According to the Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, 69.1 million people receive benefits from programs distributed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as of 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has halted incoming 2020 and 2021 numbers, but 5.7 million Americans were awarded Social Security for the first time two years ago. A significant portion of those millions of individuals because of a lingering disability.
Ten million people, in total, received disability benefits from their Social Security in 2019. By Dec., payments made to disabled beneficiaries reached close to 11.7 billion dollars. In contrast, 870,827 citizens had their benefits terminated, but some applicants do not even make it that far.
Many people are denied, at least initially, for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). There are a multitude of reasons why an applicant’s request for the insurance could be dismissed, but now more than ever, the number is predicted to rise because of the global pandemic’s effect on the program’s funding. Despite the current financial concerns, there are actions you can take to counter a refusal and earn a closer look at your specific situation.
If the SSA turns down your application, you have the right to appeal the verdict, and this can be done in a few different ways. First, you can ask for what is called reconsideration. You will request a formal reconsideration from the SSA by filling out the SSA-561, SSA-3441 and SSA-827 forms online.
State-level Social Security agencies assess medical qualification for disability benefits, often referred to as Disability Determination Services (DDS). After filling out the three forms, a new agent, who in no way was involved in the initial denial, will take a second look at your request.
A new medical team sent by your state’s DDS will examine you and your claim, as well. The reconsideration presents an opportunity for you to provide recent developments or forgotten evidence to the examiners on your condition. Some examples might be records from more recent medical treatments, but you can also contend inaccurate findings or mistakes made in the original examination. As the SSA may ask for more information, the average reconsideration period can be as short as ten days and as lengthy as 100 days or more.
Although the SSA typically only grants SSDI to ten percent of those who submit for a reconsideration, all is not lost if your application receives denial for the second time. Your next step should be to file for a personal hearing before an administrative law judge. Most commonly, those who do overturn their initial denial of SSDI only do so through taking part in a disability hearing.
The disability hearing is unquestionably a formal and legal judicial proceeding, but there are some minor differences between itself and a regular court trial. For example, there is no physical court at all. Instead, the hearing takes place in an office, or the best-case scenario, in one of the special hearing centers constructed by the SSA themselves across the country.
However, because of COVID-19, many of those special hearing centers are closed for the foreseeable future, so in their place, the SSA has taken the hearings online via computer or telephone. The hearings can last anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, so be prepared and be available. Granted, most applicants do not find themselves alone when presenting their case to the judge.
Hiring an SSDI Lawyer
While not as ceremonial as other court trials, disability hearings still allow the plaintiff to hire their own lawyer. It could be someone they know personally or an official representative whose profession is a social worker. Often, the claimant is likely to choose someone other than themselves to represent them, according to statistics from the SSA.
Apart from a friend, family member or social worker, there is nothing stopping the claimant from hiring an SSDI Lawyer for the trial. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that people who hire a SSDI Lawyer are three times more likely to achieve approval. Locally, an Atlanta SSDI Lawyer would be the best option to represent you.
Your lawyer or representative will speak on your behalf at the hearing, but you must also provide personal testimony. The judge will ask you questions on your history, work experience and present-day hindrances. With the consultation of an SSDI Lawyer, it may prove beneficial to bring an expert witness, like your personal physician, as the GAO found claimants to be one-and-a-half times more likely to succeed when citing the in-person words of a professional medical practitioner.
After obtaining the preliminary rejection, you have 60 days to file for a reconsideration. Similarly, you have 60 days to request a disability hearing. It should also be noted that SSDI Lawyers work on a contingency premise.
That means that if you win your hearing, they receive a cut of any back payments the SSA owes you over the months since applying for the first time. The SSA must agree on the fee you will owe your lawyer, and it can be as much as 25 percent of the missed payments. If the percentage exceeds 6,000 dollars, they will not take any more of the recompense.