Why is my disability decision taking so long?

The process of obtaining Social Security disability is notoriously long and complex. When you can't work and the bills are piling up, it can seem like there's no end in sight. So what is it that's taking so long? Well, there are two main steps in the determination process that can take the most time: the initial review and the appeal hearing.

Initial Review

To attain a medical disability decision, your claim most go through a very specific process. From the Social Security field office, your claim is forwarded to the state disability agency for a medical determination. You medical records must then be gathered from the sources you supplied on your disability application or during your disability interview. This can take a couple of months, and you may have to attend a consultative medical exam if your medical information is not current (within the past 90 days).

Appeal Hearing

The gathering of evidence and medical records can also impact the timeline of this process, but there's another larger hurdle specific to your hearing. There just aren't administrative judges to handle all of the disability appeals coming through the system in a timely manner. For this reason, it often takes a full year or longer get a hearing date scheduled.

Here's the good news. Broadway Law is on your side. Our insider consultants know how to expedite your claim and improve your odds of a speedy resolution.

To talk to an expert about your claim today, give us a call at (405)256-1010.

2017 Changes to Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration conducts an annual financial review that may affect qualification rules, benefit payment amounts, and numerous other aspects of Social Security disability.

Here are some changes coming in 2017 that could impact you.

Supplemental Security Income

The financial resources limit has not changed, but SSI recipients will see a bit of a COLA increase.

Resource Limits

A claimant cannot have more than $2,000 in financial resources to receive SSI. For couples, with each partner receiving benefits monthly, their combined financial resources may not exceed $3,000.

COLA

Individuals can now receive a maximum $735 per month. For couples, their combined SSI cannot be any higher than $1,103.

Social Security Disability Insurance

To qualify for SSDI, a claimant must have a minimum of 20 to 40 work credits, depending on the age they were when they became disabled. A maximum of 4 per year can be earned by workers.

In 2017, to earn four credits you will have to pay Social Security taxes on at least $5,200. This won’t affect your SSDI if you have already earned enough credits. But here are some changes that might:

Substantial Gainful Activity

The new 2017 SGA for non-blind applicants is $1,170 per month, and $1,950 for blind applicants. Applicants may not have income from employment exceeding the SGA level.

Trial Work Period Limit

In 2017, only months that see you earn at least $840 will count toward your TWP. In contrast to 2016, when a trial work month was capped at $810. 

Cost of Living Adjustment

In 2017, all SSDI recipients will get a 0.3% increase in their monthly payments.

If you have a question about how any of these changes may affect you specifically, we would love to hear from you. 

Former DDS Examiner Tells All

Here are six insider tips to keep in mind when applying for Social Security Disability benefits.

  1. If you are disabled and unable to work, file a claim for Social Security disability immediately. Disability claims typically take a very long time to process and most are denied initially. Additionally, retroactive disability benefits only go as far back as the date you applied.
  2. Get assistance with the disability application. Many claimants who apply for disability benefits, or file an appeal after being denied, fail to either properly complete their paperwork or just miss the deadline. Either grievance will result in a denial. Hire an attorney or disability advocate from the start to expedite the process.
  3. Hire an attorney to appeal a denial. With over 70% of applicants being denied initially, most will need to go to an appeal hearing to get approved. And going to a hearing before an administrative law judge without a lawyer will hurt your chances of winning.
  4. See your physician regularly. Typically, you must be seen by a medical provider at least every two months to be approved for Social Security disability. You should build a good relationship with your doctor so they are cooperative and thorough in providing supporting statements, such as a medical source statement. Additionally, the SSA may cast doubt on the severity of your condition if you are not visiting a doctor often. In the event that your medical coverage is revoked before your claim for benefits is approved, you can still be seen at a local health department, free clinic or urgent care.
  5. Get your physician to complete an RFC form. Residual Functional Capacity forms are used by DDS examiners to determine what functional abilities you’ve retained despite your condition. Claims examiners are required to have a DDS physician or psychologist complete an RFC form before the case can be closed. If you provide one, they may utilize it to create the internal form, increasing your odds of your claim being approved.
  6. Do not call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number for updates. In my experience, claimants are more often than not given incorrect information regarding their case. The SSA call center representatives are consistently out of the loop and routinely fail to deliver correct information. Instead, call either the Social Security office where you filed your claim or the disability examiner at Disability Determination Services.

As a program expert with over 41 years of experience with the Social Security Disability Program, Larry Angelo stands ready to give your Social Security Disability claim the best consideration possible at all levels of appeal. 

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Why Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

Larry Lewis | SSD Program Consultant 33 Years Serving Disabled Citizens of Oklahoma

Larry Lewis | SSD Program Consultant

33 Years Serving Disabled Citizens of Oklahoma

The overwhelming majority of Social Security Disability and SSI claims are denied at the initial claim and reconsideration levels. This is why most claimants will eventually go to a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALS). It’s at this point that having a disability advocate (a disability attorney or non-attorney representative) becomes not just recommended, but essential.

A typical SSDI or SSI claimant will have no idea how to thoroughly and properly prepare a disability case for a hearing. And why should you? Social Security rules and regulations are complex and require expertise to navigate. The only way to get that level of familiarity is experience, and that’s where we come in.

With over 75 years combined experience, our expert program consultants know how to get you approved for the maximum amount of benefits that you are eligible to receive. 

We work on a contingency basis, which means we don’t get paid until you win. So you can rest assured that we are going above and beyond to get you the benefits you have earned. From helping you get detailed medical source statements to educating you on key factors in the application and appeals processes, we are here for you every step of the way.

To speak to an expert about your claim for free, call (405)256-1010.

7 Winning Tips for Disability Claimants

In a perfect world, truly disabled people would get fast access to medical care and disability benefits. Unfortunately, it rarely works this way. With most claims being denied initially, SSD and SSI claimants usually need to file an appeal and win benefits at the hearing level. 

Increase your odds with these seven winning tips for disability claimants.

  1. Include copies of your medical records when you initially apply and each time you appeal. 
  2. Stay up to date on the status of your claim. Hopefully you have representation to keep you informed. If you are going it alone, we recommend regularly calling DDS for updates. You don’t want them to be waiting on you for anything!
  3. Comply with the minor consultative exams scheduled by DDS and respond promptly to notices and letters.
  4. Build and maintain positive relationships with the people working on your case. 
  5. Don’t miss important deadlines! If you have hired a representative, they will ensure a deadline never sneaks up on you. Otherwise, it’s up to you to stay organized.
  6. If your personal physician will support your disability case, have them create a detailed Medical Source Statement to increase your odds of getting approved.
  7. Hire representation. The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits is difficult to navigate. Hiring a proper disability attorney or consultant greatly increases your odds of obtaining benefits quickly.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be daunting. You have to remember small details, track down medical records and fill out form after form. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid that could prevent you from getting your disability benefits.

The belief that your claim is somehow different than the others that have been denied.

Social Security examiners have no emotional investment in your claim. To them, your claim is just like any other. Initially, over 70% of SSDI claims are denied. After an appeal hearing, another 30-40% are denied. Denials are just a part of the process but you can prepare your claim to overcome the obstacles. So how do you make your claim stand out? Your diagnosis, prognosis and your functional limitations must be accurately reflected by your medical records.

The belief that a medical opinion stating that you are disabled is all you need to get disability benefits. 

    A doctor’s opinion can be helpful in obtaining Social Security disability benefits, but it needs to be validated by evidence. The claims adjusters do not know you or your doctor, nor will they have to opportunity to meet either of you. Medical or another type of evidence to substantiate your doctor’s opinion goes a long way.

The belief that you must wait at least 12 months to apply for benefits after becoming disabled.

You can apply for Social Security disability benefits the very day you become disabled. However, it is important that your disability is expected to last at least 12 months. This rule is the source of great confusion for many and can result in a massive loss in back pay. This is because the SSA is only allowed to pay you for up to one year prior to your application date. The best time to apply is immediately.

The belief that you cannot afford legal assistance with your claim.

There is no up front cost to work with us. We work on a contingency basis. Meaning, if you don’t win, we don’t get paid. With a combined 75 years of experience, our program consultants have the knowledge and the passion to get you approved for benefits. You don’t even have to hire us to talk to our experts about your claim. We can assist you at any point in the application and appeals process so give us a call today!

Top 9 Social Security Disability Myths

There is a lot of misinformation out there about applying for Social Security disability benefits. We asked our program experts to shed some light on these common misconceptions. Here are their top nine myths about Social Security disability.

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1) If you are applying for disability, you are not allowed to work or have earned income. 

You will not be automatically denied for benefits if you are working part-time and not making much money. However, full-time work constitutes substantial gainful activity (SGA), which disability claimants must be unable to perform.

2) Everyone is denied by Social Security the first time they apply for disability.

In fact, nationwide, about 30% of claims nationwide are approved on the first application filed with the Social Security Administration.

3) A decision will be made on your disability claim in 90 to 120 days. 

Social Security Disability cases can be won in as few as 30 days, or take as long as two years for benefits to be awarded. You are more likely to get approved quickly the more serious your disability is.

4) You can get approved for benefits automatically with a statement from your physician supporting your case.

Letters from physicians have little impact on the decision in most Social Security disability cases. This is because most doctors submit short letters with inadequate detail to be of any value to a disability examiner. However, at the ALJ hearing level of appeal, a more detailed “medical source statement” can make a huge difference as to whether or not a disability claimant is approved for benefits.

5) Social Security claims pursued by adults are more difficult to approve than disability claims for children.

In fact, children’s SSI disability cases are often more difficult to win. This is because most children’s disability claims tend to center around common impairments (such as asthma or ADHD). Unless severe, it can be difficult to get approved for benefits for these conditions.

6) You can get approved for benefits automatically with certain disabilities, conditions or medical health problems.

While there are a few medical conditions that automatically apply for disability, there are legal and financial requirements that must be met before a claimant is approved.

7) If you have ever used drugs or alcohol, you are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

There are some cases in which the Social Security Administration may attempt to use the fact that you drink or use drugs to ignore your limitations and deny claim. However, their ability to deny your claim is dependent on the nature of the medical condition for which you are applying.

8) Back pay (past due benefits) come to everyone who gets approved for disability.

Not everyone will receive back pay. The vast majority, however, will. This is because Social Security disability cases typically take a great deal of time to finish. Whether you areapplying for SSI or SSDI, you are entitled to receive monthly payments from when you first applied for benefits.

9) Social Security sends you a consultative medical exam for the purpose of providing medical treatment.

Many consultative exams only last five to ten minutes because a claims examiner typically sends a doctor just have a symptom checked or a minor test done.

A note from Larry Angelo, Social Security Disability Program Consultant

Throughout my professional career, working for the Social Security Disability Program, I took pride in knowing that I gave the claimant every consideration possible to make the right decision. I know that the claimant is experiencing a difficult part of their life when they file for disability. I know we are sometimes the last hope in getting the benefits they deserve. My passion is to make the right decision, get all benefits possible and bring successful closure so the claimant can find relief and security for his/her family.  

Larry Angelo

Welcome to Broadway Law!

Thanks for visiting our new website! 

Our digital presence isn't the only thing getting a fresh coat of paint. In addition to growing our team and expanding our services, Broadway Law is doubling down on office space. 

Meet the proud new residents of 3825 NW 23rd St, Suite C! 

Meet the proud new residents of 3825 NW 23rd St, Suite C! 

With over 75 combined years of experience, our Social Security Disability Program Consultants have an unrivaled passion for getting you the benefits you deserve.

That passion is evident in our unique process. From the initial application to the appeals process, Broadway Social Security Law Center will be with you every step of the way.

Your consultation is absolutely free, so please give us a call if you are stuck in the application process, have been denied a claim previously or are just deciding whether to apply.

405.256.1010