Social Security Disability
If you can’t work due to a mental and / or physical disability, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Social Security disability laws are very complicated and confusing. Your claim will be won and lost on the medical evidence gathered and provided to the Social Security Administration (SSA). When you appoint us to represent you, we will shorten the lengthy appeal process (almost 2 years) by gathering your medical information from all your medical providers and submitting it to the SSA as quickly as possible.
No matter how difficult or helpless your case may seem, we will not turn you away. We will try to get you the benefits you need. And if we don’t recover any benefits for you, you don’t owe us an attorney fee.
Two Common Mistakes:
1. Exaggerating or Understating Your Disability:
Your application for social security disability benefits must convince the SSA that you are disabled. This involves correctly understanding and presenting the severity of your physical and / or mental disability and why it impacts your ability to work. Many applicants spend a considerable amount of time on their initial application only to be denied. This is only the beginning of a long process, but all too often applicants accept this denial in frustration and do not pursue the matter further. The social security administration examines your medical records thoroughly and highly values the opinion of your doctor. It will compare what you have written in your application against the opinions of your doctor expressed in your medical records. Consequently, if you exaggerate your condition, your application may be denied. At the same time, if you downplay your condition and the evaluators believe you may be able to perform some type of work, this may also result in a denial. If you understate your condition and the SSA believes that you are capable of performing work your application will be denied.
It is important to accurately describe the physical limitations of your disability as well as any emotional and psychological effects that accompany your condition. You must describe how your disability impacts (1) your daily routine and common activities such as household chores, dressing yourself, or even sleeping, and (2) your ability to socialize and interact with others. In addition, you must assess the mental and physical tasks involved in your work history as well as basic job responsibilities and determine how your condition has disabled you from fulfilling these duties. Many claimants are unfamiliar with the extent to which they must explain their disability to the Social Security Administration. As a result, their application is denied.
2. Your Doctor’s Diagnosis:
The opinion of your physician will factor greatly into the success of your application. Many claims are denied on the basis of the doctor’s statement. This is not because your doctor believes you are not disabled, but because the language used by your doctor is intended for the medical field and does not meet the criteria demanded by the SSA’s application evaluators. It is often necessary for you to discuss your intention to apply for disability with your doctor. Furthermore, we must educate your doctor on the necessary specifics to be included with the medical record to ensure approval of the application.
There are Four Levels of Appeals:
1. Reconsideration (appeal takes about 3-4 months):
The review of the initial denial of your claim.
2. Administrative Law Judge Hearing (appeal takes about 1 year):
The review of the Reconsideration decision by an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Hearings and Appeals in your area.
3. Appeals Council Review (appeal takes about 1 year 3 months):
The review of the Administrative Law Judge’s unfavorable decision by the Appeals Council.
4. Federal Court Civil Action (appeal takes about 1 year 6 months):
The review of the Appeal Council’s decision, or their denial of your request for review, by the U.S. District Court for the area where you live.
You Have 60 Days to Appeal:
You have 60 days after you receive the written notice of the denial of your claim from the SSA to ask for an Appeal. If you do not appeal on time, your case may be dismissed. This means that you may have to reapply for benefits and start the process all over again. So time is of the essence.
Your request must be in writing. We will help you fill out and timely submit all your Appeal forms.
The Administrative Law Judge Hearing:
The Administrative Law Judge usually holds the hearing within 75 miles of your home, approximately one (1) year after your request for a hearing is filed.
Although you will be the primary witness at the hearing, you may also have additional witnesses testify on your behalf. If your witnesses cannot come to the hearing and testify in person, they can give you written statements that we can submit to the Judge before your hearing. You and your witnesses must answer all questions under oath.
The hearing is informal but it is recorded. In addition, the Administrative Law Judge usually has a Vocational Expert and/or Medical Expert come to the hearing to testify about your disabilities and their impact on your ability to work on a full-time basis – namely whether or not you can perform work on a regular and continuing basis – meaning 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 50 weeks out of a year.
After the Hearing:
The Administrative Law Judge will review all the medical evidence, your testimony, your witnesses’ testimony, along with all the legal theories we submit at the hearing and issue his/her written decision approximately 1 to 3 months after the hearing. The decision will be marked as “favorable”, “partially favorable”, or “unfavorable”, and it will be mailed to your home and to our office. If it is favorable, your benefits will start approximately 1 to 3 months after receipt of the Judge’s decision. If you have minor children, their benefits will start at the same time that your benefits start.
Do not be concerned with our attorney fee because it is contingent on you winning. So there is no attorney fee unless we prevail on your claim.
When you finally start receiving disability benefits, the government will owe you a lump sum of “back” benefits from the time you became disabled to the date of your award. Our fee is 25% of your “back” benefits, but never more than $6,000. No fee comes out of current monthly benefits and our fee is typically withheld and paid to us directly by the Social Security Administration.
The only rare exception to our fee is when we appeal your administrative law judge decision to the Appeals Council. In this circumstance, our fee is still 25% of your back benefits, but we drop the $6,000 limit on fees.
Further, in a “cessation” case (where the government is trying to cut off your benefits), you only have 10 days to appeal the government’s decision. If you appeal, it will allow you to keep receiving benefits during the appeal. In this situation, our fee is 25% of the monthly benefits you receive while the appeal is in process. If we do not prevail, we will refund you all the benefits you have paid us.
Our knowledge and experience can make the difference in winning your disability claim. So pick up the phone and call Dimitrios Makridis at (614) 349-4490, or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587, for a free consultation today.
We have offices in Columbus, Warren, Youngstown, and Cleveland.