Disability and Chronic Liver Disease – Social Security Benefits

Category Archives: Social Security Disability

Disability and Chronic Liver Disease – Social Security Benefits

To be considered for Social Security disability benefits, applicants must prove they suffer from at least one chronic liver disease that severely limits their ability to work:


  • Cirrhosis of the liver/alcoholic liver disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis B
  • Liver cancer
  • Liver failure






Chronic Liver Disease





People with liver disease attributed drug abuse may also be approved for Social Security disability benefits.


What is the Criteria for Meeting the SSA’s Liver Disease Listing?


A doctor must diagnose you with chronic liver disease lasting more than six months or with end-stage liver disease accompanied by at least one of the following:


  • Excess fluid in the pleural or peritoneal cavity
  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (infection if the stomach lining)
  • Gastrointestinal and/or esopheageal hemorrhage
  • Hepatorenal and/or hepatopulmonary syndrome
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • End-stage liver disease (SSA CLD score of 22+)


The Social Security Administration has a different liver disease listing for people who have had a liver transplant. To qualify for Social Security benefits under this listing, you must provide documents proving you have had a liver transplant. The SSA will then consider you disabled for at least one year following the transplant


Failing to meet requirements for liver disease disability benefits means the SSA won’t automatically approve applicants for benefits but may examine whether the person has functional limitations that prevent them from working.


What are Functional Limitations of Liver Disease?


Although people with chronic liver disease may not suffer symptoms described under the SSA’s liver disease listing, they are often too tired or too weak to stay employed. Pain from liver diseases can also prevent someone from standing, walking or sitting for extended periods. In some cases, liver disease patients take multiple medications that cause adverse side effects such as nausea, cognitive problems and fatigue.


The disability attorneys James Mitchell Brown have helped many individuals with a liver disease get approved for Social Security disability benefits without being initially denied. Call our office today to schedule an appointment if you have liver disease and plan to file for disability.

Applying For Social Security Benefits due to Blindness

There are varying levels of visual impairment up to and including legal blindness. Many times these impairments can make it difficult for those with the condition to find work and be able to adequately support them financially. For cases where blindness has become a burden up to that point, there can be help in the form of Social Security benefits.

benefits for the blind

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a benefit that pays a benefit based on the claimant, or qualified family members, work history and payments to Social Security. If the minimum work and earnings requirements have been met then this program can be used.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI is based on the income level and financial needs of a claimant. To qualify the claimant must have a sufficiently low enough income and lack of other assets showing the need for assistance. This program can be applied for regardless of work history, but both programs can be used in conjunction with each other if qualified.


Applying for Benefits Based on Vision

Being legally blind doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has no vision at all. The way the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines blindness that qualifies for benefits is that the vision of both eyes must be worse than 20/200 when corrected. Meaning that while wearing glasses, contacts or other corrective measures, neither eye sees better than 20/200. One eye may be much worse than that, as often both eyes aren’t impaired to the same extent, but the better eye must be at least that impaired. There is another qualifying factor as well, if the angle of vision is 20 degrees or less in both eyes then that can qualify the applicant as well, if vision is better than 20/200.


If you meet one or both of those qualifications above then applying for benefits can be accomplished in person, by phone or online via the SSA’s website. Before applying, ensure that a full medical history documenting the blindness is on hand and ready to be provided with the application. The records should show any diagnoses, when the condition was discovered, how long the condition is likely to persist and what limitations it creates for the applicant.


It generally takes three to six months to receive notification from the SSA regarding the application. If at any point in the process things are unclear or difficult to understand, or if benefits are denied, it is highly advisable to seek out a qualified attorney to help the claimant through the process. Most applications are denied at first, and the appeals process can be frustrating and time consuming, so having an experienced professional assist with the process can make it much easier to deal with.

How do you determine your onset date for Social Security disability?

A question that is also asked and plays a critical role in your SSD process is the date that you became disabled. At times, applicants can struggle answering this because if they have multiple impairments, chances are, they didn’t start at the same time, but simply developed over time. Picking a wrong onset date can cost you a lot of money in your benefit pay period or even hurt your chance in being accepted. Generally, your onset date will be the day that you were unable to perform daily tasks at work because of your medical condition. The onset date is also determined based on your medical records as well.

social security disability benefits

How To Determine Your Onset Date

SSD will consider all of these factors into deciding your onset date:

1. Applicant claim: Your claim will list when you became disabled. This will be listed in the application as well as the disability report.


2. Work History: Your local Social Security office will review your claim and document the day you stopped working based on the Work Activity Report.


3. Medical evidence or relating to the disability: You should submit all medical records that are relevant to your disability so they can be reviewed by SSA. These records will show the impairments you have and the duration of time.


The onset date is the day the injury or disorder happened and caused you to not work. Based on disability ruling, the disability should expect to interfere with your work for at least a year. Based on the facts of the evidence, a medical advisor will be able to guide Social Security in dictating when your onset date should be.


It is easiest to determine your onset date if you apply for SSD shortly after your accident. If you established your disability as soon as the incident happened, the medical records will be accurate and there shouldn’t be any issues in Social Security determining your date. Those who do qualify for SSD benefits will set their onset date prior to the application, but you must be able provide evidence to back up your date. There will only be problems in determining your onset date if you wait too long to claim for disability benefits. If you need further help, please contact a disability attorney who can guide you and help fill out your application.

Seeking Justice for Police Brutality

The news lately has been full of stories about police officers overstepping the bounds of normal police work and committing injustices against ordinary citizens. Whether it’s an officer beating a suspect without cause, shooting an unarmed opponent or planting evidence, these stories have become all too common lately. And even with the intense scrutiny that is now facing our police forces, these cases still occur every single day. We get it: it’s a difficult job that often puts its officers in life-threatening situations where they have to make quick judgements. However, this doesn’t excuse them from their actions when they cross the line.

seeking justice for victims

We know that the majority of police are good, hardworking citizens that just want to make their community a better place. Still, cops shouldn’t just get a free pass when it comes to violating the rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. That’s why James Mitchell Brown is committed to seeking justice for the victims of police brutality. If you think you have been the victim of police brutality, you owe it to yourself and your community to contact Jim Brown today.


As a licensed attorney, Jim Brown has spent his entire career fighting for the rights of citizens just like you. Even though we are all supposed to be equal under the law, Jim Brown knows that some people aren’t given their fair chance when it comes to defending themselves. This is when the law is needed the most.


Cases involving police force can be especially difficult in court. Even with modern technology such as body cams, it can often be difficult to prove exactly who is at fault, and what type of force is considered “excessive.” It can also be difficult to find witnesses to speak on your behalf, because many people are either intimidated by the police or feel that they are doing their community a disservice by speaking ill about the boys in blue. What’s more, police officers are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to speaking against their own in court.


All of this means that you need an experienced attorney on your side in cases like these. If you think you have been a victim of police brutality, contact Jim Brown today. Not only will this help you get justice, but it can also help protect future victims as well. Contact Jim Brown today to set up a consultation. It costs nothing to talk to someone, and you could be doing a good thing for you and your community in the long run.

Important Information on Stroke Malpractice

Malpractice suits for stroke misdiagnosis or negligence is on the rise. This type of lawsuit can be quite costly to a doctor, and in many cases has been known to ruin a physician financially. So, it is obviously in a doctor’s best interest to property diagnose and treat stroke victims. But, doctors are human and mistakes can be made. Here is some important information to keep in mind so you can avoid a stroke malpractice suit.

stroke malpractice lawyer

Failure to Consider Family and Medical History

Some of the most common stroke symptoms are headache, nausea, dizziness, double vision and confusion. However, these symptoms are also common for a plethora of other ailments as well. So, when a patient presents with these symptoms, it is easy for a doctor to overlook the onset of a stroke as the catalyst for them. So, it is vital that a physician or physician’s assistant (PA) does a full work up of a patient to rule out any other underlying causes. Further, a patient history of conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or a family history of stroke can also point a medical professional in the right direction. So, it is crucial to get this information as well to get a full picture of the patient’s health status.



Another problem patients also face is a misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosing a stroke as another condition often happens in a busy emergency room (ER), which is where many stroke victims are taken since its onset is sudden. But, since emergency rooms are frantic and hectic places, patients often do not get the quality of care they need when a stroke hits. If the diagnosis of a stroke is delayed, the lasting effects of it can be worse. So, it is important that ER doctors take the necessary amount of time with every patient, particularly those who present with typical stroke symptoms.


Failing to prevent a Stroke

Certain people are at a higher risk for strokes due to other medical conditions or family history. The general course of action for these patients is a daily dose of prescribed blood thinners. If a doctor suspects that the stroke was caused by the patient not following the prescribed therapy, then there is no malpractice and the physician does not have to worry. However, if the physician failed to prescribe the proper precautionary treatment, it might be time to consult a lawyer.


Failing to Treat a Stroke

Strokes have only a short window of time during which they can be treated. If a doctor fails to treat a patient properly during this time, the effects on the patient can be life-altering. So, it is important to get the right care to the patient at the right time.


If you have questions about stroke malpractice or you are in need of a stroke malpractice lawyer, contact the law office of James Mitchell Brown today.

What Can I Recover In a Car Accident Lawsuit?

If you’ve just been in a car accident, it may take you some time to pick up the pieces. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional trauma of going through a terrifying experience, but you also have to figure out issues with your car insurance and sometimes find a new means of transportation. And through it all, you may have medical issues that you are dealing with, which may cost you a significant amount of money. However, there’s one way that you can take control of the situation and recover some of what you lost during the accident: by filing an accident lawsuit. Though lawsuits are not always necessary (and, in some cases, they may actually be more trouble than they’re worth), your accidental case recovery may be easier with legal action.

Accident Lawsuit

So what can you actually recover by suing the person who caused the accident? Though there is no fixed dollar amount or maximum, the money you stand to gain is determined by the losses you suffered due to the accident. To start, medical treatment expenses are a significant contributor, as you can rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills because of a serious accident. If you have had to miss work in order to recover from the accident, you can claim income loss, especially if the accident caused you to not be able to perform the same type of job you were doing before.


Three less tangible factors that you can claim damages for are pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and emotional distress. These mean that you experience significant pain during and after the accident (typically due to medical issues), can no longer enjoy some of the activities you did before (as a result of the pain) and suffer from panic and distress. It’s harder to put your finger on how much money you should receive for going through these, but you can claim more or less depending on the severity of the trauma. Even harder is putting a dollar amount on a person — which you can claim through loss of consortium, if a close family member like a spouse was killed in the accident.


It’s much easier to put an exact amount on the property loss that you suffered in the accident, such as the damage done to your car as well as any property that you had inside. And finally, you can even claim punitive damages if the reason you got in the accident was the other person’s reckless driving — which means that you would receive money simply to punish the other person for their problematic behavior in causing the accident.

Childrens Stake in Social Security

When most people think about Social Security they normally think about retirement or disability benefits. But, there is so much more to the Social Security Administration (SSA) than what they can provide for working or formerly working adults. Children have a large stake in the Social Security system. Take a look at how our country’s youngest people benefit from Social Security.

 Children's Stake

The Help Kids Need

Currently, there are children who are part of families that receive Social Security benefits as part or all of their income than there are families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). In fact, as many as 8.5 children benefit in some way from the Social Security System.


What Children are Helped?

Any child who is part of a family that receives some type of benefit through the SSA is helped by the system. This includes children whose parents have died or become disabled and can no longer work. Children who are disabled themselves can also be awarded benefits for their families.


Childrens Benefits

When an adult applies for disability benefits, any children that person has may also receive benefits through that parent.. To be eligible for these benefits, the child must meet the following qualifications:

(1)Be unmarried
(2)Be under 18 or
(3)Be 18 or 19 and a full-time high school student
(4)Be 18 or older and have a disability that started before the age of 22.

Survivors Benefits

Children of parents who die can receive Social Security benefits as well. To qualify for these benefits the child must meet the same qualification that are listed under “Children’s Benefits” above. These benefits are available for natural children, adopted children, stepchildren, grandchildren and stepgrandchildren.


There are many ways in which children have a stake in Social Security. For questions regarding how Social Security benefits can help you child, contact the law office of James Mitchell Brown today.

How to Know if You Qualify for Short-Term Disability Benefits

When you are going to be out of work due to a temporary medical condition, it’s important to know what is needed to qualify for short-term disability benefits. Depending on your employer, you may be able to receive partial salary during the time you’re out, but there are many employers who instead use short-term disability benefits. You need to make sure that you can pay your bills while you’re out of work, so you need to know the important points of short-term disability insurance programs as you approach your leave.


Short Term Disability

Important Things to Know About Short-Term Disability Benefits: 

1) It Can Depend on Where you Live.

Social Security does not offer short-term disability benefits. It instead is based on where you live. Only a few states offer short-term disability programs. These are Rhode Island, Hawaii, California, New York and New Jersey.


2) It is More Often a Employer-Related Benefit.

Short-term disability benefits are usually paid for by an employer, but it can also be paid by the employee. Because of this, employers can dictate the specifics of the short-term disability benefits. This could be requiring sick days be used when an employee goes on leave. They can also require regular visits and reports from a medical facility.


3) It Can Depend on Longevity at the Company and the Specifics of your Employment.

Often, employers only cover full-time employees and those that have already worked there for a certain amount of time. Then, the program is run through a third party company.


4) It will Pay out Part of your Salary.

40 to 60 percent of the salary is usually paid to the employee during this time.


5) It will Require Paperwork.

You will need to have a doctor sign off on your condition. Paperwork in regards to your medical condition, including tentative return date, will also need to be provided. If you need to extend your leave, you will also need to provide additional paperwork about these specifics.


When you need to be out of work for any period of time, it’s important to know the specifics of short-term as well as long-term disability benefits. You need to know how the process works before going on any type of leave. Contact us with any questions you have.

Average Monthly Benefits for a Retired Worker

If you have been working for many years, no doubt at some point you’ve started to think about retirement. While the prospect of retiring and enjoying the rest of your life might seem pleasant, there are financial considerations to take into account as well. One of the biggest is will you actually be able to afford retirement — and the only way to answer that question is by knowing how much you can expect to receive in benefits from your various retirement funds, including social security.

average monthly benefit for a retired worker

How Are Monthly Benefits Calculated?

When trying to understand what to expect from your social security, it can be difficult. This is because the Social Security Administration uses a complex formula to determine your overall benefits. This calculation, in part, takes your average wages for the past 35 years (adjusted for inflation) and then awards benefits on a tiered system, where a certain percentage for one level of income is used, and a different percentage for a second level of income, etc. When all of this is totaled together, your expected monthly benefits are determined.


In addition, how long you’ve worked, and when you decide to retire, plays a big role as well. If you haven’t worked for 35 years your benefits will decrease. They will also decrease if you choose to decide before reaching the “full” retirement age of 66 or 67 (depending on your year of birth). In contrast, they can also be increased if you decide to wait a couple of extra years, with maximum bonuses being awarded for those who wait until they are 70 to start collecting monthly payments.


While this might sound complicated, the good news is that the SSA can actually keep you informed of what you can expect in the form of yearly statements that can be mailed to your address, or requested online, so you can start planning now.


What Are the Average Monthly Benefits?

With that being said, it can be hard to give a complete picture of average monthly benefits. This is because one number doesn’t necessarily take all of these factors into account. That being said, though, the average monthly payout in 2016 was $1,404. With the various situations taken into account, though, there were many who were able to bring in way more than that (with the highest possible payout being over $2,600) and some who brought in less, for many reasons. So, don’t base your retirement off of this average number.


Instead, it is important to be aware of your situation, work history, and what you can expect when you finally decide it’s time to hang up your spurs and enjoy your golden years.

If you have any questions about this, or anything else, please contact us today.

Paying Taxes on Your Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits are meant to be a safety net as you retire. For many people, their monthly benefits amount is not just a nice supplement, but an absolute necessity. And yet, some beneficiaries actually see their monthly amount lessen due to taxes. These taxes were put into place to — ironically — help social security and medicaid stay financially solvent, but that doesn’t really mean much to the average retiree when he or she finds themselves with less money in their pocket to pay the bills or buy groceries.

taxes on Social Security benefits

Because of this, you might be wondering if you are, or will have to pay taxes on your social security benefits.


Will I have to Pay Taxes?

The good news is that, for most people, the answer to this question is no. In fact, almost 70% of Americans never have to pay taxes on their social security benefits. This is because whether or not you are taxed is based on your provisional income. “Provisional income” is basically your annual income before factoring in your SS benefits. So, money from things like a supplemental job, your investments, etc, are totalled up. If you bring in less than a certain amount per year (and for 2017, that amount is $25,000 for a single return, or $32,000 if filing jointly) then you will not have to pay any taxes at all!


If, however, you do make more than that, you will find yourself owing Uncle Sam at least a little bit. For those that make between $25,000 and $34,000 for a single return, and between $32,000 and $44,000 on a joint return, up to 50% of the money from Social Security will be considered taxable income. For those of you bringing in even more than $34,000 (single) or $44,000 (joint), that number skyrockets to 85% of your monthly benefits being considered as taxable.

Of course, those numbers can change as well depending on your home state and other factors. The good news is that this is a common enough thing that your accountant, or even your tax software, should be able to determine this amount easily, to make sure you don’t end up paying the IRS the incorrect amount.


If you have more questions about this or other items related to Social Security, please don’t hesitate to call us today!