Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Mistakes in Social Security Disability Claim
One of the biggest mistakes people applying for Social Security disability make is assuming they will win their disability
claim because they are "clearly" disabled. The second biggest mistake people applying for Social Security disability
make is assuming everyone loses the first time around. I will address both of these in turn. You may know you are disabled
and everybody in your family and who knows you may also know that you are disabled. What you can't lose sight of is the fact
that you still have to prove you are disabled to the Social Security Administration to win your benefits. I am telling you
this so that you do not neglect making sure you do everything you can to win right from the start. This means you must understand
how Social Security determines if you are disabled. You must also make sure all your medical records are received by Social
Security, and not rely on them to get these records. You must also make sure you get opinion evidence from your doctors. Lastly,
get a lawyer for your claim if you are not absolutely sure you are capable of doing the above on your own. Now, I will address
what I called the second biggest mistake. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard from people that "the application
doesn't matter because everybody loses the first time around." This is not true. If you have this attitude you are assuring
yourself of a negative outcome. You must look at the application as your first opportunity to win your claim. Remember, if
you win at application you will receive your benefits quicker and you will not have to go through the difficult process of
testifying at a hearing. To give yourself the best chance to win you must understand the law have all your medical evidence
and get a lawyer if necessary. Anyone applying for SSDI or SSI benefits should not assume they will win or lose at this stage
in fact you should only be concerned with one thing. What can I do to give myself the best chance to win. You cannot control
who makes decision on your case or what Social Security does, but you can control your end of the process. This way when you
receive your denial or approval you will know that you did everything you can and have no regrets. If you are approved you
will have the satisfaction that your time and effort has paid off. If you lose you should take it as an opportunity to figure
out what else you can do to improve your claim to get approved at the next level.
8:55 pm edt
Monday, July 13, 2009
Disability Hearings and Other Stuff
If you have been waiting a long time for your Social Security disability hearing and you are hoping to have your hearing scheduled
in August you may be disappointed. I have no official stats to prove this is true but I found in my practice that August tends
to be one of the slower months when it comes to the scheduling of SSD and SSI hearings. I think this is probably because most
ALJ's and much of the staff probably take their summer vacations in this month just like everybody else. This may also mean
it may take longer to get a decision if you have a hearing in July or August. I hope for the sake of all those waiting for
hearing that this is not the case and just coincidence in my practice but the trend also makes a lot of sense when you think
about it. I have been doing a lot of traveling lately due to having out-of-state Social Security and VA disability hearings.
So if you have sent me an e-mail recently and have not received a response I am catching up on them as quickly as possible.
Because of all my traveling recently I have not been able to write as much as I would like on my disability websites and blogs
but I plan to pick up the pace in the next couple of weeks and in August when my hearing schedule is lighter. I am also meeting
other Social Security disability specialists who were also certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy later this month
which perhaps will provide me with some new interesting material to share with you. I hope you are all enjoying your
summer and that your summer is made better by favorable decisions in your claims.
10:14 pm edt
Thursday, July 2, 2009
You received your Social Security disability hearing date. Now what?
If you have recently received your hearing date letter notifying you of the date and time of your Social Security disability
hearing you probably only have a month or two to make sure your file is complete. With this letter you should receive a copy
of your file on CD. If you did not recieve your file there should be instructions on how you can get your file. You should
review your file as soon as possible. This way, you can determine if all of the evidence you need to prove your case is in
the Social Security file. You will want to make sure all of your hospital records, treatment records, and opinion evidence
from your doctors are in the file. It is extremely important that you make sure you have opinion evidence from your doctors.
There are a couple of types of opinion evidence that is valuable in a Social Security disability claim. One, is a detailed
report from your doctor explaining your medical condition, your treatment and limitations you have from your medical conditions.
The second type of opinion evidence is what is referred to as an RFC form. These are forms designed to help your docotr know
what limitations are important in a Social Security disability claim and to get their opinion on what your limitations are
in those areas. When you get your file you will also want to look to see what the Social Security doctors have said about
your condition and limitations. You have waited a long time to get this hearing so make sure you do everything you can to
win at this stage. This includes, getting a lawyer if necessary. You may strongly want to consider getting a lawyer if you
are not 100% sure what you have to prove to win your case or if you have the evidence to do it. You may also want to consider
getting a lawyer if your hearing letter states that a vocational expert and or medical expert will also be at the hearing.
Hearings that include medical and vocational experts can be significantly more complex than hearings without them. Depending
on their testimony you may have to cross examine these experts. This is not an easy task, especially if you have no experience
in cross examination and or you do not understand entirely the purpose of these experts, and what their role is in the hearing.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Fourth of July weekend.
11:11 pm edt