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Jon Corra: All right everyone, thank you for joining us here on Facebook Live with our live Q and A. Today you’re sitting here with Ms. Amber Sims and Elizabeth Dues. We’ll be taking all of your social security questions today. First, I want to introduce you to these two ladies because they haven’t gone live with us before. Elizabeth is our … what is your position here now?
Elizabeth Dues: I am the Leadership Development Coordinator and I’m still the outlying office manager, so I still manage the offices outside of Parkersburg, which is Beckley, Charleston, Huntington, Logan, and Charlotte.
Jon Corra: She’s one of the few people who’ve been to like every office in the company so that’s pretty cool. And joining her is, of course, Amber Sims. Amber is our social security case management team leader. And both of you are non-attorney reps, is that correct?
Elizabeth Dues: Yes.
Jon Corra: Now, I can’t remember. Did you guys take the test at the same time or did you guys go at different times?
Amber Sims: I went in May 2015.
Elizabeth Dues: And I went in May of 2017.
Jon Corra: Okay, Elizabeth how long have you been with the firm?
Elizabeth Dues: Come this July, I will have been with the firm for five consecutive years. I worked for a short time between 2010 and 2012.
Jon Corra: Amber, how long have you been here?
Amber Sims: It will be five years in July that I’ve been here.
Jon Corra: Awesome, both of these ladies have a lot of experience. They’re both very well versed in social security and Elizabeth has a lot of knowledge in VA also so, we’ll be answering mostly social security questions today though. Ladies, what’s your favorite part about doing what you do? I want to ask that real quick.
Amber Sims: You want to go first?
Elizabeth Dues: My favorite part about what I do is I know we change lives, we really make a difference because when people call us they have almost just have no hope left and we’re able to restore a little of that back to them so that’s a good feeling.
Jon Corra: Awesome.
Amber Sims: And I completely agree with what she’s saying. It’s absolutely satisfying and wonderful to know that you are able to help people that don’t understand the process, that don’t know the steps that need to be taken and we can kind of be that helping hand that they need.
Jon Corra: Great, well you’re both a lot of fun to work with, and you’re both great with clients. I think you’ll be wonderful at this. If you guys have questions, please do not hesitate to type them in, and we’ll try to get to them during today’s broadcast but we like to have a few prepared in advance so I’m gonna jump to Ms. Elizabeth Dues first with this first question.
Jon Corra: We talk about medical evidence so much, like it’s one of the most important things in a case, and almost every blog I write has something to do with medical evidence. But, tell me, why is medical evidence so important to a case?
Elizabeth Dues: Medical evidence is so important to a case because it’s one of the key factors into getting the client the disability benefits that they deserve. So, it’s important that the client keeps in mind that they need to go to doctor, go to the doctor, and go to the doctor because we need that evidence. That’s the primary foundation to get their case approved. They want to make sure that when they’re going to the doctor that they’re telling them any limitations they may have, whatever difficulties they’re going through. That they’re really making sure they’re being vocal when they go to the doctor and the doctor is documenting that because that’s the most of the evidence that they use to get them approved for disability benefits.
Jon Corra: And just to follow up on that, it’s important to go on a regular basis, correct?
Elizabeth Dues: It is. It is. A lot of times, and then sometimes clients will … if you go once a month or maybe the doctor says you only have to come every three months you still want to make sure that you’re keeping those appointments and you still want to make sure that at every appointment that you go to that you’re letting the doctor know what’s going on. If you’re problems with your medications, if you’re feeling fatigued all day long, if you’re having problems walking, maybe you just started slipping and falling, everything’s important and everything should be documented.
Jon Corra: Okay, great. Now, Amber I want to throw this question to you because I know how often you work with people on a regular basis and, of course, you’re the team leader of case management so this question comes up to you a lot. It’s something actually, I personally just don’t quite understand myself, how is it possible that someone can get SSD and SSI at the same time?
Amber Sims: Both programs are, you know, you have to be found disabled under the same rules and guidelines however, there are the non medical requirements that you actually have to meet as well. For instance, the Title II social security disability, that is the program that you actually pay into throughout your working career, that’s whenever you see social security tax is being withheld from your weekly paycheck, that is what is building that bank for you, for you to be able to apply if you need to apply for disability or later on when you reach retirement age. The other program is Title XVI, supplemental security income, which is a needs-based program. The best way to compare that program is basically like food stamps and like a medical card. You have to have the income limitations.
Amber Sims: They really look at income, assets, any type of cash you have on hand because it is a program designed for those who are in need if you meet the eligibility requirements for SSI. We do prescreening questions that we try to give our best judgment but ultimately, it is up to Social Security whether they establish if you are entitled to those benefits or not but you definitely can receive both, it’s just all up to eligibility and if Social Security is able to find within the eligibility guidelines.
Jon Corra: Wonderful. I’m gonna throw it back to Elizabeth for this one but I have a trick question for you now since you go to all the offices, which one’s your favorite?
Elizabeth Dues: They’re all my favorite. I couldn’t even pick one if I tried. I love them all.
Jon Corra: I will say this, I’ve been to several, I think Charleston has the best restaurants nearby.
Elizabeth Dues: It does.
Jon Corra: So, that’s one thing that I want to throw out there, we love what we do but if there’s good food nearby, we’re gonna pick that one over the others.
Elizabeth Dues: Absolutely.
Jon Corra: It’s nice, what’s nice is the different communities that we get to be a part of too, like you’ve done a lot of work in Huntington and the community, of course, and you’re expanding more in Charlotte and Charleston, places like that so, it’s neat to be … we are nationwide but to have a foot in all these different communities as well.
Elizabeth Dues: Yeah, and we encourage clients, if you’re near any of our offices, feel free to stop by at anytime to drop off your paperwork. If you have questions we may not be able to answer them on the spot but, we guarantee we’ll get you an answer.
Jon Corra: Awesome. You have an answer to this question, I’m sure. If I receive SSI will I also receive health insurance, like Medicare or something like that?
Elizabeth Dues: If you receive SSI, you will definitely receive Medicaid. If you’re approved for SSDI, which is, as Amber explained, the program that you work and pay into, you will be eligible for Medicare 24 months after your eligibility day so that will be the date the judge said you became approved for your benefits. So yes, there’s insurance benefits with both programs.
Jon Corra: I’m glad you mentioned that actually because I think oftentimes our clients, once they get approved, they stop treating and why is it a good idea to continue treating after you’re approved?
Elizabeth Dues: A lot of times Social Security will ask for a review of your case and so when that review comes up, they’re going to be looking for, again, medical evidence so it’s important to continue your treatment. Not just for the betterment of your health and your life but to continue your benefits sometimes they’re looking to make sure that you still have this condition and that you’re getting treated for it since it was enough to keep you from stop working, it should be enough that you have to continue getting treated for it as well.
Amber Sims: And something that I always throw out there to clients is after you’ve been approved, you, of course, no longer have to report your medical treatment to us however, I do strongly encourage that you keep a journal, keep a log of your appointments so that if your case is pulled for a continuing disability review, that you have that information to hand over to Social Security, so it just makes that process a little bit easier. Something that is an essential portion of it is even though you’re found disabled now, you still have to show that you’re disabled down the road and that’s ultimately from consistent treatment.
Jon Corra: Awesome. Before we move on, Jan Boyd says hello so you guys, wave back to her. Hi Jan.
Amber Sims: Hi Jan.
Elizabeth Dues: Hi Jan.
Jon Corra: Great name by the way. Amber, you mentioned logs in your last response there. I do want to expand on that because a lot of people will ask us, what are some of the things they can do to improve their case. I know logs are one of them but, expand on that if you don’t mind.
Amber Sims: What I mean by logs is a lot of times we have clients that have issues with frequent migraines. Migraines, seizures, the other one is panic attacks and that just helps us keep track of the frequency, how often are they happening, the duration, how long, and it gives us the ability to really kind of dig in there just keep track of it. It’s also a good thing to keep a log of all appointments. If you are a person that has many appointments, I can’t keep track of everything all day, so you certainly need to keep it written down, go back and refer to it and that just kind of helps you maintain keeping everything organized, so we have everything we need.
Jon Corra: Great, now we actually have a question from Ms. Jan Boyd also and it’s a question both of you know the answer to so whoever wants to answer first, but she says she was denied disability and she essentially wants to know … she let her claim lapse essentially, she wants to know how does she go about reapplying for Social Security?
Amber Sims: Well, there’s a couple of different ways she can do that. She can go online to SSA dot gov and there’s a radio button that gives you the option to go ahead and file online. She can do that on her own or she can go into a Social Security office and do that or she can call us and we can absolutely see if that’s something that we can help her with. Getting an application filed and … is there anything else? That’s more … you’re on the front end of it a lot more than I am so …
Elizabeth Dues: No, that’s exactly what Jan would want to do is to either file online, go into the office. Definitely call us and see … because there’s different factors involved, we need to know when she was last denied, there could be a possibility an appeal could be filed, if not, we could certainly assist her with getting that application filed but, if she’s concerned or hesitant in any way, we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to help her but we’d be more than happy to talk to her and see what we could do.
Jon Corra: Awesome. Give us a call at 304-428-8900 or Jan, if you want to message us on Facebook, I can make arrangements for someone to give you a call. We definitely appreciate your question too.
Jon Corra: All right, now Elizabeth, I know you know the answer to this question so I’m going to throw it to you. If a doctor says I’m disabled, does that mean Social Security will automatically grant me my benefits?
Elizabeth Dues: Unfortunately, it does not mean an automatic approval. I will say that it is great if a claimant or client is able to have that type of relationship with their doctor but there are other factors that go into getting approved for your disability benefits. It’s age, it’s education, it’s your work history and disability has a different definition. Social Security has a different definition of disability that necessarily what your doctor does. When Social Security finds you disabled it means that you can’t do the work you used to do or any other type of work and your doctor could probably say that too but they’re gonna look at all of your medical evidence so it’s a great statement but, unfortunately, it’s not going to get you an automatic approval for these benefits. But we do encourage you, if your doctor will write that, definitely you want to get that into Social Security. You want to let us know if your doctor’s given you that type of letter but continue to keep being vocal with your doctor and continue to make sure that he’s documenting everything in your medical record.
Jon Corra: We see that a lot in VA also, the VA medical doctors will say oh, you’re gonna get approved because I found you disabled and they don’t work for that side of the VA, it’s always you have to be found disabled through Social Security or through VA disability or wherever just in order to get approved so that’s one thing that can confuse a lot of people so thanks for clarifying that, for sure.
Elizabeth Dues: Absolutely.
Jon Corra: All right, well that’s all the questions we have today. We appreciate everyone who’s tuned in. We have several live people watching so thank you so much. Elizabeth, Amber, you guys both did a great job, thank you so much for stopping by. If you do have questions about anything that we do here, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Once again, the number’s 304-428-8900 or if you’re watching us on Facebook, be sure to send us a message. Have a wonderful day everyone.
Amber Sims: Bye.
Elizabeth Dues: Bye.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law