How Long Does Will it Take for A Disability Lawyer to Win your Disability Appeal?

How Long Does Will it Take for A Disability Lawyer to Win your Disability Appeal?

Denial of Social Security disability claims is not uncommon. In fact, over half of all first-time disability applications are denied by the Social Security Administration. Although an appeals process is available to those who think they were wrongfully denied, this process is lengthy, stressful and complicated.

Having an experienced disability attorney who knows how to present a legally tight disability case to the SSA can substantially increase your chances of being quickly approved for monthly benefits. If your disability claim has been denied, contact Joel Thrift Law today for immediate assistance.

Why You Should Hire an Atlanta Disability Attorney to Manage Your Disability Appeal

The Social Security Administration offers four types of appeals: reconsideration, appealing to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and presenting your case to an Appeals Council Review Board. If your claim is denied by all three appeals processes, you have the option of taking your disability claim to a Federal Court.

Hiring a disability lawyer to file a reconsideration appeal following receipt of a first-time denial will shorten the time it takes to get approved. Disability attorneys like Joel Thrift specialize in:

  • Completing disability claims that concisely prove you have met SSA criteria for being disabled and unable to perform work
  • Gathering medical documents to clearly demonstrate all your impairments
  • Communicating expeditiously with your physicians in ways that will bolster your claim

If you handled a reconsideration appeal by yourself and received a denial, the next step is to hire a disability lawyer who can file an appeal with an ALJ. No new medical evidence is allowed to be submitted during this “second” appeal stage. Instead, an administrative law judge reviews why your claim was denied by SSA claims processors to determine if the right decision was made. Your disability attorney knows how to write a “brief” that presents a solid argument why the ALJ should reconsider the original decision. Additionally, your lawyer can expedite the process by providing the ALJ with a prewritten decision the judge may use. This saves time by performing a task the judge would normally have to take several weeks to do.

Rarely does a disability claim reach the final two stages of the appeals process–the Appeals Council or Federal Court–when you have a disability attorney handling your claim. Don’t let financial instability worry you for months or even years if you are disabled and can no longer work. Schedule a consultation appointment at Joel Thrift Law today before you submit your first claim to the SSA.

Wait Times for Appealing a Denied Disability Claim

Depending on how understaffed or busy your local Social Security Administration office is, you could wait up to six to nine months to receive a reply regarding a reconsideration appeal. Since the majority of reconsideration appeals are denied, you can expect to wait a full year to receive a reply from the SSA after sending your denied claim to an administrative law judge.

Unless you are suffering from a terminal illness or have a child with a serious genetic disorder like Down’s Syndrome, you should always allow a seasoned disability attorney to manage your disability claim from start to finish. The SSA’s Blue Book of Medical Conditions lists strict criteria to qualify for specific disorders and diseases. If you do not meet these criteria because you have not submitted proper medical documentation and physician reports, they will deny your claim.

We are here to help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Call our office today.

Keys for Finding Social Security Lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia

Keys for Finding Social Security Lawyers in Atlanta, Georgia

Navigating the waters of the Social Security Administration’s requirements can be a challenge that requires help to accomplish. If you plan to apply for SSDI or SSI, you’ll need professional and experienced legal help, so it’s important to find the right attorney. You need a lawyer you can trust and who specializes in social security law. Learn these important keys to finding the right social security lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, and where you can go for help with your application or appeal.

Beware of Promises

The best social security lawyers won’t deliver promises or guarantees that you’ll get approved or get a certain amount of dollars for your injuries. A good attorney will discuss the strengths of your case with you and will point out any issues you might have. They will give their opinion on your chances but will never make a promise. What they will do is talk straight to you at all times and always be realistic about where your case is and where they see it going. Beware of those who make promises of specific dollar figures or who guarantee victory. 

Free Consultation

A good attorney will be willing to sit down with you for a free consultation on your case. Even more, while you may speak to a staff member on your initial phone call, your initial face-to-face meeting will be with the actual attorney who will be handling your case. Social Security attorneys are very busy, but it’s important to find one who will take the time to work directly with you. You want an attorney who will make you a priority and who will always be willing to give you the personal time you need. 

Research Online

Do some research on the attorney you’re considering. You want to know what their approval rate is and how often they win full benefits as opposed to partial or refusals. Research their credentials, experience and qualifications. Check into their case history as far as you can. Many attorneys will list such qualifications right on their own website. You can also search them through your local bar association. 

Seek Recommendations

If you have a general attorney, they might be able to recommend a Social Security lawyer to you. If you know people who have gone through the process, they might be able to offer recommendations. Word of mouth can be a great way to find a reliable lawyer. Failing this, simply look up the attorneys you are considering online and see what their ratings and reviews are. You can also check with your local bar association for information.

Ask Questions

While some of your research can be done online, some will need to come from direct questions in your consultation. Find out who will be handling your case, if there’s a central point of contact who will be dedicated to communications with you, and what their communication policies are.

Some firms assign paralegals to represent clients; but if you can find one that offers an actual attorney to represent you, you will likely be better off. An attorney will be more well-versed in the ins and outs of Social Security law and will be better poised to represent you.

Finally, at your initial consultation, ask about your attorney’s case history, their track record of winning and exactly how they will handle your case. A good attorney will be happy to answer any questions you have. 

Educate Yourself

Finally, educate yourself on the basics of Social Security law. Read as much as you can find from the Social Security website and be as familiar as you can. That way, when you speak with your attorney, you’ll be armed with the specific questions you need to have answered. A bit of knowledge can go a very long way in choosing the right attorney.

Social Security Lawyer Atlanta

If you’re in the Atlanta area and you need help with a social security case, Joel Thrift Law LLC can help. For over a decade, Joel Thrift has represented hundreds of clients and recovered millions in settlements. He values communication and always makes an effort to return calls promptly. If you’re looking for a Social Security lawyer in Atlanta that you can trust, call Joel Thrift Law LLC today.

What’s the difference between SSDI & Long-Term Disability (ERISA)?

What's the difference between SSDI & Long-Term Disability (ERISA)?

ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) is a federal law established in 1974 that sets minimum standards for pension, health, life and disability insurance plans offered by employers to employees. Applying only to nongovernmental (private sector) companies, ERISA guidelines further require employers to provide workers with a “grievance and appeals” procedure through which they can receive benefits. Additionally, ERISA protects all employees from violations by plan fiduciaries. A fiduciary is a person given discretionary control over benefits and management of plans. ERISA mandates that a fiduciary works solely in the best interest of plan members.

Alternately, employers hire fiduciaries to develop employee retirement plans that do not pose financial risks to their business. If a fiduciary is responsible for retirement plans that cause large losses for employees participating in an ERISA plan, that individual could be held accountable for replacing that loss.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

If you become disabled, have paid a certain amount of Social Security taxes and have worked enough in the past to accumulate “credits”, the Social Security Administration will pay monthly benefits to you if your claim is approved. Also called “total disability”, SSDI is only awarded to claimants who are unable to do any kind of “gainful employment” for at least one year.

SSDI should not be confused with Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a federally funded disability benefit meant for people who have little income and have not worked long enough to earn sufficient credits to qualify for SSDI.

What is the Difference Between Private Disability Insurance (ERISA) and SSDI?

The main difference between ERISA disability benefits and SSDI is the fact that private disability insurance (PDI) is provided by Standard, Hartford and other large insurance companies while SSDI is provided by Social Security taxes paid for by people who earn wages.

Other differences between PDI and SSDI include:

  • PDIs are contracts between insured individuals and private insurance companies designed to provide monetary coverage in case the employee becomes disabled and cannot work. The definition of whether an employee is disabled is usually defined by the insurer. SSDI benefits have nothing to do with a contract. Instead, it is wholly based on a person’s work history and amount of Social Security taxes they have paid
  • In some cases, PDIs may offer more coverage than SSDI. Further, certain private insurance companies may have a less strict definition of what constitutes a disability than criteria listed in the SSA’s Blue Book of Impairments.
  • Employees making ERISA claims are more likely to encounter aggressive questioning by private insurer attorneys regarding the validity of their disability. Alternately, SSDI claims are not represented by SSA attorneys. Instead, any appeal of an SSDI denial is heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who reviews the denial process performed by SSA claims agents

What To Do If Your Private Disability Insurance Company Denies Your Claim

Generic PDI claim denials, refusal of employers to work with employees who have become disabled and lack of assistance from PDIs regarding appeals are just a few reasons why you should contact an attorney specializing in ERISA claims as soon as you experience problems with a PDI claim.

Alternately, you might want to schedule a consultation appointment with Joel Thrift Law to determine if there is also a warranted SSDI claim we can help you submit and get approved. In many cases, we find our clients do have an existing SSDI claim that is valid concurrent with their ERISA long-term disability claims. Whether you are having problems understanding an ERISA or SSDI/SSI claim, our Atlanta disability attorneys offer expertise and guidance throughout the submission and approval process.

Call Joel Thrift Law today for immediate legal help with your SSDI/SSI application.

4 Ideas for Building a Healthy Working Relationship With Your Disability Attorney

4 Ideas for Building a Healthy Working Relationship With Your Disability Attorney

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be a long and stressful process. When you’re trying to recover from a major injury and you just want to get your life back, this level of stress is the last thing you need. That’s where your SSDI attorney comes into the picture.

Their job is to take this stress off of you and get you the benefits you deserve so you can focus on healing. When you don’t have a great relationship with your lawyer, however, it can all seem worse. Check out these four ideas for building a healthy working relationship with your disability attorney so you can get the most from your benefits application.

Know What to Expect

The first step in building a great relationship with your disability attorney is to know what to expect from them. They have a number of responsibilities, first and foremost of which is to serve as your point of communication with the Social Security Administration.

The process begins when your attorney completes a review of your case to form a strategy to get you the benefits you need. They will then walk you through the application process to be sure your application has been properly completed and that there are no errors or omitted information. Your attorney will help you keep your records complete and in order, will represent you to the SSA and at any hearings, and will file an appeal if needed.

Have Patience

Social Security cases don’t always proceed quickly. Ideally, a case can be turned around within three or four months from the initial date of application. They can, however, take much longer, with some states seeing a nearly two-year turnaround time. To maintain a positive relationship with your attorney, understand that the delays are not likely their fault and that the process does take time. Having patience when you’re suffering is tough, but remember: Your attorney is on your side.

Stay in Contact

Reaching out to your attorney when you haven’t heard anything in a while isn’t a crime. Good communication is the core of any relationship, and it’s a two-way street. Your attorney should give you regular updates on your case, and you should be comfortable calling them up with any questions or concerns you have.

Just remember to be polite and professional in your dealings with them. They understand how frustrating the process can be, and they aren’t trying to make it worse for you. If anything, your attorney will work to set your mind at ease, but they’ll always be honest and forthright with you.

Use Their Experience

Your Social Security disability attorney has likely been doing this for quite some time. Their experience is what allows them to successfully pursue your case. They know how to speak to the SSA and to medical providers. They know how to navigate the hearing process, and they know the judges in your district. Your attorney knows how to cross-examine those with counter opinions, called “vocational experts,” and they know how to handle issues with your medical records that might present a road bump in your application.

Use their experience, and understand that the advice your attorney gives you is coming from a place of understanding, knowledge and caring. Your attorney is your ally, and they want to see your case succeed. Work with them, and treat them as the partner they are.

Hire an Experienced Disability Attorney

If you’re applying for SSDI and you need help with the process, an experienced disability attorney is the way to go. Joel Thrift has represented hundreds of clients and recovered millions in awards. He is the attorney who will always return calls and be your best ally in getting Social Security disability benefits in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Give Joel Thrift Law, LLC a call for a consultation on your case today.

Considerations for Social Security Claims Involving PTSD

Considerations for Social Security Claims Involving PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental illness affecting people who have experienced events so traumatic that they have extreme difficulty keeping a job, maintaining relationships and dealing with overwhelming anxiety and depression. According to the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of Medical Conditions, proving PTSD is preventing someone from earning a livable income involves the following medical documentation:

  • Statements from doctors indicating their patient was exposed to threatened/actual death, suffered violence, serious injury or other traumatic event
  • Treatment reports describing the extent of the patient’s PTSD symptoms: severe mood/behavior disturbances, avoidance behaviors, recurring “flashbacks” of the trauma, suicidal ideation, hypervigilance/anxiety)
  • Proof of functional limitations that prevent the patient from working or living independently (problems remembering and understanding new information, inability to interact appropriately with others and being capable of concentrating on and completing work tasks)

PTSD does not have a specific listing in the SSA’s Blue Book. Instead, PTSD is listed under “Mental Disorders–trauma and stressor-related disorders”. The SSA also says that “trauma and stressor-related disorders” are not evaluated under obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders or cognitive impairments resulting from a traumatic brain injury or other neurological disorder.

What is Diminished Functional Capacity?

In many cases, disability applicants with PTSD must show they have diminished functional capacity, or the inability to maintain employment due to severe PTSD symptoms. People with PTSD experience physical and mental issues that often cause them to miss work or make mistakes at work. Panic attacks, depression, hypertension brought on by chronic stress and coping productively with everyday problems are just a few reasons why individuals with PTSD could be approved for SSDI or SSI.

One way you can increase your chance of being approved for PTSD disability benefits is to submit a longitudinal record of treatment describing how long you have been receiving consistent treatment for PTSD from a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed counselor. Longitudinal records also include the onset date of PTSD, frequency of specific symptom attacks, detailed descriptions of symptoms and the success of treatment plans involving medication and/or counseling.

How Can You Receive a Medical-Vocational Allowance for PTSD Disability Benefits?

If you are initially denied disability benefits for PTSD, you may qualify for another type of benefit the SSA calls the medical-vocational allowance (MVA). To qualify for MVA, a Social Security mental health consultant must decide if your symptoms are detrimental enough to prevent you from working even though your symptoms may meet the criteria listed under trauma and stressor-related disorders.

For example, John is a 45-year-old Afghanistan War veteran diagnosed with PTSD. He has been taking medications and going to counseling for about a year and a half. Although he is physically well, he suffers from severe insomnia, nightmares, memory and concentration problems. He has attempted to work several jobs but had to quit because of extreme daytime fatigue, flashbacks and inability to focus on completing tasks. John may qualify for MVA benefit if he includes the proper documentation needed in his application.

How Can a Disability Lawyer Help You Get Approved for PTSD Benefits?

People with psychological disorders routinely have a harder time getting approved for SSDI or SSI than people with physically incapacitating disorders simply because mental illnesses are more difficult to document and prove. Having a disability lawyer acting on your behalf while dealing with the Social Security Administration means your application will be submitted containing all the documentation and forms essential for swift approval. In fact, the primary reason why nearly 70 percent of all initial disability applications are denied is because of improper or insufficient documentation of mental or physical illness.

If you or someone you know may qualify for PTSD disability benefits, contact Joel Thrift Law today to schedule a consultation appointment.

What is the Definition of “Incapacitated” for Social Security Disability? And Examples

What is the Definition of "Incapacitated" for Social Security Disability? And Examples

“Incapacitated” and “disabled” largely carry the same definition when Social Security is determining whether to approve or deny a disability application. In general, a person is considered incapacitated if they been unable to perform non-substantial work for at least the past 12 months. Alternately, if the Social Security Administration thinks your disability allows you to do “substantial gainful activity” that allows you to earn a living wage, they will claim you are not incapacitated and deny your application for SSDI or SSI.

What are the SSA Criteria for Defining Incapacitated or Disabled?

Disability benefits are typically approved if you:

  • Cannot do the kind of work you did before becoming disabled. For example, if you were a factory machine operator for 20 years and had a heart attack that reduced your ability to operate a machine or perform other similar work, you would probably be approved for SSI or SSDI.
  • Have a medical condition lasting for 12 months continuously
  • Have a medical condition that is expected to eventually result in death

Special guidelines apply regarding criteria for SSA benefits if a claimant is blind, a disabled child, a widow/widower or a wounded veteran. Call Joel Thrift Law today for assistance with applying for disability benefits. We can help significantly increase your chance of being approved for monthly benefits without having to appeal a denial.

What is Substantial Gainful Activity?

If the SSA thinks you can do substantial work (gainful) activity, that means they think you can work part-time or full-time at jobs that pay you an income equal to or less than the pay you received before becoming disabled.

However, even though you may be capable of working part-time due to your medical condition, that does not mean you won’t qualify for disability benefits. As of 2019, if someone earns over $1220 each month but is deemed incapacitated by the SSA, they may still be approved for disability benefits. For people who are blind, the income limit is $2040.

Recipients of SSDI can work for a trial period that allows them to receive the full amount of their benefits while earning income. Currently, the Social Security Administration considers a trial working month as one that provides at least $880 in income. Following this nine-month trial period, you may still continue receiving SSDI for three years (36 months) as long as your income is below the substantial gainful activity level. If you earn over $1220 in any given month, you forfeit disability payments for that month.

What Medical Conditions are Considered to be Automatically Incapacitating?

The SSA has a “Compassionate Allowance” list of medical conditions that requires applicants only provide a doctor’s diagnosis of the condition. No other documentation is necessary to be approved for benefits. Diseases and disorders on the Compassionate Allowance list include:

  • Stage IV breast cancer
  • Acute leukemia
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Pancreatic or liver cancer
  • Lung cancer (small cell)
  • Thyroid cancer

Does the SSA Consider Mental Disorders as Incapacitating Disorders?

Yes. However, proving to the SSA that you have a psychological disorder disabling enough to prevent you from working is more difficult than proving a physical disability. If you are applying for disability because you suffer from severe anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, you will need to submit numerous, detailed documents composed by licensed healthcare professionals. Treatment summaries must be from psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed therapists who have been seeing the claimant for at least one year. Hospital and emergency room records (if applicable) are also essential for proving an incapacitating mental health issue. More importantly, evidence should also show that the mental illness is preventing the disability applicant from obtaining gainful employment.

If you are preparing to file a disability claim with the SSA but your medical problem is not on the Compassionate Allowance list of conditions, contact Joel Thrift Law today to schedule a consultation appointment. We can help strengthen your claim and reduce the risk of being denied due to errors and insufficient documentation.

How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Disability Attorney?

How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Disability Attorney?

Navigating the Social Security disability claims process can be a difficult task, especially when you are living with a chronic illness or other debilitating condition. It is common for claimants to get through the beginning stages of their claim, only to end up with a rejection letter. The entire process can weigh heavily on your mental health as well, making the need for legal guidance extremely important. However, if you’re already struggling to pay your bills due to the inability to work, how can you afford a lawyer?

How Much Does a Social Security Disability Attorney Cost?

Luckily, Social Security disability attorneys work differently than many other attorneys you may collaborate with during your lifetime. To help a much wider client base, disability lawyers don’t charge their clients any up-front fees or require that you put down a retainer fee. Instead, the majority of disability lawyers work on a contingency basis—where they will only be paid if they can help you win your benefits.

What is a Contingency Fee?

When you initially speak with a disability attorney or advocate, it’s common to sign a contingency fee agreement that gives the Social Security Administration (SSA) permission to allocate a portion of your awarded fees to your attorney to help cover the cost of their services. If your claim is approved, the SSA will go over the details of the agreement to make sure it follows all fee agreement guidelines and ensure that your legal counsel receives the payment they are entitled too. There is no additional work that you need to complete on your end, eliminating the need for bank transfers or writing a check.

For those who are unable to pay up-front fees to a lawyer or advocate, this is a great opportunity to get the help you need to follow the SSA’s strict guidelines. When a fee agreement is made on a contingency basis, you can rest easy knowing that your disability attorney will not be paid unless you win your claim.

How Much is the Social Security Disability Attorney’s Fee?

When you enter into a written agreement with a disability attorney, it states that if you win your claim, the fee amount they are entitled to is capped at 25% of your past-due benefits. While this may seem like a large sum, the maximum fee that your disability lawyer can be awarded is also limited to $6,000. Additionally, if your claim must be appealed at a federal level, your lawyer may be entitled to additional fees. However, most Social Security disability claims end at the Social Security hearing stage.

Another important factor to keep in mind when it comes to contingency fees is the fact that your attorney is only paid if you are awarded past-due benefits. If no past-due or “backpay” benefits are awarded in your claim, your attorney will not be paid a fee for their services. However, if this situation arises, your disability attorney can submit a fee petition to the SSA to request a higher fee.

Additional Costs

Throughout the course of the Social Security disability claims process, you may be required to present the SSA with lots of different paperwork to help support your claim. The SSA may request that you provide them with medical, work and school records and undergo new medical or psychological testing. These costs are typically paid outside of a contingency fee and are the responsibility of the client. As you consider hiring a disability lawyer, you must ask whether you may be charged any other additional fees out-of-pocket before agreeing to work together.

Should I Hire a Disability Attorney?

Because there is little to no risk of paying out-of-pocket for a disability attorney fees, it is often in the best interest of the claimant to hire a Social Security disability attorney. The Social Security disability claims process can be grueling, especially if your claim is denied right away. It can be difficult to pick yourself back up and file an appeal without proper legal guidance and an advocate by your side. However, when you hire a disability attorney who works with clients on a contingency basis, you can enjoy peace of mind in knowing that they will do everything in their power to ensure that you are awarded all of the benefits you’re entitled to.

Once you are awarded your benefits, the SSA will do all of the work necessary to determine your backpay amount and pay your attorney fees before awarding your first disability check. The maximum amount that will be subtracted from your benefits is just 25% of your backpay or a maximum of $6,000. There’s no negotiating over fees and you’ll never have to worry about doing the math either.

Contact Joel Thrift Law Today

There’s no reason that you need to fight for your disability benefits on your own. Are you interested in learning more about the many benefits of working with an attorney on your Social Security disability claim? At Joel Thrift Law, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to guide you through the Social Security disability claims process. Got a question? Give us a call today at (678) 296-7952 or contact us today for more information and be sure to schedule an initial consultation.

Social Security Jargon: “There are no jobs available in the US economy” ~ What does it mean?

Social Security Jargon: "There are no jobs available in the US economy" ~ What does it mean?

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Before the Social Security Administration (SSA) agrees to give you monthly benefits, it must be determined that “there are no jobs in the U.S. economy that you can do.”  

What exactly does this Social Security jargon mean, especially if the job market is strong? Let’s take a closer look at how Social Security determines whether work exists in the national economy. 

According to the SSA, work exists in the U.S. economy if there is a significant number of jobs with requirements that you can meet despite your physical limitations or mental ability. Therefore, Social Security does not consider you disabled.

But, if there are specific types of jobs for which you qualify that exist “in very limited numbers” and in “relatively few locations” outside of the area in which you live, SSA does not consider these jobs as “work which exists in the national economy.” Therefore, Social Security will determine that you are disabled.

For illustration purposes, let’s say you have worked for decades on a farm and performed manual labor and managed crop production. If your work skills do not match the requirements of jobs available in the area in which you live, then work in the national economy does not exist for you, according to SSA. 

Answering SSA’s Question of “Why?”

Regardless of your disability, SSA takes a “show, don’t tell” approach when it comes to disability benefits. In other words, Social Security expects you to show how your physical impairment or mental disorder prevents you from being gainfully employed in jobs for which you may be qualified. So, it is best to provide SSA with relevant evidence of all of your medical conditions, mental disorders, and physical limitations. 

If you are not forthcoming with your health issues, your application for disability benefits may be denied if SSA believes that you can work with reasonable accommodations. For example, if you simply say you have a back problem without providing detailed documentation about your condition, SSA may believe an employer can accommodate you by allowing you to take breaks when your back begins to hurt. 

However, providing evidence that rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative disc disease are causing your chronic back pain, and you receive frequent treatments for these incurable conditions, improves your chances of getting approved for disability benefits. 

Find Your Impairment in SSA’s Blue Book

Social Security uses a manual as part of its process of establishing eligibility for disability benefits. The Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also known as the “Blue Book,” gives insight into the type of medical conditions Social Security views as severe impairments that can prevent people from working. The extensive “Listing of Impairments” includes major parts of the body such as: 

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system
  • Special sense and speech
  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems

Within the categorical listing of impairments are:

  • Definitions of the condition
  • What the SSA considers in evaluating the impairments
  • The type of documentation SSA needs to determine eligibility for disability disorders

You may still qualify for disability even if your impairment is not listed in the Blue Book as long as your medical condition matches the severity of one of the impairments listed in the book.

You can strengthen your case for disability benefits by collecting evidence to support the conclusion that there is no job in the U.S. economy that you can do. Generally, the type of evidence that supports a disability claim includes medical records, a doctor’s statement about diagnosing and treating a condition, and laboratory test results or imaging scans.

Most importantly, your statement and statements from your family members about your diminished quality of life due to your disability should be included in your SSA package. 

SSA may ask you to take a Consultative Medical Examination performed by an independent medical professional. Sometimes, Social Security requests an exam when there are questions about the severity of an applicant’s medical condition. If you do not take this examination when asked, SSA can make a decision without the evidence that you need to support your claim. 

You Can Appeal a Social Security Denial 

It is not unusual for SSA to deny claims. Fortunately, you can ask SSA to reconsider a denied application. If the claim is denied after a reconsideration, SSA has the following steps you can take to appeal denials:

  • Request a hearing before a federal Administrative Law Judge
  • Request SSA’s Appeals Council to review the judge’s decision
  • File a civil lawsuit in a federal district court

Before taking action on our own to appeal a denial, it would be to your advantage to consult with a Social Security disability attorney. 

Get Legal Help With Your SSDI Claim 

Social Security typically denies claims because applicants lack proof that satisfies SSA of their disability.  At Joel Thrift Law, we can help you provide evidence that can lead to a favorable decision about your disability benefits. 

If SSA has denied your claim, we can review your application and file for a reconsideration. We can also represent you in the appeals process. With help from a Social Security disability attorney, you have a greater chance of getting disability benefits. 

The Social Security disability process is time sensitive and you only have a limited amount of time to appeal a denial. So, contact Joel Thrift Law today to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect at a Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing

What to Expect at a Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing

Was your Social Security disability claim denied? While this may cause financial hardship, it’s not the end of the world. The Social Security Administration denies many claims, and the reason often isn’t that you’re not entitled to disability coverage.

Here’s what you can expect if you have to appeal.

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability?

An appeal for Social Security disability depends on whether you are, in fact, eligible. Social Security disability works similarly to the more well-known Social Security retirement benefits. When your FICA taxes are withheld, you’re paying into both potential retirement and disability benefits.

The qualifications for disability are similar to retirement. You need a certain number of work credits, and your benefits may vary based on your previous income and how much you paid in taxes. The number of credits needed varies according to your age so that young workers who are disabled early in their careers are still able to take advantage of their benefits.

You also need to be medically eligible. This means that you have a serious enough disability so that you can’t perform substantial gainful work activities. If you have too much-earned income during a year, even from a lower-paying part-time job than the full-time job you can no longer perform, you may be found not medically eligible by default.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability

If you become disabled and are no longer able to work, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. The typical application process takes at least six months, and most people have to file an appeal after their initial application is denied. There’s also a five-month waiting period before your disability payments start.

If there are delays in the application process, you will usually be eligible to receive back pay of your benefits. However, you may struggle to pay your bills in the meantime depending on your level of savings.

Why Most People Have to Appeal

To prevent fraud, the Social Security Administration makes the application process very difficult. You need to correctly fill out the forms, and the supporting information provided by your doctor needs to exactly match the requirements for eligibility. Just like health insurance billing, doctors may not include enough information or may not use the magic words that the Social Security Administration needs to hear to approve your application. If your application is incomplete or doesn’t have the right medical information, you haven’t proven that you’re disabled under the law.

What Happens at a Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing?

A Social Security disability appeal hearing is similar to a trial that you might see on TV. There will be an administrative law judge who evaluates your case, representatives from the Social Security Administration who will explain why your claim was denied, and your own attorney who will explain either why your application should have been approved or why it should be approved in light of the information presented in the hearing.

You don’t have to have a lawyer at this hearing, but most of the hearing will be about legal technicalities and making sure the evidence meets the exact requirements of the law. If your application already got denied, it may be hard for you to figure out what you need to do to legally support your appeal. On the other hand, an experienced Social Security disability lawyer will know what medical records and doctors’ statements are needed to support your appeal.

To learn more about the Social Security disability appeals process or what you need to do to get your benefits, contact Joel Thrift Law today.

Can I get Social Security Disability for my patellar tendinitis?

Can I get Social Security Disability for my patellar tendinitis?

Can I get Social Security Disability for my patellar tendinitis?

Yes, you can. There are two ways to get Social Security Disability for your Patellar tendinitis. The first way is to show that you meet Social Security’s specific listing on Patellar tendinitis  and the second way is to show that due to your physical restrictions there are no jobs available in the US economy which you would be able to do on a full time basis. I will discuss both methods of getting disability benefits for your Patellar tendinitis  below. However, it’s worth noting that you’re more likely to win your case by showing there are no jobs available than by meeting a listing because the requirements of listings are often so exact that most people do not meet them.

Method 1 – Listing: The listing for patellar tendinitis  is located in the section on major dysfunction of a joint at listing 1.02. This listing is extremely specific and requires:

“Gross anatomical deformity (e.g., subluxation, contracture, bony or fibrous ankylosis, instability) and chronic joint pain and stiffness with signs of limitation of motion or other abnormal motion of the affected joint(s), and findings on appropriate medically acceptable imaging of joint space narrowing, bony destruction, or ankylosis of the affected joint(s). With:

A. Involvement of one major peripheral weight-bearing joint (i.e., hip, knee, or ankle), resulting in inability to ambulate effectively.”

Social Security defines the inability to ambulate effectively as an inability to walk without an assistive device that requires the use of both hands – like a walker or wheelchair. If you can walk with the use of a cane, you do not meet this listing above. Your patellar tendinitis  might cause severe pain, but if you do not have documentation by your doctor of all of the specific requirements in the listing, social security will not find you disabled based on the listing. People rarely win their cases based on the listing because it is difficult to document all of the findings listed above. It is not enough to have a few of the findings in the listing. You must have all of them in your medical treatment records or social security will not find you disabled based on the listing alone. All is not lost, however. You can still prove you are disabled due to your patellar tendinitis  by showing that your combination of symptoms would make you unemployable.

Method 2 – No Jobs You Can Do: You can get disability for your patellar tendinitis  if you show that the symptoms from your patellar tendinitis  along with any other health conditions you have would make you unemployable. Social Security will consider more than just your patellar tendinitis . They will also consider all of your other health conditions in determining whether or not you can work. Social Security will look at things like how much you can lift or how long you can stand, walk, and sit in a day to determine if jobs are available that you  could do. Social Security will also look at whether you have to lie down during the day, take extra breaks or miss several days a month due to your medical conditions. Social Security will even look at your ability to concentrate and follow instructions due to you medical conditions. If your combination of limitations would make you unemployable, then you can get Social Security Disability due to your patellar tendinitis .  Remember, SSA will find you disabled if your combined symptoms would keep from being able to do any job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, week in and week out. 

What do you need to prove there are no jobs you could do?

In order to prove there are no jobs you could do, you need medical documentation from your doctors of all of your medical conditions. This means you need to make an effort to get regular treatment to document your condition over time. Further, it is helpful to get statements from your doctors on how your medical condition limits your ability to work. This can include a letter from the doctor or simply having your doctor fill out a questionnaire on your condition. Doctors often do not comment on your ability to work in their office notes because they’re focused on treating you rather than commenting on your ability work. It helps to ask your doctor’s opinion on your ability to work. Our firm often gives our clients questionnaires to take to treating physicians to document your symptoms and how they would limit your ability to work. We have developed questionnaires over time that ask the questions we have found are helpful in proving your case.

It can be overwhelming to try to prove that you are disabled. You have to collect medical records and submit them to social security and you have to get opinions from doctors that prove your inability to work. We can help you get all this information and improve your chances of getting social security disability benefits. If you would like help proving you are entitled to social security disability due to your patellar tendinitis , feel free to call us for help.

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