The Social Security disability attorneys in our Jacksonville office have over two decades of experience helping people qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and other types of Social Security benefits. Whether you are filing an initial claim for benefits or appealing a denied claim, our Jacksonville attorneys can help you receive the benefits you deserve.
In many cases, initial claims for benefits are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to errors on required paperwork or insufficient medical evidence demonstrating a disability. Our attorneys can prepare your claim so that it complies with the rules and procedures of the SSA, and, in the case of a denial, argue your appeal at a hearing before an administrative law judge.
At Morgan & Morgan, the Social Security disability attorneys in our Jacksonville office have helped thousands of applicants, including those whose claims were initially denied, qualify for disability benefits.
If you are unable to work because of a physical or mental disability, our Jacksonville disability attorneys may be able to help you receive benefits. For a free consultation, simply fill out our case review form.
How an Attorney Can Help You Appeal a Denied Social Security Claim
If your initial application for SSD or SSI has been denied, or if you were not awarded the correct amount of benefits, you may appeal the decision by filing a written request within 60 days of receiving the decision letter. A Jacksonville Social Security disability attorney can help you with the following levels of the appeal process:
Reconsideration: If your initial application has been denied, the first level of appeal available is the reconsideration review (sometimes referred to as a “paper review”). During the reconsideration review, a different disability claims examiner will review your application. It has been estimated that approximately 85 percent of applicants are denied at the reconsideration level.
Hearing: Following a reconsideration review, you may seek a hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge will review the record in your case and evaluate any new medical or vocational evidence that your attorney submits. During this stage of the appeals process, your attorney may prepare you for the questions that the judge will ask. Your attorney may also request that the judge subpoena any witnesses that are needed to prove your claim.
In cases where a disability claim is denied because the Jacksonville SSA office has found that you are capable of performing “other work,” the SSA may offer a vocational expert as a testifying witness. The administrative law judge will ask the vocational expert questions about your medical record and work experience to determine if you are capable of performing another type of work.
If the vocational expert believes that there is other suitable work you can perform, he or she must provide details regarding the number of job positions in your area. At the hearing, your attorney will question the vocational expert and challenge any contentions that you are eligible to perform other types of work. Your attorney may also challenge the assertion that another job position exists in significant numbers in your area.
Appeals Council: If your claim for SSD or SSI benefits is denied after the hearing, your attorney may file an appeal with the Social Security appeals council. A review by the appeals council must be requested within 60 days of receipt of the hearing decision. The appeals council will review the record of your claim and determine if the administrative law judge who presided over the hearing made an error in denying you benefits.
In addition to reviewing the record, the appeals council will consider any additional evidence that is submitted. Your attorney may take this opportunity to offer new medical reports or a written opinion by a medical or vocational expert attesting to the severity of your disability.
It generally takes about a year to receive a decision from the appeals council. If the appeals council finds that the administrative law judge in your case failed to consider proper medical evidence or made another type of mistake, the appeals council will remand your claim for a second hearing. A remand occurs in approximately 20 percent of appealed cases. In cases where a clear error was committed by the administrative law judge, the appeals council will overturn the judge’s decision and order an award of benefits.
Federal Court: If your claim is denied by the Appeals Council, an appeal may be filed in federal court within 60 days of receiving written notice of the decision. If you decide to file an appeal in federal court, your lawyer will prepare a civil complaint and a statement of the facts and file it with the United States District Court for your region. Your attorney will write a legal brief in support of your claim for benefits and may present an argument in court as to why you are entitled to benefits.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Claims We Handle
Social Security Disability Insurance (referred to as SSD or SSDI): Social Security disability insurance provides benefits for people who have had to give up their jobs because they were unable to perform the required tasks; for example, because they had a mental or physical disability that prevented them from completing assignments.
For purposes of qualifying for a Social Security benefit, you are considered disabled if you cannot perform the essential functions of the job you held before suffering the disability. The SSA must also find that you are unable to work any job because of your medical condition. To be considered disabled, your medical condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least one year. The amount of monthly compensation you receive is based on your Social Security earning record.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a need-based program intended to assist people with limited resources who are ages 65 or older or who have a disabling medical condition. In some cases, you may qualify for both Social Security disability benefits and SSI benefits. Generally, an individual qualifies for an SSI benefit if he or she has less than $2,000 in assets. A married couple may qualify for SSI if they have total assets of less than $3,000. For purposes of qualifying for SSI, the value of an applicant’s house and car is usually not included in determining total assets. SSI is also available to children with disabilities.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC): Disabled children between the ages of 18 and 22 may be eligible for benefits if one of the child’s parents is deceased or receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
Disabled Widow or Widower Benefits (DWB): The Social Security Administration provides benefits to widows or widowers ages 50 and older who develop a disability within seven years of their spouses’ deaths. To qualify for this benefit, the widow or widower must have been married to the deceased for a minimum of 10 years.
Contingency Fees: How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
At Morgan & Morgan, the disability attorneys in our Jacksonville office are paid on a contingency-fee basis. Under a contingency-fee arrangement, your attorney only receives a fee if you qualify for benefits. Attorneys’ fees in Social Security claims are strictly regulated by the Social Security Administration, helping to ensure that hiring a disability attorney is a reasonable and affordable option.
To find out if our Social Security attorneys may be able to help you, fill out our free case review form.