Social Security’s decision to award you benefits depends a lot on the credibility of your statements. In other words, Social Security needs to believe that you truly are disabled. They need to believe that you experience the symptoms you claim to experience, in example, pain, weakness, or memory loss. They also need to believe that your symptoms make it impossible to carry out daily tasks entailed in basic work situations, as in, walking, sitting, lifting, or communicating.
Appeals are offered to claimants at all levels of decisions – except if your current claim is denied at federal court the option at the point for claimants is to start a new claim. Generally, you have sixty days after you receive the notice of decision to ask for any type of appeal.
The first appeal available to a claimant is the reconsideration – which may be requested after the denial of initial claim. The second appeal available to a claimant is the hearing before an admistrative law judge. A hearing may be requested after receiving reconsideration denial. The Appeals Council review process of an admistrative law judge decision begins after an application for benefits has been denied at the initial, reconsideration, and hearing levels. On average, initial and reconsiderations are completed in four months or less, and hearings before a judge are granted about nine months to twelve months after a hearing is requested.
Although appeals process can be a frustrating and lengthy – it’s important to not give up – you must appeal within sixty day deadline to ensure your claim is processed as soon as possible.
Why is it important for my family or friends who write an affidavit on my behalf to have their affidavit notarized? This is a question I have heard quite a few times from clients. An affidavit by definition is “a written declaration upon oath made before an authorized official”. Without the notary public’s signature as a witness the affidavit is simply a statement. The notarized document becomes, in a sense, the testimony of your loved ones who know you and your disability or disabilities and how these impairments have affected your daily life. It significantly increases the credibility of your loved one and yourself to the Administrative Law Judge reviewing your claim when their words have been sealed by a Notary whom is an appointed public official.
Although, it may seem inconvenient for your chosen family and/or friends to have their document notarized and may seem like an unnecessary cost to them, it really is a very resourceful tool in advancing your chances of your claim being approved.
A Social Security disability attorney is a guide to making the disability process much simpler for you; from the initial application, appealing denial to preparing for an administrative hearing. An experienced disability attorney can protect you from making common errors that can harm chances of approval.
Another advantage to having a competent attorney is to help tell your story, your personal struggle with medical conditions, which can be a powerful advantage at an administrative hearing. Your attorney will help prepare you for testimony as well as represent you at your hearing and explain why your impairments prevent you from sustaining employment.
Using an attorney that is familiar with the process can make the difference between a successful and failed claim. Obtaining necessary medical evidence to support you claim, help with filing appeals, assistance in completing SSA forms, and ensuring you are paid correctly when your claim is approved are all benefits of hiring a disability attorney.
I found myself surprised recently as the Social Security Administration recently held a hearing and added more conditions to their Compassionate Allowances list. I find it difficult to swallow that the SSA has any level of compassion, but that is my personal opinion. The Compassionate Allowances program was launched in 2008 to help expedite processing of claims which fall under certain medical criteria and include diagnoses confirming any one of 50 medical conditions. This list has since grown, and effective August 2012 will total 165 conditions. Many of the conditions are genetic, various types of cancers, heart or respiratory conditions but for the most part fall within “terminal” outcomes or at least considered permanent with no full recovery expected. Most are rare or obscure at the best, but some would be familiar to most laypersons. There have been measures put into place so the Disability Offices will be able to better recognize and process claims for individuals who have any one of these conditions. The catch though is to be sure there is a formal diagnosis and to notify the Disability Office of the conditions either through your initial application with the SSA or by notifying the Disability Office of the condition as soon as it has been diagnosed. For a full list of the Compassionate Allowances, you can search the SSA’s website or follow this link: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm