What To Expect In A Social Security Disability Claim
Largely depending on current and lifetime income, a Social Security Disability recipient could get up to $3,100 per month. The Social Security Administration uses a mind-numbing PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) formula to determine the amount of benefits in a given case. That’s just one of the many intricacies involved in these claims. On top of these complexities, there is essentially a presumption that SSD applicants do not deserve benefits.
Technically, applicants don’t need legal representation during this process. Many people choose this path. But since the deck is stacked against them, applicants desperately need a Tampa Social Security Disability attorney on their side. Only a good lawyer helps you put your best foot forward and fights for the benefits you deserve.
Assessing Your Claim
From a numerical standpoint, many Social Security Disability claims are rather straightforward. As mentioned, a formula usually determines the amount of benefits.
The other parts of a claim are quite different. Disability, or lack thereof, is usually the most important issue in an SSD claim. When it comes to chronic medical conditions, different doctors normally have different opinions. The same thing is true for car crash and other trauma injury victims. The wounds these victims sustain might or might not be disabling, depending on who you ask.
Additionally, “disability” is not just a medical term. The D-word has a number of other implications as well. For example, a severed arm or hand might be disabling in many situations. But such an injury hardly slows down a budding Jedi Knight.
State DDS Process
Initially, a Disability Determination Process officer reviews these claims. Aside from a brief interview, the analysis is almost entirely a paper review. These documents are usually limited to financial records and a doctor’s medical report.
Usually, if there is any indication that the claimant might not be disabled, the DDS officer denies the claim. So, a denial does not mean your claim is weak or meritless. A denial is simply your ticket to the next review level. Usually, things work out much differently at that stage.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
Essentially, an Administrative Law Judge is a lot like a state or federal judge. But there are some differences. For example, ALJs aren’t elected or appointed. Instead, they are usually paid SSA employees. So, there is a little natural bias.
Nevertheless, most ALJs are professional and fair. During these hearings, there is no court reporter and no jury. Instead, the ALJ considers the evidence and arguments of counsel in private. These hearings are not paper reviews. Instead, attorneys can introduce evidence, make arguments, and challenge evidence.
The SSA’s lawyers know what is in store for them at these hearings. Therefore, many SSD claims settle out of court before the ALJ hearing. These settlements are usually good for victims in several ways. These resolutions give victims more control over the outcome. Additionally, since they end the process earlier, victims start getting their disability checks earlier.
Incidentally, any benefits are usually retroactive to the filing date. If the victim waited several months for an ALJ hearing, which is the norm, these back benefits could be substantial.
Rely On a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney
SSD claims are often long and frustrating. For a free consultation with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer in Tampa, contact Kobal Law. After-hours visits are available.