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If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it is important to remember that pursuing a claim on your own can be difficult, and one misstep can result in a denial. Should you elect to hire our firm to handle your claim, we can assist you through the steps of the claims process, and in the event of a denial, help you appeal the decision.
At Morgan & Morgan’s Kissimmee office, our Social Security disability attorneys are dedicated to helping our clients receive the benefits they need to support themselves and their families.
Why Should I Hire a Kissimmee Attorney?
As soon as an injured worker becomes disabled, he or she should contact an attorney to help with his or her Social Security disability (SSD) claim. While these claims can be filed without an attorney, retaining legal counsel can greatly increase your chances of recovering proper benefits.
Nearly 60% of applicants applying for the first time will have their claims denied. Approximately 90% of applicants will hire an attorney if they choose to re-file their claim. An attorney can help expedite the process, ensure you adhere to all of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) requirements, and simplify the claims process while you focus on adjusting to life with a disability.
Social Security Disability Claims Process
Preparing the Claim
One of the most important steps in filing a successfully SSD claim is gathering the appropriate documentation, information and evidence as to why you should be awarded benefits for your disability. This information will help the SSA determine whether you are eligible for benefits and, if so, the amount and duration of these benefits. Many claims are denied because the applicant failed to strictly adhere to the SSA’s requirements during the initial filing process. Your attorney can help avoid these missteps by ensuring all required documentation is included in your claim.
Filing and Tracking the Claim
After your claim is submitted, it will be reviewed by an SSA claims examiner. While your claim is being processed, representatives of the Administration may contact you regarding questions, issues, or problems with your claim. Your attorney can speak with the SSA representative on your behalf and handle any issues the Administration may encounter while reviewing your claim.
If your claim is approved, your attorney can analyze the SSA’s decision and calculation of your benefits. If your attorney believes your benefits were miscalculated or undervalued, he or she can appeal to have your claim submitted for further review. Your claim may be denied due to past convictions, income, drug or alcohol dependence, fraud, or short-term disability.
Appealing Denied Social Security Disability Claims in Florida
Your attorney may appeal the SSA’s decision within 60 days of the date you received the notice approving or denying your claim. Your attorney’s appeal could potentially reach each of the following levels in the appeals process.
Reconsideration: Your claim, and any new supporting evidence your attorney may have uncovered, will be reviewed by a claims examiner who was not involved in the claim’s initial review. Your attorney will be permitted to respond to the examiner’s questions to clarify any issues that may arise. If the examiner denies your claim, your attorney may appeal the decision to have the claim reviewed in court.
Hearing: Your claim will be presented to an administrative law judge for review. During this hearing, your attorney may argue the case or answer questions posed by the judge; ask the court to call witnesses to testify; and/or present new evidence, experts, and witnesses. If your attorney is dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, he or she may request to have your claim reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Council.
Appeals Council: While the Council will review all requests, it has discretion as to which claims will be granted an additional review. If you are granted another hearing, your claim will be presented in front of another administrative law judge.
Lawsuit: If the Council denies your request for a hearing, you may be able to file a lawsuit in federal district court.
The Social Security Administration has established certain requirements and two “tests” to help determine whether an individual is eligible for SSD benefits.
- Your monthly income cannot exceed a standardized amount.
- Your medical condition must prevent you from completing basic tasks at work for a minimum of a year.
- In most cases, your medical condition must be on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions. The list includes mental disorders, back and spine injuries, skin disorders, respiratory illnesses, heart disorders, neurological disorders, malignant diseases, and other debilitating disorders, diseases and illnesses.
- If your medical condition is not on the list of disabling conditions, the SSA may review your application to see if you are capable of performing the same work as you did prior to the injury. If they determine this is the case, your eligibility determination will end with the final requirement.
- If you cannot gainfully perform work in another capacity, the SSA may deem you to be disabled.
In addition to these requirements, the applicant must meet the duration of work test and the recent work test to qualify.
To learn more about how a Kissimmee Social Security benefits attorney could help you take the first step, fill out the details of our case review form today, at no cost to you.