Articles Posted in The Administrative Procedure

The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives is an organization whose membership is comprised of both attorneys and non-attorneys who focus their practice on the representation of the long term disabled in Social Security disability claims and appeals.  Two times a year, this organization sponsors a 3 day conference where various presenters come and speak to members about various issues that arise in the representation of such cases, including what is happening with both the Social Security Administration with respect to its manner of handling as an agency the administration and adjudication of such claims.  These programs include  (both vocational and medical, including doctors) who are involved in the adjudication of such claims.   Continue reading

When you initially apply for Social Security disability benefits, you are required to undertake an initial disability report that requires you to spell out the medical conditions that you believe disable you from working, the treatment you’ve received, your work history (including when you last worked and why you stopped working), along with your educational and training history (among other items).   Assuming one faces a denial of their claim, at each step of the subsequent proceedings (in Maine, this would be the reconsideration and request for hearing processes) you are required to provide an updated Disability Report that spells out to the Social Security Administration how your things have changed.  Your Maine Social Security Lawyer should be there to assist you with this process to ensure the Social Security Administration (SSA) is being provided with accurate answers that allow them to fully and fairly assess as to where you now stand. Continue reading

The Social Security disability program, a federal program that provides for disability benefits to those who remain long-term disabled from working, is administered through a set of rules and regulations that are promulgated as part of the Federal Social Security Act and is set up as a non-adversarial process for deciding whether an individual is entitled to disability benefits.  That is to say, when one is applying for disability benefits before the Social Security Administration, there is no need to be concerned that there is a party on the other side that is fighting against them.  Rather, the system is set up in such a way that the Social Security Administration, as an agency, is called upon to make a decision as a neutral party to the process.  Unless and until you go through the entire agency process (that is to say, an initial determination and a resulting denial, a reconsideration determination and denial, an administrative law judge determination and denial, and an appeals council determination and denial), and then appeals to Federal District Court, there will be no attorney on the other side arguing against you.   Unless and until you get denied throughout the Agency determination processes, and have to appeal the Agency to the Federal District Court, you will not be faced with a lawyer representing the Government and a position adverse to yours. Continue reading

It is important to understand that proceeding to hearing in New Hampshire and elsewhere is not a quick or easy process.  In New Hampshire, upon facing an initial denial (which can take on average 3 to 5 months from the time the claim is initiated), one is entitled to appeal by requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  In Maine and Massachusetts, one must first undergo a request for reconsideration (which process presently carries with it an 85+% denial rate).  Going through the reconsideration process can take another 3 to 6 months in those states, and further delay an ultimate decision at hearing.  There are a number of important considerations to take into account if one is awaiting hearing.

First and foremost, one should understand that from the time one requests a hearing to the time a hearing is held can take upwards of a year (and in some cases, we’re seeing it take as long as 15 months).  There have been additional backlogs encountered as a result of staffing issues encountered by the hearing offices (not to mention an increase in the number of cases presently awaiting hearing).  One of the processes that has been established to try and cut down on the delays is what’s called a hearing by way of Video Teleconference (VTC).   Within a month or two of requesting a hearing, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review will send along to you a form whereby one can object to proceeding in this manner by returning a form to the hearing office within 30 days.  Hallex Rule I-5-1-20 Continue reading

The process of applying for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program can be complicated and time-consuming. For a variety of reasons, including the sheer volume of SSDI claims, a claimant can wait months or even years for a decision. By law, a claimant must wait at least five months from the onset of their disability before they can receive benefits, but many claimants must wait much longer. Some conditions that cause a person to qualify for SSDI, however, are severe enough that the person cannot wait months or years for benefits. In response to complaints about long waiting periods for SSDI decisions, the Social Security Administration (SSA) created the Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative in 2008.

The SSDI Application Process

A claim for SSDI benefits requires a claimant to prove that they are “disabled” within the meaning of Social Security laws and regulations. This typically involves establishing that the claimant is suffering from an impairment that prevents them from working, and that this impairment is likely to persist for a year or longer. A claimant can present medical evidence of one or more conditions included in the SSA’s listing of impairments, known as the Blue Book, or the claimant can establish disability based on the SSA’s medical-vocational guidelines, known as the “grid rules.”

Preparing an application takes time, and as mentioned earlier, SSA’s processing time for applications can be quite lengthy. CAL cases, however, are eligible for expedited processing.
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Anyone who has worked for a long enough period of time, and contributed enough in payroll taxes, could be eligible for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. This is a federal program that offers support to people who are unable to work because of a disability (or what is categorized by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a medical diagnosed severe medical impairment). Applying for SSDI benefits is a lengthy and complicated process, but a knowledgeable Social Security attorney can help you prepare your application in order to present your claim in the best way possible.

An SSDI application requires a substantial amount of information about your medical conditions, ongoing medical treatment, work background, financial circumstances and daily activities.  The number of reasons the SSA might deny a claim is nearly infinite, but some reasons are quite common for workers in Massachusetts and around the country.

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Applying for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program can be a time-consuming process, with long periods spent waiting for a response. The denial rate for initial applications is high, and sometimes as high as 70 percent of applications are denied, but a denial is not the end of the road. The next step in most states is to file a request for reconsideration, in which a different examiner with Disability Determination Services (DDS), part of the Social Security Administration (SSA), will review your application.

DDS offices in several states, including New Hampshire and New York, no longer offer reconsideration of SSDI claims. Applicants in those states must go directly to the next stage of review, which involves requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).

The Application Process:  A Review

The first stage of a SSDI claim is the application itself. You must show, to a DDS examiner’s satisfaction, that you are suffering from a condition that renders you unable to work, and that this disability is likely to persist for 12 months or longer, or result in death. An SSDI application requires a substantial amount of documentation, including medical records that indicate how your condition precludes you from working. A knowledgeable and experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you present your case in the best way possible.

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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a Federal program supporting workers with disabilities who have worked long enough and paid sufficient Social Security taxes through their past employment. In order to get SSDI benefits, you must first apply through the Social Security Administration (SSA), which complex set of procedures can be made much simpler with the assistance of an experienced Social Security attorney.  The application process is detailed and lengthy, and it can take several months before you receive a decision approving or denying the claim.  Even if approved, SSDI benefits are not payable until after a full five month waiting period has been met.

Meeting with a knowledgeable attorney before you decide to apply for SSDI benefits can be beneficial in understanding your rights and protecting your interests. If you retain the help of a qualified attorney, your attorney will initiate the application process for you. Applicants can also apply online through the SSA website or by appointment over the phone or at a Social Security office. Your attorney can advise you as to the information and records required for the application, as well as help you gather the materials. This will generally include information regarding your birth and citizenship, marital status and children, any military service, work history and employers, education, financial asset information, and your medical treatment providers, and possibly additional information and documentation. Applicants must also sign and submit a form authorizing the release of their medical records. Once the application and all required forms are submitted by you and your attorney, SSA will verify that you meet the non-medical requirements for SSDI benefits. These requirements are based on your age at the time of disability, how long and how much you paid Social Security taxes and where these earnings fell in relation to when your disability began.  If you meet the earnings qualification, SSA sends your case to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in your state for a medical assessment.

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