When a worker is unable to maintain full-time employment due to a long-term or permanent disability, he or she may wonder how they can possibly pay the bills and make ends meet. Fortunately, for many of these individuals, Social Security Disability benefits can help. In the State of Puerto Rico, just over two percent of the residents receive Social Security Disability benefits. Many more apply each and every year. Unfortunately, sending in an initial disability claim is a lot easier than actually obtaining the disability benefits you may be entitled to. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies approximately 70 percent of the applications received each year. These applicants must then endure the extensive disability appeal process in order to obtain the disability benefits they desperately need.
While the average monthly Puerto Rico Social Security Disability benefit of $921.20 can definitely help offset some of the financial stress caused by a disability, it takes some Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicants more than two years to before receiving their first payment from the SSA.
The first stage of the Social Security Disability application process takes a Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicant approximately three to four months to complete. More than half of these applications are denied at this stage, resulting in the need for a disability appeal. The first stage of appeals in Puerto Rico is called a Request for Reconsideration, which takes a Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicant another three to four months to complete. Again, the majority of these requests are denied by the SSA. An applicant must then pursue the second stage of disability appeals, which is a hearing before an administrative law judge. Depending on the area of Puerto Rico that you live in, it can take anywhere from 289 to 550 days to be scheduled for this disability hearing.
It takes a while to get a hearing scheduled due to the backlog of the disability applicants going through the Social Security Disability appeal process. The agency responsible for scheduling hearings for these claimants is known as the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). The area of Puerto Rico that you live in will determine which ODAR office manages your disability case and the backlog of that office determines how long you must wait for your disability hearing to be scheduled. The ODAR offices that are responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicants are as follows:
- Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
- Ponce, Puerto Rico
- San Juan, Puerto Rico
The ODAR office located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices located in Aguadilla and Mayaguez. It takes this office an average of 289 days to schedule a disability hearing for Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicants.
The ODAR office in Ponce, Puerto Rico is responsible for managing the Social Security Disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Cayey, Guayama, Ponce and Yauco. It takes this office an average of 550 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The ODAR office located in San Juan manages the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Arecibo, Bayamon, Caguas, Carolina, Fajardo, Hato Rey, Hato Tejas, Humacao, Manati, San Juan and San Patricio. It takes this office an average of 395 days to schedule a disability hearing.
Hiring a Puerto Rico Social Security Disability Attorney
When a Puerto Rico Social Security Disability applicant must undergo the lengthy and complicated appeal process, it means waiting more than a year before their disability benefits can begin. When a person is struggling to make ends meet, waiting more than a year for help can seem like a financial death sentence. Because of this, many applicants wonder if there is any way to avoid the need for a Social Security Disability appeal.
The fact of the matter is that while not all applicants can avoid the disability appeal process, many can benefit from the services of a qualified Puerto Rico Social Security Disability attorney. Your attorney will work with you to properly prepare your disability application, giving you the best possible chance of an approval at the initial stage of the disability claim process. If, for some reason, your disability application is denied, your Puerto Rico disability lawyer can help you through the disability appeal process, representing your interests and ensuring that you are prepared for your disability hearing.
While you can technically represent yourself at this hearing, proper legal representation can increase your chances of being awarded benefits by the administrative law judge overseeing your disability case. Statistics show that applicants who obtain legal representation are more likely to obtain an approval of their disability benefits at the hearing stage of the disability appeal process.
If you would like to learn more about hiring a Puerto Rico Social Security Disability attorney, click here to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.