Articles Posted in Appealing Unfavorable Decision

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An already overstressed Social Security Administration (SSA) that is struggling with a backlog of cases is likely to be even more squeezed after a hiring freeze imposed by the Trump Administration.

President Trump announced a federal hiring freeze that potentially could enhance the current problem the Agency has with large numbers of pending cases. An average claim at SSA can take as long as a year to decide. In the meantime, disability applicants who are already suffering from severe medical conditions are forced to wait anxiously for a decision on their claim.

At special risk are appeals filed by disability applicants who have had their earlier claims denied.  If a person’s claim is denied, he or she has the option of filing an appeal. That can be a long process in itself. The Social Security Administration’s Inspector General says that the average processing time for an appeal in 2016 was 526 days.

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A disability hearing is one of the most critical stages in your appeals process.  While it is not required that you attend in person, it could be critically important that you do so.  So yes, you have to attend your disability hearing.

Remember that the disability hearing gives you face to face interaction with key persons who will decide the fate of your case. The administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to your case will be able to ask you questions and hear your side of the story.  You will be able to provide evidence about your eligibility for benefits, and will be able to tell the judge in your own words why you believe that you qualify for disability benefits. You can present your account of your condition to your judge, and persuade him or her about the severity of the symptoms which restrict your ability to work.

In some cases, the judge will be able to see firsthand that you indeed do suffer from the limitations that you have claimed in your appeal. For instance, if your claim is based on mobility problems, musculoskeletal problems, chronic fatigue, or other problems that are easily apparent, the hearing will give the judge a chance to see how your condition limits your ability to perform substantial gainful activity and earn a living. If you stay home and are absent from the hearing, you are depriving the ALJ of the opportunity to take notice of how the symptoms affect you. This could be crucial to the success of your claim.

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You might believe that your disability is severe, and meets the Social Security Administration’s criteria for claims approval. However, many Social Security disability claims are denied every year because of one of the following factors.

Earnings

In 2016, the Substantial Gainful Activity limit is $1,130 per month. That means that if you earn an income that is above this limit, you may not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Several income sources may be included in this calculation. To understand whether your earnings are within this limit, speak to a Social Security disability benefits lawyer.

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Many of the Social Security disability claims that are filed every year are denied in the initial stages. In fact, according to some estimates, approximately 50% of all initial disability claims are denied.

There are medical as well as non-medical reasons for a denial. The most common reasons for the denial of a claim are medical. When a claim is denied for medical reasons, it means that the Social Security Administration (SSA) simply did not find that a person’s disability is serious enough to prevent them from going back to the work they performed previously, or performing any kind of work that would earn a sufficient income.

Remember, SSA has strict criteria which it uses to evaluate the severity of impairments and to determine whether they significantly impede an individual’s ability to work and earn an income. If the Social Security Disability Administration finds that you have a severe impairment which prevents you from being able to do the work you did in the past, or any other kind of work, and if you’re currently not earning a substantial gainful income, your chances of getting your claim approved are higher.

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If your Social Security disability benefits claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. It is very important to do this because many claims are denied initially, but are approved at the appeals stage.

The disability hearing will play a very important role in the appeals process. A hearing takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and you will be required to present your case at the hearing with your Social Security disability benefits attorney. (It’s not necessary that you be represented by an attorney, but it is highly recommended as the chances of success increases with the help of experienced legal counsel.)

Arrive on time for the hearing, and dress appropriately. It’s best to discuss the questions that will be asked of you at the appeal hearing beforehand with your attorney. Your attorney will make sure your answers are correct, concise, and address the important issues properly.

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Adults who are disabled before they reach the age of 22 may qualify for child benefits provided a parent is deceased, or has begun receiving retirement or Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. These benefits are typically regarded as child benefits because the payments are paid on the parents’ Social Security record.

In order to qualify for a children benefits, the adult child must be above the age of 18, and must be unmarried. His/her disability must have begun before he/she reached the age of 22. The child in a case like this can include an adopted child of a parent with a Social Security record, or even in some cases, a grandchild, a stepchild or step grandchild.

Typically, child benefits will stop when the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child continues to be a student in elementary or high school. In such cases, however, benefits can continue until the child is 19 years old. However, for a child to qualify for disability benefits on your record after the age of 18, then the above-mentioned conditions must apply. The disability must have begun before the age of 22, and he/she also must meet the disability criteria for adults.

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Once you have filed your Social Security Disability benefits claim, it is recommended that you check the status at regular intervals.

It’s also important to understand that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is typically inundated with disability benefits claims, and therefore, a decision may not come early. Further, a decision will depend on a number of factors which include the type of evidence that you submitted, and the nature and severity of your disability. The decision time also depends on whether SSA will require further evidence in the form of a medical examination. All of these factors can delay your claim.

In addition, a decision usually takes time because claims processing is typically a tedious process. It’s therefore important to begin filing your claim immediately. Speak to an Atlanta Social Security disability benefits lawyer for help filing a claim. Also, remember that although most claims are denied initially, you should not give up. Many claimants are able to receive benefits via the appeals process.

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Having Your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim denied can be disappointing, but it doesn’t mean that all is lost. As long as you take the next best steps, you may very well be able to earn an award of benefits. However, you will want to take action and appeal the denial as quickly as possible.

There are strict time limitations that apply to most appeals, and if you do not file an appeal within the time period, you could actually have a claim dismissed.

Many persons who have their claims denied are so discouraged that they do not appeal. They give up on their claim being approved, fatigued by the long period of time it often takes for a decision. In other cases, people make the mistake of filing a brand-new claim in place of the denied claim.