Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

65 Pineville Road, Suite 2
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎


Monthly Archives: January 2014

Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Earlier in this blog, we discussed how Social Security evaluates a doctor’s opinion in the context of a disability claim. Unfortunately, there are many people that never see an actual Medical Doctor (M.D,) when they go to a clinic. Instead, they see a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or a Physician’s Assistant (PA).

In the real word, for many patients there is practically no difference between an M.D. and a CRNP/PA. Each comes into the room, examines you, and prescribes medicine. For purposes of a disability claim, there is a huge difference between an M.D., and a CRNP/PA. Under the Social Security regulations, the agency has to consider an MD’s opinion differently: an MD’s opinion is entitled to the most deference. Although the agency can defer to the opinion of a CRNP/PA, the agency can also discard a CRNP/PA opinion much easier than an MD’s opinion.

With that said, it must be stressed that the disability claimant continue to get medical treatment, even if they can only afford to go to a clinic and see a CRNP/PA. The Administrative Law Judge might be willing to adopt the CRNP/PA opinion if it is consistent with the medical records. Most Administrative Law Judges are aware of the different clinics in the area and that not everyone sees a doctor when they visit a clinic.

I have a conditional green card and my spouse wants to leave me.

I often get calls with the following fact pattern.  A  U.S. citizen marries a foreigner (“spouse”).  The U.S. citizen sponsors the spouse and a conditional green card is issued.  Before it is time to remove the conditions, the U.S. citizen and spouse have a falling out.  Now the spouse is worried that the U.S. citizen will not help them remove the conditions on their conditional green card.  What can they do?

Hopefully, the couple will find a way to work things out. If they can’t, the spouse can still get the conditions removed without the help of the U.S. citizen.   If the couple divorces, the spouse can file a divorce waiver with USCIS.  The spouse will still need to show the marriage was entered into in good faith.  It will also help if the foreign spouse’s actions were not the cause of the divorce.

What to do BEFORE filing a disability claim

A Social Security Disability Insurance Benefit (“DIB”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) claim can be a life altering experience.  If the claim is awarded, the disabled person will receive monetary benefits plus medical insurance.  Although a person will not get rich from disability, it is better than having zero income and being uninsured.   It is important to put your best foot forward if you are thinking of filing an application for disability.  Here are some tips I give people if they are thinking about filing a claim:

Try to save enough income to cover living expenses for a year.  Sometimes it takes over a year before an application is approved.

Try to keep your medical insurance for as long as you can.

Talk to your doctor about a potential disability claim before your insurance expires.  It might be difficult to see your doctor once your insurance expires.

Try to get all scans, x-rays, and lab work done before your insurance expires.

Obtain letters from former employers detailing how your medical condition affected your job performance.


These are a few tips I tell people if they are thinking about filing a disability application.