You know you cannot work because of an injury or illness or a combination of health problems. Your doctor agrees with you. So why did the Social Security Administration (SSA) deny your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Securing benefits can be challenging
The truth is that the federal laws governing these programs are complicated and legalistic. The SSA is notorious for denying benefits to people who eventually prove on review or appeal that their disabilities prevent them from working and that they are indeed eligible for benefits. Unfortunately, it can take months or even years for some claimants to finally have their benefits approved.
You do not have to face the SSA alone
Having an experienced attorney on your side can increase your chances of earlier approval. For example, a legal advocate can assist with your initial application, increasing your chances of approval at the earliest opportunity. The lawyer can advise you about medical, vocational or other kinds of evidence you should gather and submit with the application. With a fully developed record of evidence, the agency is more likely to have the information it needs to make an informed eligibility decision without dragging the matter out.
But even if you do not retain legal counsel early on it is worth a consultation at any stage of the appeals process. You can usually still submit additional evidence at later stages and an attorney will be particularly helpful if you face a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
The SSA holds these ALJ hearings, which are similar to judicial hearings.
A new investigative article in Mother Jones goes into detail about the challenges claimants can face in ALJ hearings as well as in the application process generally. In part 2 of this post, we will consider points made in the article.