Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, LLC

Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, LLC A Social Security Disability Law Firm. Thousands of disability claims won. We handle new applications and appeals. Social Security disability and Workers Compensation benefits.
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Did you know that in Georgia approximately 75% of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits get turned do...
03/03/2020

Did you know that in Georgia approximately 75% of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits get turned down? And of those who file an appeal (called a "Request for Reconsideration") about 90% get turned down again! However, those who hire an attorney and file a second appeal (called a "Request for Hearing") have a more than 50% chance of recovering benefits. Moral of the story: if you are disabled, contact an experienced disability attorney today.

Thanks to everyone at CBS 46 for producing my latest commercial. Special shout outs to Deborah L. Carr and Patti Garren.
01/20/2020

Thanks to everyone at CBS 46 for producing my latest commercial. Special shout outs to Deborah L. Carr and Patti Garren.

10/19/2017

Dear Judges: Please Speak English

Social Security Disability Hearings are held before Administrative Law Judges, who usually ask the Claimant a series of questions. I am constantly amazed at how many of these Judges have difficulty communicating with my clients, most of whom have blue collar, working class backgrounds.

It’s as if the Judges speak a different language. I call it “Judge-Speak”, and I am often required to act as a translator so my clients know what the Judge is saying.

Here are some real life examples of Judge-Speak and how I have translated the questions into plain English for my clients:

Judge: “Do you require the use of a hand-held assistive device to ambulate?”

Translation: “Do you use a cane or a walker?”

Judge: “Are corrective lenses necessary for either near or distance visual acuity?”

Translation: “Do you wear glasses to see better close up? What about far way?”

Judge: “What was the highest level of education you attained?”

Translation: “How far did you get in school?”

Judge: “Please rate your level of pain on a scale of one to ten, with one representing less than even mild discomfort, five representing significant discomfort but less than debilitating pain, and ten representing excruciating pain resulting in total incapacitation?”

Translation: “On a scale of one to ten how bad do you hurt?”

Judge: “What impairment or combination of impairments precludes your ability to engage in substantial gainful employment?”

Translation: “Why can’t you work?”

In conclusion, Judges should utilize language consistent with the Claimants’ educational and vocational backgrounds in order to foster better communication and to facilitate the expeditious conclusion of the proceedings.

In other words, use plain English and the Hearings will be over quicker.

06/02/2017

Social Security Disability and Going Back to Work

Some of my clients, while waiting for their Social Security disability Hearing, ask me if they can go back to work. “I have to pay the bills!” they will say, and I completely understand. The issue, however, is how the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers earnings in determining whether one qualifies for disability.

Generally, you are not eligible to recover Social Security disability benefits if you earn more than $1,170.00 per month (or $1,950.00 per month if you are blind). Any income at or above this level is considered “Substantial Gainful Activity” (or “SGA”), and if you make that much you will not qualify for disability, regardless of your health problems.

However, SSA allows claimants who are already receiving disability benefits to return to work without affecting their monthly benefits under what’s called a “Trial Work Period.” You can work up to nine months over a 60 month period making over $840.00 a month and still be eligible for disability. This rule is meant to encourage claimants to try and return to work.

If a client informs me that they want to go back to work while waiting on a decision about their disability, I usually advise him or her to go ahead and try to work, but only if they feel they are able to. A job with a steady paycheck is always preferable to relying on disability checks from the federal government.

If they get a new job making less than $1,170.00 per month they will be “under SGA” and may still qualify for disability benefits. If they make more than $1,170.00 I can ask the Administrative Law Judge to award benefits for a “closed period” from the date of disability to the date of the start of the new job.

Of course, most of my clients are not well enough to even attempt to return to the workplace. For those clients I encourage them to focus on their health and to be patient while we wait for a court date.

01/23/2017

Social Security Disability and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that afflicts over 3 million Americans. Symptoms may include paranoid delusions, compulsive and disorganized behavior, mental confusion, agitation and aggressive behavior. Without the proper medical treatment, those with this disorder may pose a threat to themselves or others.

As a disability attorney, I am often contacted by the relatives someone with schizophrenia in order to help them apply for his or her Social Security disability benefits. A common refrain I hear is that their loved one needs anti-psychotic medication in order to function, but without money or health insurance he or she is unable to get the help they need.

There are a number of ways to prevail on a claim for Social Security disability for schizophrenia. One is to present credible evidence of specific severe symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, emotional isolation and social withdrawal that cause the client to have at least two of the following limitations:

• The inability to engage in normal activities of daily living;
• The inability to function socially;
• The inability to focus or stay on task; and/or
• A history of recurring, lengthy episodes of worsening symptoms.

Another way to prove disability for this condition is to present medical evidence establishing that the condition:

• Has lasted at least two years, and
• Has had a negative impact on his or her ability to work, and
• Has impaired his or her ability to function in the world without a great deal of outside support, and
• Has caused the individual to suffer episodes of decompensation (increase of symptoms and loss of function).

These cases can be very challenging, and the active participation of family members or loved ones in the claims process can be essential. If approved for Social Security disability or SSI, in addition to receiving monthly benefits, my client will be covered for psychiatric treatment under Medicare or Medicaid. Therefore, these cases can be rewarding as well.

12/21/2016

The Trump Administration and Social Security Disability:

The issue of Social Security disability did not come up very much in the 2016 campaign for president. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump promised to protect Social Security in general, but neither provided details about the SSDI program specifically. Trump repeatedly said that Social Security should not be “cut” for recipients. However, he also promised to fight “waste, fraud and abuse” among all federal programs, and he is likely to seek some sort of reform of the federal disability program.

The 115th Congress will have Republican majorities in both houses, and may pass legislation that would have had no chance of surviving a veto by President Obama. For example, the new Congress may attempt to eliminate the simultaneous receipt of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits and unemployment benefits, with the savings used to pay for unrelated programs. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) has already proposed a major overhaul of the program, which if adopted would generally make it more difficult for Claimants to be approved for benefits.

My view is that President Trump will be less likely than other Republican presidents to support any legislation that would drastically cut Social Security disability benefits. He has not made reducing government spending a priority, and in fact has proposed massive increases in spending on infrastructure and the military. He may conclude that sensible reform is needed in order to streamline the process and to ensure that only the truly disabled are approved for benefits, but I do not foresee him signing into law any legislation that would result in a major overhaul of the entire program.

08/16/2016

Who has the Burden of Proof in Social Security Disability Hearings?

You, as the Claimant alleging disability, have the initial burden of proving that your disability prevents the performance of your “past relevant work.” For example, if your past work has been as a carpenter, you and your attorney have to prove that you cannot climb ladders, handle power tools or lift heavy wood beams, etc.

Once we prove you cannot do your past work, then the burden shifts to the Social Security Administration (SSA) to prove that you are unable to perform other work in the national economy. An expert witness is usually called to testify as to the existence or non-existence of these other jobs. It’s important to have an attorney who understands this issue and is able to effectively cross-examine this expert witness if he or she testifies that there are jobs you can perform.

Did you know that in Georgia approximately 75% of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits get turned do...
08/02/2016

Did you know that in Georgia approximately 75% of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits get turned down? And of those who file an appeal (called a "Request for Reconsideration") about 90% get turned down again! However, those who hire an attorney and file a second appeal (called a "Request for Hearing") have a more than 50% chance of recovering benefits. Moral of the story: if you are disabled, contact an experienced disability attorney today.

Shot my new commercials at CBS-46 in Atlanta. Special thanks to Jay Somerville, Matt Bleemel and Donna Martin for a prof...
09/25/2015

Shot my new commercials at CBS-46 in Atlanta. Special thanks to Jay Somerville, Matt Bleemel and Donna Martin for a professional production!

09/17/2015

Beware of the "Toner Scam." We received a box of toner we did not order, along with an invoice for $450. That same day someone from "Supply Distribution Systems" called and demanded payment. My paralegal explained that we never ordered the toner, but he claimed to have proof that my receptionist, whom he mentioned by name, had ordered it. He had info on the type of copier we had, what type of toner we used, etc. (He had called my receptionist a week earlier pretending to be from a copier "warranty company" and gotten her name and information about our copier from her.) He became verbally abusive with my paralegal when she refused to pay. This crook kept calling until I got on the line and told him I was reporting him to the FTC, the USPS and the DA's office. Haven't heard from him since. Bottom line: be careful giving out information to callers whose identity you cannot verify, and always be on the lookout for scams.

We will be moving to 34 Peachtree Street, Park Tower Suite 1980, Atlanta, GA. 30303 on October 1, 2015. Looking forward ...
09/02/2015

We will be moving to 34 Peachtree Street, Park Tower Suite 1980, Atlanta, GA. 30303 on October 1, 2015. Looking forward to it!

Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, LLC's cover photo
10/21/2014

Law Office of Louis B. Lusk, LLC's cover photo

Holiday Greetings from Louis B. Lusk, Jackie, Tiffany and Anna
11/21/2013

Holiday Greetings from Louis B. Lusk, Jackie, Tiffany and Anna

06/13/2012

I renewed my membership in the American Bar Association. Looking forward to attending annual convention in Chicago. LBL

Address

6065 Roswell Road Suite 622
Atlanta, GA
30328

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:30
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:30
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:30
Thursday 09:00 - 17:30
Friday 09:00 - 17:30
Saturday 09:00 - 13:00

Telephone

(404) 250-7000

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