Blog posts

What Happens When Your Claim is Denied?

Submitted by Kyle on Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:37

No one likes to hear that they have been denied Social Security Disability benefits. However, you can’t take the refusal as a personal attack. The fact is that over 60% of first time claims with the Social Security Administration get denied.

There are many reasons why your claim could be denied, but most of the time it is because the right information is not provided on the application. In this case you can file for a “request for reconsideration,” which is essentially an appeal against the decision to reject your initial application for disability benefits.

Can Your Social Security Disability Benefits Be Reversed?

Submitted by Kyle on Mon, 11/29/2010 - 12:13

Many people who are approved for Social Security Benefits assume that the battle is over when their Social Security Disability claim is approved. The question is, can Social Security Disability benefits be taken away once awarded, or will they automatically continue until retirement age is reached?

The fact of the matter is, Social Security Disability benefits are not guaranteed for life. You must continue to meet the requirements of Social Security Disability in order to continue receiving benefits until retirement age (at which point the Social Security Disability benefits convert to Social Security Retirement benefits).

Social Security Disability cases are reviewed periodically and certain factors may affect your ability to continue receiving Social Security Disability payments. If you receive Social Security Disability benefits and are wondering whether or not your benefits will be revoked there are some things you need to keep in mind.

Continuing Disability Reviews

The Social Security Administration conducts regular reviews of Social Security Disability cases. These reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews, or CDRs. The frequency of your CDRs will depend on whether or not your disabling condition is expected to improve. If improvement of your condition is expected, you will likely have a CDR every year or so. If improvement is possible but not likely, the reviews will usually occur once every three years. For those who are considered to be permanently disabled, a review will occur once every seven years. In most cases these reviews will not result in a reversal of your Social Security Disability benefits. If, however, your condition has improved and you are able to return to work, then your Social Security Disability benefits will be stopped.

If the Social Security Administration decides that you are able to return to work and revokes your Social Security Disability benefits, your monthly payments will not stop immediately. You will still receive Social Security Disability payments for another two months. However, many people feel that the decision to stop their benefits is unfair and unwarranted. If this is the case, you need to appeal the decision. You technically have 60 days to appeal a decision to stop your Social Security Disability benefits, however, if you want your benefits to continue during the appeal process you must file the appeal within 10 days of the decision. Just keep in mind that you may have to pay back any benefits you receive during the appeal process if your appeal is not successful.

The best way to avoid this situation altogether is to have ongoing documentation of your continuing disability. Maintain visits with your doctor and make sure your doctor documents how your condition affects your day-to-day life. The Social Security Administration will want to see this evidence at the time of your Continuing Disability Review.

Substantial Work Activity

Your Social Security Disability benefits may be put at risk if you begin earning money while receiving Social Security Disability benefits. When on Social Security Disability, you may earn up to $720 each month without your benefits being affected. If, however, you earn more than $1,000 per month the Social Security Administration will consider it to be substantial income. At that point your benefits may be at risk.

If you earn a substantial income while receiving Social Security Disability benefits, your benefits will not be stopped immediately. There is a nine-month “trial work” period in which you can keep your Social Security Disability benefits while earning income. After you have earned a substantial income for a total of nine months out of a sixty-month period, your Social Security Disability benefits will be discontinued.

Incarceration Can Stop Disability Benefits

One of the other reasons that Social Security Disability benefits may be discontinued is if you are imprisoned. If you are charged with a crime and are incarcerated for more than thirty days, your Social Security Disability benefits can be suspended. You will be able to reinstate your benefits once you are released, but you will not be entitled to any Social Security Disability benefits while you are in jail.

The Bottom Line

Most people who are receiving Social Security Disability do not need to worry about their benefits being reversed or revoked unless their condition improves and they are able to return to work. If, at any time, the Social Security Administration does decide to revoke your Social Security Disability benefits, you may want to hire a Social Security Disability attorney to help you with the appeal process. Proper representation can increase your chances of appealing the decision and continuing your Social Security Disability benefits.

5 Mistakes To Avoid at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Submitted by Kyle on Mon, 11/29/2010 - 11:52

If your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied, chances are that you will want to move forward with the appeals process. After all, submitting an initial claim all over again is just going to put you back at square one. This means that you will probably find yourself in front of an Administrative Law Judge before the Social Security Disability approval process is over. Fortunately, many claims are won at this stage of the Social Security disability appeal process. On the other hand, there are some serious mistakes you need to avoid if you want to have any hope of winning your Social Security Disability claim. Before you stand before the Administrative Law Judge, who will be deciding your Social Security Disability case, keep the following advice in mind.

Mistake #1: Representing Yourself in Your Disability Case

You don't need a lawyer to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, but if your Social Security Disability claim reaches the hearing level and you need to appear before an Administrative Law Judge, you're going to want an attorney there to represent you.

You can tell the judge until you are blue in the face that you “feel” you deserve and are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. You can even come in with stacks of medical records proving your disability claim. The fact of the matter is that if you don't know how the law applies to your specific disability case, you might not win your appeal. That's where a Social Security Disability attorney comes into play.

A Social Security Disability attorney will be able to help you with the hearing process and the information and documentation you need to prove your case. He or she can help you prepare for the hearing by letting you know what questions you may be asked, how to respond to those questions, how you should act towards the judge and other helpful advice.

While some people do choose to represent themselves at their Social Security Disability hearing, your chances of winning an appeal at this level are much greater if you have legal representation (i.e. a disability attorney) at the hearing with you.

Mistake #2: Making Light of Your Disability

It isn't easy to show weakness – especially in front of strangers. With that being said, it is important to remember that pride has no place in front of an Administrative Law Judge. When speaking at your Social Security Disability hearing you need to be completely honest about your condition and how debilitating it can be. The judge will need to know how your condition prevents you from being able to work, and that means being brutally honest about how it interferes with your day-to-day life.

Mistake #3: Assuming Witnesses Will Make Your Disability Case

Many people think that bringing witnesses to their Social Security Disability hearing will help their case. While it is true that you can bring witnesses to your hearing, there is no guarantee that those witnesses will have any impact whatsoever on what decision the judge makes in regards to your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, the judge can decide not to hear any of your witness's testimony at all.

Mistake #4: Being Rude to the Administrative Law Judge

The biggest mistake you can make during a Social Security Disability hearing is to become mouthy and rude with the Administrative Law Judge. For all intents and purposes, this judge holds your future in his or her hands. It is in your best interest to show respect to the person hearing your case. You may become frustrated or irritated during your hearing. If the judge is interrupting you when you are trying to explain your condition, it is okay to be firm and express your need to state your case, but remain polite at all times.

Mistake #5: Showing Up Late to Your Disability Hearing

An Administrative Law Judge may hear dozens of Social Security Disability cases each day. The chances of a judge being understanding or accommodating if you show up late to your hearing are slim to none. Whatever you do, make sure that you show up to your Social Security Disability hearing on time. If you show up late, your hearing may begin without you and your disability claim could be denied. That will put you right back into the appeals process, costing you months or maybe even years worth of benefits.

Remember, your Social Security Disability hearing is your day to make your case in court. Make sure you show up on time, with proper legal representation and with the knowledge needed to make the right impression on the Administrative Law Judge hearing your case. Many Social Security Disability claims are won at this level of the claims process, but you have to keep the above advice in mind if you want yours to be among them.