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A Disability Determination Services employee, working with a doctor, will make the initial decision on the claim. If the claim is denied and the individual requests reconsideration, the case is then sent to another disability examiner, where it goes through much the same process. If a claim is denied at reconsideration, the claimant may then request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge who makes an independent decision upon the claim. This is the only time that the claimant and the decision maker get to meet.
Be honest and complete in giving information to Social Security about what is disabling you. Many claimants, for instance, fail to mention their emotional problems to Social Security because they are embarrassed about them. Beyond being honest and complete with Social Security, the most important thing that you can do is just keep appealing. Also important is hiring an attorney to represent you before the Social Security Administration. Statistically, claimants who employ an attorney to represent them are much more likely to win than those who do not employ an attorney to represent them.
For disability insurance benefits, it all depends upon how much you have worked and earned in the past. For disabled widow's or widower's benefits, it depends upon how much the late husband or wife worked and earned. For disabled adult child benefits, it all depends upon how much the parent worked and earned. For SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives.
Disability Insurance Benefits cannot begin until five months have passed after the person becomes disabled. In addition, benefits cannot be paid more than one year prior to the date of the claim. SSI benefits cannot be paid prior to the date of the claim (application).
First, do not be surprised. If you are denied at the initial level, you should appeal, that is, file a request for reconsideration. You should also consider employing an attorney.
One reason is that there is no simple way to determine whether an individual is disabled. Most people who are disabled suffer from pain. There is no way of determining whether or not another individual is in pain, much less how much pain they are in. A second reason is that Social Security has been more concerned with making sure that everyone who is receiving Social Security disability benefits is "truly" disabled than with making sure that everyone who is disabled receives the Social Security disability benefits.
Actually, when you file a Social Security disability claim, you are not trying to just get "your own money" back. The money that an individual may have paid into Social Security over the years would not last very long if that was all that an individual could draw from Social Security. (Keep in mind that an average claim results in over $370,000 of benefits over a lifetime, before the value of Medicare is included.)
No. You have to have been disabled for at least a year or be expected to be disabled for at least a year or have a condition that can be expected to result in death within a year.
Social Security is supposed to consider the combination of impairments that an individual suffers in determining disability. Many, perhaps most claimants for Social Security disability benefits have more than one health problem and the combined effects of all of the health problems must be considered.
Possibly. Work issues are complicated and we will tell you the ins and outs of working and its relationship to disability. Do not waste time trying to figure out work issues on the internet. Also, it's not as simple as "work under the SGA limit is ok". It's not ok.
Thanks to Attorney Charles T. Hall of Raleigh for originally drafting these answers. (We’ve changed them a bit and updated them for you.)
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While we are based in Asheville, we cover all of Western North Carolina, including the areas around Hendersonville, Brevard, Waynesville, Sylva, Franklin, Burnsville, Spruce Pine, Marshall, Mars Hill, Bakersville, Weaverville, Asheville, Black Mountain, Candler, Old Fort, Marion, Shelby, Rutherfordton, Nebo, Charlotte, and Fairview. The counties we typically cover include: Clay, Cherokee, Graham, Macon, Swain, Jackson, Haywood, Henderson, Transylvania, Polk, Buncombe, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Rutherford, Cleveland, and McDowell.
We also handle appellate brief-writing related to administrative law (Social Security Administration) in certain other regions of the country by arrangement with local counsel. Attorney Holly J. Fairbairn and Attorney Susan Chitwood Barton are licensed to practice law in North Carolina.
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