Texas Social Security Disability Appeals
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) has programs that are designed to provide benefits to disabled individuals who are unable to work, obtaining these benefits is difficult. Given the SSA’s strict eligibility criteria and the complicated applications process, nearly two-thirds of of initial disability benefits claims are denied. While there is an appeals process, having the advice and guidance of an experienced disability benefits attorney is invaluable.
Located in Fort Worth, the Law Office of Carey Thompson is dedicated to serving disabled individuals and their families throughout the state of Texas. If you or a loved one has been denied for these vital public benefits, we will guide you through appeals process. Our legal team has a proven track record of helping our clients obtain the benefits they deserve.
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
In order to qualify for disability benefits, claimants must have a medical condition that prevents them from performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA). Moreover, the condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or result in death. The SSA also maintains a listing of qualifying medical conditions referred to as the Blue Book. If a condition is not included in that list, the SSA will determine whether it is “medically equal” to a listed condition.
Why are disability benefit claims denied?
Applications for disability benefits can be denied for any number of reasons. To qualify for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, for example, it is necessary to have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions and acquired sufficient work credits. One of the leading reasons claims are denied is that the applicant did not have the requisite number of credits.
Additionally, if the medical condition is not believed to cause sufficiently restrictive work limitations disability may be denied.. Moreover, claimants are also required to undergo an examination by a doctor chosen by the SSA whose findings may not concur with the treating physician. Finally, a disability benefits application involves an extensive amount of paperwork, which includes completing questionnaires and submitting detailed medical records and reports. If there are any mistakes or omissions, the claim will be denied.
In any event, when an application is denied, the claimant receive a notice of denial from a local Disability Determinations Service (DDS) office. The notice will include a reason for the denial and also inform the applicant of his or her right to appeal the decision.
Disability Benefit Appeals in Texas
The first step in the appeals process is to file a Request for Reconsideration, within 60 days of receiving the notice of denial from the DDS. The application will be reviewed by an examiner and a medical consultant who did not participate in the initial determination, however, most claims are denied at this level as well. In fact, less than 20 percent of reconsideration claims are approved, most often because there has been a new diagnosis or the condition has worsened.
The next step is to request a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), within 60 days of the reconsideration claim denial. It is worth noting that an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA attorney who has the authority to make a decision about disability benefits claims.
The hearing takes place in a conference room at an SSA hearing office in the state. The hearing is attended by the applicant, his or her attorney, and any expert witnesses. The judge questions the claimant about his or her medical condition and treatment, employment history, and the limitations the disability imposes. The attorney is also given the opportunity to speak on behalf of the claimant.
The judge will also ask the experts for their opinions. A medical expert – usually a doctor, can provide additional insights about the disabled individual’s condition while a vocational expert can elaborate on the demands of a particular job and how the condition prevents the applicant from performing that type of work. Attorney Carey Thompson routinely represents clients at disability hearings and collaborates with a respected network of medical and vocational experts.
After the hearing, a written notice is sent to the claimant, usually within 90 to 120 days of the hearing date. If the appeal is denied by the ALJ, the next step is to request the SSA Appeals Council to review the claim. At this stage, the Council has three options: overturn the ALJ’s decision, remand the claim to the ALJ for reconsideration, or deny the claim.
If the claim is denied by the Appeals Council, the last option is to file a lawsuit in the federal courts. A judge will review the case to determine if there were any legal errors or valid reasons to overturn the ALJ’s decision.
Disability Benefit Appeals Attorney
At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, we act as dedicated advocates of the disabled and work tirelessly to help them obtain the benefits they deserve. We are well versed in the SSA’s eligibility rules for disability benefits and have extensive experience helping our clients navigate the appeals process. Did you know that chances for obtaining disability benefits greatly improve when you are represented by an experienced disability benefits attorney?
We understand that coping with a physical or mental impairment can be a tremendous burden and dealing with the SSA system is a daunting challenge. Our legal team can help to lift that burden and will offer you caring, efficient service. Moreover, we work on a contingency basis, which means that you will not pay any attorneys fees unless your appeal prevails. Over our many years of practice, we have gained recognition for fighting to protect the rights of the disabled. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.