Anyone who has attempted to learn more about Social Security Disability (SSD) on his or her own may have found the information to be quite extensive and too complicated. That is why here at York Gaskill, we work hard to make certain our clients gain as much understanding as possible about SSD and the hearing process.
The following questions and answers will provide general guidance with respect to many commonly-asked questions. However, the information is not meant to replace the legal counsel you should seek.
Q: How is Social Security Disability defined for purposes of obtaining benefits?
A: Individuals will be deemed disabled if they have an emotional and/or physical condition that leaves them unable to participate in “substantial gainful” activity (aka work). The condition must be expected to last (or has already lasted) at least a full year, or it must be expected to result in the individual’s death. The applicant’s age, work history and education are all taken into account when assessing one’s ability to perform gainful activities.
Q: What stages are involved in the SSD process?
A: Generally, there are four stages to the process. The first stage is the initial application stage. Applicants should be aware that most individuals will be denied at this stage; however, applicants are given 60 days to file an appeal after that denial. The second stage is referred to as the reconsideration stage. Should you receive an unfavorable decision at this stage, you will have another 60-day period to appeal. This is when you will reach the most critical stage in the process known as the hearing stage. At this point, you will actually meet with an administrative law judge (ALJ) and present your case. If you are denied at the hearing stage, you will then be allowed another 60 days to file an appeal to the Appeals Council, which is the fourth stage in the process. If you are unsuccessful at the Appeals Council, you do have the right to appeal to a federal court.
Q: When will I receive an initial decision?
A: The amount of time it takes for an applicant to receive his or her initial decision varies from state to state, as there is a separate agency that makes the initial medical assessment. It is not uncommon, however, for it to take six months or more for a decision.
Q: What can I expect to occur at the administrative hearing?
A: More than likely, the ALJ handling the hearing will ask you several questions directly; however, if we are representing you at the hearing, the ALJ may permit us to question you first. During the hearing, you will be allowed to speak about your health history and symptoms, and the judge will be provided all reports we have obtained from your doctors.
Q: How much will I get for SSD?
A: The agency uses a formula that is extremely complex and would best be explained during an in-person consultation. Generally speaking, however, the more money you made while working, the more you will receive for SSD.
If you or someone you love would like to apply for SSD, or if you have been denied benefits, the attorneys at York Gaskill are here to help. Contact us today for assistance.