Filing a Disability Claim in California

If you have missed work because of a serious injury or illness, you should consider filing a disability claim in California. Not only have you lost your source of income, but expensive medical bills have also put you on the brink of severe financial distress.

Filing a disability claim can help you pay for medical bills and daily expenses while you recover from an illness or injury. Since most claims come back denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) you might have to file an appeal to receive the financial assistance that you deserve.

Filing for Disability Benefits in California

To receive California disability benefits, you have to submit an accurate application that includes answering every question truthfully. The SSA dismisses disability claims that are inaccurate and/or the applicant has not completed every section of the document.

You also need to attach documents that demonstrate the severity of your illness or injury, as well as the prognosis your doctor has made that concerns the chances of you making a full recovery. The SSA refers to a medical guide called the Blue Book to review disability claims in California.

If your claim reaches the appeal stage of the disability claim process, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is the department within the SSA that holds Social Security disability appeal hearings. Where you live in California determines which ODAR location you should go to for an appeal hearing. California has 18 ODAR offices spread out across the state.

California Disability Benefits Claim Statistics

Every year, the SSA receives millions of claims for Social Security disability benefits. California claims for disability benefits have increased around 300 percent over the past three years. Because of the sheer volume of applications, the SSA denies a majority of claims, which means you might get denied disability in California. A large number of claims has resulted in substantial delays in the processing of paperwork.

If your disability comes back denied, you might have to file an appeal for financial assistance. It can take between 327 and 602 days for you to attend a Social Security disability hearing. The number of days that you have to wait to attend a hearing depends on where you live in California. Residents of the most populous areas can expect to wait longer than residents living in rural sections of the state. After you attend a disability hearing, it can take up to 90 days before you receive the decision made by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) overseeing the case.

How to Handle a Denied Claim

Receiving a Social Security disability denied claim is not the end of the world. Like other states, the California disability benefits appeals process starts with a reconsideration appeal that you file with the SSA. Reconsideration is similar to the process you went through for the filing of your claim. A team of medical examiners from the SSA reviews your appeal for reconsideration. If you lose an appeal, then you take your case in front of an ALJ.

The SSA might recommend that you undergo a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. An RFC assessment involves completing several tests to determine if you can perform some, most, or all of the standard job responsibilities that are required by your current position. For example, if you suffer from a debilitating injury that triggers intense pain in the legs and lower back, an RFC assessment might include one or more tests that measure your ability to walk and bend your knees.

If you decide to file an appeal for reconsideration, you have 60 days from the day you received the denial letter from the SSA to file the proper paperwork. Failure to meet the 60-day deadline most likely end your claim for California disability benefits. This means you have to start the claim process from scratch.

Work with a California Disability Attorney

If you did not seek legal guidance when you submitted a disability claim in California, you should contact a Social Security lawyer when the time comes to file an appeal for reconsideration. Your attorney can help you gather and organize additional medical evidence to strengthen your disability claim.

The SSA wants to see proof that you suffer from a disability, as well as confirm that your disability has put you out of work. If the appeals process moves on to an ALJ hearing, your lawyer may make the difference between receiving financial assistance and walking away empty-handed.

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