As a certified Social Security Advocate, for Jan Dils' law practice, Shannan Hinzman shares her experience, knowledge and a caring attitude with each and every client. Having previously been contracted by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review of the Social Security Administration, she has thirteen years' experience in the area of Social Security law. She graduated from WVU in 1995 with an Associates degree in business administration and psychology. On a daily basis, Shannan processes and reviews medical records looking for information that demonstrates our clients are medically disabled while arranging that information in a format that allows our attorneys and advocates to convince the Judges that our clients are disabled. She is a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR). Shannan is a dedicated worker and a great asset to our firm.
In our modern time, the access to information is greater than any other period in history. When an individual wants access to a subject, within a few clicks they can have more information than they would ever need. With this ease of access we also have to remember that not every article is accurate. Often time’s individuals or corporations can post something that seems factual, but is actually promoting a hidden agenda.
“60 Minutes” is a television news magazine that many of us have trusted for decades. Since 1968 they have reported on thousands of stories and brought information into to our homes that we may not otherwise know. Recently however, 60 Minutes reported on the state of the Social Security Disability Insurance program, often referred to as SSDI. To say that 60 Minutes was wrong would be an understatement. Reporter/Anchor Steve Kroft, five-time Peabody Award winner, and 25 year veteran of 60 Minutes, reported on SSDI on October 6th, 2013. Kroft referred to the program as a “Secret welfare system,” but unfortunately his perception and reports are not based on the facts, and therefore are greatly biased.
The following passage comes from Jeffery A. Rabin, which offers an analysis of Kroft’s report:
Is it easier to approve disability insurance applications than to deny them? Two disability judges speak out: http://t.co/Bu2P3EIJ0h— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 8, 2013
60 Minutes has presented a story based on half the facts and filled with innuendoes aimed at misleading the public. This time the television show targeted the Social Security Disability Insurance programs. Sadly, the reporter attacked the disabled population, and their advocates, with sarcasm, ridicule and inaccurate generalizations. These were supported by a politician not even familiar with the history of the program he is attacking.
Many of the misstatements made in the 60 Minutes episode run on October 6, 2013 were based on over simplifications of the program and its requirements. The intent of the segment was clear when the reporter began the story talking about a “secret welfare system” and referenced a “disability industrial complex.”
Before we identify specific points raised in the program here are several facts:
A. No one gets approved for Social Security disability benefits unless either a Social Security physician, or a Social Security Administrative Law Judge, agrees that medical and legal standards are met. No attorney or private doctor can force a favorable decision.
B. Social Security’s own actuaries have reported that the growth in the program is almost entirely attributable to the changing demographics of the U.S. work force i.e., Baby Boomers getting older, women entering the work force in greater numbers since the 1970s, and the delay in retirement age so that people stay on SSDI longer. The growth has little to do with medical standards, attorney involvement or fraud – unless you are a reporter creating a story or a politician trying to get publicity.
C. The law requires Claimants to prove the severity of their medical impairments, including symptoms such as pain and fatigue. Fewer than 40% of all applicants are approved for benefits, even after appealing initial denials. Further, the percentage of applications ultimately denied is increasing – clearly not the inference from this reporting.
D. Many people applied for disability benefits during the recent recession – that does NOT mean that their applications were approved. In fact, as noted above, only those supported by medical proof accepted by SSA’s own reviewers received benefits. In 8 of the 10 states with the highest levels of unemployment between 2007 – 2011 the number of approved applications had actually declined.
E. Attorney fees do NOT come from the federal treasury – they are paid from retroactive benefits due to Claimants. There would be no benefit to the U.S. Treasury if attorneys' fees were not paid; the money would still be paid out, just to the Claimant instead of the representative.
In terms of specific errors, at the very beginning Senator Tom Coburn states that the law is “pretty clear” that if there is any job in the economy that you can perform that you are not eligible for disability. It is sad that a U.S. Senator investigating a program that serves millions of Americans is just wrong on the legal standard. It is “pretty clear” that Mr. Coburn has an agenda. Eligibility is based upon whether a Claimant can prove that medical problems prevent the ability to do past work and, considering age, education and work skills, the ability to perform any “substantial gainful activity” available in the national economy. The law is much more realistic and complex than Mr. Coburn’s over-simplification.
Administrative Law Judge Marilyn Zahm surprisingly attacked the program. However, she seemed to ignore the fact that her own union members have been denying increasing numbers of claims. She also ignored the reality that if the gross numbers of people on SSDI and SSI are increasing it would only be because her union members agreed the medical and legal standards were met. She pointed out that more people are represented now than in 1970 but never pointed out the fact that almost all ALJs want Claimants to be represented so that the files are more developed and the ALJ can make a better decision. In fact, many hearing offices set special hearings just to encourage unrepresented Claimants to find lawyers.
There is no need to comment on the investigations of the particular ALJ and the Social Security attorney. There are about 1,500 ALJs and 60 Minutes found one being investigated – I suspect that more than .1 of 1% of journalists should be investigated. As for the attorney who declined to be interviewed, why not talk to any of the thousands of attorneys who spend their entire careers fighting for the disabled and make fees averaging less than $3,000 per case, only getting paid when they win? If the attorney is unethical he should be investigated and charged. However, one unethical attorney is not an indictment of the profession any more than one poor physician indicts all doctors, or a publicity-seeking Senator who does not know the basic law of a program he claims to be investigating, reflects all politicians.
Senator Coburn also commented that the system is “broken” since it is not managed and Congress does not exercise oversight. Apparently the Senator is not aware that the House Ways and Means Committee has a Social Security subcommittee which regularly oversees the program and its requirements and has held dozens of hearings in recent years on disability related issues. Nor does he accept blame that for the last two years his Congress has failed to authorize the money needed by Social Security to continue their system improvements which had been reducing backlogs significantly. Even President Bush gave Social Security appropriate funding for operations! This was just an easy way for Mr. Coburn to manipulate the press and get face time on national television without any cost.
The reality is that people on SSDI live on roughly 50-55% of what they were earning before they became disabled. A quarter of SSDI recipients live below the poverty level in the United States. 1 in 5 male recipients and 1 in 6 female recipients of SSDI die within 5 years of their receipt of benefits. SSDI beneficiaries are three times more likely to die sooner than others their same age. This is not a program rife with fraud – this is a program vital to millions of Americans suffering from severe medical conditions. 60 Minutes has done a disservice to the hard working staff of Social Security employees, to advocates who work hard to protect the legal rights of the disabled, and to the millions of United States citizens and residents suffering from severe, disabling medical illnesses.
We thank attorney Rabin for his analysis of this program, and setting the record straight.
It is very unfortunate that the citizens of the United States, and those who are our clients, have to be exposed to reports like this. We hope this blog has provided you with comfort, knowing that it is presented with the facts in an unbiased manner.
Most of the work I do for our firm is with Veterans, so when it comes to news about Social Security, it is all new to me. It’s kind of refreshing to learn something new, and different than what I am used to. Earlier this month the Social Security Administration turned 78! I personally had no idea it had been around since the 30’s. I decided to go the Social Security website to see what other information I could find. It turns out that the SSA has a lot of neat stuff on their website. For instance, did you know that it used to be called the Social Security Board? It was not until 1946 that they were officially referred to as the Social Security Administration. Along with this they show all of their old logos and even a timeline of changes.
It’s not just fun and games there though. The website has a lot of helpful tools for anyone going through this process. For instance, we wrote recently about how earnings reports are available online now. But there is so much more than this. I found out that I will likely retire around age 67…ouch…and that I should live until I am 87. Granted, this does not take into account things like me marrying a famous actress and my horrible eating habits. It’s just a rough guess. If I don’t marry Anne Hathaway I still have 37 years of working ahead of me. (Insert sad face here.)
I am the type of person who always plans for the future, but you never what life may throw your way. The VA website allows for individuals to apply for SSD and SSI online. In fact, they even have a section on the site to show how many work credits an individual needs for SSD. For those already getting Social Security benefits, you can see what day each month to expect your payment. I was under the impression that they were all released on the same day. This is not sure. The system appears a little convoluted, but not too difficult to figure out for someone receiving benefits already.
Overall, there are a lot of great tools on this site. However, most of those tools are for retirement and to see if you qualify for disability. They could really use more information for individuals who have been denied. With this in mind, hiring an attorney is still a great option. Our case managers keep our clients informed every step of the way, and our Attorneys are truly passionate about helping people. We request files, review medical records, file appeals, and so much more. Call us today to see what we can do for you. 1-877-526-3457. Fill out this form and we can call you.
get this good news. This made me think about a question that we receive from a lot of our clients. They often ask me: “How long does a Social Security Claim take?”
Most often the answer to the question above is simply “a long time.” While that short answer is true, it is not very helpful. It is also important to remember that no two claims are exactly the same. Some people get approved after their initial decision; others take many more years than average. The following timeline is based off our nearly two decades doing Social Security claims. It can be a very helpful tool for anyone going through the Social Security process.
Once you have applied, the process can take two years or even longer. Here’s how the process works:
Initial Application: Once you’ve submitted your initial application with all the appropriate paperwork, the SSA will contact your doctors and get additional information about your medical abilities. It takes 3-5 months for the SSA to process your initial claim. The great majority of initial claims are denied.
Appeals: You then have 60 days to appeal the decision by filing a Request for Reconsideration.
Reconsideration Process: The reconsideration process takes on average another 4-6 months. About three fourths of all claims are denied again at this point.
Appeals: You have another 60 days to appeal this decision by filing a Request for Hearing.
Hearing: It can take 12-36 months to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
So, if your claim is denied at the first two levels (most claims are), it can take two years or longer to actually gain approval. While we can’t speed up the Disability process, give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457 You can also fill out this form, and we can contact you.
Getting your Social Security claim approved is not simple or quick. A lot of people think that we can speed up claims simply because we are attorneys, but unfo
rtunately we can’t. While we can’t make a claim move faster, we can offer these 9 tips on how to get your claim approved.
- Try your best to keep appointments with the SSA or DDS. Missing these dates will likely cause your claim to be delayed because of the amount of time it takes to get appointments rescheduled. There are a lot of people filing for Social Security benefits; it can take weeks, or even months for a new date to become available.
- Notify the Social Security Administration of any address or telephone number changes. We have been doing social security for close to 20 years, and this has been an issue for much longer than we have been in business. If the folks at Social Security can’t get in touch with you, they must assume you no longer need help. Alerting them of changes can be as simple as a phone call. However, if you have an attorney like us, we can notify them on your behalf. We have safeguards in place to verify your changes are accepted.
- Seek Treatment. To put it simply, the Social Security Administration is trying to determine if you are disabled. The best way for them to determine if you are disabled is with medical evidence. You can obtain this evidence by seeking treatment from medical professionals. Continuous treatment will help show that you are suffering from a condition. For instance, going to the doctor once for back pain 8 years ago will not hold up against an individual who goes to the doctor for back treatment every quarter.
- Document everything! Keeping a journal or calendar of things like seizures, panic attacks, migraines or any other conditions that occur on a regular basis. While these journals are not a substitute for medical attention, they can help to aid any medical evidence you have.
- Be honest. We understand that some conditions may be embarrassing or hard to talk about, but it always helps to be honest with attorneys, doctors, and the professionals at the SSA. Being upfront with these individuals can help them better document your disability, which in turn, can help you get approved.
- Don’t self-incriminate. For instance, if you are trying to claim that a back condition is keeping you from working then it’s probably not a good idea to post a picture of yourself water skiing or rock climbing on Facebook. It may seem like common sense, but so many people don’t think twice about posting photos. Even if your accounts are “private” it is still possible for these photos to harm your claim.
Follow these simple steps to get your claim approved. If you are frustrated with the Social Security process, or would like to learn more about what an attorney can do for you, give us a call for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457, or, fill out this form and we will give you a call.
Our blog has been discussing the end process of Social Security, but something we have not mentioned is how the SSA lets you know you are approved. Well, like most things with Social Security, it involves a piece of paper.
You will receive an award letter, also called a Notice of Award. This is a letter from the SSA that answers most of the questions you will have, such as when you should expect payment, how much your payments will be, and information about any back pay you may receive.
Unlike most paperwork you receive from the SSA, this is one that you will look forward to receiving. One benefit to having an attorney like us is that we get copies of the Notice of Award (and all other paperwork too.) We review everything in house to make sure it is accurate. Further, when you have questions about the paperwork you receive, you can speak to someone who knows the process quite well. Also, when an action is required, like submitting evidence, or requesting a hearing, we take care of that too. Individuals working without an attorney will often let a deadline pass by mistake. Our firm has safeguards in place to make sure that does not happen.
After your long Social Security process you are thrilled to get approved. After that, you are likely going to want your back pay, but when will you get it?
Monthly payments are sent by check or by direct deposit into your checking or savings account. If you have a checking or savings account, the SSA prefers making payments by direct deposit and may insist upon doing so.
SSI monthly payments are scheduled to be received on the first day of each month. If the first falls on a weekend or a holiday, you will receive your check or direct deposit on the last business day before the first. For example, if the first falls on a Sunday, you will receive your check or your direct deposit on the previous Friday.
SSDI payments are also sent by check or by direct deposit. However, the day you receive your payments depends upon your birthday. If your day of birth is between the 1st and 10th of the month, you will receive your payment on the second Wednesday of each month. If your day of birth is between the 11th and 20th of the month, you will receive your payment on the third Wednesday of each month. And if your day of birth is between the 21st and 31st, you will receive your payment on the fourth Wednesday of every month.
Payments are always made a month late. For example, you will receive your November payment in December.
Your award letter will tell you exactly how much you will receive and when you will receive it.
If you are not at the point of getting back pay, and would like us to help you get there, give us a call today for a free phone consultation. 1-877-526-3457.
So, the day finally came and you were approved for your social security claim. All of that hard work paid off, and you finally rest easy now that you are starting to receive your monthly benefits. It’s safe to say that you are completely done with Social Security, right? Well that is not necessarily true. If you experience certain life changes you have to report them to Social Security. The following are changes that you must report:
- If you return to work.
- If you become incarcerated.
- If you are convicted of a felony.
- If there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest.
- Your new address, if you move.
- A change in the status of any independent.
If you receive SSI, you must also report:
- Any changes in your living arrangements.
- Any changes in your financial situation.
- Any income from any source other than SSI. This includes, but is not limited to Alimony, child support, lottery winnings, and wages.
- Any changes in your marital status.
- Any new members added to your household.
- Any household members who have moved away.
The Social Security process is quite lengthy. We hope that everyone eventually gets to the approved status. If you aren’t there yet, give our office a call for a free consultation. You can call us toll free: 1-877-526-3457.
I have a confession to make; I am one of those rare people who genuinely enjoy paperwork. Working in a law firm that deals with government agencies like the Social Security Administration is probably a perfect fit for me. The one thing I like more than filling out a form, is making them better. It’s clear that I have established my credibility when it comes to paperwork, so let’s look into Form SSA-827, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration.
I interpret this form as a permission slip. You are essentially giving the SSA permission to request your records by way of this form. This grants the SSA the right to request the following: medical records, education records, and any other forms pertaining to your ability to perform tasks.
If you are like me you probably want to know why the SSA is requesting these records. According to SSA-827, the purpose is: determining your eligibility for benefits; including looking at the combined effect of any impairments that by themselves would not meet SSA's definition of disability; and whether you can manage such benefits. In other words: these records are what will help determine your eligibility for disability benefits.
There are a few things to keep in mind about SSA-827. First, it is not everlasting. The form will expire one year after the date in which you sign. Granted, it is possible to get approved in less than a year, but as anyone who has been through this process can tell you, it’s not very likely. If you are like the vast majority of those who apply for benefits, your claim will take more than a year to decide. You will have to fill this form out again. This may not seem like fun to most, but this ensures that the SSA is getting the most accurate and up to date information. It’s also important to note that you must fill this form out in blue or black ink only. Further, if you are represented by a law firm, you will have to fill out a copy for the SSA as well as the firm each time.
Most individuals aren’t like me; they do not enjoy doing paperwork. SSA-827 is just one of the many forms that has to be filled out during your disability process. If I didn’t enjoy forms so much I would definitely want someone to help me fill them out if I were trying to get disability. This may be a small service that Jan Dils Attorneys at Law provides, but it helps to eliminate a lot of stress with our clients. If you would like to learn more about becoming a client, or to see what else we can do to help you get approved, call us today for a free consultation, 1-877-526-3457.
Do you remember those earnings reports you used to get in the mail from time to time from the Social Security Administration? I sure do. I always found them interesting when I was younger, but then I started working for our law firm, and wanted to find out what they really meant.
I was curious to learn more, so I spoke to Jenny, one of our Case Managers, and she told me a little more about them. She informed me that while we don’t have access to them, clients often find them very helpful because it gives them an idea of how much they will receive if they get approved. She further explained that a lot of our current clients will often ask about this amount, and since we can’t provide them with that number that they should create an account online, or call their Social Security office.
After talking with Jenny I was sad to learn that they do not come via mail now. However, like Jenny said, they are accessible via the Social Security website. For fun, I decided to go on and check mine. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to set up an account. All it takes is a few simple steps, a valid email address, and about 5 minutes, then you have access to all of your past earnings. Don’t let the quick process confuse you though, the site is very secure. I learned so much. For one, I can’t retire at 28 like I was hoping. After realizing I have to work for at least a few more years I checked the rest of the site. I was able to review how much I made every year that I worked. I even used the calculators for retirement to see how much I would receive at retirement age. Once again, I’m not retiring at 28.
One of the nicest features of the site was that I could estimate how much money I would receive if I became disabled today. Even better I s that it is extremely easy to navigate. It clearly stated based on my past work history I would receive “X” amount per month. I honestly can’t believe how helpful this would be for some of our clients going through the Disability process, especially for those just starting out. As someone who tends to worry, it’s reassuring to know I have access to these numbers at any time in case I need them. Also, as a “chronic worrier,” I would love to have someone to help me go through the Social Security process with me. I’m glad to know there are organizations like Jan Dils Attorneys at Law that can help people with this difficult process. If you are interested in applying for Social Security, or have even been denied, give our office a call today: 1-877-526-3457.
Why all claims can’t be filed with us directly….
Because these types of claims involve sensitive information such as income, assets and any personal items that may affect the monthly benefits that a claimant will ultimately receive, there are many permissions that have to be granted as well as specific research involved. Most, if not all of this work, can only be done by your local Social Security Administration office. The reason being is that they have access to an automatic service that can provide specific information on a person to person basis via a claimants social security number.
If you are currently receiving early retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration. This is a form of disability that is received before a claimant reaches full retirement age, which is normally 65.
If you are filing for a person under the age of 18. This is what we call a Child’s Claim. These are benefits that the legal guardian of a child or children who have disabilities may apply for.
If you are filing to receive a type of widows benefits only. This is a form of disability for widows and widowers to receive monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record.
If you are filing for the Supplemental Security Income program only. This is a form of disability that is based on those who have limited income and resources.
Although you can’t file your initial application with us for these benefits, we will still be there with you every step of the way! You will need to either call or visit your local Social Security office to set up a phone or in office appointment. If you choose, you can also complete the application yourself online. We always recommend an in office or by phone appointment, however, because it’s much clearer and much less time consuming for the claimant.
As soon as you’ve set up your appointment with your local Social Security Administration office, be sure to give us a call so that we can schedule you for an appointment with our office and begin representing you in your disability claim.
If you have a claim pending for Social Security, you may be asked to attend a Consultative Examination. These exams may be ordered by the Social Security Administration, or, in some cases, your attorney may request this type of procedure. Let’s learn a little more about Consultative Exams.
You are likely wondering why the SSA or your attorney has ordered this procedure. The reason is actually quite simple. These exams are ordered when a claimant cannot afford treatment at traditional facilities, and thus has not been able to obtain records of their impairment. Often individuals who are pursuing disability have no form of insurance, and cannot afford medical treatment. This exam may help prove your disability to the SSA.
There are two basic kinds of consultative examinations; physical and psychological. The Social Security Administration will pay for tests like x-rays or even breathing tests, but not more substantial procedures like MRI’s. As a rule, the SSA will not pay for invasive examinations.
Just like Physical Examinations, The SSA may also purchases psychological evaluations to help gather more information concerning any mental health allegations.
Although the SSA may obtain these exams, records from your treating physicians and therapists are often more helpful because they have known you the longest and are the most familiar with your conditions over an extended period of time.
Another important note about the Consultative Exam is that it will most likely occur just before, or just after your hearing.
To learn more about the disability process, give our office a call today for a free consultation. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457.
The Social Security Administration has a five step sequential process in place that every ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) must use to evaluate each claim they are assigned.
The first step is to determine if the claimant is working at a level above what the SSA deems acceptable to still qualify for benefits. Substantial gainful activity, or SGA, is work activity for a profit that is defined by a certain gross monthly income level. If a person is working full time, or at a level above SGA, despite how severe their impairment may be, they will not be found disabled.
The second step in the process is as follows: The ALJ must determine if the claimant has a severe impairment or a combination of severe impairments. Severe, for this step, is defined as an impairment(s) that significantly limits the person’s ability to perform basic work activity.
In the third step, the ALJ must consider whether the claimant’s impairments meet or medically equal any of the listings of impairments found in the ‘Listings of Impairments’ book. If the claimant’s impairments meet the listing level of severity and duration, then the claimant is disabled. If not, the ALJ must determine what kinds of limitations exist from the impairments the claimant suffers from and assign an RFC level of work, or at what physical and mental capacity could the person still manage despite the impairments.
The fourth step is the one in which the ALJ must decide if, with the impairments and limitations already decided at step four, the claimant can do the same type of work they have done in the past. If they can, they are not disabled. If they cannot do their past work the ALJ proceeds to the last step.
The final step in this process is deciding if the claimant can do any other form of competitive full time work with the limitations already considered above. If the ALJ does find that you are able to some form of competitive full time work, even with your limitations, it is likely that you will be denied.
At each level, many variables can come into play. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to have an experienced representative to assist you through the process. If you are interested in learning more of what Jan Dils Attorneys at Law can do for you, give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457.
One day a very frantic gentleman called me on the phone screaming, “My friend already got his benefits and why I haven’t gotten mine? Heck, he’s not even disabled and I’ve been waiting over a year for my benefits!” I figured the best way for me to calm him down was to explain how the process works and why (though it may seem unfair) some will get approved more quickly than others.
I first explained that getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits was based on a few things like whether a person can or cannot continue in their line of work, if they can be retrained to do something else, their age and education, in addition to their medical records. All these factors are combined but the most important would be the person’s medical records.
After he calmed down some, I further explained that each person who applies for benefits is different and therefore the factors that get each one approved will be different. Perhaps his friend was very vocal when he went to the doctor, therefore having all his complaints about his illness or condition well documented. Maybe he has worked the same job for 20 years and is 55 years old, making it hard for him to be retrained to do something else. What if his friend has a chronic or terminal illness that requires long term care and there is no cure?
Only tipping the iceberg on the reasons why his friend may have received benefits, I also wanted him to know that his friend may have applied for benefits before him and could have been waiting two years or more. In rare instances, claimants get approved without having to go to a hearing. Again, this does not happen often and is mainly based on the medical evidence that has already been submitted to Social Security.
Every claim for Social Security Disability benefits is different. Let the office of Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law find the right way for you to get the benefits you deserve. Call us today at 1-877-526-3457. Or, tell us about your case now.
(Special Thanks to guest blogger Elizebeth Dues, Intake Specialist-Jan Dils Attorneys at Law)
This is the person who decides your case at the hearing level. The job of the ALJ is to follow a five step sequential process and to apply the law to your claim for the evaluation of disability.
It is at this level of appeal with the ALJ that you can tell your story directly to the person assigned to decide your claim. This is a very important level because until this time, your case has been decided solely upon your medical records with no face-to-face contact with the person making the decisions. It is almost always beneficial to the claim for the ALJ to meet the claimant. The ALJ has the ultimate discretion to judge the claimant’s credibility and to ask any questions that might exist regarding work history, treatment and any other matters that are not well explained by simply reviewing black and white medical records.
Being honest and presenting your case accurately to the ALJ at a hearing is the end result of hard work and diligence in pursuing the appeals and building your medical evidence of record throughout the entire disability process.
Are you a claimant in the Social Security system trying to get approved for SSI or SSD? If you are, I bet you’re frustrated with the system and with all the stress you’re under right now. The Social Security Administration has over 500,000 cases waiting for review in their appeals section alone right now. These are the cases the Administrative Law Judge has denied, and the claimants and their attorneys are appealing to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is the last step of appealing the unfavorable decision of your hearing denial before going into Federal District Court.
At the Charleston, WV Hearing Office alone there is an average wait time of 12 months before you get a hearing date. The Social Security Administration shows that there are approximately 5,480 cases currently pending, with an additional 2200 new cases being appealed each year. There are eleven (11) Administrative Law Judges in the Charleston Hearing office. Each Judge issues a decision on an average of 2.9 cases per day. Is it any wonder why, with numbers like these, it takes so long to get a hearing? The SSA recently attempted to limit the number of new applications by changing their rules so that once denied at hearing a claimant may only choose to either reapply with a new onset date or appeal the recent decision instead of being able to reapply and appeal concurrently.
Is there an easy solution to the backlog at the Social Security Administration in processing the claims for Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits? I doubt it. With the economy in the condition it’s in and the lack of jobs for the majority of people, it seems as if there are more and more people trying to get disability. I think these same people worked while still having these disabilities. Jobs were plentiful and they could find employers willing to work with them for time off, or compensate for special needs, or maybe they just found a job that they could manage. That is not the case anymore, so more and more are hoping to get disability because they can no longer work at their jobs or they have lost their job and need to have some income to survive.
With all the frustration involved in this process, many people do not pursue their claims after their first or second denial. We understand the frustration here at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law. That’s why we do everything we can to get our claimants approved. We have the knowledge and the ability to work our way through the SSA system. We cannot speed up the process, but we will be there with you for every step of it. So if you would like more information or get some help give us a call: 1-877-526-3457.
(written by guest blogger Lori Wentzel from our Appeals Pod)
If you are anything like me, remembering what you had for lunch yesterday can be difficult, let alone remembering the doctors and various other medical providers you have seen over the span of several years! So it is no wonder that when I call to ask someone to tell me about all the providers they have seen in regards to their disabilities, they have trouble remembering them all.
Something that really helps me keep everything straight are lists. I am a huge fan of making lists. Need to run to the store? Make a list. Have things to do around the house? Make a list. Need to keep track of doctors you see? Make a list. Keeping a list of medical providers who have cared for you over time will help you in several ways.
First, before you even fill out that application, a list of providers is going to be beneficial. Write down the first provider who treated you for your disabilities, then work your way to the present with all the places you’ve been treated. Doing this at home means you’ll have all of the information you need right at your fingertips. When you are ready to fill out your application for Social Security, you won’t be left trying to remember the address and phone number of that specialist you saw ten years ago that could be an important asset to your claim.
Second, throughout the claim process, you will be asked to give updates to Social Security on the providers you seek treatment with for your disabilities. If you keep your list updated every time you see your regular doctor or someone new, you won’t have to search all over the place for that information.
Third, if you were to become a client with us, we will be the ones to gather your medical records. Every so often we will contact you to update your providers so we can get these records. If you have a list going already, this will save you time trying to find the information when we call you. It will also ensure that we do not miss a potentially important provider that you have been seeking treatment with for your disabilities.
So, keep a list! Whether it is in a notebook, on a chalkboard, or a sticky note, it is a great way to keep your information in a central location and easy to recall.
At Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, we never hesitate to educate people about the Social Security Process. This is just one of the many ways we serve our clients. If you would like to know more about what we do, or if you would like a FREE consultation, give us a call: 1-877-526-3457, or tell us about your claim now by clicking here.
If you are thinking about filing an application for Social Security Disability benefits, you may have no idea how to get started. If you have already filed an application for benefits, you already know how confusing it can be. You may be thinking about hiring an attorney to help with your claim but what are the benefits to hiring an attorney?
Social Security is a very specialized process and an attorney that is familiar with Social Security Disability is going to be very familiar with the many laws and procedures involved in processing your claim for benefits. An attorney is going to be able to help guide you through the processes from starting an application all the way through to a hearing if need be. Your attorney can offer advice and help educate you through the in’s and out’s. I find that clients really enjoy having someone who can answer their questions so that he/she understands what is going on and why. Understanding Social Security Disability rules and regulations and having someone explain these to you in terms that you can understand can help relieve your frustration.
Your attorney will assist you in completing any forms that SSA requires you to fill out, file any needed appeals with SSA, request your medical records and submit relevant records to SSA, correspond with SSA and the hearings office about your claim and represent you at a hearing. Your attorney can also help resolve payment problems with SSA after you have been approved.
If you are interested in applying for Social Security Disability, or even if you have already been denied, give our office a call for a free consultation today. You can reach us toll free at 1-877-526-3457. Also, check us out online at www.jandils.com.
In the time that I have had the privilege of serving our clients, I have seen several cases where an individual’s impairments are so severe they are unable to get through even one day. Often times, these impairments do not respond to normal treatment, are incurable or, in some rare cases, fatal. The problem is that clients often do not have medical coverage and cannot afford to get any help at all with the serious impairments they are facing. In some cases, Social Security has awarded what they call “presumptive benefits” and our client has been able to receive some of the treatment they need even before they are awarded disability benefits.
So, what are presumptive benefits? If you are applying for Social Security income benefits because of a disability or blindness, you may be able to obtain presumptive benefits if certain conditions are met while waiting for a formal disability determination. You may qualify if:
You are applying for SSI benefits for the first time;
Your medical condition is such that it presents a strong likelihood that you will be found disabled; and
You meet all non-medical factors of eligibility.
Like SSI, the amount of your presumptive benefits depends on your household income, your assets, etc.
Social Security has a list of impairments that they consider “presumptive disabilities” for which they will award benefits prior to a formal award. The following list is just a few of the types of disabilities that you can obtain presumptive benefits for:
You have suffered an amputation of a leg at the hip;
Allegation of bed confinement and immobility without a wheelchair, walker, or crutches, allegedly due to a longstanding condition excluding recent accident and recent surgery:
Allegation of stroke (cerebral vascular accident) more than three months in the past and continued marked difficulty in walking or using a hand or arm;
You allege Down syndrome; and
Your physician confirms by telephone or in a signed statement that an individual has a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less.
Again, this list is not exhaustive and Social Security has the ability to award benefits on the basis of other severe impairments if they feel that a favorable decision is likely. In the event that you are not awarded disability benefits, Social Security will not require repayment unless they determine that you have been overpaid based on a non-medical condition, such as your income.
If you have questions about SSI and whether you may qualify for presumptive benefits while your application is pending, or if you have any question about the application process, don't hesitate to give ouroffice a call: 1-877-526-3457. Let us help you get all the benefits you deserve and the help you need,
After a hearing, one of the first things our clients ask is: "How long will it take to get my decision back?" I always respond by telling them the Judge’s decision will arrive the same way as everything else: via mail. It usually takes 30-90 days to receive the verdict.
I also tell my clients to read this letter carefully. Hopefully, this is the point at which they will finally be approved. If so, instructions on what to do next will be included in the letter. More than 50% of all cases heard before the Administrative Law Judge are approved.
I am always so happy when one of my clients gets a favorable decision at the hearing level. In a lot of ways, I feel like it's a small victory for me too. I work with these people on a daily basis, and really get to know them.
However, some of my clients are denied at this point. They can either file a new claim, starting the process all over, or they can appeal to the Appeals Council. If you are in this situation, and do not have an attorney, you may consider hiring one at this point.
When a claim is at the hearing level, it really helps to have the knowledge and experience of someone who has been through it before. This is why so many individuals turn to the attorneys and staff of Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. Feel free to give us a call about your claim today. Our toll free number is 1-877-526-3457.