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Sacramento Social Security Disability Legal Blog

Should you appeal a denied Social Security Disability claim?

Seeking Social Security coverage can prove very difficult, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the process of submitting and defending a claim, or for those whose injuries or illnesses are not typically awarded benefits. For any number of reasons, the Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects many claims that ultimately do receive coverage. It important to understand how to continue pushing a claim even when it seems like an administrative dead end.

Before spending your time and resources fighting for coverage that may never come through, consider some reasons for denial that no amount of appeals are likely to overcome. For instance, if you do not qualify for coverage because your income is too high, then you may have to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine if there are financial tools you can use to keep your resources while still qualifying for government benefits.

SSD benefits and proof of mental disabilities

Disabled individuals in California may apply for Social Security disability benefits on the basis of a physical or mental condition that impairs their ability to work. A mental disability may be proven with medical records from an applicant's psychologist or psychiatrist, family physician and any other medical provider who has treated the applicant for the mental condition.

Ideally, the records should contain information about an applicant's ability to perform daily tasks. The administration and hearing examiner will look for evidence that skills such as concentration, learning new tasks, following instructions and getting along with others have been affected by the disability.

Supreme Court will determine an important issue in SSI hearings

In a rare event, an issue in a Social Security Disability case will be heard by the US Supreme Court. As the issue involves the common practice of utilizing the testimony of a vocational expert, the Supreme Court ruling will have a substantial impact on disability claims for those in Sacramento, California, and throughout the country.

When an individual applies for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a sequential process to determine whether a person is entitled to benefits. These steps include whether the person is working, whether the claimant has a medical condition or combination of conditions that limits employment, and whether the person can perform past relevant work.

What examiners look for when reviewing disability applications

If a California resident is applying for Social Security disability benefits, the first step is to send an application that will be reviewed by an examiner. The examiner will pay special attention to any jobs performed within the past 15 years as skills used during this period of time are generally still relevant. During the analysis of the applicant's job history, an examiner will look for job titles and dates of employment.

The examiner will also look for any details that could determine the physical and mental capabilities needed to perform a task. Applicants are urged to be as specific as possible to help the examiner make a proper determination. Otherwise, the application could be denied, which would make it necessary to go through the appeals process. Of course, being detailed can help an applicant at the administrative law hearing level as well.

Social Security benefits and back pay

Many people who are no longer able to work in California due to a disability can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. When the claim is approved, the claimant is awarded back pay based on the date of onset of the disability. The onset date is determined by the administration after an examination of the claimant's medical records.

Back pay can be awarded based on an onset date that was prior to a previous denial if an administrative law judge or the administration determines that the prior decision was incorrect. For this reason, it is important for claimants to extensively list every condition that affects their ability to work, all medications they are taking and how their conditions affect their daily life. Claims that have been appealed multiple times have the potential for substantial back pay for the claimant when they are finally approved.

Don't minimize disabilities when applying for benefits

When people in California face disabling illnesses and injuries that prevent them from returning to work, they may feel pressured to minimize their symptoms and conditions. People may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their disabilities, or they may face years of family or social conditioning that encourage them to dismiss their own pain. However, this can work against a person considerably when he or she is applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

When people apply for SSD, they need to fully state the ways in which their disabilities interfere with life. This is especially true during phone interviews with a disability examiner when answering questions about how a disability affects activities of daily living. It is also particularly important when attending a medical examination scheduled by the Social Security Administration. For example, doctors providing examinations for Social Security Disability applicants may observe a patient walking to or from the car or climbing on to the examination table to determine if their disability is real. Many disabled people struggle to hide their disabilities on a regular basis and may continue to do so in these situations.

How to obtain medical records at a low cost

When a person submits an application for Social Security disability benefits, an examiner relies on an applicant's medical records to make a decision. If an individual has not sought treatment prior to submitting an application, there are many ways to do so. California residents who don't have money to see a doctor may opt to go to a free clinic or a nearby emergency room for treatment.

Alternatively, an individual could agree to attend a consultative examination. These are usually required if there are no medical records or recent records for an examiner to base a decision on. It is important to note that these are brief examinations that generally don't result in an application being approved.

A construction accident can take you out of work for good

If you work in the construction industry, you understand that your health is at risk to a certain degree. Even if you do your best to remain safe, the physical strain of your job could take its toll on you over time.

Some construction site accidents result in minor injuries that you can quickly recover from. Others, however, can take you out of work for good.

Social Security disability appeals

Most people in California who are no longer able to work due to a disability apply for Social Security benefits. However, many claims are denied after an initial application and reconsideration. Applicants have a limited amount of time to appeal a denial of a claim.

Disability applicants are allowed 60 days to appeal a denial and request an administrative hearing plus five days to account for time to mail paperwork. If an appeal is denied after a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), applicants have the same amount of time to request a review by the appeals council. However, if the appeals council rejects the application, applicants may file an appeal in federal court.

How a disability application is reviewed

California residents who are unable to work or make a sufficient living could be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. There are several criteria used to determine if a person is qualified. First, anyone who is making more than $1,180 per month will not likely be eligible to receive benefits. Applicants making at or below that amount must be able to show that their condition is or will last for more than 12 months.

In addition, it will be necessary to show that an applicant cannot perform work done in the past. Generally speaking, those who have a condition that doesn't preclude them from doing a previously held job are unlikely to have their applications approved. However, there is still a chance an application is denied because an individual can still do some sort of work. This is determined by looking at a person's age, education and other factors deemed relevant.

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