What Does “Appeals Under Review” Status Mean for SSD Claims?

What Does "Appeals Under Review" Status Mean for SSD Claims?

The Social Security Disability (SSD) claims process can be a long one, especially if your initial application gets denied. Whether you’ve worked with a Social Security lawyer from the start or you’re interested in bringing one on board to help navigate the appeals process, it can be helpful to have someone by your side as you await a final decision. From filing your initial claim to submitting the appropriate medical history information and keeping up with appointments, it can be difficult to know exactly where you stand with the Social Security Administration (SSA). But what happens when you receive paperwork stating that you have an “appeal under review?” Keep reading to learn more about the SSD/SSI appeals process and what this common step means for your claim.

Key Steps in the Social Security Disability Appeals Process

It is common for most Social Security Disability claims to be denied at the initial determination and reconsideration stages of the process. Typically, the initial determination period for an SSD claim takes about 120 days. If your claim has been denied at the initial determination stage, it’s essential to quickly file to appeal the decision. From there, the reconsideration stage takes about 90 days to process. During this part of the appeals process, your claim will be reviewed by a new examiner and you may be able to include new supportive evidence to outline the effects of your condition.

Additional SSD Appeals Steps

If your claim is not approved at the reconsideration stage, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council where additional evidence can be offered. This stage of the process id lengthy, taking around 270 days for a decision. From here your claim will likely take one of 3 different paths, including:

  • An overturn of the initial denial and an award of benefits
  • Returning the disability claim to the ALJ for a new decision
  • Denial of the request for review or refusal of benefits (if this happens, your claim must be appealed at a federal level within 60 days)

Finally, if your claim is denied at the ALJ level, you can take I to federal court, the final step in the appeals process that typically takes up to 540 days. This is where the help of an experienced Social Security attorney is needed to argue your claim.

What Does “Appeal Under Review” Mean?

If you receive paperwork stating that your appeal is under review at any point during this process, it means that a decision has been made regarding your claim. However, it is still under review to determine the accuracy of the information you’ve provided and to make sure that you followed all the necessary Social Security Administration rules and regulations when filing your claims paperwork. Although a decision has been made and your appeal is under review, this does not indicate whether the decision is favorable or unfavorable. For further details, it is recommended that you speak with your Social Security attorney.

Contact the Team at Joel Thrift Law Today

Are you interested in learning more about how to file a Social Security Disability claim? Or have you already received a denial at the initial determination stage of the process? With so many different stages to navigate and strict rules that must be followed from the SSA, it’s easy to feel lost without the guidance of an experienced lawyer by your side. At Joel Thrift Law, we’ve got the knowledge and skills necessary to help you through every step of the appeals process and to make sure you understand what new terms mean for your claim. Give us a call at (404) 618-4816 or contact us today for more information and to schedule an initial consultation.

How Many Times Can You Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

How Many Times Can You Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

Nothing is more frightening than getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration when you are disabled and cannot work. Unfortunately, this happens to millions of people each day. If this has happened to you recently, don’t despair. You have the right to appeal this decision several times in front of an Appeals Council and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

An appeal should be filed as soon as possible if you receive a denial from the SSA. Also, never just re-apply if you have been denied disability benefits. Re-filing does nothing to ensure you will be approved and it may complicate filing an appeal at a later date.

To avoid further delays with getting the benefits you deserve, call the Law Office of Joel Thrift today to schedule a consultation with an experienced disability attorney. Our legal team has successfully litigated first, second and third disability claims appeals for clients who are unable to work due to a disabling physical or psychological condition.

The First Appeal: Reconsideration

Upon receiving your first denial letter, you can file an appeal called a “reconsideration”. This begins a claim review by individuals not involved in the original review and ultimate denial. Reconsideration appeals must be filed within 60 days or the SSA will close your disability case. In most cases, a reconsideration appeal does not require you to be physically present. New evidence is allowed during the reconsideration process.

The Second Appeal: Administrative Law Judge Hearing

After a reconsideration denial, you can move on to the second appeal phase involving a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This appeal must also be filed within 60 days of a reconsideration denial. Before rendering a decision, an ALJ judge will evaluate medical evidence already submitted proving your disability and determine if the initial appeal reviewers made process errors regarding their denial determination. Having a disability attorney represent you in front of an ALJ can significantly increase your chance of the judge overturning a reconsideration decision.

The Third Appeal: Appeals Council

You can file an appeal with the SSA Appeals Council if an ALJ denies your claim. The Appeals Council will also evaluate all aspects of the ALJ’s decision for possible technical errors. They can further remand (return) your case to the same ALJ who denied your claim and order another hearing. In other words, an Appeals Council can overturn an ALJ’s decision, uphold an ALJ’s decision or remand your claim.

The Fourth and Final Appeal: Filing a Federal Lawsuit

When a disability claim is denied three times, you can take your claim to the federal level by filing it with a U.S. District Court in your city or state. You will need to be represented by a disability attorney at this point who will submit a written complaint to the appropriate district court. Once the SSA receives your attorney’s complaint, an SSA lawyer will file a response in district court. This response contains the reasons why the SSA has consistently denied to approve your claim.

Why Does the Social Security Administration Deny Disability Claims?

Lack of adequate medical documentation proving a disability, incomplete or wrongly filled out paperwork and inability to show you have followed through with prescribed treatments are leading reasons why disability claims are routinely denied. The disability attorneys at Joel Thrift Law genuinely care about our clients who cannot work through no fault of their own and will work tirelessly to get you approved for monthly benefits.

Call the Law Office of Joel Thrift today for immediate assistance with your disability claim denials.

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.

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.