DID YOU KNOW? When adults apply for Social Security, it is generally for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) or Social Security Disability (“SSD”).
SSI is need based, and SSD is based upon each individuals work history
(for more information, see our last blog post).
When you apply, your initial application is reviewed by Social Security,
and a decision is made. Most people are denied.
If you are in fact denied, you file a Reconsideration. This is where you
ask Social Security to look again at your application. You can submit
additional evidence (medical records, doctor reports, ect.). Social Security
makes another decision, and most people are denied.
It is then that you file a Request for a Hearing in front of an administrative
law judge (ALJ). These are independent judges who conduct a hearing on
your application for benefits. At the hearing, the ALJ will take testimony
from you concerning your application, your work history and your medical
problems. Your representative, if you have one, is present and can also
ask you questions. Your representative can make arguments to the ALJ on
Waiting for a hearing in front of an ALJ is a very lengthy process. Right
now (11-3-2016), we are seeing wait times in excess of two years. This
is a problem common to all attorneys - we have no input on the scheduling
of hearings and there is a large back log of applications. That’s
why it’s important to have quality representation when your time
comes. It’s a tough road to wait such a long time for a hearing,
and you need someone there with you to make sure everything is in order.
Most people who are awarded are successful at the hearing stage of the
process. If you are not approved, you have two options: 1) file a new
claim, starting the process over or 2) appeal the ALJ’s decision.
If you appeal, Social Security has established an “Appeals Council”
who will look at the decision of the ALJ. At the initial application,
reconsideration and hearing, the question for Social Security to answer
is whether you are disabled. This is not true for the Appeals Council:
they look to see whether the ALJ made any errors of law or failed to base
their decision on substantial evidence (or as we like to say, “whether
the ALJ followed the law and provided a viable reason for their decision”).
This is a much tougher standard because the focus is no longer as simple
as determining whether you are disabled.
The Appeals Council can: 1) overturn the decision of the ALJ and send your
case back to the ALJ with instruction to award benefits, 2) can overturn
the decision of the ALJ and send your case back with instructions to hold
another hearing and address certain matters, or 3) affirm the ALJ’s decision.
If the Appeals Council affirms the decision of the ALJ, you can file a
new claim or you can file a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration
is federal court, which proceeds like a regular lawsuit.
We have been successful at getting people awarded at the every stage of
the process, including the initial application. We have experience filing
lawsuits against the Social Security Administration. We are not perfect.
Not everyone gets awarded. But we do fight for you! If you would like
to file for social security, call any of our offices - we are standing
by to help you!
Disclaimer: If you or someone you know was injured as a result of the negligence
of another, call one of our offices. We have a team of highly skilled
lawyers standing by to assist you. This article is for informative purposes
only and is no substitute for advice with an attorney fully informed about
the facts of a specific matter. This does not constitute an offer of representation
nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT.