Obtaining Social Security disability benefits can be complicated. Because the majority of initial claims are denied, it is crucial to have an experienced disability lawyer in your corner. Disability Advocates Group is dedicated to helping disabled individuals throughout Southern California obtain the benefits they deserve.
Our disability lawyers are knowledgeable in the eligibility requirements for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs and have well-earned reputations as dedicated advocates of the disabled. When you consult us, we will take the time to understand your circumstances and guide you through every phase of the disability claims process.
We understand that managing the financial and medical challenges of being disabled can be overwhelming, which is why we provide our clients with compassionate representation and dependable service.
Although dealing with the federal bureaucracy can be intimidating, we will help you make informed decisions about your future. Above all, we will stand by you every step of the way and fight tirelessly for your rights.
What is a Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as not being able to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medical condition. In addition, the impairment must be permanent, which means that it must have lasted at least 12 months.
The SSA also maintains a list of qualifying conditions known as the Blue Book that disability examiners use in conjunction with a detailed set of grid rules to evaluate claims. The SSA also relies on medical-vocational guidelines that consider the claimant’s age, education and work history — a key factor in claims filed by older individuals.
What types of disability benefits are available in Southern California?
The SSA offers two different benefit programs — SSDI and SSI:
These benefits are available to disabled individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 who have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. It is necessary to have earned sufficient work credits, based on the number of quarters worked each year.
This program is limited to those who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age, regardless of whether or not they have worked or paid into the Social Security system. There are strict financial requirements for obtaining SSI, however, and a claimant’s income and financial resources cannot exceed a specific threshold.
Applying for Disability Benefits in Southern California
Applying for disability benefits is a lengthy and complicated process. An initial claim must be submitted to a local SSA field office along with the accompanying questionnaires and required medical information. If there are errors or omissions in the application, inaccurate answers on the questionnaires and/or insufficient medical evidence, the claim will likely be denied. In fact, nearly two-thirds of initial claims are denied, often for technical reasons (e.g. insufficient work credits, failing the means test).
The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to consult the experienced disability lawyers at Disability Advocates Group. Our legal team can help by working closely with your doctor to compile a comprehensive medical record and moving your claim through each phase of the process. Although denials are not uncommon, working with our disability appeals attorneys increases the likelihood of your claim being approved.
Disability Appeals in Southern California
If your disability claim is denied, the SSA will send a letter explaining the reason for the denial and informing you of your right to appeal. You must act quickly with the first level of the appeals process — filing a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. If you miss the filing deadline, you may have to restart the already lengthy appeals process.
Generally, a reconsideration claim will only be approved if there has been a new diagnosis or there is evidence that your condition has worsened. While the claim will be evaluated by a disability examiner and a medical consultant who was not involved in the initial decision, only 20 percent of reconsideration claims are approved. Thereafter, the next phase in the appeals process will involve appearing at a disability hearing.
Although a disability hearing is an informal meeting before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), we highly recommend having an experienced disability lawyer by your side. At Disability Advocates Group, we regularly represent clients at disability hearings throughout Southern California. Our objective is to ensure that your medical record is updated and you are completely prepared for your hearing.
If your claim is denied by the ALJ, we may take your claim to the Appeals Council, and if necessary, file a civil lawsuit in federal court. Because we understand the financial limitations your disability imposes on you, we will not charge attorneys’ fees until we win benefits for you.
Contact Our Los Angeles Disability Benefits Lawyer
At Disability Advocates Group, our practice is focused on protecting the rights of disabled individuals and their loved ones. Our disability lawyers have the skills and experience that can mean the difference between obtaining benefits and having a claim denied. When you become our client, we will make your cause our cause, and work to protect your rights. Please contact our office today to set up a free consultation.Contact Us Today