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.

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.

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.