The Social Security Administration offers disability benefits programs to those who have a medical condition that renders them unable to work. Unfortunately, obtaining these crucial public benefits can be complicated due to the stringent eligibility requirements. By working with an experienced disability benefits attorney, you can increase the likelihood of obtaining the benefits you need.
Roeschke Law, LLC represents disabled individuals seeking disability benefits in the state of California. Well-versed in the eligibility requirements under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, we will work tirelessly to protect your rights. Founding attorney Kiel J. Roeschke focuses his practice on helping disabled individuals secure the benefits they deserve. He is highly regarded for being a dedicated advocate and providing clients with informed representation when they need it most. When you work with our legal team, you will have peace of mind knowing that your disability benefits claim is in good hands.
What is a Disability?
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines, being disabled means not being able to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medical condition. To be eligible the condition must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or result in death. While the SSA maintains a listing of the qualifying conditions (the Blue Book), an impairment that is not listed may also meet the criteria for a disability, provided that it is medically equivalent to a condition that is listed.
What types of disability benefits are available?
There are two different benefit programs offered by the SSA — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — To be eligible you must meet the disability criteria, be older than 18, but under the age of 65, and have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. You must also have earned sufficient work credits, based on the number of quarters worked each year.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — This program is limited to individuals who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age. SSI is available to those who may never have worked or paid into the Social Security system. Because these benefits are means-tested, your income and financial resources cannot exceed a specific threshold. Finally, children under the age of 18 who have a qualifying medical condition can also receive SSI.
The Disability Benefits Application Process
Applying for disability benefits is complicated. The application contains a number of questions that must be answered accurately and there are a number of forms that must also be completed correctly. The application must also include medical evidence such as doctors’ reports, an exam history, lab tests and radiological exams, and any other pertinent medical information about the diagnosis and prognosis of the impairment. Ultimately, it is necessary to demonstrate that you are incapable of performing any SGA because of your medical impairment.
Not only is completing the application complicated, having a disability benefits claim approved is daunting — nearly two-thirds of initial claims are denied. Common reasons claims are denied include (1) the applicant did not accumulate sufficient work credits, (2) the medical condition was not a qualifying impairment, or (3) the application contained errors.
By working with the Los Angeles disability lawyers at Roeschke Law, LLC, you increase the likelihood of your claim being approved.
Disability Benefit Appeals
When a disability benefits claim is denied, the SSA sends a letter informing you of the reason for the denial and of your right to appeal the decision. The first level of the appeals process is filing a Request for Reconsideration with the SSA within 60 days of receipt of the denial notice. In a reconsideration claim, a medical consultant and a disability examiner not involved in the initial decision will reevaluate the claim.
Nonetheless, a reconsideration claim will only be approved if there has been a new diagnosis or there is evidence that the medical condition has worsened. Only 20 percent of such claims are denied. The next step in the appeals process is to request a disability hearing. This is not a court proceeding, but rather an informal meeting overseen by an administrative law judge (ALJ) Moreover, an ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA attorney who will either uphold or overturn the denial.
The ALJ will conduct a hearing at which you will be asked questions about how the disability affects your day-to-day living. The ALJ will also allow your attorney to speak on your behalf and ask you additional questions about your medical condition. Medical and vocational experts also typically appear to provide testimony and evidence about the condition and how it prevents you from performing your job or any other type of work.
Roeschke Law, LLC routinely represents clients in disability hearings and can help you obtain the benefits you deserve. If your claim is denied at this level, the next phase involves seeking a review by the Appeals Council which will decide whether to overturn the decision, remand it to the ALJ for further reconsideration, or deny the claim. If the Appeals Council denies the claim, we will recommend filing a lawsuit in federal court to have the decision overturned.
Contact Our California Social Security Disability Attorney
At Roeschke Law, LLC, we have a proven history of helping our clients obtain the benefits they deserve. Knowing that navigating the SSA system can be overwhelming, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs assistance obtaining Social Security disability benefits in California, contact our disability attorneys today for a free consultation.