The Social Security Administration provides disability benefits programs to those who have a medical condition that makes them unable to work. Unfortunately, obtaining these vital public benefits can be complicated due to the rigorous eligibility requirements. By working with a knowledgeable disability benefits lawyer, you can increase the chance of obtaining the benefits you need.
What Is a Disability?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines, being disabled means not being able to perform 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, a minimum of one year or result in death. While the SSA maintains a listing of the qualifying conditions (the Blue Book), a condition that is not listed may also meet the qualifications for a disability, provided that it is medically equivalent to a condition that is listed.
What Types of Disability Benefits Are Provided?
There are two different benefit programs offered 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 includes a number of questions that must be answered accurately and there are a number of forms that have to also be completed properly. The application has to also include medical evidence such as doctors' reports, an exam record, lab tests and radiological exams, and any other pertinent medical information about the diagnosis and prognosis of the impairment. Ultimately, it is necessary to demonstrate that you are incapable of performing any kind of SGA because of your medical disability.
Not only is completing the application complicated, having a disability benefits claim approved is daunting-- about 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 disability, or (3) the application had errors.
By working with the Pasadena disability attorneys 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 out a letter notifying 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 notification. In a reconsideration claim, a medical consultant and a disability examiner not associated with the first decision will reassess the claim.
Nevertheless, 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. Only 20 percent of such claims are denied. The next 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) Additionally, an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA lawyer who will either maintain or overturn the denial.
The ALJ will conduct a hearing at which you will be asked questions about how the disability impacts your day-to-day living. The ALJ will also enable your lawyer to speak on your behalf and ask you additional questions concerning your medical condition. Medical and vocational experts also usually appear to provide testimony and evidence about the condition and how it keeps you from doing your job or any other kind of work.
Tim D. Wright routinely represents clients in disability hearings and can help you acquire the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied at this level, the next step involves seeking an evaluation 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 reversed.
Contact Our California Social Security Disability Attorney
At Tim D. Wright, we have an established history of helping our clients get the benefits they deserve. Knowing that navigating the SSA system can be overwhelming, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs assistance acquiring Social Security disability benefits in California, contact our disability attorneys today for a free consultation.
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