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Strategies for Winning Your Claim

Strategies for Winning Your Claim

Disability Claims and How You Can Help Your Own Cause
While there isn't really any sure-fire strategy for winning a disability claim - there are some sure-fire ways to ensure that you won't win it. Social Security Disability is governed by a legal process which is complex and your actions or statements can hurt your chances to win.
Milam Law helps people in California's Central Valleys obtain Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Our founding attorney, Jeffrey Milam, worked as an attorney-advisor to Social Security judges for more than seven years before starting this law practice. Today, 20 years and countless numbers of clients later, this is still the only work we, Milam Law, focuses only on Social Security disability law. Our clients have received over $600 million dollars of total benefits.
Milam Law has learned about the fine line that separates successful claimants from those who are denied benefits.
The following suggestions can help you avoid costly mistakes:
  • Get appropriate medical care and treatment for your condition. For instance, if you are suffering from severe depression, see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or both. Tell them about every symptom you've experienced and every way in which you've been affected or limited by it. This will help the doctor do an accurate evaluation and create a record. Also, be sure to follow through on the doctor's treatment recommendations.
  • Journal about your disability, the doctors you see, the medications you take and how your life has changed. This helps on an emotional level - providing you with an outlet for your feelings on these subjects. It helps on a practical level as well in that your journal records can be included in the evidence that goes in your claim file after we review it for you. This puts a human face on your claim for administrative personnel who often deal with nothing but paper all day long. Also, you can help your doctors understand your problem better by giving them a copy of your journal.
  • Be careful about what you say to the SSA; they tend to misperceive things. Generally, you want to be short and to the point with anything you say or write to Social Security. Because the process is a legal one, instead, consider hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your disability claim and manage those communications.


Why Do-It-Yourself Disability Claims Don't Often Succeed
You do not have to have a lawyer to file a disability claim. In fact, you never have to have an attorney for anything. At the same time, there are some very good reasons to have one in Social Security disability cases.
First, consider the fact that large government bureaucracies such as the Social Security Administration aren't exactly known for being user-friendly. In fact, they often seem to go out of their way to be just the opposite. Many are, indeed, nice and helpful. But they get paid by the government and they are not your advocate.

These employees work in different offices, and perform different tasks. The local offices for Social Security help you process claims for free. However, they also can use words or phrases on your forms that do not help your chances. They even are to observe your physical and mental mannerisms and report them as evidence on the form after your visit (or call); these hearsay statements are admissible in Social Security cases and can work for or against you depending on what they report.

Another Social Security office called DDS (Disability Determination Service) is the place where your medical evidence is obtained by one person, and then reviewed by doctors who make a decision as to whether you are disabled. Rarely do you see these people in person, but they are again able to write down statements in your file as to what they hear you say, based on their recollection and understanding. These workers can be helpful, or they can hurt. As at all of the steps, you can get conservative or liberal workers, helpful and not helpful.
And, you should understand that every time you call a Social Security office, the person you speak with could either be extremely knowledgeable, or someone who started working the day before you called [likely somewhere in between]. It is unlikely you will be able to figure out whether what you are hearing is the whole truth. It is necessary that the employee correctly understood your need or question, know the laws governing what you need, and is able to communicate that information well so you understand it. They are not your advocate, and there is no real recourse for you if they tell you something wrong, in many circumstances.
Second, the rules, evidentiary requirements and regulations that apply to SSD and SSI claims are complicated and difficult to understand - even for people working inside the Social Security Administration itself. For example, the first two steps of review, done at DDS (Disability Determination Service), the Government uses the huge volumes of rules called the POMS. The POMS is different than what is used at Steps 3 and 4 at the ODAR and Appeals Council, where Rulings, Regulations, and Hallex are used mostly. At the next steps, in the federal courts, case law is used primarily, along with the Social Security Act and more. Each of these sets of law codes, and rulebooks, are complex individually as well. No wonder it is hard to keep up with the varying laws and rules that the Government applies to your claim! Many of the laws changed yearly, if not monthly.
Here are just a few of the other benefits an experienced lawyer can provide:
  • Communication with the Social Security Administration throughout the process is extremely important. Through decades of practice and countless numbers of cases, our attorneys and staff have developed the skills needed to communicate effectively with the SSA on behalf of our clients. We do this for you on most occasions; or we tell you what you have to do and how to do it (when it is necessary for you to communicate directly with the Government or their agents).
  • Getting doctors to understand what kind of documentation the SSA requires or how to write medical reports that conform to the SSA's definitions for various disabilities is often the difference between winning or being denied benefits. We understand the medical and legal issues involved and have become very good at helping doctors understand them as well. We often enlist your help in the process as we believe your involvement with the doctors is a key to getting a good report from them. We are available to talk to your doctors at their request about reports needed, or help them understand forms you need completed, or help them to actually complete these forms upon request. Of course, we only want the doctors' true and supported opinion about your condition, but often they are hesitant to help for many reasons. We have heard them all, from not being an expert, to getting subpoenaed to court, to not having time. We want to do everything possible to help you get your doctors' input into your Social Security file; there is really no reason not to help, in our opinion. It is critical.
  • Well-trained attorneys will make strong legal arguments for you that are needed, whether orally to a judge or other specialist, or in writing briefs or court arguments. Attorneys need to know how much to argue for you as well; there are times associates must be trained to make more detailed arguments, and other times to shorten arguments. ALJs become angry at attorneys who talk forever about matters that are not material and they may deny a claim at worst as a result. The depth of argument is partly the decision maker. Some ultra "conservative" ALJs, you may not want to show your whole hand because they will simply strengthen their decisions against you. Arguments in writing to an ALJ should be very different than arguments to the District Court, for many reasons. All these nuances must be considered and properly dispensed with by a good attorney.
  • Just because most claims are denied initially doesn't mean you have to wait to win in court. Our lawyers will develop a game plan for winning your case as soon as possible. We have greatly increased the numbers of winning at the very first level, as well as all of the levels of appeal.
  • While having a lawyer doesn't guarantee you'll win your claim - it will relieve a lot of the anxiety and frustration you might otherwise experience. You'll have someone to turn to for answers. You can simply let us do the administrative actions needed and fight the Government for you. Really, we tell you what you need to do and you can leave the rest to us. As a great thinker once said, "wait to worry!" We will let you know where action is needed and you can relax about those things which we do not have the ability to change or those things we do not need to change. You'll know what the steps in the process are and what's likely to happen at each new stage. You'll be fully prepared for any medical exams, appeals, administrative hearings or court appearances along the way. However, part of our focus is NOT to involve you where your involvement is unnecessary or may even make things more difficult for us to help you.
  • There are times a good attorney must really fight for you. For example, there are judges that are, unfortunately, so conservative that they are borderline biased, or simply biased. The law for proving bias is very difficult, and requires specific bias on a case basis, usually. The Administration has very limited ability to sanction its own judges now, since the judges became an "independent" group some years ago. For a former client fairly recently, Mr. Milam was able to get the District Court to find a Fresno ALJ was, indeed, biased. Further, the Court reversed the case and actually paid full benefits at the Court level after years of denials and inappropriate actions by this ALJ. This client has trumpeted Mr. Milam's tenacity in the case. Many attorneys simply accept this ALJ is conservative, and choose not to appeal his cases to the Court level or fight him for his bias. We continue our fight to get him removed even now from hearing more cases of our clients, since he would not even follow the advice of the Court and recuse himself as an ALJ. In our office, we continue to fight such ALJ actions where it is needed to provide clients with justice and due process. We will not leave the one sheep behind; where needed, we will fight for you, even where it is not politically correct to do so.
Spanish, Lao, Cambodian and Hmong Translation and Interpretation Services Available
​Milam Law handles Social Security disability claims for people throughout California's Central Valley. For a free consultation regarding your disability claim - call us at 877-592-1475 (toll free) or, contact us by e-mail. Flexible appointment times are available, as are locations within an hour's drive of most places between Bakersfield and Sacramento.


Doctor Exam Attorneys
At Milam Law, our lawyers do whatever we can for our clients. If you are disabled, however, it is important for you to know that you still have responsibilities and duties —even with an attorney. There are many parts of the claims process that you need to handle on your own. Our firm can advise you on what those parts are and make sure that you are completely prepared. Many clients, regardless of what they are told, think that once they get an attorney they do not need to do anything. This is simply untrue and a recipe for a loss. Claimants have several functions, from going to the doctors, pushing politely for tests and treatment, filling out certain forms for Social Security, trying to get their doctors to cooperate with requests we have and generally follow the directions of the attorney. Mr. Milam has a father who was a hall of fame college coach: He often uses the analogy from that experience and having been a college basketball player. Mr. Milam [or our attorneys] is the coach, and you [the clients] are the team. He gives the team the "game plan" for winning, in writing, but you have to actually go play the game. Of course, the coach here is a very active one, and the plan will be changed, as needed, until a victory comes. We know your claim is anything but a game to you; but it gives you the picture correctly that you are involved in a serious and all-important process where you must be very active, and do what you are being told to do to win. We have handled thousands of these cases for more than 25 years; you have likely never done one. Another analysis which attorney Bosavanh uses to get the point across to clients [she has a masters, and has been a college professor]: I present you with a written syllabus of things to do to prepare you to ace out the exam for the desired goal of an "A" grade. You must do the work given to achieve your goal (of a favorable decision).
We guide our clients through the process, from the initial applications to disability appeals in federal court. Milam Law is committed to helping individuals throughout California's Central Valley obtain the disability benefits that they deserve. Our attorneys can answer your questions, and guide you through the process in a manner that is as efficient and effective as possible.
SSD Application Requirements Lawyers
​There are still responsibilities that you have; generally, you need to do the things we asked you to do, or at least try. Where you have problems, or successes, advise the office and we will either applaud you or redirect you, if possible. Among the things we will ask you to do are the following:
  • You still need to go to your doctor and make sure that certain tests and clinical exams are done and charted. You will be involved in trying to ensure that your doctor helps you out with some type of medical opinion. We will spend time explaining this to you in more detail when we meet or start to represent you. Practice for hearings as instructed.
  • You still need to advocate for yourself. While we will do that where we can, it is important for our clients to stick up for themselves, too, e.g., dealing with Social Security Administration's (SSA) doctors they send you to, dealing with your medical insurance companies, or pushing the county bureaucracy and system.
  • If you decide to assist in getting certain records before hearing, do so promptly.
  • ALWAYS get copies of ANY doctor opinion or report you get along the process, including any old records (those before your alleged disability date), especially any we advise you to bring to us, including surgery reports of areas still bothering you, old MRI or major test results (especially if you have not had any since then), all available school records, if you had any problems at school like learning or behavioral problems, old medical records from Veterans Affairs (VA) or workers' comp, or private disability insurance plans.
  • Specific medical records we want during your claim pending include these, which often are not given by records departments when records are requested: 1) any report from a doctor you are sent to by welfare (this can only come at your request); 2) any medical/legal decision from welfare, state disability (SDI), worker's compensation, VA, private insurance plan (LTD) or other; 3) certifications for ongoing disability from your doctors for welfare or any other public benefit system; 4) prescriptions for canes, walkers, breathing units, braces or other medical devices; 5) medication lists from pharmacies; 6) at least three months of journals for cases where there are recurrent and frequent medical issues, like frequent bowel or bladder voiding, seizures, headaches, skin irritations, gout or arthritic flares, etc.
Before you visit the doctor, talk with our firm and make sure you understand your responsibilities. The key to all the above is how to obtain and package these records, as the information must be pointed to whatever law(s) best sets out a green light for SSA to let your case pass through its gates.
Don't rest before you go to appointments, or hide your injuries in some way (i.e., bruises or swelling with clothing), as a doctor may take that to mean that you are fine. This is especially true if you see one of the Social Security Administration's doctors. Write down everything you can remember about the exam, and if it was not done professionally, contact the SSA rep who scheduled the appointment. File a formal complaint, if not done well. At Milam Law, we take seriously what these doctors do with and to our clients. We attack the reports of these doctors when they mistreat you or do not do what they are supposed to do, as impartial medical examiners. We have several handouts and a form for these exams, and will further instruct when we meet with you.


There Are No Costs Unless You Are Awarded Benefits
If you are disabled and unable to work, don't handle your claim for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits alone. You can afford to have an experienced attorney manage the claims process for you - even if you're flat broke.
How does that work?
Simple, attorneys for Social Security disability claimants are only paid for their efforts if they are successful (if benefits are awarded). This means that you can hire a lawyer right now and it will cost you nothing.
Will there be anything left of those benefits if you have to pay an attorney?
Yes, attorneys' fees in Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income cases are limited by statute to no more than 25 percent of the retroactive benefits owed to you, or $6,000 - whichever is less.
Are there any hidden costs?
As a firm, our practice is to waive almost all of the costs that go into preparing a case except for the costs associated with obtaining medical records. These costs we advance where needed, and we work with you to get all relevant records regardless.


SSD Benefits Application Attorneys
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers you disabled if you are unable to do the work that you did in the past, and you are unable to do other work because of your medical condition. Many clients think that if you cannot do your past work, you are disabled and will win a Social Security case. But, often, this is not correct, depending on age and other factors. For example, if you are under 50 and cannot do your old job, but can do a full-time, sit-down (sedentary) job, you typically lose. Basically, at that age, you must be unable to do any full-time work at all, which exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Of course, qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are often far more complicated than that, and many first-time applicants are denied in the process.
Also, you should know that Social Security disability is generally far more difficult to get than other types of benefits such as state disability benefits (SDI) and workers' compensation benefits. Further, it does not matter whether you have transportation to get to the job, how much the job pays or whether you like the work.
At Milam Law, our firm has decades of experience helping our clients in Northern California recover the disability benefits that they deserve. This is all we do. When you have questions about your rights to benefits, we can answer them. When you need to file a claim, we will advise you on the best way to present your case and work to save you time, money and frustration.
Social Security Disability Qualification Lawyers
​There are two main ways to qualify for Social Security benefits:
1.    The SSA's Listing of Impairments: If your disease or condition meets the SSA's Listing of Impairments, you are automatically qualified to receive benefits, regardless of your age, education and the type of work that you do, as long as you are not performing substantial work at the time.
2.    The Factors of Your Condition: You may also be able to qualify for SSD or SSI benefits through a combination of other factors, including the medical facts of your condition, your age, your level of education and the type of work that you have done in the past.


Social Security Disability Attorneys
If you are disabled and are unable to work, it is important that you get the benefits you need to support yourself. It is also important for you to support your family members, and many disabled individuals ask our firm if their families will be able to receive benefits. Yes. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to qualified individuals, as well as to their family members.
At Milam Law, in Northern California, we know how important it is for our clients to recover benefits in a timely and complete fashion. When you apply and file your claim, you need to pursue benefits for all eligible family members, particularly minor children. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) claims and can help you apply for the full amount of benefits your family deserves.
Family Benefit Lawyers
The following family members of a disabled person may qualify to receive disability benefits:
  • The following family members of a disabled person may qualify to receive disability benefits:
  • Your spouse, provided he or she is 62 years of age or older
  • Your spouse, if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled
  • An unmarried child, including a child who is adopted, and is under the age of 18
  • An unmarried child, age 18 or older, if he or she has a disability that began before the age of 22
Each family member who qualifies for benefits may receive a monthly check for up to 50 percent of the disabled person's monthly benefit. Family member benefits do not reduce the amount paid to the disabled person.

At Milam Law, we assist our clients who are applying for disability to get additional family benefits, where possible. We do not help people already getting Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits in handling the addition of family benefits. However, you can contact the SSA to see if they can be of service to you.


Treating Doctor for Benefits Lawyers
In order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) benefits, it is important that your medical records are accurate, and that they are in line with what you are saying on your SSD application. At every step of the process, your medical treatment records are the most important factor in the decision of whether your claim will be approved or denied. This includes what your doctor says and how he states it in those records.
At Milam Law, we work closely with the physicians of our clients to help them clearly explain disabling conditions. We often use our clients to make personal pleas to their doctors to facilitate such exchanges. Our lawyers only practice in Social Security claims and have extensive experience handling these issues, so we have a good understanding of why it is imperative that the evidence in your medical records supports any claim of disability that you make in an application.
Your doctors' records and opinions are critical to your case. There are many ways to increase the value of your case to the Social Security Administration (SSA) by making sure that the right exams are done to establish the medical problems you have, and by making sure that the findings of those exams are properly charted. At Milam Law, we try to determine what you need to do to accomplish the above, and give you instructions accordingly.

Over many years of dealing with opinions from clients' doctors, there is a standard procedure we use which we think has the best chance of getting the evidence you need. We will immediately seek to work with you to do this. If it does not succeed initially, we will try again. At Milam Law, we will do anything to assist the doctor in working through this process. The doctors often have a myriad of reasons these days for not giving their patients proper documentation. It is the worst now that it has been for more than 25 years, probably due to economic reasons, especially the poor budgets for county and state medical staffing. We have spoken with county medical and governmental agencies, at their request, to assist doctors in preparing and helping their patients in doing such forms, and giving them the reasons it is needed. We will continue to make time to help in this way for our clients and applicants in general.
We hear many excuses for doctors not doing forms or stating opinions to assist their patients, i.e., that they do not have time or the experience to do the form, may get called to court if they do a form, may get in trouble for doing the form or are not allowed to do a form. None of those reasons are valid. Doctors should help their patients. The doctor's opinion is just that: an opinion. Anyone could give one. It is just that a treating doctor's opinion is more important under Social Security law than any other opinion, if supported by the evidence. Milam Law will assist in helping you know how to approach your doctors and get the evidence you need to ultimately win your case.
SSD Physical Exam Attorneys
You are much more likely to be successful in a claim for disability benefits if the medical record provides support for your claim, and if it is written clearly enough for an administrative law judge to understand. When you visit your doctor, especially if you are choosing a new doctor, tell him or her that you are seeking disability benefits and talk honestly about your situation. Make sure the doctor is willing to help you, at some point, in giving his or her honest opinion, when they have done the proper tests and exams to give one.
In most cases, we will prepare questionnaires for doctors or will consult with a doctor over the phone, on occasion, to get help with narratives or other forms of opinion as evidence. Our interest is making sure that your circumstances are fully detailed by any claim.
In addition to treating doctors, you will likely see Social Security consulting doctor(s). These appointments are critical to your case as well. These doctors traditionally provide only very short periods of examination. At Milam Law, we have an extensive handout that we give our clients, which has just been put into complete written form, which explains these exams and how you are to deal with them. Part of that instruction includes such logical steps as NOT resting several hours before you go to see the doctor (as that is not the norm for a person at work), taking someone with you to observe the exam, writing down all that happened during the exam immediately after the exam and getting that to us to review. If you have already done these exam(s), we will get you to draft the same document as soon as possible, or have you fill out a form to do the same thing, so we can devalue that report — if the exam and opinion was poorly done. We will explain all of this to you even more when we become your attorneys. We cannot even begin to tell you the number of times our clients have given us very bad reports about these doctors, and their offices and procedures. Some of these doctors are very well intended and do good jobs, but some do not appear to fairly and fully examine and report your condition to the SSA.
Doctor Exam Attorneys
If you have become disabled and you are no longer able to work, it may be tough to afford regular expenses. You may lose your medical insurance, and with treatment still costing as much as ever, medical bills can pile up quick. In fact, many people with disabilities who are unable to work cannot afford medical treatment or enough medical treatment to fully recover.
Fortunately, there are options for receiving free or reduced cost medical treatment. At Milam Law, in Northern California, our attorneys have the experience and resources that our clients need in the process of filing for Social Security disability benefits. We work diligently to help our clients get access to the medical treatment that they need.
Medical Exam and SSD Lawyers
Getting medical treatment for your condition is not only important for your physical well-being. It is also a crucial piece of the success of your Social Security disability benefits claim. If you do not receive treatment, those who will review your claim may believe that your disability is not as serious as you think it is, and may use that as a reason to deny your claim. Therefore, you must get current treatment for each and every limiting medical condition from which you suffer. Do not rest just before you go to your doctor exams. Clients consistently tell us this is what they do, so they are able to better make it through the day. However, if you do this, the doctors often do not see you serious signs and medical problems. For example, if you have leg swelling, if you rest and elevate your legs before an appointment, the doctor likely will not see the swelling at its worst, if at all! So, the report will say "no swelling noted," and Social Security will not think your swelling complaints are valid. So, do not do anything to hurt yourself, but before you go to your doctor exams, do those things you do around your home to cause your medical symptoms to be visible.; That way, the medical records will show your normal, daily problems (not after you have laid down for six hours beforehand).

If you cannot afford medical care, we may be able to refer you to sources of free or reduced-cost medical treatment. We can also work with your doctor to ensure that your claim presents your disability as strongly and fairly as possible. Usually, there is some area of medical care available to you, although it is more difficult now than we have seen in the last 30 years, due to the extreme medical/economic crisis we have presently (which is likely even to worsen in many respects). Let us, at Milam Law, help you navigate through the quagmire of medical options out there.


SSD and Work Lawyers
One of the questions that our firm receives quite often is, "Will I reduce my chances of getting my Social Security disability claim approved if I try to work?" It is a valid one. After all, if you do try to go back to work and the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides to cut off your benefits, which could have a significantly negative impact on you and your family.
It is an important question. People who have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) benefits, as well as those who are currently receiving benefits, may work up to a certain limit. Work activity can either help or hurt your claim, depending on a number of variables. At Milam Law, we are familiar with those limits and can answer any questions you have about going to work. We can also help you protect your rights if you are worried that the SSA will take away your benefits once they learn you have been earning income.
The issues involved with work periods after your original disability date is alleged are among the most complex ones we deal with. We have a two-page handout for our clients just on this issue.
Social Security Disability Attorneys
Even if it only amounts to a few hours of work a day, or a small amount of money each month, going to work can be beneficial for someone with a disability. Working not only provides a financial benefit, but also a psychological benefit, as work can bring a sense of purpose and self-respect. Working can show motivation and help credibility in the eyes of the SSA. However, the SSA considers a person to be disabled if there is a disabling medical condition and if that person is unable to perform substantial gainful activity. Substantial gainful activity (SGA) is defined in a gross dollar amount, and if you earn that amount or more, you cannot be considered disabled under SSA rules. Given this definition, if your work approaches full-time work, or substantial money is made, your case can be denied for ongoing benefits (even though you could get a "closed period" for the time before you returned to work — if you were disabled at least 12 months).
Social Security will generally consider any work attempt that does not last three months to be a failed work attempt (FWA). This type of effort usually does not hurt, but helps, your case. There are exceptions to this general rule: If the work ends after three months, but before six months, due to your disability (i.e., the boss fires you because you cannot keep up the pace of the work), the SSA will usually find that it is also an FWA and it will not hurt you.
Work for more than six months, if done OVER the SGA level discussed above, is very tricky. Certain laws dealing with "trial work periods" come into play. There could be two separate periods of disability under one application due to extended work.
ALL these rules are difficult without considered evaluation by an attorney, based on your own set of facts. At Milam Law, we deal with these issues on a weekly basis. We try to help you attempt to work where you think you can, as that is the eventual goal for all of us, if health allows it. We also carefully plan how to package and present work efforts to the SSA on your behalf, while advising you of possible pitfalls from work or work training.
If you have been off work for a continuous 12-month period, your claim continues even if you return to full-time work successfully. The season you were off work due to your condition is called a "closed period" of disability. Many clients wrongly believe that when one returns to work, the case is over; we correct and encourage many clients who do not understand this part of the law. In fact, several times people have given up due to this misunderstanding, and Milam Law attorneys have gone to a hearing for them and won with the clients not attending the hearing (signing a "waiver of hearing" because they had to stay on the job). Simply put: We do not give up on you or your claim at Milam Law — even when you feel it is dead. We keep your legal rights protected for you, wherever there is a basis to do so and you allow us to do so.


Disabling Injury Lawyers
Many people who are disabled find that they are unable to perform their current duties and are no longer able to do the same type of jobs. What if, however, they received job retraining? What if they tried a different type of occupation? Would that help or hurt their chances of receiving Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) benefits?

At Milam Law, we know that this is a common question that our lawyers receive from time to time. In many cases, we advise our clients to participate in job retraining programs, if they are able to do so. It frequently happens that the approval or denial of a benefits claim comes down to the issue of whether a person could or could not perform some different kind of work than jobs they had in the past. As with other areas of work or work training, after the onset of disability, it is critical that an attorney analyze your particular set of facts, including your age, education and type of disabilities. After that, it can usually be determined whether retraining would help or hurt your claim.
At Milam Law, we try to help you get retraining, education, and whatever assistance that can benefit you and your employability, for whenever you can return to work. But we do this using the litmus of how it will impact your Social Security case. Generally speaking, if you try to retrain and you are unable to do so, for physical or mental reasons, this helps your Social Security claim. It confirms your motivation to work, but shows your incapacity to do so. And, if you are able to retrain AND get a job, all the better, regardless of the claim (and there may be the "closed period" available to you that is discussed previously). Yet, there are many issues to be reviewed and discussed in many of these types of cases.
Finally, although attorneys can refer, on occasion, clients to rehabilitation and training sources, there is not a great deal of such services available to most clients, unless through the state department of rehabilitation, unless you are involved also in a workers' compensation case. Social Security does NOT retrain anyone, either before or after a victory.
Job Retraining Attorneys
By participating in a job retraining program, you may be able to show that you are unable to perform any type of regular job, not only your own, which would help your Social Security case. Examinations and testing are often done for evaluating work capacities, both mentally and physically, and these are helpful in addressing your claim. They are primarily done to determine what kind of retraining might be suitable. Often, mental health and learning capacity tests done for rehabilitation purposes can be very helpful to a Social Security claim as well.
People often try to better themselves, or their resumes, with additional educational training. Similar rules apply for school as do for rehabilitation, generally. The tests done for reading and writing, and more, can be used to help present certain aspects of your disability claim. In fact, if you had problems in your childhood education, you should immediately try to get any and all of these records from the school, or any family member who may have kept them.
The more you are at school and rehabilitation places, the more the Social Security Administration (SSA) can hold that out to be commensurate with work. For example, if you have 15 units or hours of classes, and spend 15 hours or more with homework, this can be considered as tantamount to full-time work. So, whether for rehab or school purposes, any extra help you get due to your disability should be documented in writing for purposes of your claim.
If you find out you are able to work, it is likely in your best interest to participate in the rehabilitation, since you will make more money through employment than through disability benefits. In either case, it is recommended, when possible.


SSD and Income Tax Attorneys
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) benefits are provided to those disabled workers who qualify. For workers who receive benefit payments, that income may be exempt from taxation, if a person has no other income or if that other income is low enough. It is important, however, to know how your benefits may be taxed, if you do have other income, and what that means for your claim.
At Milam Law, we are able to help you with certain tax questions you may have, but our practice is primarily for Social Security disability. We do NOT accept tax cases. If Social Security does not fully advise you about any complex tax questions, we can try to refer you to tax attorneys who specialize in this area of law.

One area where we have had to assist our clients is where a disability applicant is self-employed, typically in some family business, and Social Security is arguing that you have not really retired — even though another family member has taken over the business. This is very complex with some specific rules, which we have successfully argued where our clients have this problem arise.
Another specific area that has some tax implications is where a person is not "insured" for Social Security because the number of "credits" earned is close, but not enough, to qualify for SSD or SSR. This often happens where there is a family business, and one spouse takes all the income and pays into Social Security, while the second spouse takes nothing, even though the other spouse worked as well. There are rules that can allow the tax forms to be redone, and Social Security taxes to be paid, if too much time has not passed. Milam Law has worked with accountants often to remedy this type of situation and qualify people for SSD. Often, it was an oversight or lack of understanding when the tax forms were prepared.
Another type of tax issue that arises on occasion is where there is a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim that is won and there needs to be a "special needs trust" to protect recipients (often children) from not being able to get their benefits. For these situations, we have typically referred clients out for the preparation of these trusts by a trust attorney who specializes in these types of cases. We alert our clients whenever these types of cases come along.
These and other tax-related situations arise from time to time with our disability clients, and we have done what is needed to assist these clients.
Information on this website is provided as a service of Milam Law. Contact us regarding Social Security disability claims and denials.
Social Security Taxes Lawyers
The Internal Revenue Service does not require a person to file a tax return if Social Security disability income was the only source of income for that tax year. If a person does have additional income to the disability benefits, the income is only taxable if the adjusted gross income is higher than the base for a filing status.
In order to quickly find out if your disability benefits are taxable, find out the total of the benefits you earned for the tax year and divide by two. Add that figure to your other gross income. If that figure is less than the base amount for your filing status, you will most likely not have to pay taxes on your benefits.

Contact Our Attorneys to Learn More Information
If you are disabled, contact us at Milam Law, and learn more information about taxes and disability benefits. Send our firm an email or call one of our Northern California offices toll free at 877-592-1475 to schedule a free, initial consultation.