If you have recently filed a claim for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits, you probably already know that your opponent is bigger, stronger, and wealthier than you are. In fact, some have compared your opponent to the biblical character, Goliath. Good thing for you, we all know how the story ends and we know how David defeated Goliath through sheer will, determination, persistence, and patience. Often, it is the intangibles that level the playing field between seemingly unequal opponents. The lessons learned from this epic biblical battle still provide a roadmap for success and perhaps even the inspiration that you will need to defeat your opponent, the Social Security Adminstration (SSA), in your battle to receive the Social Security benefits that you deserve!!
There are hundreds of thousands of people fighting the same battle that you're fighting against the Social Security Administration on a day-to-day basis. Like you, they have become unable to work due to a physical or mental illness and lack the necessary income and medical assistance to survive without immediate help. Without other options, like you, they have turned to the Social Security Administration seeking the benefits that they deserve. The result? They deny you, tell you that you aren't disabled and hope that you will go away, even though your own doctor says that you can't work.
Statistics show that 75% of all first time disability claims are denied and roughly half of those denied will not appeal that decision. Essentially, SSA knows that most folks will simply go away and never appeal their cases if they are denied benefits in the first round. Obviously, this drastically cuts the number of claims that they eventually have to process and pay. The good news? Those individuals who do appeal their claim, have more than a 50% chance of success after their claim is heard before and Administrative Law Judge.
My advice to you? Arm yourself with a tough, smart,competent attorney and KEEP ON FIGHTING!!
The system is complicated and the paperwork is cumbersome. In order to survive the system, you must undersand it! In a nutshell, here are the steps:
1. Initial Application -- Statistically speaking, this is the stage where SSA attempts to "weed you out" of the system. Sevety-Five (75%) of all first time applicants' claims are denied at this level. Much like an insurance claim, SSA is looking for any reason to deny your claim at this level and they usually do. But, DO NOT GIVE UP!! You have 60 days to appeal the decision, so use it!
2. Reconisderation -- This is virtually a "rubber stamp" of the initial application stage. More than 80% of all applicant appeals are denied during this stage. Usually, a quick review of the initial decision along with your SSA file is performed by an SSA employee during a process that often takes several months to complete. SSA is very aware that after this stage, only 50% of all initial applicants will have the intestinal fortitude to perservere and appeal to the next level. It is crucial that you remain patient and continue forward.....Your chances will improve in the next round.
3. Request for Hearing -- If you stick around to this point, you have a 53% chance of success. Here, an Administrative Law Judge will review your claim independent of any determination that has been made previously. In other words, he's not bound by any determination that other have made in regard to you claim to this point. However, you will need to understand critical disability regulations that may pertain to your condition, you will need to secure medical records that support your claim, you will also need to provide lots of written correspondence to the Judge that has been assigned to your case, and clearly articulate a theory of disability to that Judge at your hearing if you're to succeed.
Sound like a lot? It is a lot! That's why you MUST RETAIN AN ATTORNEY who has years of social security experience. As an experienced Social Security attorney, I am paid on a contingency fee basis. Either I win your case, or you do not pay me an attorney fee. Federal law establishes the maximum amount of fee that an attorney can receive in your case. At the time of this writing, attorneys can receive either 25% of your backpay award, if you should win, OR $5,300.00,
whichever is least. In other words, the most that an attorney can be paid for successfully prosecuting your claim is $5,300.00. You may also be responsible for incidental expenses involved in the prosecution of your case.
So, in short, you must be patient, persistent, perserverent and represented by competent legal counsel to improve your chances of success!! Call the Law Firm of Mani Ellis & Layne in Charleston, West Virginia! We'd love to hear from you!