. Frankly, Social Security views any impairment mental or physical equally disabling if it prevents you from performing substantial work activity.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
How often will social security review my disability claim ? (continuing disability review)
How do you file a Social Security Disability or SSI appeal?
Who Qualifies for SSI Disability Benefits?
Deciding to file for Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability - What is it and Can you qualify for it?
Why does it take so long to get a decision on a Social Security Disability or SSI Disability case?