If your claim for disability benefits has been denied, turn to Disability Advocates Group. Our disability lawyers are highly experienced in handling disability appeals in Southern California. We have a proven history of achieving successful outcomes and a well-earned reputation as dedicated advocates of the disabled. When you become our client, we will work tirelessly to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
At Disability Advocates Group, we know that becoming disabled is life-altering. The loss of income and mounting medical expenses can quickly become a burden. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two benefit programs that provide vital financial resources to disabled individuals, there are strict eligibility requirements and the majority of initial claims are denied.
While applicants have a right to appeal a disability determination, obtaining benefits often depends on working with a capable disability lawyer. Our legal team is well-versed in the eligibility requirements for disability benefits and will guide you through every step of a disability appeal. Above all, we will handle your benefits claim with care and work tirelessly to protect your rights.
Do I qualify for disability benefits?
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must have a qualifying medical condition. In addition, your impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from performing any substantial gainful activity.
This may sound simple enough, but there are a number of factors that disability examiners consider when reviewing a claim. Along with the technical requirements of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), examiners will look to the medical evidence provided with the claim, as well as the findings of one or more consultative exams. By working with an experienced disability lawyer you can build a medical record that not only supports your claim but will also serve as the basis for a successful disability appeal.
Why are disability benefit claims denied?
As with any other government program, applying for Social Security disability benefits involves a number of bureaucratic hurdles. The application itself is very detailed, and a substantial amount of personal and medical information must be provided. If there are mistakes in the application or information is missing, the application will be denied.
There are also basic eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI. Because SSDI is funded through income tax deductions, you must have paid into the Social Security system to qualify. You must also have acquired enough “work credits” which are largely determined by how long and how recently you worked.
SSDI is only available to disabled individuals between the ages of 18 and 65; the older you are, the more work credits you will need.
SSI, on the other hand, is funded by general tax revenues, so these benefits are available regardless of whether someone has worked or paid into the Social Security System. These benefits are only available to those who are blind, disabled and 65 or older, and there are strict financial requirements that apply. SSI is also available to children who are disabled when their family meets the means test.
Finally, your claim may also be denied if the SSA determines your condition does not sufficiently restrict your ability to work. SSA examiners rely on complicated grid rules that may contradict the medical evidence provided with the benefits claim. If your claim is denied, you will receive a letter from Disability Determination Services (DDS) explaining the reasons for the denial and notifying you of your right to file an appeal.
Disability Appeals in Southern California
Because strict deadlines apply to each stage of a disability appeal, it is crucial to work with an experienced disability lawyer. These are the steps in the disability appeals process:
The first phase of a disability appeal involves filing a Request for Reconsideration, which must be submitted within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. At this stage, the claim is reviewed by a disability examiner who was not involved in the initial determination. Generally, reconsideration claims are only approved when there is a new diagnosis or the condition has worsened. An experienced disability lawyer may also be able to show that there were errors in the initial determination, however.
If your Request for Reconsideration results in a denial, the second step of the appeals process is to request a disability hearing, which must be done within 60 days of the reconsideration denial.
During the hearing, you will be asked questions about your medical condition and employment history, and about the limitations your condition imposes on your day-to-day activities. It is crucial to have an experienced disability lawyer at your hearing with you to ensure that the right questions are asked and the best testimony is put on the record. There may also be some experts at your hearing. This can include a medical expert who will give an opinion about your medical condition based on his/her review of the file and/or a vocational expert who would testify about your work history and jobs that may be available in the economy. The ALJ will make a determination after the hearing and a written decision will be mailed between 30 and 120 days of the hearing date.
Disability Appeals Council
If the ALJ denies your appeal, the next step is to request a review by the SSA Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can overturn the decision, send it back to the ALJ for further consideration, or affirm the judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council denies your claim, we may recommend filing a lawsuit in federal court to have the decision overturned.
Contact Our Los Angeles Disability Appeals Lawyer
Disability Advocates Group is committed to protecting the rights of the disabled. If your disability claim has been denied, you may be frustrated and not know where to turn. Remember, we are here to help. Our disability appeals lawyers will work closely with you throughout the appeals process and help you obtain the benefits you deserve. When you become our client, you will not pay any attorney fees until we win benefits for you. Please contact our office today to set up a free consultation.