Steps to Take When Requesting a Disability Hearing
A portion of every paycheck Americans receive is devoted to Social Security. The system was developed to provide a safety net for people when they retire and in case they become disabled.
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability programs are two of the largest
programs that help people who are facing health challenges that result in a
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is administered and funded by the Social Security Administration. It requires that you worked long enough and paid into Social Security usually five of the last 10 years.
SSI pays you benefits based on your needs.
A disability is defined as an inability to work because of a serious condition that is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death.
This definition does not encompass short-term disability, however, both mental and physical disabilities are covered. Generally, disability is defined as:
* Work you cannot do that you did before
*Work you cannot adjust to in your present medical condition
*Your disability has lasted at least one year and is expected to continue or result in death
No one wants to believe they could become disabled, but federal statistics show a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before retirement. Any disability can mean you face a challenge in being gainfully employed.
Alabama has its own state agency that determines if you are disabled and if you should be approved or denied benefits.
The first step is to apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability or call a toll free number 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment at a local Social Security office to file the claim in person.
You will be advised what to bring which will include all medical information including treating facilities and doctors. You will also need recent Wage and Tax statement forms.
It is advised that you apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled because it can take up to five months for the application process to be completed.
Do not wait until your sick leave is exhausted. In fact, the day you become disabled would be a good date to file as you do not want any delay in filing your claim.
Steps to Take in Requesting a Disability Hearing
About 70% of Social Security disability applications are denied after the initial filing. It happens every day. In fact, Alabama’s approval rate is slightly lower than the national average, coming in at 31%. Don’t be discouraged.
In October 2019, Alabama changed to a four-step appeals process meaning before you request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) you must first ask the state Disability Determination Services (DDS) to reconsider your application.
You will then be switched to a different claims examiner to reconsider your denial. Looking at the national picture, only 14% of claims receive approval at this stage.
At this point, it is advisable to have a legal representative to advocate on your behalf.
You have 60 days to appeal from the date of the reconsideration denial.
The good news is that there is about a 56% approval rate in Alabama at the hearing level, slightly higher than the national average of 45%, but your chances of success are much greater with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer by your side.
Should I Be Nervous About My Social Security Disability Hearing?
If you’re imagining a hearing the same way you’d imagine an episode of your favorite legal procedural show, you’re setting yourself up for unnecessary anxiety. These hearings do not have the same feeling as a trial, and the judge is not looking for wrongdoing. They simply want to know about your application, your disability, and any other information that might make their decision easier.
Follow the Judge’s Lead
While the hearing is informal in nature, that doesn’t mean that you should approach it too casually. This judge has a say in the outcome of your disability claim, so you want to be respectful and avoid speaking out of turn in the courtroom.
You have a lot of information you want to share, but you don’t want to just dump it all on the judge. They have a list of questions to ask. Answer their questions as they arise and trust that you’ll get a chance to share the information you have. At the end, if there is anything you have left to tell the judge, you’ll likely have a chance to fill them in.
Ask Your Attorney for Tips
Your attorney is a great resource for you as you battle pre-hearing anxiety. This is one of the benefits of working with an attorney who works exclusively on disability cases. If you choose an attorney who does disability claims on top of several other practice areas, they likely spend a limited amount of time in disability hearings.
As a result, they may have limited exposure to the various Administrative Law Judges that hear disability cases. If you choose a lawyer who only takes disability claims, they likely have much more insight into each judge’s experiences, expectations, and hearing style.
Your Social Security Disability Attorney – How We Can Help You
There are four levels of appeal and it is at this point that you should have a seasoned Mobile Social Security Disability attorney in your corner, because the stakes are so high for your recovery.
If you are denied by the ALJ, we may have to take your case to the Appeals Council. After that, we have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court.
The process of receiving Social Security Disability Insurance can be time-consuming and challenging. It is made quite difficult for you to access that which is supposed to be there when we need it.
For more than 15 years, attorney Randy Walton has dedicated his entire practice to representing people who are seeking much-needed disability benefits. He will help you traverse the roadblocks that are often put in your way.
Walton Law, LLC offers a no-cost evaluation of your case. Call 250-494-2619 or message us online to schedule your free consultation.