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The attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have over twenty years of knowledge and experience helping people recover Social Security disability benefits. Whether you are just beginning the process of filing a disability claim or appealing a decision, our Lexington attorneys can help you navigate the Social Security disability claims process.
Our Social Security disability attorneys have helped a countless number of individuals qualify with the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) and understand the common mistakes that often cause claims to be improperly delayed or denied. The attorneys in our Lexington office will prepare your initial disability claim or appeal so that it complies with all rules and procedures of the SSA, helping to ensure that you promptly qualify for the benefits you deserve.
If you are unable to work because of a physical or mental disability, please complete our case review form for a free, no-risk consultation to learn how our Lexington attorneys may be able to help you.
How an Attorney Can Help
Our Lexington Social Security disability attorneys can provide assistance at any stage of the disability claims process.
Filing an Initial Claim: For an initial claim, an attorney can prepare your application and submit it to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). In many cases, initial claims are denied because of mistakes on the application paperwork. Our attorneys will complete all required paperwork so that it complies with the SSA’s rules and procedures.
Filing Appeals: If your claim has been improperly denied, your attorney will file an appeal and work with you in preparing medical and vocational evidence demonstrating your inability to return to work. For the appeal, it is important that you submit all relevant medical records to your attorney and that you continue to receive medical treatment for your disabling condition.
Claims are often denied because of an applicant’s failure to seek follow-up treatment for a disabling medical condition. In addition, the SSA may deny a claim because the applicant failed to comply with a doctor’s recommendations regarding rehabilitation and medication. Our Lexington Social Security attorneys will guide you through the appeals process to help ensure that you avoid these common mistakes that result in denied claims.
How You Can Help
In some cases, our disability attorneys recommend that applicants maintain a journal documenting how the disability interferes with their daily life activities. For example, in cases where you are unable to perform sedentary jobs, it is important for you to document the inability to remain seated for long periods of time. Your attorney will work with you to ensure that your appeal contains substantial evidence and documentation of your disabling condition.
Types of Social Security Claims Our Attorneys Handle
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (referred to as “SSD” or “SSDI”): You may qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- You are unable to perform the work you did before the onset of the disability
- You are unable to perform any other type of work because of the disability
- Your disabling medical condition has lasted one year or is expected to last for one year
The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that automatically qualify for disability benefits. Examples of these conditions include certain types of back injuries, mental illnesses, and arthritis. If your disabling condition is not on the list, the SSA will determine if your condition is severe enough to render you disabled under their specific requirements.
In seeking SSD benefits, your attorney will evaluate your medical records and work history, and demonstrate your inability to return to work because of your disabling condition. In addition, your attorney may ask you to receive a functional capacity evaluation, which may demonstrate how your medical condition prevents you from performing the essential functions of your job.
Supplemental Security Income : SSI is a need-based program that provides benefits to individuals who are over age 65 or who have a disabling medical condition. In general, you may qualify for an SSI benefit if you have limited income and less than $2,000 in assets. A married couple may qualify for SSI if the couple has total assets of less than $3,000. In an SSI claim, your attorney will review your financial records to determine if you qualify for a benefit.
Disabled Widow/Widower Benefits (“DWB”): Widows or widowers over the age of 50 who develop a disability within seven years of the spouse’s death are eligible for benefits. To qualify for this type of benefit, the applicant must have been married to the deceased for a minimum of ten years.
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 retirement or disability benefits from the SSA.
Appealing Denied SSD Benefits with a Lawyer
After an initial claim has been denied, the Social Security Administration provides an appeals process with multiple levels of review. If your initial claim for benefits has been denied, our Lexington Social Security attorneys can help you with the following stages of the appeals process:
Reconsideration: The first level of appeal is the reconsideration review, which is sometimes referred to as a “paper review” because the SSA merely reviews the existing documents that have been filed as part of your claim. As part of the reconsideration review, a different claims examiner at the SSA will review your application to see if the initial reviewer made a mistake in denying the claim. Only approximately 15% of applications are approved following a reconsideration review.
Hearing: If the reconsideration review is denied, the next step in the process is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. At the hearing, the judge may ask questions regarding your medical condition and your past work experience. In addition, the judge may ask you about any rehabilitation treatments you are receiving, medications you are taking, and whether you are experiencing any side effects from the medications.
The judge may also ask you about your daily activities. For example, you may be asked if you cook, clean, shop, or take care of children. To prepare for the hearing, your attorney may practice with you in advance to prepare answers to questions the judge is likely to ask. At the hearing, your attorney may question witnesses, including medical and vocational experts, who will testify about your inability to return to work. Your attorney may also make a closing argument stating the specific reasons why you qualify for benefits and submit to the judge a legal brief summarizing these arguments.
Appeals Council: If your claim is not approved at the hearing stage, your attorney may file a request for review by the Social Security appeals council. As part of this level of the appeal, your attorney will write a legal brief and argue why the ALJ made a mistake in denying you benefits. Your attorney may detail reasons the judge’s decision is not supported by the medical evidence in your case. The appeals council will review any additional evidence that your lawyer submits in support of your claim. In most cases, it takes about a year for the appeals council to issue a decision. If it finds that the administrative law judge made a mistake, such as failing to consider properly submitted medical evidence, the appeals council will remand your claim for a second hearing.
Federal Court: If your claim is denied by the Appeals Council, the final step in the process is to file a lawsuit in federal court appealing the SSA’s decision to deny benefits. As part of this lawsuit, the attorney may file a legal brief with a federal court judge explaining the reasons the SSA incorrectly denied your claim for benefits. In addition, your attorney may argue your case in open court.
To learn how our Lexington Social Security attorneys may be able to help you qualify for benefits, please complete our contact form for a free, no-risk consultation.