Nurse - Veteran - Attorney

Trusted And Respected By Clients, Lawyers, And Judges

  • The most common thing clients say when talking to Attorney Karen Levian is, "I knew I should call you. You're a nurse and you understand my situation." 
  • Karen Levian has 20 years experience assisting people to obtain Social Security disability benefits.
  • Levian Legal handles ONLY claims for Social Security disability benefits.
  • Attorney Levian understands the complexities of the medical, financial, family, and legal issues you are facing.
  • You do not pay an attorney fee if you do not obtain Social Security disability benefits.



Veteran-Nurse-Attorney Understands

Karen L. Levian is a lawyer and registered nurse. She attended five years of nursing school at the University of Wisconsin and obtained a Bachelor of Science (BSN) degree in Nursing. After completing her education in nursing, she volunteered to join the United States Air Force, where she worked in surgical and medical units. Additionally, she worked in Pediatrics with children of active duty military. After serving the Air Force, Ms. Levian worked as a nurse in family planning and provided counseling and healthcare education. As a nurse, Ms. Levian advocated for and assisted people with health care issues. She counseled and educated patients and their families regarding health maintenance, wellness and prevention. While working full time, Ms. Levian spent four years at the University of Baltimore where she obtained a Juris Doctor degree (JD) in Law. Ms. Levian believed a nursing degree combined with a law degree was the best preparation for assisting people with claims for Social Security disability benefits. 

A Social Security disability lawyer, Ms. Levian has a unique combination of skills. Her legal and medical experience are very valuable assets to people applying for Social Security disability benefits. The combination of skills makes her eminently qualified to represent you in your claim for Social Security disability benefits. 

Social Security disability benefits are a financial lifeline, which gives you independence, self esteem, and peace of mind. Social Security Administration rules and procedures are complicated, confusing, and frustrating. When you are too frustrated, sick or tired to keep fighting for Social Security disability benefits, Ms. Levian and her staff have the energy to carry on your fight. 

Ms. Levian is grateful to have obtained both nursing and law degrees, and to be able to combine her medical and legal training to advocate for people with claims for Social Security disability benefits. She is also grateful for the trust her many, clients, their families and medical providers, as well as her own colleagues, place in her. 

Levian Legal serves the people of the entire State of Maryland, as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  

For a free evaluation of your claim for Social Security disability benefits call (800) 701-4945 or (410) 433-4040 or complete the Contact Form on this page.


Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits 
While On Active Duty and Receiving Military Pay 

Wounded Warriors and veterans who have a VA Rating of 100% Permanent and Total (P&T), may apply for Social Security disability benefits while on active duty or after separation. They may apply while in the hospital, a rehabilitation program, or military or civilian outpatient treatment.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate a claimant’s work activity and determine eligibility for Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) even while a Wounded Warrior receives pay from the military, treatment through the military, works in a therapy program, or is on limited duty. The amount and type of work activity is the key indicator of ability to engage in substantial work, not the amount of compensation received from the military or current military status.

Military service members who were disabled on active duty on or after October 1, 2001, may obtain expedited processing of claims for SSDI if they have a 100% P&T rating. The SSA does not award benefits to people who have a short-term or partial disability. To be eligible for SSDI a Wounded Warrior must have a medically documented impairment, which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year, or to result in death. Additionally, they must be unable to maintain substantial work due to the medical condition. 

However, if the claimant were unable to work for at least 12 consecutive months, but then their condition improved and they are no longer disabled, they may still be able to obtain SSDI for the consecutive 12 month period (also known as a "closed period" of disability), in which they could not work.

Be aware if filing for a closed period of benefits, application MUST be filed within 14 months after disability ended. 

If a military member files for SSDI, they should state they are on active duty, and a Wounded Warrior in order to have their claim processing expedited. Additionally, the claim will be more efficiently processed if filed online.

Applicants for SSDI should keep in mind there is a five-month grace period. That means the SSA does not pay SSDI benefits for the first five months after the date a beneficiary meets the requirements for eligibility for SSDI. 

Example: You stated you were disabled as of January 10, 2015. However, your condition improved, you recovered, and you were no longer disabled as of March, 2016. You file an application for SSDI in April 2016. 

There is a five-month period beginning February 2015, the first full month you were disabled, in which there can be no benefits paid: February, March, April, May, and June. If found medically eligible, you could receive benefits as of July 2015.

If the SSA finds you were disabled for the period you stated, you could be awarded Social Security disability benefits from July 2015 until March 2016, the month you stated your disability ended. 

The SSA can ONLY pay 12 months of retroactive SSDI benefits. The 12 month period is calculated from the date you file your application for SSDI.

Therefore, in the above example, where application was filed April 2016, claimant could receive retroactive benefits for the period from July 2015 until March 2016, that is nine months of retroactive benefits.

The amount of money received would be calculated by the monthly amount to which the applicant is personally entitled multiplied by the number of months of benefits for which they are eligible.

When you need assistance filing your claim, contact veteran-nurse-attorney, Karen L. Levian, (410) 433-4040 or (800) 701-4945, or complete the Contact Form on this page.


Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must be found medically and non-medically eligible. To be medically eligible you must have a disease or condition that has lasted for at least 12 months, or is terminal. This condition must make you unable to do ANY job, not just your past job, not just a job at a level you think you should be employed at, but ANY job.

To be non-medically eligible, you must have worked recently enough (usually within the past five years), and had payroll taxes (FICA) taken out of your check and deposited to the Federal Government. Having worked recently enough and paid into the system earns you quarters or credits. You need enough quarters or credits to be eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.

If you want to see if you are eligible for SSDI benefits, you can call 1-800-772-1213, free of charge.

If you do not have enough credits for SSDI, you may inquire about your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the number above.

If you contact the Social Security Administration and learn you are eligible for disability benefits and want a FREE case evaluation, contact (410) 433-4040 or (800) 701) 4945.


How Could They Deny Me?

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is frustrating. If it were easy to obtain Social Security disability benefits there wouldn't be the need for Social Security disability lawyers. In our Social Security disability practice callers usually ask if "anyone at the Social Security Administration listened to a word [they] said." Also heard frequently is,"How could they deny me? They didn't even get my medical records!" Social Security disability applicants take note. Just because you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits and applied for them does not mean you will get them. You will have to fight for them. Levian Legal makes sure its clients are treated as more than just a number at the Social Security Administration and that the Social Security Administration has and properly reviews all our clients' medical records.

The Social Security Administration defines disability as a disease or condition which has lasted, or is expected to last at least 12 months, and/or result in death. The condition must make you unable to do any job, not just your past work. People who have a condition so severe they are unable to do any job may not have the endurance to persist and fight for Social Security disability benefits month after month. That is one reason we recommend hiring an experienced Social Security disability lawyer early in the application process. An attorney whose practice focuses on Social Security disability benefits and who is regularly in front of the Social Security Administrative Law Judges (ALJs), any one of whom may hear your claim, is best equipped to advocate for you. The Social Security Administration keeps "top secret" the identity of the judge who will hear your claim until the day you walk into the hearing office for your hearing. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer is familiar with the characteristic attitudes of each Social Security judge in every locality in which the lawyer represents clients. Therefore, that attorney can prepare your claim as if she will present your claim to any or all of the judges at the hearing office where you are scheduled.

in February 2016, the average award rate of Social Security disability benefits in the United States was 44%. 

The average award rate in Baltimore, Maryland was also 44%. In Baltimore you may have a hearing scheduled where a judge appears by video from another city. 

As of February 2016, the average award rates of judges who appear by video for Baltimore, Maryland hearings were: Norfolk, VA judges 43%; and Roanoke, VA judges 46%.

If you live in Hagerstown, Maryland, your hearing will be scheduled in Hagerstown. In all likelihood you will have a judge appear via video from another city. This judge will appear via big screen television. When judges from Richmond decided claims in Hagerstown the award rate was 41%.

You may tell the Social Security Administration you do not want a video hearing. You have the right to an in person hearing. The Social Security Administration may tell you it takes longer to have an in person hearing scheduled and you may have to drive a greater distance to have an in person hearing.

People who apply for benefits in Cumberland, Maryland may have a video hearing scheduled in Cumberland, Maryland with a judge from Charlottesville, VA. The average award rate of Charlottesville, VA Social Security disability judges is 32%, which is significantly lower than the National average.

If you live in Prince George's or Montgomery Counties, in Maryland, your hearing will be scheduled in Washington, D.C. If you live in Southern Maryland, you will be offered a video hearing in Charlotte Hall with a judge from D.C. The average award rate of Social Security disability judges from the District of Columbia hearing office is 40%. Similarly, if you live in Northern Virginia your hearing will be scheduled in the District of Columbia.

Depending on where you live on Maryland's Eastern Shore you will either be scheduled for a hearing in Cambridge, or Salisbury Maryland. For Cambridge, Maryland hearings the judge (average award rate 32%), will appear via video from Charlottesvile, VA.

Salisbury hearings are covered via video from Dover, DE. The average award rate of the Dover Social Security disability judges is 44%.

If you applied for Social Security disability benefits in Elkton, Maryland, your hearing will be scheduled in New Castle, Delaware. You, too, will have a video hearing with a judge (44%) from Dover.

If you have not applied for Social Security disability benefits, or have been denied Social Security disability benefits call the EXPERIENCED Social Security disability Nurse - Lawyer today at (800) 701-4945 or (410) 433-4040. You may also complete the Contact Form on this page. 


Denial Letter?

If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits, read the following information.

The Social Security decision-making process is complicated and time-consuming. When you file your Initial Application for benefits, your case is first reviewed by the Social Security Administration to confirm you meet all the technical requirements for receiving benefits, for example whether or not you have enough work credits, and/or whether you meet the income/asset criteria for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), if you do not have enough work credits or quarters.

The application is then reviewed by someone at an office called Disability Determination Service (DDS), which reviews the medical information concerning your claim. A DDS decision maker will request medical records from physicians you have seen. Doctors who work for DDS are supposed to review the medical records DDS obtains from your medical providers. After approximately four to six months, DDS will issue a decision based on the opinion of the DDS doctor who reviewed your medical records.

Many people who apply for benefits are denied after their application is reviewed at DDS. Possible reasons are: DDS did not receive records from your doctor, or the records which were received did not arrive by DDS's deadline for review. Also of significance is the fact many claimant's medical records NEVER mention the claimant's physical, mental, or work related activity limitations.

Once DDS makes a decision, DDS mails a letter which states why you were denied. The letter may state you are disabled, but not disabled enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Keep in mind you may appeal the decision. The DDS letter also advises your appeal must be filed within 60 days.

If you have not done so already, this is a good time to contact Levian Legal for a free case evaluation. If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits in any part of the State of Maryland, District of Columbia, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, obtain a FREE case evaluation by calling (800) 701-4945 or (410) 433-4040 or completing the Contact Form on this page.

The first appeal is called "Reconsideration," which requires completion of an eight page form which asks about changes in your conditions as well as the contact information of your medical providers. The Reconsideration process can take four to six months. If your case is denied at the Reconsideration level, you will receive a letter with a brief explanation along with information stating you have a right to appeal. 

With the second appeal a hearing is requested. You will also have to complete the same eight page form again, this time updating prior information. There is nothing you can write on this form to cause the SSA to award you benefits. However, there is plenty you could write to cause the SSA to deny you benefits. Therefore, you are encouraged to have an attorney who can assist you.

You have only 60 days from the date typed/stamped on your denial notice to file an appeal. If you fail to appeal within 60 days, you will have to begin the application process over again, unless you can persuade the Social Security Administration you have "Good Cause," for late filing.

If you file an appeal and request a hearing, you will receive a letter acknowledging receipt of your request. It can take almost two years to have a hearing scheduled. During this waiting period your file will be transferred to a Social Security hearing office called the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

You will receive a Notice stating the Social Security Administration will contact you 20 days prior to scheduling a hearing. This letter does NOT mean you will have a hearing in 20 days. It means when your claim is scheduled, you will be given at least 20 days written notice.

The application process for Social Security benefits is a lengthy, frustrating and difficult. Many people do not file appeals because they think it takes too much work, and/or they are frustrated and do not have the energy to keep fighting. For all those reasons you should contact Karen Levian, an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

Many people who file a Reconsideration appeal and are denied do not appeal and request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, because they feel they must not deserve benefits if they have been denied twice. This is not at all true. You must keep fighting. If you do not have the energy to keep fighting, contact Attorney Karen Levian.

Some people believe they can present their case to a judge without having an attorney assist them. However, people who are assisted by an attorney obtain benefits more often than those people who are do not have an attorney.

Levian Legal makes sure all appeals and medical records are submitted on time, so that cases are not denied or dismissed for avoidable reasons. In addition, we make sure your medical records are updated and seen by the judge prior to your hearing.

Levian Legal receives no attorney fee up front. Only if we obtain benefits for you, and then only, if we obtain retroactive benefits, also known as past due benefits, do we receive an attorney fee.

Congress regulates the fee an attorney may receive for handling a Social Security disability case. The fee set by Congress is 25% of the retroactive benefits. An attorney may not receive any portion of your current or future benefits. The 25% fee is capped at $6,000.

If you receive $100.00 in retroactive benefits, the most the attorney may receive is $25. If the attorney obtains for you $40,000.00 in retroactive benefits, the most the attorney may receive is $6,000.00.

You may want to gamble on your ability to obtain Social Security disability benefits without the assistance of a skilled and experienced attorney. But, if you have any doubts, consider the following: your receiving 75% of something is better than 100% of nothing.


"Must Have" To Win

There are criteria or qualifications you must meet to succeed in a claim for Social Security disability benefits. If you have a medical condition which does not meet the criteria of the Social Security Administration, you are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits and you will not obtain Social Security disability benefits. If you have a medical condition which meets the criteria for Social Security disability benefits, but you do not meet the "non-medical" criteria for eligibility for Social Security disability benefits, you will not obtain Social Security disability benefits. You should speak to an experienced Social Security disability benefits attorney to ensure you have all necessary qualifications for eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

Medical evidence is vital to your claim. The quantity of evidence is not as important as the quality. Differentiating quality medical evidence is best left to an attorney with a medical background and experience with the Social Security Administration. The Social Security application process is lengthy and frustrating. There is no point in going through the process if you do not do everything you can to increase your chance of succeeding and obtaining Social Security disability benefits. Applicants have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by retaining an attorney to assist with a claim. An attorney may not charge an up front fee for assisting with a claim for Social Security disability benefits. A Social Security disability lawyer may not charge you up front to discuss your claim, or to assist you to complete your forms. In fact, an attorney assisting or representing you in a claim for Social Security disability benefits may not be paid unless you (the "claimant"), are awarded Social Security disability benefits, and the award includes retroactive ("past due") benefits.

Many people mention "the guy down the street who has nothing wrong with him and is getting Social Security disability benefits." Beware, the environment, or mood at Social Security does not favor, or make it easy for claimants to obtain Social Security disability benefits. An experienced attorney whose practice focuses on representing people with claims for Social Security disability benefits is the best person to advise you about the qualifications you must have to succeed with your claim for Social Security disability benefits. An attorney who focuses on the practice of Social Security disability law interacts daily with representatives of local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices, the State Agency (Disability Determination Service) which is contracted by the SSA to review your medical records, Social Security Administration judges ("ALJ's"), and other SSA government representatives and officials. This is important for you, the claimant, because the daily experiences of your Social Security disability lawyer are a tremendous source of up-to-the-minute information as you pursue your struggle for Social Security disability benefits.

An attorney who is a nurse is uniquely qualified to advise you and your medical providers about the medical evidence necessary to win your claim for Social Security disability benefits. The construction of your medical evidence is significant to your claim. An attorney who is a nurse has a superior level and understanding of the medical side of your claim. In addition an attorney who is a nurse communicates knowledgeably and effectively with your medical providers. The attorney who is a nurse and focuses on Social Security disability law has a specialized body of knowledge and will ensure that you understand the criteria you must have to be medically and non-medically qualified for Social Security disability benefits. You owe it to yourself to obtain the best advice possible. You are in the position to obtain this advice without paying a fee up front. A Social Security disability attorney may not charge you a fee up front. When you are awarded Social Security disability benefits, and if your award includes retroactive/past due benefits, then, and only then, will the Social Security disability lawyer receive an attorney fee. The fee is deducted from your retroactive benefits by the Social Security Administration before the check is sent to you.

An experienced Social Security disability lawyer, who is also a veteran, and registered nurse, whose practice is devoted to Social Security disability benefits law, and who attends hundreds of Social Security disability benefits hearings per year has up-to-date information about the application process, the medical review system, as well as the judges who may decide your claim. If you need Social Security disability benefits then you need an experienced Social Security disability lawyer. The lawyer you need is in the trenches with the Social Security Administration every working day fighting for people just like you (no, you are not alone), and obtaining benefits for them. You need the experienced Social Security disability benefits lawyer who knows Social Security disability law, has a medical background and knows the medicine, and who will not stop fighting for you until the fight is finished. You need to pick up the phone today and say hello to your Social Security disability nurse- attorney(800) 701-4945, or (410) 433-4040, or complete the contact form on the upper right side of this page.


End Stage Terminal and Life Threatening Conditions

Do you have a life threatening disease, such as end stage kidney failure, or terminal cancer? If so, you do not have to endure the wait and otherwise lengthy application process for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has measures in place to expedite the processing of claims for people who are terminally ill or suffering end state illness. For more information, contact Levian Legal.

Karen Levian is a compassionate and experienced Social Security disability lawyer. She is also a registered nurse with many years of experience assisting people who are critically ill. As a nurse, Karen Levian combines years of medical experience with over 16 years of experience representing people with claims for Social Security disability benefits. Skillfully and passionately she advocates for the rights of those who no longer have the will or strength to fight for themselves.

Act today and call the Social Security disability lawyer who will, FREE of charge, answer all the Social Security disability questions you have. Discuss with this lawyer and nurse all your concerns related to your claim for Social Security disability benefits.

Spend the rest of your days as peacefully as possible. We know the law, the medicine, and the system and can take your claim from here. Receive your FREE consultation today. Call (800) 701-4945 or (410) 433-4040or complete the contact form on this page.

Your claim for Social Security disability benefits and your peace of mind are our priorities.


Wait Times For Hearings

The wait time from request of a hearing until the hearing is held varies among hearing offices and territories in the United States. Hearings are usually held at the hearing office nearest a claimant’s address.

There are 164 hearing offices in the U.S. The hearing office ranked #1 for the shortest wait is Fort Smith, Arkansas, where the wait is 313 days. The office ranked #164, with the longest wait is Brooklyn, NY, at 755 days. 

The District of Columbia hearing office is ranked #160, and the Baltimore, Maryland hearing office is ranked #161 out of 164 hearing offices.

The following are wait times, in days, for hearings at hearing offices in the Mid-Atlantic territory, and the number of claims waiting for hearing at each of the hearing offices.

CITYWAIT TIME (days)*CLAIMS WAITING**
Baltimore66810670
D.C.6677633
Dover6463861
Philadelphia East5987004
Pittsburgh5888281
Roanoke5826004
Philadelphia5809301
Morgantown5705087
Elkins Park5669325
Harrisburg5518282
Charleston, WV5496649
Huntington, WV5454438
Wilkes Barre5258175
Charlottesville5094805
Norfolk4906676
Richmond4745005
Seven Fields4616003

* Data as of 12/31/15
**Data as of 1/29/16


UPDATE: Current Backlog of Claims at Hearing Offices

At the end of 2015, the Social Security Administration (SSA) had a backlog of over one million claims nationally waiting for hearings with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Nationally, the average wait time for a hearing is 17 months.

After a claimant in Baltimore, Maryland requests a hearing with an ALJ the wait time from the date of the hearing request, until the date of the actual hearing, is approximately 23 months. 

In January 2016, the Social Security Administration announced a new plan called Compassionate and Responsive Service (CARES). The CARES plan aims to decrease wait times to nine months by 2020. In order for the CARES plan to work, the SSA needs adequate funding from Congress. While the SSA waits for funding from Congress, the backlog of claims and the wait time for a hearing is expected to increase. 

The SSA hopes to reduce the wait time for a hearing by hiring 250 more judges between 2016 and 2018. However, the SSA planned to do that in 2015 and did not. Approximately 100 judges retire or leave the SSA per year. The SSA also wants to employ more support staff for the judges. 

On February 9, 2016, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request was released. In the budget is a request for $13.237 billion for the SSA. The amount is to cover the SSA’s administrative budget. The requested amount is not money to pay to claimants. Of the $13.237 billion requested $13.067 billion was requested for SSA staff salaries, offices, equipment, as well as items and services the SSA needs to do its job. In fiscal year 2016 Congress gave the SSA $35 million less than requested.

In closing, claimants waiting for hearings today, will not benefit from the CARES plan, even if it is successful because the plan aims to decrease the backlog by 2020. Claimants waiting for hearings today, March 8, 2016, will, in all likelihood, obtain hearings by the end of 2018. 


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