Saturday, July 16, 2011

Relocating While Disabled

The loss of income from becoming disabled forces some people to relocate to a place with a lower cost of living. Unfortunately, relocating can result in delaying approval for Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits.

I represent a woman who was 48 years old when she had to stop working as an administrative assistant because of her many medical conditions. The claimant’s diagnoses and treatment were well documented, and the treating physician provided a strong disability opinion. However, the claimant moved to the State of Washington while her SSD application was pending.

It appears that the Seattle hearing office repeated the steps that the Jericho hearing did, and by the time the Seattle Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”) started reviewing the application, she no longer considered the treating physician’s disability opinion relevant, even though it was well supported by diagnostic and clinical medical findings. It then took the claimant a substantial amount of time before her new treating physician was willing to provide an opinion that the claimant was incapable of working.

Yesterday I received a fully favorable decision from the Seattle ALJ. I have no doubt that if the claimant had remained in New York then her application would have been approved about a year sooner. While cost of living is obviously a consideration when losing work income, potential disability processing delays should also be considered.

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