Tennessee Social Security Disability Lawyer
Social Security Disability Insurance is a benefit people may apply for, if they, their spouse or parents have contributed to the fund by means of payroll deduction (that’s the “FICA” deduction that appears on paychecks, named for the Federal Insurance Contributions Act). This program covers people who develop a disability, including workers injured on the job, their children and spouses. In April 2015, SSDI paid benefits to 10.9 million people. Unfortunately, there are many people who need SSDI but are denied benefits.
The Social Security Administration’s eligibility determination process can be frustrating and confusing. The SSA may take up to five months to process an initial claim, and many of those claims will be denied. Appealing a denial involves several steps, and some people might decide to give up on their claim rather than pursue it. But the appeals process is worth your effort, when you need benefits – and it’s a lot easier to go through with the help of an experienced Tennessee social security disability lawyer.
John R. Colvin has represented people whose benefits have been denied, defending their rights at various stages of the appeals process, including federal court. Often, the key to winning an appeal is providing additional evidence that supports a disability claim.
How Do I Qualify For SSD Benefits?
The federal Social Security Administration (SSA) has clearly outlined “sequential evaluation processes” for disability evaluation for adults and children/dependents.
The adult evaluation process involves five factors:
- The claimant’s existing work activity
- The severity of the claimant’s impairment(s)
- Whether the claimant’s impairment meets or equals specific medical parameters
- The claimant’s ability to perform their relevant work
- The claimant’s ability to perform other work based on age, education, and work experience.
Once diagnosed by your doctor (or one approved by SSA), the following medical conditions usually – but not always – automatically qualify you for SSD benefits:
- Musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries
- Cardiovascular conditions, including heart failure or coronary artery disease
- Sense and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss
- Respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma
- Neurological disorders (multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy)
- Mental disorders (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, retardation, etc.)
- Immune system disorders (HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.)
- Syndromes; for example, Sjogren’s Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome
- Skin disorders, such as dermatitis
- Digestive tract problems, including liver disease or Irritable Bowel Disease
- Kidney disease and genitourinary problems
- Hematological disorders, such as hemolytic anemia and disorders of bone marrow failure.
Through provisions in the Social Security Act and its supplement, Title XVI, the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are available to people 65 and over who have no disabilities if they fall under the financial limits for receiving such benefits. Those who have worked long enough may also be eligible to receive Social Security disability or retirement benefits in addition to SSI.
- in an outright reversal of the hearing level decision and a grant of benefits to the Claimant.
Ideally, you want to win your appeal at the earliest stage possible, so you don’t have to pursue progressive options. Only about 3 percent of claimants win awards on reconsideration, whereas the administrative law judge hearing accounts for approximately 13 percent of successful appeals.
Social Security Disability Benefits 101: Learn the Basics
How much longer do I have to wait for a hearing in my disability case?
The Social Security Administration recently released their updated end of calendar year 2015 Workload Data Report for each of their hearing offices across the United States. One of the major hurdles in any Social Security disability claim is the wait time that a Claimant is confronted with when pursuing his or her claim.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Tennessee Social Security Disability Claim?
Though the list of disabilities that qualify one for SSD benefits seems cut and dried, there are a lot of diagnostic “gray areas.” And there are some disabilities, which may not be listed but very well could be covered. Either way, it’s possible your legitimate claim could be initially denied but could be approved later on appeal.
Your SSD attorney who assists you in filing your claim – and is already familiar with your case – can also help you through this appeals process. If you filed your application for benefits without the assistance of a seasoned Tennessee Social Security Disability lawyer and have been denied, you should speak with one before you appeal your claim.
What goes into a successful SSD application?
Anyone who has filled out an application for any federal program understands how it seems that if you misplace one comma, your application gets kicked back and you have to start all over. It’s not really quite that bad, but federal bureaucrats must have all the paperwork “just so.” Getting the paperwork right is the first important part of the battle.
Knowing the ins and outs of the appeals process, and understanding what individual Social Security Administrative Law Judges want to see and hear, is another advantage to having an experienced Tennessee Social Security Disability Attorney. Though no lawyer can guarantee you will receive the disability benefits for which you apply, your chances of being approved for SSD benefits dramatically increase if you have an attorney. Otherwise, you could waste months (or even years) and money trying to represent yourself.
Reasons for Denial
A claim for SSDI benefits may be denied if reviewers believe the claimant’s disability is not severe or it won’t last for more than 12 months. Between 1992 and 2010, the most common reason for denial of benefits was that reviewers determined an injured worker was capable of adjusting to another type of work.
In determining whether a person is able to work, the SSA first considers whether someone’s disability makes his occupation impossible. If so, the SSA then considers whether a different type of work would be possible, taking into consideration the claimant’s age, education, and past experience, as well as skills that could be applied in a different job.
Reviewers in an appeals process may disagree about a claimant’s ability to work, and in what capacity, as there is no standard test to make that determination. Having a Tennessee social security disability lawyer who can make persuasive arguments on your behalf could sway opinion in your favor.
Between 2001 and 2010, only 28 percent of SSDI claimants were approved for benefits when they initially applied, and overall, about 45 percent of claims are approved.
When a claim is denied, a claimant may pursue a progressive series of appeals:
- Reconsideration: This is the first step in the appeals process; wherein a person not involved in the initial denial of the claim reviews it. The claimant does not need to be present for a reconsideration hearing.
- Hearing: A claimant who disagrees with the outcome of reconsideration may request a hearing. An administrative law judge reviews the case and considers the evidence obtained from sources such as doctors and experts on workplace issues. The Claimant normally appears at the hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, a claimant or the claimant’s attorney is allowed to cross-examine witnesses, which could help in winning an appeal.
- Appeal: If a claimant disagrees with the administrative law judge’s decision, he or she may ask the Social Security Appeals Council to review the case, but the council is not obligated to review it.
- Federal action: When a claimant disagrees with the appeals council’s decision, or if the council has refused to consider the case in question, a claimant may file a lawsuit in federal court. Filing a United States District Court action is normally the final stage of the appeals process and current statistics show that very few civil actions against the Administration result in an outright reversal of the hearing level decision and a grant of benefits to the Claimant.
How Long Do I Have To Wait For a Hearing in My Disability Case?
The Social Security Administration recently released their updated end of calendar year 2015 Workload Data Report for each of their hearing offices across the United States. One of the major hurdles in any Tennessee Social Security disability claim is the wait time that a Claimant is confronted with when pursuing his or her claim.
What makes a Good Tennessee SSD Attorney?
Any good attorney listens to all the details and nuances of your case, because they know they cannot capably represent you if they don’t pay attention to everything you try to tell them. A good, honest lawyer will not guarantee your approval but will honestly assess your situation and give you straight answers. And a seasoned Tennessee SSD attorney can help you understand the complexities surrounding SSA procedures and regulations. All of these traits can instill confidence that you are receiving expert advice and solid legal representation that increases your odds of success.
A Strong Advocate: John Colvin, Tennessee Social Security Disability Lawyer
If your SSDI benefits have been denied, or if you need guidance with the application process, we may be able to help. We understand how a denial of benefits can affect families, and we care about people receiving the compensation to which they’re entitled. Get your free consultation today – call us at (931) 962-1044, or complete our contact form.