Social Security Disability Hearings Are Informal
Social Security disability hearings are much less formal than court hearings. They were designed so that they would not be a threatening experience. The Social Security Administration recognizes that if you can relax as much as possible, you will be the best witness for yourself. Its okay to let yourself be yourself.
Although this is an informal hearing, there are a couple of procedures that are necessary to follow:
- You and all witnesses will testify under oath.
- It is important when you are testifying that you do not ask anyone else in the room to help you answer questions and that your witnesses or friends do not chime in to help you testify. Only one person is allowed to testify at a time.
Dont Talk About Your Case
Social Security disability hearings are serious business. Dont make jokes. Dont even talk about your case before or after your hearing in the waiting room, in the hallway, in the elevator or anywhere else where a stranger can overhear. A Social Security employee may misinterpret what you say and get the wrong impression about you, and there may be a lot of Social Security employees in the building.
The Stages Of An Ssdi Claim
Stage One: Initial Application. SSDI claimants begin the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits by submitting an initial application for SSDI benefits. This application can be submitted in person at a local Social Security hearing office, over the phone or online. Some Charlotte disability lawyers encourage claimants to apply on their own initially, but at Collins Price, we will help most claimants file initial applications.
Stage Two: Request for Reconsideration. If an initial application is denied , the SSDI claimant will need to file a Request for Reconsideration with the Social Security Administration . Disabled claimants must file their appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial. Once the request is received, Social Security reviews your claim again.
Stage Three: Hearing. If your claim is denied at Reconsideration , it will progress to the SSDI hearing stage. The good news is that this is the stage where most Social Security disability claims are approved. Once again, you have 60 days from the date of Reconsideration denial to file a Request for Hearing.
Stage Four: Appeals Council. If your claim is denied at hearing, you can appeal the decision a final time before the Appeals Council, but it is unlikely that the Appeals Council will overturn the ALJs decision at hearing.
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The Official Notifications Will Take A Few More Weeks
As noted above, it usually takes a few months to get a decision from the Social Security Administration. Within a few weeks of sending a fully favorable or partially favorable decision, Social Security will send another letter called a Notice of Award.
This Notice of Award letter explains:
- how much the claimant will be receiving in back due benefits
- how much the claimant will be receiving in monthly benefits
- when their first payment should arrive
- and it will also detail the amount of the advocates fee, if any.
If a claimant receives an unfavorable decision, they have the right to appeal the decision to the the Appeals Council. Requests for appeal must be made in writing, typically within 60 days of the date of the ALJ decision.
It can sometimes make more sense for the claimant to restart the application process from scratch rather than appeal. Claimants are strongly encouraged to talk to an experienced Disability Advocate before making this decision. Most appeals can take a year or more, and many are denied. However, a Disability Advocate can help a claimant decide which course of action has a better chance of success.
How Long Were You There
This step is crucial. This is an identifier to see if you were part of a cattle trailer and if you were rushed in and out. Take note when you arrived. Take note when you were called in, then take note when you exit the exam. All of these are very important. It is more to make a case in the event you need to write a Memorandum for Record requesting an inadequate C& P examination.
If you were in an exam for 8 minutes, with a 15-minute wait doesnt always mean a bad thing. Sometimes the VA will call you in for a C& P exam for Sleep Apnea. If the examiner actually takes a look at the records and evaluates the review accurately, this should be all it takes 8 minutes may make sense. In this case, you will have to weigh all the other points on attitude, tools, etc. to consider the adequacy of the C& P.
However, 8 minutes for a psych eval is grossly inadequate. How will they get a complete picture of your disability by an 8-minute interview? That said, I have seen it to where a psych examiner trusts the Independent Medical Opinions and effectively goes with the other doctors opinion. This can happen, but just because it can happen doesnt mean it will. Lean on the other components mentioned.
One: When And If You Stopped Working Or Doing Sga
The first step of the analysis is usually straightforward: you may not be engaged in a substantial gainful activity, or SGA . If you are earning $1,350 or more per month your benefits will be denied, unless the judge agrees that your work was an unsuccessful work attempt. If the judge finds you are not performing SGA, the opinion will proceed to discussion of step two.
Signs I Am Going To Win My Social Security Disability Benefits Case
In the video below Sharon Christie, a social security disability benefits lawyer, answers the age-old question what are some signs that I am going to win my Social Security Disability Benefits Case? If you or someone you know is looking to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits contact Sharon Christie Law today. We are a social security disability benefits law firm dedicated to getting you the benefits you deserve.
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I Have Never Used Drugs Or Alcohol In My Life
If that statement is really true, then of course it is fine to say. However, if you have used drugs or alcohol in the past, and that is mentioned in the medical records, then you have just ruined your credibility with the judge. Depending upon the severity of your drug and alcohol use your attorney may be able to neutralize the situation. The best thing you can do in this situation is to tell the absolute truth. If a judge catches you in a lie then you can bet your case will be denied. Talk with your attorney before the hearing about how to handle the situation and you should be fine.
Disability Benefits For Veterans
You may be eligible for disability benefits if you’re on disability from your service in the Canadian Armed Forces or Merchant Navy.
You may get social assistance payments from:
- your province or territory
- your First Nation
These payments will depend on your household income, savings and investments.
You may also be eligible for health-related benefits from your province or territory. These benefits may include benefits that help cover the cost of:
- medical aids or devices
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Youve Paid Enough Social Security Taxes
One of the first requirements to qualify for SSA benefits is that you must have enoughwork credits.
What are work credits?
When you work in jobs that pay social security taxes, you can earn up to 4 work credits a year. Under social security rules, you need to earn at least 40 work credits to qualify for disability benefits. Twenty of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. But younger workers may also qualifyeven with lesser credits.
If you dont have enough work credits, its impossible to get Social Security Disability Benefits . But you can still apply forSupplemental Security Income .
Canada Pension Plan Disability Benefits
The Canada Pension Plan provides monthly payments to people who contribute to the plan during their working years.
You may be eligible for CPP disability benefits if:
- you contributed to the CPP for a certain number of years
- you’re under 65 years old
- you have a severe and prolonged mental or physical disability
- your disability prevents you from working on a regular basis
The benefits include payments to children of a person with a disability.
Apply as early as possible if you think you’re eligible for CPP disability benefits. Quebec residents may be eligible for a similar program called the Quebec Pension Plan . It may take several months to process your application.
If you applied for CPP or QPP disability benefits and were told that you’re not eligible, you can ask to have your application reviewed or considered again.
Once you reach age 65, your CPP disability benefit will automatically change to regular CPP payments. Your regular CPP payments may be less than the CPP disability payments you got before.
If so, consider:
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How Was The Exit
This is one that should be relied on pretty heavily. Before departing, the examiner should ask if you have any questions. Remember, this is a legal session. Therefore, get your questions answered! If you noticed gaps on the DBQ that have not been addressed , ask if they evaluated it. You may catch them off guard. They may want to perform a test to listen for that nasty popping sound that you state you experience.
Make sure you ask your questions. You will get a good sense of how the C& P went, and if the results are favorable or not. Generic answers are to be expected, as they dont want you getting excited during the examination. Put yourself in their shoes, get the answers you need, and proceed with the next steps to call out an inadequate C& P examination, if required.
Checking The Status Of Your Disability Application Claim
After you have submitted your disability application, your claim will be subject to review. This process may take several months. You can easily check the status of your application by calling your local Social Security Administration office or checking your claim status online. If you plan to check online, it is highly recommended that you create a my Social Security account. At the initial application stage, you may get two results: either approved or denied.
When your claim is denied, you may appeal for reconsideration. In this stage, you are required to accomplish and submit reconsideration request forms. When your claim is denied and you make an appeal, a special hearing is requested. Your hearing date will be set and you and your legal representative may present your case to the Administrative Law Judge.
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Types Of Alj Decisions
A disability approval can be either full or partial. The difference is the dates for which you’ll receive disability benefits. When you applied for disability, you provided the SSA with an alleged onset date. This is the date you felt you became disabled due to your condition. But the judge doesn’t need to agree with this onset date when awarding you benefits.
Preparation For The C& p
First, If you are blessed enough to get a curriculum vitae of the examining doctor before your appointment, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Do they specialize in your issue? Google their basic information such as what groups he or she is a member of, how they are rated as a Doctor/Physicians Assistant/Nurse Practitioner , reviews from previous practices, etc. Be proactive! If at any time you feel uncomfortable with the doctor that you are assigned, then call and get a different one. THIS IS YOUR RIGHT AS A VETERAN!! And by far is the easiest way to prepare for a C& P examination. Preparation is everything. You must set yourself up for success to be successful.
Second, what if you do not know who you are going to see? This is typical if you are going direct to the VA for your C& P versus a contracted company. Call the VA and get their name and credentials. Most of the time, they will know who you will have your examination with. You can put in a request for a curriculum vitae however, by the time you get the information, it is most likely too late. In this case, do your research. Run with the information you get and do what you can. Stay on the offense never go on defense in this case. It is worth it for your future to call the 1-800 line.
Now that you have prepared for the C& P, and found that you are happy with the examiner, what now? Well, time to go to the C& P.
So, what are the identifiers of an inadequate C& P examination?
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Your Right To An Attorney
The SSA specifically notes that you have a right to an attorney at every level of appeal, including during the initial stage, Reconsideration, in front of an Administrative Law Judge, the Appeals Council, or for subsequent court hearings. All are opportunities for you to hire a disability lawyer.
Your right to an attorney should not be taken lightly. Having a professional on your side will not only bring peace of mind and help you organize evidence, but you are more likely to win benefits.
Disability law is a growing field. The complexities of the SSA system and the hearing levels make it necessary for some legal professionals to spend whole careers mastering how the disability system works.
After Getting Social Security Disability Hearing Results: What To Do Next
It may take several weeks of waiting for your social security disability hearing results. The result could either be one of two things. The first result could be that the judge will find your claim eligible and you start receiving benefits. If the claim is approved, you will receive a Notice of Award letter. This letter specifically explains how much your benefits are and when they are expected to arrive.
The second result is that the judge will tell you to stop trying because your claim has been denied.
When you still want to take this process further, you need legal representation because the last step in the appeals process is a civil lawsuit that is filed against the Social Security Administration. A Social Security Disability attorney will be able to assist you in presenting your case and proving your entitlement benefits before a Federal court. This Federal Court Appeal is the last step in your claim for disability benefits.
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Understanding The Disability Hearing Process
If youve been denied benefits, you will want to appeal the decision. It makes sense to get help from a disability attorney, but it isnt 100% necessary in all cases. Whatever you decide to do, use this as a guide to how the hearing process works. Your best bet is to persevere because the extra effort will usually result in winning disability benefits.
The Judge Asks To Speak With Your Attorney Before The Disability Hearing
Sometimes the judge will ask your attorney to come into the hearing room without you .
Often, this means the judge has reviewed your claim and wants to award it in part. For example, you might allege disability due to back pain beginning January 2020. But the judge believes you did not become disabled until August 2020, when you underwent spinal fusion surgery.
These conferences are good they mean you won your case. But you will have to decide whether to amend your onset date of disability at the hearing.
Dr Bill Can Help Increase Your Chances Of Winning A Disability Hearing
Appearing before a judge can be an intimidating and difficult endeavor for the average person. With financial stability on the line, its typically best to not go into a hearing without the necessary preparations. Thats where a lawyer can help. An experienced disability attorney knows exactly what evidence youll need to make your case.
Disability cases are based almost entirely on medical evidence. A lawyer by your side will be able to get the necessary evidence, such as medical records, as well as collect witnesses who can support your claims as extra ammunition for your case. Additionally, lawyers know what kind of questions judges will ask and can prep you accordingly.
You May Elect To Appeal The Aljs Decision
For the next level of appeal, you request that the Social Security Appeals Council hears your case. Details about how to appeal will be in your NOA. You need to request Appeals Council review in writing within 60 days of receiving the NOA.
The operative word here is request because you are not automatically entitled to a review by the Appeals Council. Why is that? At this level of review, the process is very different.
The Appeals Council does not agree or disagree with the decision that you can return to work the Appeals Council can only review whether there was an error in law made by the ALJ.
Once the appeal is requested, the Appeals Council can review an appeal for a year before deciding to reverse a denial, remand the case back to the ALJ who denied the claim, or decline to review the case.
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About Va Claims Insider
VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. Were here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible independent medical opinions and nexus statements for a wide range of disability conditions.