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Help Dealing With Social Security Disability

Pursuing a successful Social Security Disability claim comes down to skillful preparation, patience and determination. It also comes down to hiring an effective, experienced SSD claims lawyer with the experience you need in order to receive the benefits you are entitled to. At the Law Offices of Ankerholz and Smith, we have helped hundreds of clients receive Social Security benefits when they have become disabled and can no longer earn a living.

No attorney fees unless you receive benefits for your claim.

Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience filing initial claims and appealing denied claims. We know how to gather the information necessary to file a successful claim, and we stick to our guns to help you get the benefits you need.

If you are considering filing an SSDI claim, or have had your initial claim denied, contact the Social Security Disability attorneys at the Law Offices of Ankerholz and Smith to schedule an opportunity to meet with us about your disability. Have patience. We can help.

Social Security Disability Claims Process

  1. Information gathering and initial claim
  2. Denied claims and SSDI appeals
  3. Request for reconsideration
  4. Request for hearing
  5. Hearing representation

Social Security Disability Applications

There are many reasons why a person cannot work. The reasons may be psychological, physical, or a combination of both. The attorneys at Ankerholz and Smith each have handled Social Security Disability cases for more than 25 years.

We have handled claims involving many different causes of disability. No attorney fee is due until our client’s application is successfully completed.

The Social Security Administration decides whether you are disabled by using a vast number of Federal Regulations that deal with a person’s age, earnings, medical condition and work history. In general, it is easier for an older person to be accepted for disability benefits than it is for a younger person.

Most initial disability applications are denied by the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Act defines disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

To be eligible for such disability benefits you must have worked long enough in a position that was covered by Social Security. You must file a written application for the benefits, although the initial information is often taken over the phone. You must also have a disability which prevents you from working for at least 12 months.

Initial Application Phase

When you file a disability claim, the Social Security office will obtain a record of your earnings. If this record shows that you meet the insured status requirement for disability insurance benefits (that you have a total of five years of work out of the last 10 years before you became disabled) your file is forwarded to a state disability determination office which will make an initial decision as to whether or not you are disabled under the Social Security Act.

In order to do this, they will need to obtain medical reports from the physicians you have seen and the hospitals you have visited for treatment. Although the state agency often will try to obtain these medical reports itself, the burden of proof as to disability lies with the claimant.

Sometimes the state agency will request that you be examined by a physician they choose. If this happens in your case, be certain to attend the scheduled examination, otherwise, your claim may be denied on that basis alone.

In determining whether or not you are disabled under the Social Security Act, it must be shown that you are not working, or if you are working, the work you are doing is not “substantial gainful activity;” that your impairment(s) are severe in that you are significantly limited by your mental or physical impairment(s) to do basic work activities; and that you are unable to perform not only your former job(s) which you held in the last 15 years but also any other work which exists in significant numbers in the economy considering your residual functional capacity, your age, education, and past work experience.

Reconsideration Phase

If the state agency denies your initial application for disability, then you may file a Request for Reconsideration of that determination. You must do this within 60 days of receipt of your denial notice. At the time of a request for reconsideration, the state agency will assign a different disability examiner and a different physician to review your case.

Evidentiary Hearing Phase

If your claim is again denied, then you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Office of Hearings and Appeals. This request must also be made within 60 days of your receipt of Notice of Reconsideration determination. At this hearing you will be able to personally appear, and we will assist you in testifying as to the facts of your disability, present additional evidence and call witnesses on your behalf. This is the best opportunity for you to present evidence in person and to convince the judge that you cannot work!

Appeals Council Phase

If the administrative law judge decides that you are not under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act, then you may request the Appeals Council to review the hearing decision. The Appeals Council will review all the documentary evidence of record and the testimony at the hearing in arriving at their decision. You have 60 days from receipt of the administrative law judge’s denial to file this appeal.

Federal Court Phase

Should the Appeals Council refuse to grant your request for review, or, if they review your claim and affirm the administrative law judge’s decision, then you may file an appeal with the United States District Court which will review the record as it then stands and decide whether or not the decision denying your claim for benefits is supported by substantial evidence. If not, the court may reverse the prior decision or send your case back to the Appeals Council for further proceedings specified by the court. You have 60 days from the denial by the Appeals Council to file this suit.

The Process Takes Time

One of the biggest complaints about the Social Security Disability application process is that it takes too long! Rian F. Ankerholz has participated in meetings with the chief administrative law judge to discuss how disability applications can be handled more quickly. In some cases, applications can be evaluated on a “fast track” basis. We will carefully consider whether your case qualifies for an “on the record” decision. We are here to help you through this arduous process.

Free Consultation–Call Today

For more information about how you can get the benefits you are entitled to, contact the Social Security Disability claims attorneys at the Law Offices of Ankerholz and Smith to schedule a free consultation: 913-800-6071.