How an Attorney Can Help You Appeal Your SSD Case in Michigan

If you are unable to work because of medical problems, you might be able to receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). To be approved for disability benefits, you must meet specific criteria that are established to determine disability. Your condition must be serious enough to last a year or longer or lead to your death and it must meet the medical criteria specified for the condition or its side effects in the SSA’s medical guide, which is called the Blue Book.

On the initial review, most disability claims are denied. When a denial is issued, you can file an appeal to get a reconsideration review. If a reconsideration is also denied, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).

There are several reasons that claims get denied, but some reasons are much more common than others. As an example, if there is no hard medical evidence to support your claim Disability Determination Services (DDS) cannot determine that you are unable to work. They must be able to understand your condition and how it affects you. If you are working and you are earning enough to exceed the limit for substantial gainful activity (SGA) your claim will not be approved.

Also, if you don’t continue with medical care for your condition your claim will be denied because there will not be follow-up reports indicating that the problem has continued or worsened. In Michigan, about 29.5% of disability claims are approved during initial review while 22% are approved during reconsideration. When a claim reaches the hearing level in Michigan, it has a 57% chance of being approved for benefits.

Disability benefits in Michigan

Visiting the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Michigan

If your claim is denied on its initial review, then you file an appeal and the reconsideration is also denied, you can ask for a hearing before an ALJ at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). When you go to the hearing, your information will be reviewed by a judge. You will be questioned by the ALJ and by a vocational expert as well. These questions will focus on your specific medical problems and limitations. Your disability lawyer will help you prepare for the hearing and the judge will consider several things, such as your age, work history, transferrable skills, educational background, and medical problems.

In Michigan, there are seven different ODARs where hearings are held. The average wait for a hearing date is 18.9 months and it takes an average of 580 days for a claim to be processed in Michigan. About 50% of claims are approved on the hearing level in the state.

The Detroit ODAR has an average 16-month wait for a hearing and 47% approval rate. The Detroit office has 14 judges and an average 516-day processing time for claims. In Flint, the ODAR has seven judges and a 20-month wait for a hearing. The Flint ODAR has a 46% approval rate. Grand Rapids ODAR has nine judges and a 22-month average wait. With a 642-day average claim processing, this ODAR sees 42% of claims approved at the hearing level. The Oak Park ODAR has 14 judges and a 16-month wait for a hearing. In Oak Park, claimants can expect an average of 550 days for a claim to be processed and 58% of claims are approved on the hearing level. Michigan’s numbers do not fall far from the national averages.

Getting Help from an Attorney

Because of the complexity of disability claims, you should get an attorney to help you early on. A lawyer can help you from filing the initial claim to preparing for the hearing. Your lawyer can visit with DDS or the local SSA office to make sure all your medical records and documentation are in order and your file is ready for a fair review. Also, your attorney can handle all correspondence with the SSA and represent you at the hearing level.

There are several SSA offices throughout Michigan:

Social Security Administration
1040 S Winter Street, Suite 2401
Adrian, MI 49221
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Social Security Administration
3971 Capital Avenue SW
Battle Creek, MI 49015
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Social Security Administration
1720 S Mitchell Street
Cadillac, MI 49601
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Wednesday 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Your claim can be filed online at the Social Security Administration website, by calling 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your local SSA office. To get started, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form online and you will get a free case review from a disability lawyer today!

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