Fling a claim can be delayed for years without having a lawyer
Claims are won or lost based on the paperwork you provide to the Social Security Administration, and having the team of Shook & Stone behind you at the early stages of the process can save you years of waiting. A skilled Social Security Attorney can help provide you with information and advice on giving your claim the best chance of being granted at the initial level. After a claim moves beyond the initial level, you are potentially looking at a wait time of over two years or more.
The government makes it easy to file for disability, but you need to provide the government the vital information they need to find in your favor for a claim to be successful.
Of the millions of claims filed every year, around 21% are granted at the initial levels. Around 2% are granted at the reconsideration level, and around 8% are granted at the hearing levels. Two-thirds of all disability claims are denied. Many of these can be after a wait time of several years.
The best way to avoid potentially waiting years for an unfavorable result is to make sure the government has all the information they need to decide in your favor.
When you are hurting, unable to work, and potentially still recovering from a life-changing injury, the reality is the government considers it your responsibility to provide them with all the information they need.
The first step to a successful claim is to thoroughly document all of the doctors who have been treating you. This includes going through your medical records and keeping track of all of your referrals or facilities that performed tests.
A single referral from a primary care physician leading to an MRI and a follow-up with a specialist could produce many medical records from several different facilities. At Shook & Stone, we work with you to identify your providers and request all of your medical records. On the other hand, the Social Security Administration will accept your best recollection and make their decision entirely on incomplete records.
Second, in addition to doctor’s information, other vitally important forms such as a work history report, a function report, or a Treating Physicians Questionnaire can be filled out improperly or neglected. Fully documenting your work history is vital. Simply throwing down a job title and moving on Is one of the most common ways people hurt their claim. Vital information such as how much weight you were lifting, or time on your feet, can change how a job is classified.
Third, if you are denied at the initial level, it is important to understand why and file a timely appeal. During that time, you want to fix any problems with your application addressed by disability services. Simply stating your conditions have gotten worse will result in further denial. You want to provide documentation of your condition deteriorating and make it as easy as possible for the social security office to find in your favor.
Finally, a skilled Social Security Attorney can prepare you for the hearing.
The Administrative Law Judge is an impartial party who will make their decision on your claim. After hearing your testimony, the ALJ will question a vocational expert, and you will be allowed to cross-examine that expert. Cross-examining vocational experts is complex and requires a knowledge of how the government classifies jobs. An attorney will make sure your past work is properly classified and all of your severe impairments are addressed to the vocational expert.
Having the services of a legal team with years of experience battling the Social Security Administration on behalf of clients can turn several years of waiting into a straightforward process. This puts money in your pocket faster and lets you focus on healing.