Life has a way of throwing punches. After years of faithful service in which they have paid into the Social Security system, workers can find themselves facing a situation of physical or mental disability which prevents them from continuing to work. The SSDI program was established as an income replacement program for people who have worked and contributed to the Social Security program but are now unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment.
Getting benefits from Social Security disability can be a confusing and time-consuming process, and results cannot be guaranteed. The majority of claims are ultimately denied. When claims are denied, the claimant does have the right to appeal, which itself can become a very involved process. The amount of income the claimant earned and contributed to the Social Security program in the past goes a long way toward determining the amount of the award to the disabled claimant.
The claimant’s attorney has two immediate course of action to pursue. First, the claimant’s attorney can seek a hearing before an administrative law judge. Secondly, the claimant has the right to submit additional evidence of disability to the Appeals Council. Appeals must be filed within 60 days. New evidence may include updated medical records, functional capacity evaluations or psychological evaluations.
Recent court cases have verified that SSDI claimants are allowed to present new evidence at each stage of the administrative process. When new evidence is submitted, the appeals court must consider new, material and chronologically relevant evidence and must review the case if the administrative law judge’s action, finding or conclusion is contrary to the weight of evidence currently at record. In addition, there can be other situations to consider, such as when the Appeals Council erroneously refuses to consider evidence.
If the foregoing actions fail to work, the claimant’s attorney can appeal the case all the way to the U.S. District Court. This, of course, can require many hours of legal preparation that a strong SSDI attorney will be willing to provide. For example, this may require coordination with attending physicians to establish the strongest medical evidence to support the claim.
It can be a daunting task to take on Social Security alone. In all cases such as these, claimants should seek out competent advice from a law firm experienced in and who specializes in handling Social Security disability cases. Myron Allenstein