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  1. Admin

    Task Bug

    We are having some issues with the task functionality... you may experience issues updating sub-tasks. The dev team is aware and working to resolve this issue. - The Dev Team
  2. Still making progress and we are excited that you will be able to: Use our API to add clients and leads via your own custom webforms and through 3rd party lead gen companies! If you would like more information on how to do this, let us know and we can arrange a free demonstration/ Q&A.
  3. An interesting response to a question in the NADR forums that may be helpful for new reps...
  4. Generally, you should file a brief before every hearing... preferably before the 5-day limit before the actual hearing date. Most judges will accept the brief no matter when it is filed. The earlier the better. Why you should file a brief: 1. It let's the judge know that you have studied the case 2. It can shape the judge's impression of the case 3. It allows you to show the judge that you know the case and the applicable rules, laws, and regulations. 4. It show's the judge that you know the key facts of the case that would be important on appeal. When you should not file a brief: 1. You can't find a working theory of the case 2. You haven't got key medical opinions or medical records in time 3. You've got severe drug and alcohol issues, violence, and other credibility killers... Other Tip: If you are a new rep and unable to construct a coherent brief, you could do more to harm the case than help. Seek help from experienced brief writers and build up a library of briefs. A brief writer will usually charge between $100-$200 dollars. Once you've purchased briefs from experienced writers, study them and eventually you should be able to write your own effective briefs.
  5. Only an SSDI case can be denied due to lack of work credits. SSI eligibility is NOT based on the client's prior work. SSI has income and resource limits that must be met before a client can file a claim. If the SSDI part of the claim is denied the client may still qualify for SSI benefits.
  6. De Minimis Guideline for Disability and Eligibility: The first step in the process of staying profitable as a Social Security disability (SSD) representative is choosing a client that meets at least the minimum guidelines for disability and eligibility. A minimal guideline for accepting a client is that he/she is not working, or at least at the substantial gainful activity level, and has a severe impairment that has or will last for at least 12 months. This criterion is necessary for Steps 1 and 2 of the 5-Step sequential evaluation. Moreover, the client needs to be eligible for Title II disability insurance benefits (DIB) and/or Title XVI supplemental security income (SSI). Unless the client is 30 years of age or younger, eligibility for Title II benefits includes having 20 quarters of earnings out of 40 at the substantial gainful activity level. Unless the client is legally blind, eligibility for Title XVI includes having less than $3000.00 in assets for a whole family. Once a client has met the de minimis guideline for SSD and eligibility, agreeing to represent the right client is essential to your success. Winning Client Profile: At intake, you will assess if an individual is the right fit for you and has a profitable SSD claim. Important questions include your client’s work history, education, age, activities of daily living, and medical care to get the client’s profile and a better understanding of the case. Many experienced SSD representatives have a client profile they find successful. Some characteristics of a successful client include an individual who is age 50 or older, has a solid work history, consistent medical care, and past relevant work that requires extensive lifting, standing, and walking. Other helpful characteristics include individuals who are prescribed a cane or walker, back injury with more than one surgery, schizoaffective disorders, and/or 60 percent or more Veterans Administration service-connected disability for musculoskeletal, respiratory, or mental impairments. Success is more likely with listing-level impairments, which include individuals with a back impairment and several positive straight-leg raise tests, heart conditions with an ejection fraction of 30 percent or less, and mental impairments with psychiatric hospitalizations of at least seven days. Clients with a listing-level impairment can be found disabled at Step 3. Of course, these listing-level indicators need to be supported by medical evidence. Once you have your winning profile, file the claim and start the process. Onset Date Considerations If your potential new client has just recently stopped working, you will need to explore and assess when they became disabled or their “onset date”. There are many factors that can affect what onset you may propose for a client. Relevant factors may include: When did they stop working? Are they working now? Any substantial breaks in employment during the last 24 months? Unsuccessful work attempts? Client’s age classification Susbtantial medical evidence, and more. In cases where your potential client needs an in-depth onset date workup, you may be better off doing the claim yourself and not sending the client to SSA where “they” may determine an onset date that may be disadvantageous to your client. If you are unfamiliar with some of the concepts listed above, you should study carefully and learn them if you want to provide sound advice for your clients and run a profitable business Success at Reconsideration, Hearing, and Appeals Council Levels: You have an eligible client who appears to have a winning profile; however, the claim is denied at the initial level. No fear, this is usual and happens most of the time. File the appeal within 60 days between initial, reconsideration, and Administrative Law Judge hearing denials. Create a system or pay for services that ensure you are managing your caseload and working within deadlines. At the reconsideration level, order a CD from the field office so you can see what is in the file. Request and submit missing medical evidence that is targeted towards a listing-level impairment and worsening medical conditions. You have a chance of winning early in the process at the reconsideration level. If you do not win at the reconsideration level, appeal for an Administrative Law Judge hearing. Keep updating the file until the Administrative Law Judge hearing; remember to submit all evidence no later than five days prior to the scheduled hearing. At the hearing level, focus on listing-level impairments and objective evidence that shows your client is restricted in performing work-related activities such as lifting, standing, walking, interacting with others, and concentrating. At the Appeals Council level, you have a better chance of getting a case remanded back to the hearing level or paid at the Appeals Council if you can show a technical error, incorrect residual functional capacity, and/or blatant disregard of medical evidence supporting a disabling condition. At each level of the appeals process, it is important to be aware of deadlines, efficiently develop your case, and submit evidence. Submitting Important Forms and Medical Evidence: During the adjudicative process, you need to submit evidence that will help you win your case. Not all evidence is helpful or necessary. Important evidence includes the Social Security Administration’s forms, non-medical evidence, and medical evidence. You can submit this evidence by faxing the information with the bar code SSA provides; if you fax the evidence with the bar code, it goes directly into the file. You may also outsource this to SSD service providers. Important forms include a Work Background so that past relevant work is correctly assessed. This is particularly important if the client’s past relevant work must be assessed as ‘actually’ performed such as in compositive jobs. If there has been any work activity after the alleged onset date, include a Work Activity form to clarify earnings and activity. Pain Questionnaire and Activities of Daily Living forms can show your client’s pain level and functional limitations. If an employer accommodated Claimant’s work activity, get a letter from the employer describing the accommodations. Educational records can show a longitudinal history of intellectual disability or cognitive decline. Obtain a medical source statement from a treating physician and submit with supporting evidence. Submit objective evidence such as MRIs and laboratory work confirming a severe impairment. If there is a history of medicinal side effects that reduce your client’s ability to work, submit that evidence too. This evidence will help support severe impairments and subsequently the residual functional capacity. Formulating a Successful Residual Functional Capacity: The residual functional capacity has been mentioned several times and is the foundation of a disability case. It is at Step 3.5 and is the maximum an individual can perform. The residual functional capacity is a function-by-function analysis. Essentially, the residual functional capacity is a mirror image of the severe impairments and subsequent functional limitations. Therefore, if there is a severe physical impairment, there must be a physical limitation reflected in the residual functional capacity. The same thing goes for a mental impairment. For example, if your client has a back impairment, a typical residual functional capacity includes lifting 25 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, which is considered light exertional level. A residual functional capacity involving depression typically includes limited ability to concentrate on only one-to-two step instructions and repetitive, and routine tasks. Your goal with the residual functional capacity is to reflect severe impairments and functional limitations that preclude past relevant work and any other work in the national economy at Steps 4 and 5. The more objective medical evidence supporting your client’s complaints, the more supportable your claim and subsequent residual functional capacity. Building the Residual Functional Capacity: The residual functional capacity changes and is viewed differently at each level of the appeals process. At the reconsideration level, the nonexamining consultant creates a residual functional capacity based on severe impairments; however, the record is often missing a significant amount of evidence at this point. Therefore, the residual functional capacity at the reconsideration level is typically overly optimistic. Submit relevant evidence at the reconsideration level to assist the consultant to get a more accurate view of functional limitations early in the process. At the hearing and Appeals Council level, obtain medical source statements from treating physicians and submit briefs to assist adjudicators to build the residual functional capacity. At the hearing level, an Administrative Law Judge will reassess the residual functional capacity and will observe your client at the hearing in person or video. The Administrative Law Judge will consider briefs, medical evidence, and testimony to build the residual functional capacity. If the claim is denied and the Appeals Council grants a review of the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, it is often reviewed for any technical errors and/or disregard of substantial evidence supporting a disabling condition. Understanding how to build the residual functional capacity at each level of the appeals process will help you develop, create, and implement a strategy to excel and win your disability case. Drafting Winning Briefs: Submit briefs at the hearing and Appeals Council levels to guide adjudicators to a finding of disability. Briefs are an effective way of collaborating with adjudicators who manage a large caseload and appreciate the assistance. An effective brief guides the adjudicator to evidence that supports your client’s complaints and functional limitations. You can draft your own brief or outsource to a brief writer. At the hearing level, submit a prehearing brief, On-The-Record (OTR) request, and/or post-hearing briefs. The prehearing brief addresses all issues of the case and guides the Administrative Law Judge to the right decision. The OTR is a succinct brief targeting typically one impairment that meets a listing and requests the Administrative Law Judge to make a decision on-the-record prior to a hearing. An effective OTR saves everyone time and money if a hearing can be avoided. A post-hearing brief is typically used to address evidence that is submitted post-hearing such as a consultative examination. These can be very effective to advocate for your client and assist an Administrative Law Judge in making the right decision. At the Appeals Council level, a brief is essential to showing the adjudicator which technical error was made or evidence that was dismissed or minimized by the Administrative Law Judge. Winning briefs can be very profitable as they assist adjudicators in making the right decision, for the right client, early in the process. Successfully Cross-Examining the Vocational Expert: You and your client will most likely interact with a Vocational Expert (VE) at the hearing level. Be prepared to cross-examine the VE at the hearing either in person or via video. It can be intimidating as VEs appear to have a vault of secret information on jobs and can make or break your disability case. However, equipped with the right information, you are ready for success. Know your client’s past relevant work specifically by exertional and skill level by researching the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Selected Characteristics of Occupations. You can obtain more extensive vocational information through service providers as well. At the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will pose hypotheticals to the VE regarding your client’s residual functional capacity. The VE will testify whether your client can perform past relevant work at Step 4. The VE may also testify that your client has transferable skills at Step 5. If yes to either past relevant work or transferable skills, question the VE’s assessment of the physical and mental requirements of your client’s past relevant work compared to the residual functional capacity. Remember unskilled past relevant work is not transferable and skilled work is only transferable to semiskilled work. Therefore, focus on questioning semiskilled work as that is where you will find the most transferrable skills. If the VE testifies there are a significant number of jobs your client can perform in the national economy, you can ask for the VE’s sources for that information and question the numbers. Although the VE is testifying, the Administrative Law Judge makes the decision on whether your client can perform past relevant work or can perform other work. If you do not want to appear at the hearing, you can outsource to other representatives to attend the hearing for you. You may also shadow other representatives until you feel more comfortable. Overall, a successful cross-examination can raise questions for the Administrative Law Judge and ultimately decide in your client’s favor and move the case to the last step in the process, which is applying the GRID rules at Step five. Mastering GRID Rules: So, you have made it to Step 5, congratulations! It is the last step in the 5-Step sequential evaluation. Here, the Administrative Law Judge will determine if your client has transferable skills and/or apply your client’s vocational profile and residual functional capacity to a set of regulated GRID rules that reflect unskilled jobs at each exertional level (sedentary, light and medium). If your client does not have any transferable skills, the Administrative Law Judge will determine if your client is disabled under the GRID rules. The GRID rules reflect a full range of an exertional level. As most individuals have nonexertional limitations as well, the GRID rules serve as a ‘framework’ for the Administrative Law Judge. This gives Administrative Law Judges flexibility in assessing the impact of nonexertional limitations. In addition, if your client changes age categories during the adjudicative process, the Administrative Law Judge has the flexibility to use two different GRID rules and apply the rule that directs disability. Moreover, if your client will change to a higher age category within six months after the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge can apply the rule that directs a finding of disability. If you have equipped yourself with knowledge of the GRID rules and exceptions, you will have mastered Step 5 and the GRID rules and win more cases.
  7. Every Social Security disability case is different and depending on the claimant's age, education, past work experience, and transferable work skills, so is your burden of proof. Let's begin by discussing age. If the client is a younger individual (under age 50), your burden of proof is that the individual must be incapable of doing "any work" that exists in the national economy. Therefore, you must prove that he/she cannot perform work at ANY exertional level. That's your burden of proof. The cumulative effects of the claimants impairments must preclude work at even the sedentary level. Let's review - the sedentary level requires an individual to be able lift up to 10 lbs. occasionally, 0 lbs. frequently, sit for 6 hours, and walk or stand for 2 hours. That's a high burden of proof as there are jobs that exist that don't require any additional postural activities such as bending, stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling, etc.. An often cited position in disability hearings is the infamous "Surveillance Systems Monitor" position. We'll discuss in another blog post about how to effectively prove an erosion of the claimant's ability to perform those positions in another post. For now, we will discuss how the "burden of proof" requirement should affect your strategy in proving disability claims. If, an individual is of advanced age (55+) your burden of proof requires you to A. Prove the client cannot return to any past relevant work (step 4) and would therefore B. GRID out. This burden of proof unfortunately, limits individuals of advanced age whose PRW is sedentary or light. The GRIDS benefit individuals whose PRW was performed at medium or heavy. Nevertheless, that's how congress crafted the laws. In practice, and the point I want to emphasize here is; if your client will GRID at light, YOU DON'T HAVE TO PROVE THEY CAN'T FUNCTION AT ALL. What this means is, don't overplay your hand. A person whom would GRID at light, can still do some light household chores, drive a vehicle, walk without an assistive device, and perform most activities of daily living. Let that understanding guide the client when completing the SSA-3373 and when testifying before an administrative law judge. Why shouldn't you emphasize that your client cannot "do anything"? Credibility... If your client's alleged impairments are not consistent with the medical opinions, test results, etc. in his/her file, then testifying as to "not being able to do anything" is not credible. If the state agency or administrative law judge finds your client isn't credible, you may lose the case unnecessarily. In conclusion, let the client's, age, education, and past relevant work, guide your case strategy, and be mindful of exactly what you have to approve to win the case.
  8. Over the years Social Security has moved more and more towards amending onset dates on disability cases. This results in lost income for both clients and representatives. In those cases, the representative must decide - based on the best interest of the client whether to appeal the decision or accept the reduction in back-pay and resultant loss of fees. Sometimes Amending the Onset Date Can Help Win the Case When looking at the case, the amendment may be a blessing in disguise. For example, an ALJ may amend the onset date to the client's 55th birthday in lieu of denying the claim with an earlier onset date. Or, as a competent representative, you may need to change an onset date to help your client meet a GRID listing or for other tactical reasons. This should be discussed and explained to the client and based on your review of the record and your experience with the applicable ALJ. How To Get Paid When the ALJ Amends the Onset Date Sometimes, the ALJ will indicate that her/she is willing to approve a claim at the hearing with an amended onset date. However, you may not have that opportunity when you receive a "partially favorable" decision on a case to have input on the matter. If you have a significant amount of documented time in a case, it may make sense for you to submit a fee petition. You can request and get approval to collect a fee in a case even if there is $0 backpay. That may not sound fair, but if you consider that you may be helping a client to "retire" early at their full PIA, it isn't unreasonable to be compensated for your time. Dibcase Can Help You Track Your Billable Time The Dibcase Case Management solution helps you rack your billable time - generating a printout that can be attached to a completed Social Security fee petition.
  9. We are working out bug fixes and changes on this feature... if you have any questions or feedback, please respond to this thread.
  10. You can send the package to both if the case is pending at the hearing level.
  11. You can now add leads into Dibcase from forms on your webpage or from any source. Instructions are forthcoming. We also have added an "Add Lead" Quick Create button and added the option to the navigation bar. We we polishing the feature at the moment and are super excited about this awesome new feature.
  12. The Sample Dibcase Workflow Video Index LINK TO VIDEO Client calls to setup initial appointment (disabled adult pre-claim) (00:00) Setup initial consultation (:31) You decide to accept the client and do intake (2:19) Adding claims information (7:10) Adding Conditions, Medications, and Providers (9:23) Printing the representation package (11:05) Send the rep package sent to SSA (13:44) Adding your first task (16:52) Creating a task template (18:26) Follow up made to confirm filing (19:38) Adjudicator letter received and confirming representation (21:15) Forms and CE exams scheduled Claim denied (Initial denial workflow initiated) (22:40) Sending initial denial acknowledgment letter (24:56) Filing the appeal (Appeal workflow initiated) (26:27) Recon Denied and Hearing Filed (27:49) ODAR Import (30:42) Hearing Scheduled (Add to calendar) Template editing (35:00) The medical records ledger (36:18) Tracking medical records (37:53) 5-day letter sent (41:23) Pre-hearing brief (43:09) External documents (43:53) Post-Hearing development (44:45) Deadline custom fields (45:30) Custom field groups (45:55) Record compete (FF Decision) (47:11) Add fees data and fee projections (47:48) Fee Tracking (48:56) T2 fee check comes in and closing claim (50:00) Closing the claim (50:38) Changing the client to prospect (51:00) Client tags (51:15) Sticky Notes (51:34) Adding links (52:10) *NOTE: We've added many new features since this video was released in June 2019. LINK TO VIDEO
  13. Configuring Your Browser Dibcase uses your web browser as the primary interface for creating, editing, and viewing your client, claims, and other data. Dibcase has been tested and works best with Google Chrome. Dibcase may not work as expected in Safari, Microsoft edge, or Mozilla Firefox. Resizing The Dibcase Window(Chrome) To make your text larger or smaller, you can “Zoom” in or out of your browser. You can use Dibcase in full screen or in a window. Dibcase is responsive and will automatically resize its content to the size of the window being used. Dibcase can be used on an android phone, tablet, or other device. Configuring Your Print Preferences Picture above is the Chrome browser print interface. Here, you can disable headers and footers as well as scale a document larger or smaller depending on your print results. Experiment with the scale option if your documents are overflowing to extra pages. By default, some browsers will insert extra information in the form of headers and footers in printed documents. This behavior can be disabled by properly configuring your browser. For detailed instructions on how to disable this behavior, see our supplemental information section at the end of this manual.
  14. A Add Employee · 15 Administrator · 16 Appointments · 21 Appointments - Creating · 30 C Claims Tags · 7 Client Intake · 18 Client Status · 32 Client Tags · 7 Clients - Importing · 16 Color Profile · 68 Contacts · 18 Contacts - Adding · 45 Contacts - Adding Tags · 46 Contacts - Adding To Claims · 34 Contacts - Deleting · 46 Creating A New Account · 10 D Dashboard - Deadlines · 22 Dashboard - Message Board · 22 Dashboard - Tasks · 21 Dashboard - Today’s Appointments · 21 Deadlines · 21 Disabling headers and footers using the Mozilla Firefox Browser · 69 Do Not Disturb · 9 Document Manage Group Add · 60 Document Manager · 59 E Emails - Group Sending · 42 Emails - Sending · 37 Employees · 65 Employees Panel · 22 Events Tab · 39 Expense - Adding · 21 Exporting Claims · 40 Exporting Clients · 42 Exporting Notes · 37 F Firm Admin · 10 Firm Settings · 13 Forgot Password · 11 G Group Email · 42 I Importing Contacts · 17 Importing ODAR and A/C Spreadsheets · 26 Intake Forms · 45 Intakes - Client · 18 Intakes - Custom Fields Groups · 18 M Message Board · 23 N Notes - Adding · 36 Notes - Development · 36 Notes - Editing · 36 Notes - Exporting · 37 Notes Tab · 36 P Permanently Deleting Your Account (Firm Admin Only) · 68 Projected Fees · 19 R Recent Activities Panel · 23 S Searching For Clients · 7 Status - Available · 9 Status - Away · 9 Status - Do Not Disturb · 9 T Timer · 21 U Users - Adding · 15 Users - Assigning Roles · 16 Users - Deleting · 66 Users - Managing · 66 W Worfklows - Add SSA Denial · 24 Dibcase-User-Guide-11-19-2019.pdf
  15. There has been a lot happening at Dibcase. We are always working on new features and enhancements. Here's a sneak peak of what's next... 1. We are adding that ability to assign sub-tasks and have their own individual due dates. DONE 2. We are adding dividers between note messages. This should make it easier to distinguish different notes. DONE 3. We are going to be adding client custom fields using the same process currently used for custom field groups. PENDING
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