Thursday, October 19, 2017



A lot of times, individuals can get disability benefits that they desperately need to pay rent, buy food or get medical care.  But it often requires your doctor to spent a few minutes completing a form called a Medical Source Statement.

Some doctors will complete these forms for their patients, giving a fair, truthful opinion of the claimant's medical condition.  But, then, there are other doctors.....

Who promise they will do the form when they get around to it....but they never do...or they do so after you have been denied.

Who simply tell you, "We don't do disability forms."

Who refuse to complete the form but offer to farm you out to another doctor somewhere who might.

You should ask yourself the question:  Does my doctor care about me and my needs as they relate to my health and ability to work?  Or, is this doctor only interested in collecting his $30 co-pay and sending me on my way with my problems?

Choose your doctor carefully.  There are a lot of doctors out there and they are not created equal.  Pick one that cares about you, not just running you through the turn stye.   

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Can you qualify for Social Security disability?
Answer these questions:

__ Yes  __ No   Have you worked at least 5 out of the past 10

__Yes  __  No   Do you have a severe medical condition that
                          makes you unable to do any full time work?

__  Yes  __  No   Has that condition lasted for at least 12   
                           consecutive months, or is it expected to last
                           for at least 12 consecutive months OR to 
                           end in death?

If you answered Yes to all 3 of these questions you may be able to get Social Security disability benefits.  You will need medical records to show the date your impairment caused you to be unable to work, the severity of your symptoms and what medical care you have received.  We refer to this as "the medical evidence."

Other factors that will be considered are:  your age, education and past employment history.

Remember that over two-thirds of all claims will be denied.  This isn't as bad as it seems.  Many of these denials will be overturned and the claims will be paid on appeal.  Appeals are nearly always necessary for Social Security disability claims.  For a free case evaluation or help with an application or appeal, contact the Forsythe Firm at (256) 799-0297.



Monday, August 14, 2017


"I need help.  I've filed for Social Security disability months ago.  How can I survive until my case gets settled?"

This is a good question.  If you are disabled, not working and have little or no income--survival is the question.  It may take months or years for Social Security to decide your case.  What can you do?  Here are some sources of help you may want to consider:

FOOD STAMPS:  Contact your county's Department of Human Resources.  In Madison County, it's located at 2206 Oakwood Avenue NW.  Phone (256) 427-6000. Each county has a DHS department.  Website:

MORTGAGE PAYMENTS:  Contact "Hardest Hit Alabama" at  or call 1-877-497-8182.

LOW COST MEDICAL CARE (DOCTORS): Click on the link below for a list of low cost clinics near you. The list is state-wide, generally listed in alphabetical order.  Scroll the list to find a clinic near your home.

County health departments also have doctors that will provide medical care for persons with no insurance or other means to obtain care. Here's a link to the health department in Madison County (or check with your county):
Prescriptions.  Believe it or not, nearly every pill maker has a program to give away medication to individuals who are out of work and have no insurance. This was part of the deal pharmaceutical companies made with the government for making them rich. The key often lies in your doctor's hand.  Research your medication on the internet, then call the manufacturer and ask about their program.  Get them to send you the forms that your doctor needs to sign.  Some doctors will also provide samples until you can maker other arrangements. You might also seek information at your county health department.

UTILITY BILLS OR OTHER NEEDS:   Dial 211 on your phone and tell the operator the type of assistance you need.  You will be connected to an agency that may be able to help you.

HELP WITH SOCIAL SECURITY DISABIILTY:  Contact the Forsythe Firm in Huntsville at (256) 799-0297 or (256) 431-1599. 
Trying to financially survive disability can be a full-time job.  My hope is that some of the resources on this site will help someone. 




In its effort to determine whether or not you are entitled to a disability benefit, Social Security will use the antiquated Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) to determine if there are any jobs in the US economy that you might be able to perform.  Well and good, except for the kind of jobs the DOT lists.

If you are found able to perform one of the jobs in the DOT, you will most likely be denied your benefits.  Here are some actual jobs still listed in the DOT and they are ridiculous:

Radio-telegraph operator.  Yes, it's still there, in spite of the fact that Samuel Morse sent the first telegram on May 24, 1844 and the last telegram ever sent in the United States was on July 14, 2013.

Human projectile.  The job description for this one includes being shot out of a cannon.  This worker may also perform other feats of daring like falling off a trapeze.

Coach driver.  This fits perfectly with the telegraph operator.  The coach driver not only drives a coach but must also be prepared to keep it clean and polished.

Egg breaker.  The DOT says that these workers crack an egg against a hard surface, separate the yolk from the white and let the egg fall into a bowl while discarding the shells into a receptacle.

Sack menders use shears to cut patches for burlap bags and put the bags on a sewing machine to patch them.

The Social Security Administration considers the DOT to be their "Bible" of the occupational world.  In fact, administrative law judges require the vocational witnesses in their hearings to notify them if ever they deviate from the DOT in their job testimony.  The DOT was invented in the Depression to help determine what type of jobs might be available in the national economy.  No attempt at revising or updating this dinoseur has occurred in more than a quarter century. That's why Social Security must abandon the DOT as their absolute authority on occupations in the US economy.  Its a joke.

Friday, August 11, 2017


Answers from the Forsythe Firm, a Social Security disability advocacy firm in Huntsville.  If you don't find your question here, please check out "Frequent Questions" at OUR WEBSITE

Q.    Can Social Security stop my SSI or SSDI disability benefit?

A.    Yes.  If they determine that your condition has improved to the point that you are no longer disabled, or if you have returned to work, they can stop your benefit.

 Q.  How complicated is a disability application?

A.   Fairly complicated due to so many forms.  If you file online Social Security will send you the following additional reports to complete and return:  Work History Report (8 pages), Function Report (14 pages).  Possibly other forms. It is very

QWill an attorney or representative help me fill out the application paperwork?

 A.  Some will, some won't.  At the Forsythe Firm, we assist with all paperwork and forms if we represent you.  There is no additional charge for this service.  

Q.  What's the next step if my application is denied?  Do I file a new claim?

A.  No.  It's usually best to appeal the denial rather than filing a new claim.  

Q.  My friend filed for disability and got over $30,000 in back payments.  How can this happen?

A.  Back pay happens in two ways.  First, you may be entitled to recover up to 12 months of retroactive pay for a disability which began up to a year prior to the application date.  Second, it may take Social Security a year or longer to decide your claim (more if an appeal is involved).  You may be entitled to collect one month of benefits for each month you wait to get a decision.  This pay accumulates and is paid all at one time if the case is decided in your favor.  Back pay will vary based on (a) your disability date, (b) your application date, and (c) how long you have to wait for a decision.

Q.  Is it true that Social Security will not pay for the first 12 months of disability?

A.  No.  Under a Title II claim (the normal SSDI claim), they will not pay for the first 5 months of disability.  This is called the waiting period.  So, if your onset date is in August 15, 2017 your first check would be for 2/1/18 (5 full months later).  Under a Title XVI (SSI) claim, there is no waiting period.  Under SSI, you could be paid the month immediately after the month your application was filed.  SSI and SSDI are two very different programs with very different benefits. 

Q.  I've been told that my doctor could help me get a more fair disability decision if he would fill out some forms.  My doctor refuses and tells me, "We don't do disability forms."  What can I do?

A.  Have you considered changing doctors? Is it possible that this doctor doesn't care about your total needs?



As a disability advocate, I often see individuals who are disabled, uninsured and unemployed.  They can't afford to see a doctor.  

Here is a possible source of medical care that you may not have considered if you live in Limestone County:
 Limestone County Health Department
20371 Clyde Mabry Drive
Athens AL 35611

This health department offers primary care, women's services, social services and more.  They accept patients from all income levels and charge a sliding scale fee based on your income and ability to pay.

If you live in another county, check with the health department in your county.

Here is also a state wide list of medical clinics in Alabama that offer reduced cost medical care.  The clinics are pretty much listed in alphabetical order, so check the entire list to find one close to where you live.

Alabama Medical Clinics for the Uninsured 


Thursday, July 13, 2017


If you are trying for Social Security disability, you need to know what a Medical Source Statement (MSS for short) is and how to use it.  It can and should be Exhibit 1 in your medical evidence.  

The "source" is your doctor or other healthcare provider. The statement is your doctor's opinion about you can and cannot do. The statement is a form which attempts to state your physical or mental functional ability, with your impairments being considered.  A physical MSS will state how much you can lift, how long you can sit, stand, walk; how frequently you can bend, stoop, crouch, crawl, etc. There is a separate form for mental impairments. Social Security has it's own form; however, they will not send it to your doctors.  You must get your hands on the form, get it to your doctor, get it completed and send it to Social Security yourself.

Try to pick your most sympathetic doctor to fill out the form.  If a certain doctor encouraged you to apply for disability, he or she would be a good candidate to fill out the MSS.  It works best if you take the form to the doctor during an appointment and ask him/her to complete it for you.  Doctors are busy and forms often get lost, misplaced or delayed.

Try to tailor the medical source statement to your particular disability.  For example, if you have a back problem, use a form that addresses that issue--and have it completed by a doctor who treats your back pain.  You would not want a cardiologist to fill out an MSS about back pain.

Submitting a medical source statement can make the difference between being approved or being denied. At Step 3 of the consideration process, the law requires Social Security to have a residual functional capacity.  If your doctor has not provided them with one, they will make up one.  Your doctor's will nearly always be more favorable to you. Medical records never address how your medical condition affects your function.  Routine doctor's records never state how much you can lift, for example, or how your condition limits your ability to stand, walk, reach above your head or bend.

I've never seen a medical record that says, "Mr. X's back pain prevents him from lifting more than 10 pounds occasionally or standing for longer than 20 minutes."  They just don't go there, yet Social Security must determine this type of thing before they can give you a decision.

Finally, if you also have mental impairments--such as anxiety or depression, use a different MSS form for that.  Have this form completed by your psychiatrist or licensed psychologist.  

Below I am giving links where two common medical source statement forms can be found.  One is for physical conditions, the other is for mental impairments.



Medical Source Statements work best in the hands of a competent disability attorney or trained advocate.