Have Questions About the Disability Claims Process for Social Security or Veterans Benefits? Check Out Our FAQs
Dealing with the disability application or appeals process always comes with plenty of questions. Whether your questions are about Social Security or VA Disability, here are some of the questions we hear the most at our Omaha law firm.
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Who decides if I am disabled?
After an individual files a Social Security Disability claim, the case is sent to a disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency in your state. This individual, working with a doctor, makes the initial decision on the claim. If the claim is denied and the individual requests Reconsideration, the case is then sent to another disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency, where it goes through much the same process. If a claim is denied at Reconsideration, the claimant may then request a hearing. At this point, the case is sent to an Administrative Law Judge who works for Social Security. The Administrative Law Judge makes an independent decision upon the claim. This is the only level at which the claimant and the decision maker get to see each other.
What can I do to improve my chances of being awarded benefits?
Be honest and complete in giving information to Social Security about what is disabling you. Many claimants, for instance, fail to mention their psychiatric problems to Social Security because they are embarrassed about them. In almost all cases, individuals who were slow learners in school fail to mention this fact to Social Security, even though it can have a good deal to do with whether or not the Social Security disability claim is approved. Be complete in describing your daily activities and symptoms. It is important to carefully and completely describe how you perform your past job duties. Beyond being honest and complete with Social Security, the most important thing you can do is just keep appealing and hire an experienced person to represent you. It is important to appeal because most claims are denied at the initial level, but are approved at higher levels of review. It is important to hire an experienced person to represent you because you do not understand the way Social Security works. A government accounting office study shows claimants who employ an attorney are three times more likely to win than those who go unrepresented.
Contact us at (402) 933-5400 for a free evaluation of your claim or download a copy of our book that answers these and other questions
Social Security said that I would be able to return to work sometime in the next year. Should I wait to see if I get better or should I appeal?
It is important to appeal because most claims are denied at the initial level, but are approved at higher levels of review. Waiting to see if you get better would mean that you start over at the end of the line if in fact you were not able to return to work within a year from when you became unable to work.
How does Social Security define "disability"?
If you are applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, you must be suffering from a total disability. This is different than applying for partial disability or short-term disability through your state government or another private program. Social Security counts on other resources to provide support during periods that you have a temporary disability—this could include workers' compensation, insurance, savings and investments.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a very strict definition of disability as it applies to the benefits they pay. According to the SSA, a disability means:
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- Your doctors have determined that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical conditions.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
The SSA has a five-step process that helps officials determine whether you are eligible for disability benefits. Part of that process is seeing if your medical condition is found on the list of disabling conditions. There are many types of impairment on this list; they include both physical and mental conditions, and cover every body system. The key factor for all of these conditions is that they are permanent, or they are expected to result in death, or are expected to continue for at least 12 months.
If you need assistance filing for Social Security disability, call 402-933-5405 to contact the Omaha law office of Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation.