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Panic Disorder Can Be Disabling!

People with Panic Disorder can have episodes of intense fear that isn’t caused by an outside environmental factor that it would be reasonable to fear. Panic attacks can last for several minutes or longer, and they can make going to work and doing a job well all the more difficult or maybe even impossible. Anyone who thinks that they have a panic disorder should learn about the condition, how it’s treated, and ways that they can receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Panic disorders are covered in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book under the listing of Anxiety Disorders. Anyone who applies for a disability must be disabled by their condition for at least 12 months or expect to be disabled by it for that amount of time. They must also make less than a certain amount of money every month. If these two qualifications aren’t met, the claim will automatically be denied.

Additionally, in order to receive benefits for panic disorder, the applicant must have been diagnosed with panic disorder, and they must either have panic attacks that are also followed by fear of more panic attacks or have fears of being in public places, such as the bus, grocery store, and other crowded places.

The applicant must also show that they have extreme limitations in at least one area or a marked limitation in at least two of the following areas. These areas are regulation of emotions and controlling behaviors, engaging in socially appropriate behaviors, finishing tasks, and remembering information.

Applicants need to have a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other doctor document their symptoms, the duration of their panic attacks, and the frequency of the attacks. Additionally, they should document anyone who has seen the panic attacks and have at least one description of an entire panic attack.


Learn more about Panic Disorder and how to document it for a disability claim HERE.

Karl Osterhout Presents Webinar for OBL FDC Referral Partners

We value working with skilled disability representatives from across the country to appeal cases in federal court. In doing so, we have a unique perspective and want to share the trends we see with our referral partners on a regular basis. Karl Osterhout most recently accomplished this by providing a webinar titled “The Treating Physician Rule is NOT Dead” to representatives who refer cases to us. This presentation gave simple suggestions for documenting evidence to fulfill the requirements of consistency and supportability in the new evidence rules based on the success our firm has seen at the federal court level.

We plan to offer other topics in the future that will benefit our referring partners and their clients. If you are a disability representative and would like to work with us to appeal a denied case, please contact us today!


OBL Supports Operation Safety Net

OBL Partner Lindsay Osterhout (with some help) put together 100 hygiene kits and dropped them off at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net program today! The kits include needed items such as socks, hand warmers, chapstick, deodorant, toothpaste, soap and other personal products for men and women.

Operation Safety Net offers services that help people and empower them to improve their quality of life. They also strive to address the circumstances that undermine mental, physical, and emotional well-being. OBL fully supports its mission as many of our clients through the years have benefited from its services. It is our hope that other local businesses will also support this program to help keep our community members warm through the winter. Learn more about Operation Safety Net HERE.

Lindsay Osterhout is a Resource for Community Leaders!

If you regularly work with individuals who may have physical or mental impairments that keep them from being able to work full time, please remember that Lindsay Osterhout at Osterhout Berger Disability Law is here to help you! Whether you refer the individual to us for assistance with their disability claim, or you just have a few questions about the process, please keep Lindsay’s contact information handy! Also, remember if your team needs training, Lindsay frequently provides in-person or zoom training to case managers, therapists and other community leaders.

Email Lindsay at [email protected] or call her at 412-794-8506 x 402

A Message from Karl Osterhout About Food Waste and 412 Food Rescue

I know that we here at OBL talk a lot about 412 Food Rescue, but it’s really just because there is so much to talk about! So much food waste (amazing amounts wasted!) even while so many folks face a constant (and often losing) battle to feed themselves and their kids! But Leah Lizarondo and her amazing team, often called the “Uber for food recovery,” has an amazing web platform and community-based system which makes it incredibly easy to help, using their “Food Heroes” app! Not only have they already helped redirect over 9 million meals from over 2300 food retailers, by the currently operating in six cities, Leah’s plan is to create a global movement that reaches 100 cities by 2030! And not only that, Vital Voices has honored Leah as one of their 2020 Global Leadership Award honorees for her amazing work. Please take the time, especially as we enter into the time of year when family and community and food are virtually synonymous, to listen to this brief video of Leah explaining her vision for making the world a better place.

One of the things I frequently think about when I think of 412FR is that Leah’s vision is one that really transcends politics; in this time when everything is so oppositional and stressful in the world from a political point of view, I enjoy reflecting on the vision like hers that can unite us all – after all, what is there to disagree within the plan to get food from people who are going to throw it away anyway into the hands of people who don’t have enough?


Advice to Our Clients Applying for Disability from OBL Paralegal, Tracy Riggins

“Tracy the Paralegal that I worked with was incredible, and very attentive and responsive to all of my requests and many phone calls and questions. She is AWESOME.” – M.E.

“Tracy is one of the paralegals that was with me from the beginning to the end. She was full of vital information pertaining to my case and would return my calls and emails right away. Tracy was courteous and professional even when I was frustrated at times.” – R.B

Our clients are consistently happy with the service they receive from our paralegal extraordinaire, Tracy Riggins, and for good reason…SHE IS AWESOME! Tracy works with our clients who are applying for Social Security disability at the administrative level and is known for her thoroughness and excellent communication.

Tracy explains what her role is and gives advice to our clients:

I am with the clients from the time the application gets filed until the day a decision from an ALJ comes through.  I answer any questions they have about paperwork they receive from Social Security, help guide them in filling it out if needed, and update Social Security with any updates they have during the initial and reconsideration stages.

During the hearing stage, I am there to make sure we have all the information we need to prepare a good case at the hearing.  I ask the clients to call me with any major changes, new providers, and any change to their work.  I gather all medical records that are received and submit them to SSA.

I am the main point of contact for all 3 stages of the process. If I do not have the answer, I will get it for you.

Things to remember and to make sure that are done in a timely matter are:

      • Update our office with any new provider, new diagnosis, or major change in condition
      • Fill out any paperwork sent to you in a timely matter
      • Update us with an address or phone number change. If we cannot get a hold of you, we cannot prepare your case properly.
      • Stay in treatment. It may be difficult with lack of insurance or money, but consistent treatment is VERY important in a Social Security case.

Osterhout Berger Disability is so thankful to have Tracy on our team! She is the best and that is what our clients deserve!

Announcement: Shay Guess Joins the OBL Team!


Osterhout Berger Disability Law is expanding! We are thrilled to announce that Shay Guess, an experienced and skilled representative based in northern Mississippi, has joined the OBL team.

Shay has 8 years of experience in Social Security disability applications, appeals, and ALJ hearing representation. He passed the difficult EDPNA national exam administered by the Social Security Administration in 2015 demonstrating professionalism and competence. OBL Managing Partner, Karl Osterhout, met Shay years ago at a conference held by the National Association of Disability Representatives (NADR) and shares his excitement: “I am deeply impressed with Shay both as a person and as a highly dedicated Social Security rep. He is very aggressive in pursuing his client’s claims before Social Security judges, utilizing his own experiences and very effectively utilizing the training sessions that are provided throughout the year and at our annual conference. I could not be more thrilled to add him to our team.”

Shay cares deeply about helping individuals in his community and looks forward to utilizing OBL tools and resources to win disability cases for his clients. Shay adds, “I am teaming up with OBL for some of the same reasons I am working as a Disability Representative today. This team cares about the practice of disability law; they push for excellence in the outcome of the decisions; they don’t waiver in their approach; and at the end of the day, it’s still about the client and what is in the client’s best interest. I am looking forward to the challenges and the difference we can make in someone’s life that needs the best in their corner fighting for them.

Our clients in Mississippi will find that working with Guess will be a pleasant and compassionate experience and we are so excited about this addition to our team!


Success Story: A Fantastic Win For Our FDC Team!

We write a lot about the challenges of getting Social Security disability benefits, but sometimes keeping the benefits can be just as difficult! There are many complicated medical and vocational issues that Social Security analyzes when reviewing whether a beneficiary can continue to receive their disability benefits. Sometimes during this “Continuing Disability Review,” or “CDR,” technical errors occur or claimants are denied due process. When a claimant receives a Notice of Termination they have the right to appeal and, just like when initially applying for benefits, a CDR case that gets denied by an ALJ can be appealed to the Appeals Council and, if necessary, to the Federal District Court.

In this case, a client in North Carolina was referred to our office on very short notice after her benefits were terminated following a CDR. We worked hard to make this timely appeal happen and were ultimately successful in winning her case at District Court! We applaud the representatives who worked with the client at the administrative level, Melissa Wilson and C. Jane Johnson, for stopping at nothing to advocate for her. We were honored to receive the following note relaying the happy news that the client’s benefits have been reinstated:

THANKS TO ALL AT OBL. Don’t mean to yell, but we are just ecstatic. Our former client just called me crying tears of joy that her backpay is coming and her benefits are being reinstated pending the remand hearing on her CDR. Hannalore was on vacation when we contacted OBL for the FDC appeal, but she still made this last-minute FDC filing happen. I think Amy did legwork getting the forms together, I don’t know who else to thank, so please spread the word today that OBL ROCKS and we are so grateful. Thanks Karl. What you do really matters. You may not always see how much, but it really matters.

Karl also wants to pass on this gratitude to the whole team, which literally worked overtime to get this done. Osterhout Berger Disability Law handles FDC Appeals all over the country. Call 866-438-8773 to see if we can help you or your client.

Lindsay Osterhout’s Technical Expertise Results in Another Case Win!

Lindsay Osterhout, OBL Partner, Administrative Division

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, many underestimate the importance of knowing Social Security regulations and policy.

Lindsay Osterhout recently worked on a case that had been denied at the application and reconsideration levels. The claimant’s impairment was a primary type of cancer. The initial cancer occurred while the claimant was still insured for Social Security Disability. Shockingly, SSA denied the claim, IMPROPERLY labeling it secondary cancer. With that misclassification, SSA IMPROPERLY found that the claimant did not meet the cancer listing.  Upon Lindsay pointing out the misclassification by DDS, it was clear the claimant met the listing.  The ALJ paid the case without a hearing.

Our firm specializes in Social Security disability claims at all levels, however, we strongly encourage anyone filing an initial application to at least contact us for a consultation first. Many times applicants think that their condition is severe enough that representation is not needed. We advise you to always have skilled representation by your side, no matter how severe the impairment is. Lindsay and her staff understand the technical details that make the difference between a case being approved or denied. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation!

Medicare Options For the Disability Recipient

One of the greatest benefits of receiving Social Security Disability is that recipients are eligible to draw Medicare benefits early. This helps them maintain medical care and treatment. Our office thinks it’s important to help our clients through this confusing process. Our in-house licensed health insurance agent works with our clients to clearly explain what to expect and options available to them. Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (doctor coverage). However, it is not full coverage nor does it include prescription drug coverage.

To supplement the charges that Medicare doesn’t pay, you will need to choose between three options:

  • Enroll in a Part D prescription drug plan. This plan will have a monthly premium but will provide coverage for prescription drugs. It’s important to confirm that the plan covers your specific medications! The benefit of this option is that you can see any doctor without having to worry about networks. The downside is that this does not offer any medical coverage and you are still responsible for what Medicare doesn’t cover (20% of Part B medical charges).


  • Enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans typically have very low monthly premiums that range from $0-$100 but many include prescription drug, dental, vision, and hearing coverage as well as many other extras. These plans allow you to pay smaller copays for each medical service instead of the higher Medicare coinsurance. The downside is that they are offered through private insurance carriers and are HMOs or PPOs, meaning it could be difficult to stay with your treating physicians because of network issues.


  • Enroll in a Medigap policy. These plans work with Medicare Part A and B to cover what Medicare doesn’t, but do not require you to stay in a network. This may be a good option for someone who has frequent medical appointments or needs to see specific doctors. The monthly premiums are higher on these plans and depend on the state you live in. Some states do not offer Medigap to individuals under 65. Pennsylvania does offer these plans and the premiums are not any higher than they are for individuals at retirement age. This option does not include prescription drug coverage or dental, vision or hearing. Premiums for those benefits would be additional.


There are plenty of Medicare agents out there who know which option to push before they even speak to you. Medicare enrollment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has unique healthcare needs and should explore all of these options to see which makes the most sense to them. We are happy to help our clients navigate Medicare enrollment and supplemental options so that they get the best healthcare coverage for them.

To speak with someone about your Medicare options, please complete this short form: