The road to winning Social Security Disability benefits often long and frequently rocky.
If your initial application for benefits is denied, there are several levels of appeal. A reconsideration is the first appeal to your initial denial. Claims are seldom granted at the reconsideration level. If your claim is denied again under reconsideration, you may ask for an in-person hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If a judge denies your claim, you have the right to appeal to the Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council denies review in the vast majority of these cases, and if they don’t, the best they usually do is send the case to back the same judge for another hearing. The Appeals Council only approves about 1% of cases outright.
A Nash Disability Law case was one of those in that 1%!
A disabled client (we will call him Mike to protect his privacy) is in his 60s and he has worked his whole life at hard labor jobs. For decades he paid into the Social Security Disability fund. A serious car accident left Mike with pain so severe that he could not work. Reluctantly, he filed for disability benefits and hired a representative from a national disability company to be his advocate. His initial filing for benefits was denied. Mike appealed the denial, but the ALJ ruled against him again. He then turned to us. We took Mike’s case to the Appeals Council. Among other strategies, we submitted a Residual Function Capacity Form from his doctor (something his other representative did not obtain), explaining how he was unable to work for many years. The RFC form documents a person’s physical limitations, and it allows their doctor to explain how their medical conditions limit them from working and qualify them for disability under SSA’s rules.
The Appeals Council agreed with us that the judge made the wrong decision, and awarded Mike disability benefits outright.
There are several take-aways from Mike’s case. First, the disability process can be frustrating and disheartening, especially when you are in real need of the benefits you are entitled to–benefits you paid for with your Social Security taxes. But, don’t give up. Second, as Tom Nash says, “Winning is about getting the right evidence in front of the right people at the right time.” The evidence from Mike’s RFC was a critical piece in building his case. It wasn’t just the medical records, but also his doctor’s opinions about his disability that tipped the scales of justice. And finally, it is about getting the right team. “If you are disabled and disability benefits are critically important, the disability hearing is your lifeline and the whole enchilada!,” Tom Nash points out. “It’s not some passing incidental transaction in connection with the representation. It is hardly a time to hire a low-rent advocate, unavailable to meet beforehand to properly prepare, unavailable to establish the proper attorney-client communication, and unavailable to prepare to defend the interests of the client.”
We stand ready to defend your interests and fight for your rights. Contact us at Nash Disability Law for a free evaluation of your situation.