Welcome to The Disability Insider Blog, the law blog published by me, Kathryn L. Blevins, owner and attorney of Blevins Law, LLC. I am a former disability claims examiner for Social Security disability benefits, turned social services program manager, turned lawyer. I went to a public interest law school that focused on providing quality services to clients that needed it the most, and that has stuck with me in my private practice. This blog is one of the ways in which I try to make the law and lawyers accessible to everyone.
The Disability Insider Blog will discuss issues pertaining to Social Security benefits (Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance) and veterans’ benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA. You will find posts on new laws regarding those benefits, tips and tricks on how to get approved for those benefits (yes – even without a lawyer sometimes!), and other news that I think you might find helpful. My practice also works with people to help them prepare for those unfortunate circumstances we could find ourselves in but don’t like to think about – when you are so ill that you need someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you. To that end, the blog will also discuss issues pertinent to getting your affairs in order, end-of-life care, and other issues regarding planning for those situations.
I will post at least once every week, and will touch on all of the topics discussed above. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you can get email updates every time a new post is published. Also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
At Blevins Law, LLC, I combine my passion for mental health and disability rights with my experience advocating on behalf of disability applicants to provide you with comprehensive representation for your disability and healthcare planning needs. Blevins Law is based in the greater Washington DC metro area, and focuses on Social Security disability benefits, Veterans’ Disability Compensation benefits, and advanced medical planning. Fortunately, due to the nature of Social Security and Veterans’ benefits, Blevins Law can serve clients anywhere in the U.S.
A Family Affair
As a child I often joined my father at work, where he led a non-profit organization specializing in the vocational training of adults with disabilities. This exposure to a “person first” approach to disability rights cultivated in me a passion to serve people living with disabilities. Later in life, after helping a close family member navigate continued health crises, my interest in disability rights turned into a personal desire to help people get the care and benefits they need, protect their families, and prepare for the difficult times in life that most of us avoid thinking about.
A Social Security “Insider”
I began my disability career as a claims examiner for a Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in Virginia. DDS is the office that reviews Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applicants’ initial claims and first appeals, called reconsideration claims. Thus, while at DDS, I reviewed medical and non-medical evidence to determine whether applicants met the Social Security Administration’s stringent definition of “disability.” Thus, I have received the same training that all current DDS claims examiners receive, and I know how the system works. Importantly, I understand how to present a case that is easy for DDS to approve and hard to deny. Because this same medical criteria applies at higher levels of review, I can also use the same techniques to get your claim approved even if you have been denied two or more times.
After spending time at DDS, I quickly began to see how challenging the process was for applicants, and how devastated applicants were to be denied benefits. Frustrated with the status quo, I left to spearhead a social services program developed to help applicants successfully navigate the Social Security process. All of my clients were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and diagnosed with serious mental illness. Thus, most clients had little to no consistent medical treatment, and those that did were unable to provide many details. Many were also struggling with some form of substance abuse, which is not considered a disability for Social Security purposes and can complicate an applicant’s chances of approval. Despite these many challenges, while leading this program I increased the approval rating for my clients to nearly three times the national average, and trained other local service providers to do the same. However, some claims were so far into the appeals process, or so legally complicated, that the assistance of an experienced disability attorney was still necessary. Unfortunately, many attorneys were reluctant to accept such complicated, “long-shot” cases. As a result, I decided to fill the void myself, and left to attend law school.
After graduating cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, I entered private practice handling post-conviction criminal defense matters. One of my greatest pleasures was helping clients who struggled with mental health impairments and substance abuse. Always one to root for the “underdog,” I found criminal defense work immensely rewarding. However, disability work continued to call for me. As a result, Blevins Law, LLC, was born.
A Military Spouse with a Passion to Help
As challenging as the Social Security process is for applicants, so too can accessing VA Disability Compensation benefits be for veterans. In speaking about my experiences with Social Security disability benefits, I often met veterans who told me the same story: long processing times and seemingly arbitrary disability ratings left them wondering whether this country was committed to taking care of its veterans. As the spouse of a twice-deployed veteran, this was and continues to be unacceptable to me. Many of my husband’s former unit members were injured in combat, and though many years have passed since they were deployed, they continue to struggle with getting the highest disability rating they deserve.
If you have questions about how to handle your Social Security disability or VA Disability Compensation claims, or health care planning, contact me. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, call the office at (301) 531-4420, send me a message on the contact page of this blog, or visit my firm’s website. Though I do check and respond to comments on this blog regularly, any questions about your specific case or situation should be directed to me through one of the three methods described here.
Disclaimer: Blevins Law, LLC has provided this website and its content for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be legal advice or counsel. Your use of this site and its content does not create a lawyer-client relationship with Blevins Law, LLC. You should consult an attorney for individual advice concerning your particular situation. Blevins Law, LLC is not liable for the use or interpretation of information contained on this site, and expressly disclaims all liability for any actions you take or do not take, based on this site’s content. Blevins Law, LLC does not necessarily endorse and is not responsible for content accessed through this website’s links to other internet resources.