The Social Security Administration offers disability benefits programs to those that have a medical condition that renders them unable to work. Unfortunately, securing these crucial public benefits can be complicated due to the stringent eligibility requirements. By working with a knowledgeable disability benefits lawyer, you can increase the likelihood 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 perform any kind of substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of 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 keeps a listing of the qualifying conditions (the Blue Book), a condition that is not specified may also meet the requirements for a disability, provided that it is medically comparable 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 complicated. The application contains a number of questions that need to be answered accurately and there are a number of forms that need to also be completed properly. The application has to also include medical evidence such as doctors' reports, an exam history, lab tests and radiological exams, as well as any other pertinent medical information about the diagnosis and prognosis of the condition. Ultimately, it is essential to demonstrate that you are incapable of performing any kind of SGA due to your medical impairment.
Not only is completing the application difficult, having a disability benefits claim approved is intimidating-- about two-thirds of initial claims are denied. Common reasons claims are denied consist of (1) the applicant did not collect adequate work credits, (2) the medical condition was not a qualifying disability, or (3) the application had errors.
By working with the San Gabriel 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 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 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 supervised by an administrative law judge (ALJ) Furthermore, an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA lawyer who will either maintain or reverse the denial.
The ALJ will conduct a hearing at which you will be asked questions regarding how the disability affects your everyday living. The ALJ will also allow your attorney to speak on your behalf and ask you additional questions concerning your medical condition. Medical and vocational experts also typically appear to provide testimony and evidence regarding 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 get the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied at this level, the next step includes seeking a review 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 Attorneys
At Tim D. Wright, we have an established history of helping our clients secure the benefits they are entitled to. 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 help acquiring Social Security disability benefits in California, get in touch with our disability lawyers today for a free consultation.
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