The Social Security Administration provides disability benefits programs to those that have a medical condition that makes them unable to work. However, getting these vital public benefits can be complicated because of the strict eligibility requirements. By working with a knowledgeable disability benefits attorney, 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) due to a medical condition. To be eligible the condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or result in death. While the SSA keeps a listing of the qualifying conditions (the Blue Book), a condition that is not listed may also meet the qualifications for a disability, given that it is medically equivalent to a condition that is listed.
What Kinds of Disability Benefits Are Provided?
There are two different benefit programs available by the SSA-- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
The Disability Benefits Application Process
Applying for disability benefits is complex. The application has a number of questions that have to be answered accurately and there are a number of forms that must also be completed properly. The application must also include medical evidence such as doctors' reports, an exam history, lab tests and radiological exams, as well as any other pertinent medical information concerning the diagnosis and prognosis of the condition. Ultimately, it is essential to show that you are incapable of performing any kind of SGA because of your medical impairment.
Not only is completing the application difficult, having a disability benefits claim approved is intimidating-- roughly two-thirds of initial claims are denied. Common reasons claims are denied include (1) the applicant did not accumulate sufficient work credits, (2) the medical condition was not a qualifying disability, or (3) the application had mistakes.
By working with the North Hollywood 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 associated with the initial 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 gotten worse. Just 20 percent of such claims are denied. The following step in the appeals process is to ask for a disability hearing. This is not a court proceeding, but rather an informal meeting supervised by an administrative law judge (ALJ) Moreover, an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA lawyer who will either uphold or overturn the denial.
The ALJ will conduct a hearing at which you will be asked questions regarding how the disability impacts your daily living. The ALJ will also enable your attorney to speak on your behalf and ask you additional questions about your medical condition. Medical and vocational experts also typically appear to provide testimony and evidence about the condition and how it keeps you from performing your job or any other kind of work.
Tim D. Wright regularly represents clients in disability hearings and can help you acquire the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied at this level, the next phase includes seeking an evaluation by the Appeals Council which will decide 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 are entitled to. Understanding that navigating the SSA system can be difficult, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs help getting Social Security disability benefits in California, call our disability attorneys today for a free consultation.
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