Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits Is a Difficult Process. An Attorney Can Help

Obtaining disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is challenging for numerous reasons. First, the SSA’s standard of disability is quite high. A claimant must prove that they are not only disabled from working in their previous occupations; they must also prove they are disabled from performing any “substantial gainful activity.” In order to prove such a high standard of disability, an extensive review of medical evidence is required. Understanding the terminology found in the medical records is crucial to effectively arguing that an individual meets this definition of disability. Age, education, and work history also affect whether or not someone can be found disabled under the SSA’s standard of disability. Second, the SSA has a very thick book of rules and regulations that apply to the determination of disability claims. A failure to follow the SSA’s rules may result in a denial of disability benefits. An experienced lawyer will navigate the claimant through the SSA’s necessary steps to obtaining disability benefits.

Most Social Security Disability Applications Are Denied

According to a 2011 report by the Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, an average of only 28% of initial applications for Social Security disability benefits were approved from 2000 to 2010. Thus, nearly three out of four initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. After an initial denial of benefits, a disability claimant must make timely appeal.

Most states—including Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio—require a disability applicant to request reconsideration before they can have an administrative hearing. The chances of approval during the reconsideration stage are grim: only 10 to 15 percent of requests for reconsiderations resulted in an approval of disability benefits. Social Security disability applicants in Michigan can forgo the request for reconsideration stage and are eligible to immediately request a hearing after initial denial.

The Challenges of Proving Disability at an Administrative Hearing

After the long wait for a disability hearing, there can be challenges to proving disability before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). An experienced disability attorney may help you receive a favorable decision from the ALJ. Knowledge of the medical evidence and the SSA’s medical listings are important to proving a disability. In addition, the ALJ may have a Medical Expert testify at the hearing. A skilled attorney can cross-examine the Medical Expert to elicit helpful testimony to prove disability.

The claimant will also testify at his or her hearing. The ALJ has broad discretion to question the claimant about anything relevant to the disability claim. If a claimant has an attorney, the attorney can question the claimant to help establish why he or she is disabled under the terms of the SSA.

Finally, a Vocational Expert is called to testify at nearly every disability hearing. The role of the Vocational Expert is to testify about jobs that might be available for the disability claimant. The claimant’s attorney can cross-examine the Vocational Expert in an effort to prove that there are no jobs available due to the claimant’s disability.

A Successful Claim Is Possible. Contact Keller & Keller

If you plan to apply for Social Security disability benefits or if your claim for disability has already been denied, contact Keller & Keller immediately. We offer a free evaluation and may be able to help you obtain Social Security disability benefits. Call 1-800-253-5537 for a free consultation today.

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