Interviewer: This brings to a great point, why would an individual utilize an attorney when applying for or collecting SSDI or SSI? What are the benefits of having an attorney?
Many Initial Benefit Claims Are Denied
Jeanne: Well, quite frankly, there’s lots of paperwork that must be completed the right way. A good portion of the initial claims are denied. Sometimes it could be something as simple as the right medical records that do exist weren’t submitted.
The Paperwork Is Difficult to Complete, Especially for Individuals Suffering from a Chronic Condition
There’s an initial submission and there’s a request for reconsideration and then a hearing. The hearing is in front of an actual social security judge, and after that, if there’s no success, then there is the appeals process.
It would be very difficult for someone, if they had a condition that was blatant and they’re bedridden and hospitalized frequently, to fill out one set of paperwork and successfully achieve disability.
Attorney Morales’ Office Works to Help Each Client Correctly Complete the Required Paperwork
Elvira: There is a great quantity of paperwork that needs to be filled out and there are questionnaires that the examiners mail out to the claimant. These questionnaires ask a multitude of questions and if you don’t know how to fill them out correctly, that could cause the examiner to deny your claim. We do work with our clients on completing the paperwork. We fill out all the paperwork for these people so that we know what to write on there, and what looks good on their paper and what does not.
What Are Common Disability Paperwork Mistakes Attorney Morales’ Office Can Help You Avoid?
Interviewer: What would be common mistakes people make when they are trying to fill this out on their own, that you’ve seen?
Jeanne: Quite frankly, one of the biggest mistakes is people don’t put enough effort into it. For example, I’m talking to people before we go into a social security hearing. I explain to them, “This is where we get to talk to the judge directly. One word answers are not going to be sufficient.” If the judge asks, “Why can’t you work?” And you answer, “I’m in pain.” That’s not enough.
Jeanne: You must elaborate on your answers. I can’t sleep because of pain. I get nausea because of the pain. I can’t hold my grandkids because of the pain. It’s more than just, well, I’m in pain.
Well, a lot of people are in pain. Why does that make you disabled? It’s converting what they know, which is simply what they experience, converting it into language that bridges the gap between the medical records and the determination that they’re disabled.
How Long Does the Social Security Disability Application Process Take?
Interviewer: How long does the application process usually take?
A Decision on Benefits Is Usually Made Four to Five Months after the Application Is Submitted
Elvira: It takes four to five months from the initial application submission to get a decision. From when you first apply to get a decision, normally we’ve seen four to five months. If you are denied, you have 60 days to appeal.
If the Application Is Denied, You Have 60 Days to File a Reconsideration Appeal
We would file for what is called the reconsideration appeal and, again, you are assigned another examiner and again get sent the same form, that same questionnaire from that examiner, and you have to fill that one out, again, which is a very long form that asks so many questions.
Again, they might send you to another doctor’s appointment. At that time we call the claimant and update all the medical records and make sure that the new examiner has any updated medical evidence. Then it takes again another four to five months to get a decision.
If Your Claim Is Denied a Second Time, You Are Entitled to Request a Hearing
By then it’s already been about10 months, and then you have to file for a hearing.