Am I Disabled?
To receive benefits under the Social Security Disability or SSDI program, you must have physical or mental health problems (or a combination of problems) severe enough to keep you from working in any regular, paying job for at least 12 months. The test isn't whether or not you are able to go back to your old job; and the test isn't whether or not you have been able to find a job lately: Rather, the test is whether you are capable of doing jobs available in the national economy. The Social Security Administration will take into account your medical condition, your age, your abilities, training and work experience in deciding your case.
What Do I Do If I've Been Denied Benefits?
Don't give up. Request a reconsideration. Many disabled people become discouraged after they receive a disability benefits denial notice and do not appeal denial.
This is often a mistake. Nationally, about two-thirds of all applications are denied benefits initially. Many of these people eventually receive benefits. If you are disabled but you have been denied benefits, you should contact your Social Security office and file for reconsideration within 60 days of the day you receive your denial notice.
Will I Be Approved on Reconsideration?
Probably not, but don't be discouraged. If you are denied at this point, you should request a Hearing within 60 days.
What Is a Hearing?
The hearing is usually the crucial step of the appeal process where you will have the best chance of winning. A hearing is conducted by the Office of Hearings and Appeals of the Social Security Administration. This is not the same agency which denied your initial application or your reconsideration. The hearing is generally informal. The hearing is private. The only people present will be the judge and the judge's assistant, you, your attorney, and any witnesses your attorney agrees would be helpful.
Occasionally, the judge may ask a vocational expert or a medical expert to be present to testify regarding your case. The judge or your attorney will ask you about your present medical condition, medical history, abilities, education, training, work experience and the limitations in your daily life caused by your disability.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Statistics have shown that people represented by Social Security disability lawyers have been successful more often than people without attorney representation. You should consider the advantages by examining what Kalfus & Nachman would do in your case.
What Would Kalfus & Nachman Do to Represent Me in My Social Security Case?
Every case is different. Your attorney's role depends on the particular facts of your case. However, a few of the things an attorney does are:
- Gather medical and other evidence.
- Analyze your case under Social Security Regulations.
- Contact your doctor and explain Social Security Regulations to obtain a report consistent with those regulations.
- Refer you to additional doctors for further medical reports to answer questions raised by Social Security Regulations.
- Send you to a vocational expert for a report on your ability to work.
- Suggest that the Social Security Administration send you to a doctor for consultative examination.
- Obtain documents from your Social Security file.
- Review actions taken by the Social Security Administration.
- Ask that a prior application for benefits be reopened.
- Seek waiver of a time limit.
- Request subpoenas to insure the presence of crucial witnesses or documents at your hearing.
- Advise you how best to prepare yourself to testify at your hearing.
- Protect your right to a fair hearing by objecting to improper evidence and procedures.
- Cross-examine Social Security Administration witnesses at your hearing.
- Present a closing statement at your hearing arguing that you are entitled to benefits under Social Security Regulations.
- Submit a written summary of the evidence and a legal argument to the Administrative Law Judge.
- Review, suggest changes or make legal objections to written questions which are sometimes sent to a doctor by the Administrative Law Judge after a hearing requesting an additional medical opinion.
- If you win, make sure that the Social Security Administration correctly calculates your benefits.
- If you lose, request a review of the Hearing Decision by the SSA Appeals Council.
- If necessary, represent you in a federal court review of your case.
When Should I Contact Kalfus & Nachman to Represent Me?
The sooner the better. However, the place where representation most often makes a difference in the outcome of your case is at the hearing stage. So, it is very important that you arrange for attorney representation early enough to allow time for hearing preparation.
It is best to call Kalfus & Nachman as soon as your application for benefits is denied. Much pre-hearing preparation, analysis and evidence-gathering go into adequate representation in a Social Security case. The earlier our firm is able to start preparing for your hearing, the better.
What If I've Already Lost a Hearing?
If you are still within 60 days of the date of receipt of a hearing decision denying benefits or even a denial decision from the Social Security Appeals Council, it may not be too late. You should contact Kalfus & Nachman immediately. Sometimes an experienced attorney can still find a way to win your case at the Appeals Council or in federal court.
What Information Will Kalfus & Nachman Need?
When you go for your first meeting with your attorney, bring all your Social Security papers: denial notices, decisions, appeal forms, etc. If you have medical records, bring them, too. It would also be helpful to take to your attorney the following information: the names and addresses of all doctors you have seen for your medical problems, the dates and number of times you have seen the doctors; the names and addresses of all hospitals where you have been treated as an inpatient or outpatient and the dates; the names and addresses of your employers during the last 15 years, dates of employment by each employer and a brief description of your job duties; and the name of each medication you are presently taking, the dosage and the names of the prescribing doctor.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire Kalfus & Nachman?
Kalfus & Nachman will accept most Social Security cases on a contingent fee basis of 25% of past due benefits. There is no fee if you lose although you will be obligated to pay any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the attorney representing you. Such expenses usually involve charges for copying medical records and payments to doctors for medical reports. In a few cases, we use a different method of calculating a fee. In Social Security Disability cases the Social Security Administration will withhold 25% of past-due benefits for payment of attorney's fees. Your regular monthly benefits will not be affected. In SSI cases, it is your responsibility to pay your attorney from the lump sum check you receive.
Social Security regulations require that attorney fees be approved by the Social Security Administration prior to payment.
If you're having trouble getting the social security disability benefits you need, call (800) 361-0430 or contact Kalfus & Nachman online for your free legal consultation. We serve clients in Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach, Virginia.