The Social Security Administration provides disability benefits programs to those who have a medical condition that renders them unable to work. However, acquiring these vital public benefits can be complicated because of the rigorous eligibility requirements. By working with a knowledgeable disability benefits lawyer, you can increase the probability of getting the benefits you need.
What is a Disability?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines, being disabled means not being able to do any kind of substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medical condition. To be qualified the condition has to have lasted, or be expected to last, a minimum of one year or cause death. While the SSA keeps a listing of the qualifying conditions (the Blue Book), a condition that is not specified might also meet the qualifications for a disability, provided that it is medically equivalent to a condition that is listed.
What kinds of disability benefits are offered?
There are two different benefit programs offered by the SSA-- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
The Disability Benefits Application Process
Applying for disability benefits is complex. The application has a number of questions that must be answered accurately and there are a number of forms that have to also be completed correctly. The application needs to also include medical evidence such as physicians' reports, an exam history, lab tests and radiological exams, as well as any other relevant medical information regarding the diagnosis and prognosis of the condition. Ultimately, it is necessary to demonstrate that you are incapable of doing any SGA due to your medical impairment.
Not only is completing the application complicated, having a disability benefits claim approved is intimidating-- roughly two-thirds of initial claims are denied. Common reasons claims are denied consist of (1) the applicant did not collect sufficient work credits, (2) the medical condition was not a qualifying impairment, or (3) the application contained mistakes.
By working with the Burbank disability lawyers at Tim D. Wright, you increase the probability of your claim being approved.
Disability Benefit Appeals
When a disability benefits claim is denied, the SSA sends a letter informing you of the reason for the denial and also of your right to appeal the decision. The first level of the appeals process is filing a Request for Reconsideration with the SSA within 60 days of receipt of the denial notice. In a reconsideration claim, a medical consultant and a disability examiner not involved in the first decision will reevaluate the claim.
Nonetheless, a reconsideration claim will only be approved if there has been a new diagnosis or there is evidence that the medical condition has worsened. Just 20 percent of such claims are denied. The next step in the appeals process is to request a disability hearing. This is not a court proceeding, but rather an informal meeting overseen by an administrative law judge (ALJ) Additionally, an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA lawyer that will either maintain or overturn the denial.
The ALJ will conduct a hearing at which you will be asked questions regarding how the disability affects your day-to-day living. The ALJ will also enable your attorney to speak on your behalf and ask you additional questions regarding your medical condition. Medical and vocational experts also often appear to give testimony and evidence about the condition and how it prevents you from doing your job or any other type of work.
Tim D. Wright regularly represents clients in disability hearings and can help you secure the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied at this level, the next phase involves seeking a review by the Appeals Council which will determine whether to overturn the decision, remand it to the ALJ for further reconsideration, or deny the claim. If the Appeals Council denies the claim, we will recommend filing a suit in federal court to have the decision overturned.
Contact Our California Social Security Disability Lawyer
At Tim D. Wright, we have an established background of helping our clients obtain the benefits they deserve. Understanding that navigating the SSA system can be frustrating, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs assistance getting Social Security disability benefits in California, contact our disability attorneys today for a free consultation.
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