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5 Mistakes To Avoid at Your Social Security Disability Hearing

Submitted by Kyle on

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.

Answering the 10 Most Frequently Asked Social Security Disability Questions

Submitted by Kyle on

Understanding the topic of Social Security Disability can be challenging, to say the least. Many people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are lost in a sea of questions like, “How do I apply?” and, “How long will it take to be approved?” Applying for Social Security Disability can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially if you have unanswered questions going in to the process. Fortunately you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the Social Security Disability claim process as simple and stress-free as possible. Here are answers to the top ten questions people ask when applying for Social Security Disability.

Question #1: How Can I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

There are three ways to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. If you prefer to apply from the comfort of your home you can apply online at the Social Security Disability application website or you can call the Social Security Administration's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer to apply in person, you can go down to your local Social Security office and complete your application there.

Question #2: How Long Will it Take to Be Approved for Disability Benefits?

It's no secret that Social Security Disability claims can take months or even years to be approved. This can be very frustrating to those who need Social Security Disability benefits to make ends meet. The fact of the matter is that the length of your approval time will depend on your specific disability case. If your particular disability falls under the Compassionate Allowance program, you may be approved for Social Security Disability benefits in as little as twenty days. Otherwise, it will take at least 90 to 120 days for your application to be approved – and that's only if your initial application is not denied. In some cases an approval can take years.

Question #3: What Happens if my Disability Application is Denied?

If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you will need to file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the letter. If you are denied at the initial level, do not assume you will not get Social Security Disability benefits. Many people go on to successfully appeal a denied disability claim. If you do need to appeal your Social Security Disability determination, you may want to hire a Social Security Disability attorney for the best chances of having the decision overturned.

Question #4: Can People Earn Extra Income When Receiving Social Security Disability?

Many people assume that individuals who receive Social Security Disability benefits are not allowed to earn any income at all. This is not the case. People who receive Social Security Disability are allowed to earn an income, but that income must not exceed $720 per month in order for benefits to remain unaffected.

Question #5: Do I Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

To file your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits, you might want to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer to ensure that the intricacies of the paperwork are completed correctly. If, however, your initial claim is denied then you should definitely consider retaining the services of a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you during the appeal process. Your chances of the appeal being successful can increase significantly with proper representation.

Question #6: What is a Representative Payee and Why Do I Need One?

If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security office may determine that your benefits need to be handled by a representative payee. This person will be responsible for collecting your benefits and paying your living expenses every month. Usually this will occur when the Social Security office feels that a person is unable to manage their benefits on their own.

Question #7: What if My Representative Payee Misuses My Money?

If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits and your representative payee misuses your money, you need to go down to the Social Security office and make them aware of this fact. They will investigate on your behalf and will take appropriate measures.

Question #8: Can I Ever Go Back to Work if I Start Receiving Social Security Disability Payments?

Yes, if you want to return to the workplace at some point in the future there are programs in place to make the transition easier. The Ticket to Work program allows you to work nine months within a sixty-month period without losing benefits. After nine months of earning more than $1,000 per month, however, your Social Security Disability benefits will be discontinued.

Question #9: What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the program you pay into while you are working. As you pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits. If you are determined to be disabled and you have enough credits, you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is a need-based program. In addition to being disabled you must meet the income limit requirements to receive this type of benefit.

Question #10: What Happens after I am Approved for Disability Benefits?

Once you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you will begin receiving monthly disability benefit payments. You may also receive a lump-sum back payment depending on the date you were deemed to be disabled. Periodically, your Social Security Disability case will be reviewed. This will happen every one to seven years depending on your disability.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability?

Submitted by support on

Many people are overwhelmed by the Social Security Disability application process. This isn't very surprising when you consider how frustrating the process can be. If you've read the various forums and blogs, you've likely heard more than a few stories about Social Security Disability nightmares. Tales abound about people having legitimate claims denied, waiting years for benefits to begin, being treated unfairly during the appeal process, the list goes on...

How to Prepare for your Social Security Disability Hearing

Submitted by support on

If your case is remanded to the Social Security Hearings office, previously known as the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), this could be very good news. According to statistics issued by the Federal government, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) approve over 50% of the claims that get to this level.

Unfortunately, once a Social Security Disability claim is transferred from the local Social Security office to the hearings office, it can take up to a year to get a hearing scheduled. In addition, claimants may hear nothing about their case until the department sends:

Can You Earn Money While on Social Security Disability?

Submitted by Kyle on

Many people are under the notion that people who are on Social Security Disability are not allowed to earn any money at all. I have, in fact, known disabled people who were even afraid to sell some of their used items on eBay for fear that it would actually put their Social Security Disability income at risk. Are these fears founded? Are the people who receive Social Security Disability benefits prevented from receiving any income other than what their Social Security Disability income provides?